There’s road racing…then there’s Irish road racing!

There’s road racing…then there’s Irish road racing!

By Victor Moore: When Stirling Moss, the 1950’s Formula One sensation, was asked how he compared today’s F1 competition with motorcycle racing’s MotoGP, he said F1 is interesting, MotoGP is exciting. He’s right, for how can any form of racing excite when there’s the likelihood that one of two cars will invariably win. And mostly it’s been this way in F1 for decades. Not so in bike racing however. MotoGP and its two subordinate classes, Moto 2 and Moto 3, leave you balanced on the edge of your seat from the moment the start lights extinguish. As 93,000 fans poured into the Sachsenring circuit earlier this month for the German Grand Prix, motorcycle racing, especially in Europe, rides high on the wave of public exuberance. And then there’s Irish motorcycle road racing, an eccentric hundred-year-old tradition that functions by applying to local councils for permission to close public roads for several hours during which time road racing can be conducted. You might have thought such racing to be extinct such is its potential danger. Not a bit – and what’s more its entry ranks are overflowing. With Superbikes reaching speeds approaching 180mph and negotiating their paths between five-inch curbs, concrete walls and pillars and lighting poles, painted lines, manhole covers, recessed water drain grates, varying road surfaces…well, if you think MotoGP is exciting this is something quite other! The Race of the South is long established, probably started in the 1970s. Now held deep in the County Westmeath countryside, the venue is known as Walderstown, a region of rural beauty not far from Athlone. Located about three-quarters of an hour’s...
Women Welders at the Lincoln Motor Company, circa 1918.

Women Welders at the Lincoln Motor Company, circa 1918.

By Martha Maglone: Ninety-nine years ago, in Dearborn, Michigan, engineer Henry M. Leland and his son Wilfred established a car production company and called it Lincoln, paying homage to the former US President. The company produced its first automobile in 1917, the luxurious V8-powered Lincoln Model L. But as the United States was still engaged in World War I, its principal source of income relied upon military contracts, notably the assembly of Liberty V12 aircraft engines. Alas, during the 1920s Lincoln found itself on its beam ends. Severe financial burdens had forced it into bankruptcy. This misfortune proved to be both glorious retribution and opportunity for Henry Ford, who purchased the company in early 1922. Retribution because Leland had earlier driven Ford out of his second company; opportunity because Henry harbored a desired to have his own luxury car company. Lincoln with its reputation for the production of fine vehicles and limousines has remained a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company...
How steering columns relate to ergonomics:

How steering columns relate to ergonomics:

Making hot rods a pleasure to live with. By Ben Mozart: If you aspire to own or build a great hot rod, especially a street rod, never take the positioning of a steering column for granted. Variations in cockpit and seat dimensions, particularly seat height, as well as steering wheel design and human proportions play an important role. However enticing the photographs of a machine may be, it is almost impossible to discover if it qualifies on all these counts unless you sit in the vehicle and test it for yourself. Exact steering column location is indispensable. Dave Cattalini of Roy Brizio Street Rods, a company based in South San Francisco that has built 300-plus street rods, reveals their formula. In the trade, they often speak of “drop”, which means the distance between the dash and the steering column. “Where will the seat be mounted?” asks Cattalini. “What is your height—are you 5 feet or are you 6 feet? Do you have short or long arms? Are you using a flat or a dished steering wheel? How much reach do you prefer—you don’t want the wheel to be placed too close or too far away, do you?” To answer these questions Cattalini urges the following: “Get a wooden dowel like a closet pole and to simulate the steering wheel, attach a pie plate to its upper end. Move the mock steering assembly about until you achieve the optimum layout. Then use a piece of 3/4in tape to hold it in place.” While the tape acts as your temporary drop link you can measure your column length, remembering to add...
New lightweight cast-iron racing block emerges

