Always wanted to be a contender.

Always wanted to be a contender.

By Fergus Ogilvy: Matt Weston, a 33-year old Super Street drag racer with more than 30 wins and 5 championships to his credit, has achieved his wish startlingly well. Beginning at 18-years old and racing street cars, Weston gained vital hands-on experience during the subsequent decade and a half, learning all he could. In IHRA Quick Rod, the 8.90 class, he scored top-five finishes in three successive years and won the championship in 2010. He also won two consecutive Divisional championships. An auto accident delayed his racing plans for two years, 2012 – 2013, during which time, he sold his dragster, retained the engine, purchased a 1970 Camaro, and switched to NHRA Super Street Division 2 (Southeast). He won his second race and finished second in the championship at first attempt. In the annual Jegs All-Star race, Weston won his division three times. His engine had been a Merlin II, an engine Scott Duggins of PAR in Spartanburg, SC knew well. “Matt likely raced that engine in 10 different cars with different heads and different combinations and with displacements ranging from 555 to 565ci,” speculated Duggins. “Now we use the Merlin III block. It accepts a 55mm camshaft and .904in lifters. I like it because it’s more installation-ready—it requires less machine work—it comes with rotational clearance for a 4.750in crank. Also, you don’t have to machine the cam tunnel or the lifter bores. Obviously, the big cam core has greater operating surfaces, less deflection, and allows more lobe lift without cutting into the base circle.” Matt Weston travels to around 15 races each year, from Chicago to Orlando. In...
Understanding hydraulic valve lifters

Understanding hydraulic valve lifters

By: Ray T. Bohacz: The most irritating aspect of valve-lash adjustment is its awkwardness; too many components require removal to perform a ten-minute task. Hydraulic valve lifters, on the other hand, require no adjustment for the most part. When adjustment is necessary, instead of setting lash, as you would with solid or mechanical valve lifters, a hydraulic system requires pre-load. There is no lash. This is usually required only when the cylinder head is being reinstalled. The need for lash or free play The camshaft is responsible for the valve’s timing, its lift and its duration—the periods it remains open and closed. In a cam-in-block engine, this is accomplished by the camshaft working with intermediate components: valve lifter (or tappet), pushrod, and rocker arm. With an overhead cam design, the intermediate components differ, using some style of follower in lieu of a pushrod and possibly a tappet. This discussion focuses on the hydraulic tappet employed in cam-in-block engines. It’s the profile of the camshaft lobe that determines the valve action, and that motion is first transmitted to the valve lifter and onto the pushrod and finally the rocker arm that contacts the stem of the valve. When the parts are cold, they shrink and as heat is generated they expand. For this reason, free play is required to prevent parts binding when heated. Free play is created between the rocker arm and the valve stem tip. Valvetrains that required lash were often identified as employing a solid lifter or mechanical camshaft. Today’s engines provide either a hydraulic or mechanical lifter, based on the manufacturer’s decision. Improvements in metallurgy and...
Carbureted Superchargers and Intercoolers

Carbureted Superchargers and Intercoolers

By Chris Beardsley:   Unlike port fuel injection systems, carburetors have a unique advantage while operating on boosted engines without an intercooler. In carbureted applications, the air charge from the supercharger is significantly warmer than ambient air. When warmer air is forced through a carburetor, the *vaporization process is enhanced as the cool fuel mixes with it. Ever try starting your carbureted engine in the dead of winter? Now compare that to a hot August afternoon. The warmer air of the supercharger blowing through the carburetor amplifies the vaporization process. The result of superior vaporization is a cooler, denser air charge under pressure. The warmer air mixing through the carburetor does something else just before it cools. The heat acting on the fuel causes the fuel particles to disperse—a chemical explosive process that sends fuel in every direction with violent force. When this occurs at the entrance to the plenum, each intake runner is filled with a more evenly balanced mixture of fuel and air that enters the cylinders. Naturally, cylinder-to-cylinder distribution affects horsepower. For these reasons, the ample performance of carburetors incorporated in boosted projects without an intercooler is evident. Even common pump fuels generate impressive power, and increasing ignition timing can further the power potential using these principles. “But intercooling is better,” I hear you say. “What if I add one of those?” While intercoolers have their place in boosted performance, for most carbureted applications adding an intercooler works against you. It looks fantastic and its associated plumbing enriches any engine compartment. But, by directing the air charge through an intercooler to feed the carburetor, we lose...
Androwick: 17 Pro Stock wins, new circle track heads & 2-pc intake manifolds for small-blocks

Androwick: 17 Pro Stock wins, new circle track heads & 2-pc intake manifolds for small-blocks

