Mark Burch, Diamond's gem of the month

By Martha Maglone, September 1, 2014 Imagine for a moment you’re in Lincoln, Nebraska and you’re conducting your tax affairs. You’re impressed by your accountant’s prudence, but your eye is confounded by the picture on the wall. It looks like Danny Lasoski’s sprint car at full throttle and, though no expert on the subject, you know this is motor racing at its most visceral. These cars weigh little, generate around 900hp from their Chevrolet V8s and lap 3/8-mile dirt tracks at speeds in excess of 110mph. So you say, “I’d love to speak with the engine builder that prepares power units for a car like this.” Composure unruffled the tax specialist declares, “Actually, you’re speaking to him!” Suddenly your day improves immensely—Jekyll and Hyde is among us! A father, husband, tax professional, and race engine builder, Mark Burch (48) has been around sprint car racing for 32 years and been building 360 engines since 1999. Adjacent to his home is his race shop where he spends his free time: evenings and weekends. Is there a common link between the two callings, you wonder? “Numbers,” he bridles. Significantly, it is the contrasts—the uncommon links—where the attraction lies. “Building race engines is so different from working at my desk,” admits Burch with marked pleasure. “In fact, it’s the perfect therapeutic escape, especially during tax season.” One of Diamond’s most enduring sprint car customers Three-sixty sprint engines use 23-degree-valve cylinder heads, which present challenges and thus opportunities. “Diamond engineers,” says Burch, “helped me develop my own billet piston. Their initiatives contributed greatly to my engine program. Before switching brands, we were lucky...
Key changes in high-performance diesel pistons

Key changes in high-performance diesel pistons

Written by Alfie Bilk September 8, 2014 Mentor, Ohio: Wiseco, the eminent high-performance piston maker established in 1941, is launching a new range of diesel pistons for Dodge Cummins, GM Duramax and Ford Power Stroke engines. Using technology that should make a significant impact in the diesel performance world, the first two piston designs are devoted to Cummins 5.9 liter 12- and 24-valve engines and GM Duramax power units. These will be followed by new designs for Cummins 6.7 liter as well as various Ford Power Stroke models. The chief concern with cast aluminum factory pistons on high-performance diesel engines generating 850 to 1,000hp in street trim, and higher in truck-pulling and diesel drag racing, is premature failure. Alternatively, the shortcoming in high-output diesel engines with standard forged aluminum pistons can be soft, short-lived ring grooves. Wiseco’s solution is Armor Plate™. To the pistons’ most highly stressed areas—chiefly to the bowl, pin bores and ring grooves—Armor Plate adds hardness. In addition, engine building costs are eased, particularly the balancing process, by maintaining piston weights close to those of the original equipment units. Just as impressive is how Wiseco set about creating these new designs, collaborating with specialists in high-level competition. Adept at extracting the utmost from current diesel technology, Wiseco coupled their insight with their own piston-making expertise, which triggered studies of injector patterns and advanced bowl designs. The studies also brought remarkable weight savings for engines with internally balanced crankshafts. Custom units distinguish themselves with weights in the low 600g range, resulting in 30 percent net loss in piston mass, which prolongs crankshaft life by reducing twisting forces....

Racing Head Maestro

Written by Sam Logan, September 5, 2014 Last year Mike Androwick’s big-block cylinder head designs won the Northeast Dirt Modified championship. Winner Brett Hearn with over 800 career victories was quick to recommend their virtues: “I’ve never driven a smoother race engine. Better still, it’s effective on any track and under any conditions.” Now on the newsstands, read about Androwick in the September issue of Speedway Illustrated or click here. Note to engine builders: If you are fortunate enough to know Karl Fredrickson, the editor of Speedway Illustrated magazine, you might be reminded of a fundamental taught by your parents: Nothing endures like personal qualities. Conscientious and meticulous in the way in which he runs the magazine, Fredrickson has long maintained a deep commitment to the independent race engine builder. He’s keenly aware that without them the stability of his beloved sport would be greatly jeopardized. Last year, when two races were run in which the rules prohibited OE crate engines, Speedway Illustrated extended a one-year advertising contract to the winning engine builder. This year the magazine is providing a no-charge subscription to your shop. Just forward your name and address in the Comment Box below and you’ll be added to their distribution...

Kaase launches new Boss Nine engine kits

By Titus Bloom, July 24, 2014 -Created for use on common Ford 429-460 big-blocks -Simple assembly with conventional parts Winder, Georgia: For engine builders, and enthusiasts with ambitions in hot rod engine assembly, Jon Kaase has introduced the Boss Nine in a new kit form. Among the kit’s more prominent components, Kaase includes his noted semi-hemi cylinder heads with accompanying pistons, pins and rings as well as pushrods, shaft-mounted rockers and induction system. Everything to complete the full assembly is supplied. Though power production may vary from 500 to 1,000hp in naturally aspirated form and up to 1,500hp under forced induction, it is the engine’s evocative appearance and heritage that heightens its universal appeal. Predictably, options abound and powder-coated cast valve covers are available in silver, red and black. Indeed, in any color that can be identified by a paint code. In addition fabricated sheet metal covers are offered in natural aluminum finish. In performance the Boss Nine’s magic is ignited by increasing its stroke length from the original late-nineteen-sixties specification of 3.590in. “Those big-port heads,” contends Kaase, “don’t like stroke lengths shorter than 4in., and respond enthusiastically to 4.150in, 4.300in or 4.500in, all of which we use.” Because the longer 4.500in stroke causes the piston to protrude from the cylinder at bottom dead center, Kaase recommends a Race block or a “79” block, which has a 0.250in longer cylinder wall. Produced from 1979 to the mid-‘90s these can be identified by the nomenclature D9 on the block’s external surface. “They’re robust,” declares Kaase, “and we have one at the shop. It is 0.030in over-bored with 2-bolt main bearing...