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...

Muldowney to attend 60th anniversary of NHRA US Nationals

By Martha Maglone Cha Cha unites with Garlits, Prudhomme and McEwen at Indy More than three decades after she won the NHRA US Nationals, Shirley Muldowney will be one of several drag racing stars returning to the Indianapolis track to celebrate not only her own memorable victory there in 1982 but also the NHRA’s 60th anniversary at the famed track. Scheduled for Labor Day weekend (Aug. 27 – Sept.1) the three-time NHRA national drag racing championship title holder with 18 career victories and the first female winner at Indy, Muldowney will attend this year’s spectacular to reunite with her fans and accept a presentation scheduled for Saturday. Recently moved to Huntersville, NC from her home state of Michigan, Muldowney earned the greatest victory of her distinguished Top Fuel career in September, 1982 at Indianapolis. Her only victory at the prestigious drag race, the triumph propelled her to a third NHRA championship title and international prominence, portrayed by the 1983 movie Heart Like a Wheel that characterized Muldowney’s life and career. “The fact that it was Indy and the final pair was the quickest and fastest side-by-side run ever at the time made it so special,” Muldowney has said. “There is a lot of prestige gained by winning Indy because people remember Indy wins more vividly than any other,” she added. “It’s the biggest race. I think its sporting credentials and its rich history make it so important. A race win there is always the one most cherished. Not every racer can say they have won it. I can say I have won it.” At that time, Muldowney called the...
Wild Wilfred: Racing rocker arm virtuoso goes home

Wild Wilfred: Racing rocker arm virtuoso goes home

By Sam Logan Photography by Moore Good Ink, April 15, 2014 Dawsonville, Georgia: How is it that the man who makes the finest racing rocker arms—five to six hundred sets per year—is virtually unknown? His valve train parts, which are shipped in unmarked boxes, flow from his modest manufacturing facility in north Georgia about fifty miles north of Atlanta. They carry the promise of winning. The shop, which is not open to the public is also unmarked and sits among the evergreen scenery and the burnished magnolia at the end of a neat concrete drive behind a gated entrance. In the shop, customers’ names are rarely mentioned. Indeed this policy of discretion is understandable as professional racing teams work hard to gain an advantage and it’s in their interests and those who serve them to remain tight-lipped. Racing, particularly the kind where engine power predominates, requires secrecy and Wilfred Boutilier of WW Engineering knows how to play the game. In nineteen-sixty-five Wild Wilfred Boutilier now 76-years-old left his Nova Scotia homeland, pursuing an ardor for NHRA drag racing. In the nineteen-seventies he competed in Pro Comp Alcohol Funny car, winning at Englishtown in 1974 and again at the Fall Nationals in Seattle, Washington a year later. Boutilier continued racing though not from the confines of a Funny Car. He was the first to create billet heads for Donovan blocks. He also produced them for Lamar Walden’s Chevrolet 409s. The finest rocker arms you’ve never heard of: Almost thirty years ago Boutilier began developing competition rocker arms from billet aluminum. Why would he do that? Why would he not use...

First filtered reservoir for power steering systems

By Ben Mozart -Filter intervenes before harmful particles are passed to pump -Doesn’t impede steering fluid flow. -Reservoir swivels 360° to point return line in any direction Kennesaw, Georgia: KRC is launching a new power steering reservoir. Its principal, Ken Roper says, “This is the first filtered power steering reservoir of its kind.” Though small filters are often placed in the inlet and outlet ports of power steering reservoirs, this is the first with a full Oberg filter screen. Its main objective is to ensure clean fluid is conveyed to the power steering pump without causing restriction at its inlet. Initially designed for sand rails, rock crawlers, mud and desert racing vehicles it was soon discovered to be ideal for short track oval dirt cars, off-road trucks and Monster trucks. Indeed any vehicle operating in a dirty environment where the racer wants to protect an expensive competition power steering pump or steering gearbox, it will arrest dust, dirt and all contaminants. The two-piece canister measures 4.5in diameter and 4.5in tall with the 4in Oberg coarse screen sandwiched between both halves. Radial slots and a perimeter register, a flat groove, are machined in both halves to keep the screen properly seated. Conveniently, the top of the reservoir can be swiveled 360 degrees to point the return line in any direction. Though not supplied with fittings, the reservoir is equipped with a -8AN O-ring port in the side (return flow) which accepts -8AN or -6AN male nipples. The -12AN O-ring port at the bottom of the reservoir accommodates –12AN, –10AN, or –8AN male nipples to feed the pump. These O-ring fittings...