By Archie Bosman:   The first air-flow specialist I watched at work was Mike Androwick Sr.  A Pennsylvania native, he had plied his trade successfully in Pro Stock racing with Larry Morgan before moving to North Carolina in 2005. Finding efficient air flow in intake manifolds and cylinder heads and then skillfully uniting it with well-judged valve train technology is a mysterious art. Yet these are the achievements of the Androwicks: father and son, Mike Jr. Now three seasons with Gray Motorsports, they dominated NHRA Pro Stock in 2018, winning the US Nationals at Indy, the championship title with Tanner Gray and powering Drew Skillman to third in points. Remarkably, over the past two seasons, Gray Motorsports recorded 17 wins and 10 runner-up finishes. For the most part, Mike’s Racing Heads (MRH) has operated in two prominent arenas: NHRA Pro Stock and Circle Track. The big-block-powered Super DIRT series in the northeast remains a strong market for MRH, yielding 7 track champions in 2018. This year, however, with promoter Bret Deyo initiating the Short Track Super Series (STSS), MRH has introduced new cylinder heads and intake manifolds for Chevrolet small-blocks. The heads adopt valve angles of 10, 11, and 13 degrees, and the intakes are offered as two-piece billet aluminum assemblies and available in different versions for different heads. MRH has also enjoyed increasing success in Dirt Modified and Dirt Late Model categories. Currently situated just south of the I-85 in Concord, NC, they are moving this month to new facilities 7 miles away. Find them at: Mike’s Racing Heads 10 St. Charles Ave. NE Concord, NC 28025 Mikesracingheads.com...
Goodwood victory: exploiting the potential of a V-12

Goodwood victory: exploiting the potential of a V-12

By Freddie Heaney:   On September 12, on his 67th birthday, race engine builder Bob Bartlett of V&B Engines of Chatham, Virginia, provided sufficient motive power for Joe Colasacco to win the Glover Trophy at the 2018 Goodwood Revival. Driving John Surtees’ 1964 F1 championship-winning Ferrari 1512, Colasacco drove the race of his life, defeating former Nissan works Touring Car driver Andy Middlehurst in Jim Clark’s 1963 F1 championship-winning Lotus 25. ‘We are proud to have contributed to this effort,’ wrote Bartlett, who not only built Joe’s winning engine but also supplied his cast magnesium wheels and other drivetrain parts. ‘Obviously, we were pleased to hear Middlehurst complain about his 20 HP deficit to our engine (although we don’t think it’s actually that much).’ Nonetheless, it was a crowning achievement. You can also take delight in the unique high-pitched howl of the Ferrari heard at times during race coverage. Watch the race at https://www.motorsport.com/ca/vintage/video/goodwood-revival-sunday/373338/ and fast-forward the video to 6:25:05 to see the prelude, or move along a further 12mins to enjoy the race. Two further points, first, pay attention to Belleville, Illinois racer James King driving the no. 22 Brabham BT7, the ex Dan Gurney car that won the French GP. Second, for those unfamiliar with the incomparable Goodwood Revival and its protocol, all participants and spectators are encouraged to dress in period; that is, Goodwood’s heyday from 1948 to the...
Kaase launches new SR-71 cylinder heads for big-block Fords

Kaase launches new SR-71 cylinder heads for big-block Fords

Jon Kaase’s career as an engineer and engine tuner has a depth few contemporaries have achieved. On Monday, October 15, he celebrated his sixty-sixth birthday, and a few days earlier, he won his ninth award at the Engine Masters Challenge in Cleveland, Ohio. He felt privileged to have a chance to compete again and grateful for the new-found enthusiasm for the contest. More recently, he introduced a new big-block Ford cylinder head, the SR-71, his first in 10 years.   • Raised intake entry ports • 100% CNC-machined in-house on 5-axis Hurco • Compatible with Super Cobra Jet intake manifolds • Fits all conventional engine bays   According to engine builder Jon Kaase, his company’s new SR-71 cylinder head will out-power any conventional big-block Ford head. Extensive dynamometer tests have demonstrated average gains of 50hp and similar peak gains over best existing cylinder heads. In addition, the usable engine speed range is increased by a minimum of 500rpm. Kaase assures that the SR-71 heads will fit the conventional engine bay, and when installed on a maximum-effort 598cid engine, will produce over 1100hp and rev to 8,000rpm.   Despite placing the intake port entries half-inch higher than customary, all Super Cobra Jet intake manifolds fit the new heads. Clearly, higher intake ports are desirable, providing straighter, faster paths for the air-fuel mixture to reach the valves. Raising them while preserving compatibility with conventional intake manifolds is achieved by extending the port entry face toward the valley area—the head is wider. On the exhaust side, dimensions are stock Super Cobra Jet / Kaase P-51. The entire CNC-machining process is performed in-house on...