New lightweight cast-iron racing block emerges

SBC power up to 750hp. By Bertie S. Brown:   Does a heavier engine block harm the prospects of a race car? If you sought the support of savvy oval track engine builders about a 750hp block that has every admirable feature except one—it weighs 30lbs more than the lightest available—they’d state their position in two words: Too heavy! As a rule, oval track race cars require a greater proportion of their weight at the rear, usually 55 to 60 percent of the car’s total mass. It follows, therefore, that if the front of the car is carrying an additional 30lbs an equal amount or more is required at the rear. This affliction introduces a substantial handling disadvantage, particularly for those cars competing in classes restricted by a minimum weight ruling. Though mindful of the drag racer who wants to build a lightweight small-block Chevrolet, World Product’s new Motown Pro Lightweight was devised principally to meet the needs of the oval track racer. In this regard it marks a new chapter in engine development for both manufacturer and competitor. Significantly, the first tangible insight of its potential struck immediately when WISSOTA star Cory Crapser’s prowess won first time out in a Modified race at Cedar Lake Speedway. The engine was built by Tim Ludwigson of Tim’s Automotive Machine in Bloomer, Wisconsin. Weighing 178lbs, the Motown Pro Lightweight is about 18lbs heavier than GM’s standard 350 Chevrolet block and about 8lbs more than their popular 400 casting. The 350, which is produced in Grade 30 cast iron and giving a yield strength of 32,000psi, uses cylinder walls exposed to 360-degree...
Competition piston rings and what the OEMs taught us

Competition piston rings and what the OEMs taught us

By Sam Logan:   In our racing world we tend to think of ourselves as the elite corps. But in pistons and more particularly piston ring design, it is not our racing brains that are the driving force but those of the Original Equipment Manufacturers. It would be a glum glimpse of the US racing industry if nothing changed. But it has and nothing could be more illustrative of change than ring development. In fact, if we’re not careful our tow vehicles will operate with 1 x 1 x 2mm ring packs before our race cars. And it’s not just skinny rings that’s been pioneered by the OEMs, the enduring cast iron top and second rings have been replaced by stronger and lighter steel types. Furthermore, thermal face coatings are being applied to top rings by high-velocity oxygen-fueled spray guns at supersonic speed. The force of the collision causes the face coating to become embedded in the rings. What are they seeking? Well, with regard to the thermal face coating, they are pursuing bond-integrity. Second, they are also constantly looking for improvements in overall strength and toughness of the top ring. And third they seek to lower the ring’s coefficient of friction; that is the ratio between the force necessary to move one surface over another and the pressure between the two surfaces. The high-velocity oxygen-fuel technique that applies the thermal face coatings allows the OEMs to run high-tech rings in their latest turbo applications. These are subjected to countless detonation incidents. Tod Richards, a ring specialist at MAHLE, a racer and a race engine builder marveled, “The rings...
Tough NMRA classes beg the question: What is a good clutch?

Tough NMRA classes beg the question: What is a good clutch?

By Fergus Ogilvy:   There are several schools of thought on the question of what constitutes a good clutch. But first there are two separate strands to this narrative that need to be addressed: street or track. It’s key to distinguish whether the car will be used mostly for high-performance street-travel or for track use and its purpose needs to be decided. In either case the clutch has to transmit the car’s horsepower and torque and a stock clutch assembly will flounder in thermal shock and abuse, even in a slightly modified car.   Let’s focus our attention for a moment on selecting a good clutch for a high-performance street car that visits the drag strip occasionally. In this pursuit, the first consideration is usually vehicle weight. Accurate information about the vehicle’s poundage not only guides to the proper selection of an adequate clutch but also has relevance in the selection of the most effective flywheel. Another necessary statistic is the amount of power being transmitted through the clutch. And third, let’s not overlook the gearing. Lastly, pay attention to the size and type of tire conveying the rotational energy to the road or track.   Flywheels and a simple gearing formula Lighter flywheels provoke engine speeds to accelerate and decelerate quicker while the opposite is true of heavier flywheels. Heavier street cars usually benefit from a heavier flywheel, which maintains its advantageous momentum—it inhibits engine speeds from descending too quickly. However, shedding 10 to 15lbs of mass from the rotating assembly of a properly geared vehicle has a pronounced effect on its responses. Hence, lightweight, high-revving race cars...