Unwelcome drama for Speed Demon: ill-fated tumble on Salt Flats

By Archie Bosman, October 24, 2014 Bonneville, UT: On September 12, 2014 while hurtling along the Bonneville Salt Flats about three miles from the starting point, the intrepid George Poteet lost control of the Speed Demon, which flew 550ft distance before crash-landing on its side. Though bruised, the Land speed record holder Poteet was unhurt. At the time of the incident the vehicle’s wheel speed indicator revealed a velocity of 370mph. Given that the twin-supercharged V8 Speed Demon spins its wheels under acceleration up to and beyond 400mph, tail-wagging is the constant plight. The trick is to introduce the motive power to the salt surface as gently as possible. Of the three engines available to power the car on this occasion, it was running the one generating the most torque. In common with this year’s Bonneville Speed Week, which was cancelled a month earlier due to extensive rainfall, the September FIA meeting didn’t materialize either and instead was reduced to a test-and-tune session. Though conditions had improved the Speed Demon needs 12 miles of satisfactory surface on which to operate.   So the plan was to run the car up to around 450mph over 5.5 miles. Then deploy both parachutes, using the remaining two miles to bring it to a stop, and monitor the data acquired. In the event, no engine or drive train damage was sustained, although the bodywork and chassis didn’t fare so well. Significantly, discussions regarding upgrading the car had been on-going for a year. Now as a result of the accident, the decision about how to proceed will be taken in about a month’s time....

Recession? What recession. Lokar grows, yearns for new location, occupies new premises at Quality Lane

By Martha Maglone, September 10, 2014 Lokar has moved its headquarters to a new 53,000sq ft facility in Knoxville, Tennessee. The company was originally founded twenty-six years ago in Walnut, California. Four years later they moved to a 6,000sq ft facility on Murdock Drive in Knoxville and expanded several times over the intervening period. Finally they outgrew their 18,900sq ft base and were delighted when they found the right property in the same district. Operating in three buildings that total 53,000sq ft, the company’s new home is situated on 6.5 acres of real estate aptly named Quality Lane, allowing the firm sufficient room for future expansion. Company owner, Debbie Walls, says, “Naturally we’re excited about this new chapter in Lokar’s history and we look forward to seeing our customers visit us whenever they are in the area. Importantly, we remain true to our motto: committed to providing Quality…Plain & Simple®.” Lokar’s most visible success has been in the production of shifters, throttle assemblies, kick-down systems and a wide array of mounting brackets. Contact: Lokar Performance Products 2545 Quality Lane, Knoxville, TN  37931 Toll-free 1-877-469-7440...

Electric propulsion: assaulting the life we know?

  By Bertie Scott Brown, September 9, 2014 Though internal combustion engines still dominate today’s motive power on our highways, electrification is emerging rapidly. The objective is to eliminate huge engines with poor fuel economy. Instead tomorrow’s vehicles will likely rely on fuel cells where hydrogen reacts with oxygen, producing nothing more than energy and water, or electric motors. Mind you, the battery-powered electric vehicle has existed almost as long as the car itself and though their sales still represent a tiny proportion of total car sales, battery-powered electric cars are becoming an increasingly strong force. No cylinder blocks or heads, pistons or connecting rods, crankshafts or camshafts. Even exhaust systems vanish and all replaced by an electric motor. Plug-in hybrids usually refer to vehicles with engines supplemented by rechargeable batteries or other storage devices like flywheels that can be restored to full charge by connecting a plug to an electric power source. Current US wireless technology probably already supersedes the plug-in model, operating by simply driving the vehicle over a wireless charging pad. But earlier this year Porsche’s innovative 918 mid-engine sports car arrived in the US. A plug-in hybrid, its 4.6 liter V8 engine, which weighs 298lbs, develops 600hp at 8,500rpm and 390ft-lbs torque with two electric motors delivering an additional 280hp, giving a combined output of 880hp (600kW). The energy storage system is a 312-cell, liquid-cooled 6.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack positioned behind the passenger compartment. The jolt from its battery power sends this hybrid from 0-60 in 2.5seconds. More importantly it has the ability to fully recharge its battery pack while driving via the car’s regenerative braking system...

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...

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...

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...