John Force Racing joins with GM. Announces crew chief line-up

By Martha Maglone, February 1, 2015 YORBA LINDA, CA – Top talent Mike Neff will continue as crew chief for Robert Hight’s Auto Club Camaro SS Funny Car, but John Force Racing (JFR) has announced promotions that will expand the youth and depth of its team positions.  Starting with the promotion of Jon Schaffer as crew chief of 16-time Funny Car champion John Force. Previously Schaffer worked with Mike Neff as his assistant crew chief, but the 27 year-old Californian will be making the calls on Force’s PEAK Camaro SS Funny Car beginning with testing in Phoenix. Long-time crewman Tim Fabrisi will be stepping up to assist Neff on the Auto Club Camaro SS Funny Car. “We have developed the next generation of drivers,” said Force, “and now I want to do the same thing with our crew chiefs. We have so much young talent…I want to start giving these guys a chance to grow and develop their skills. Mike Neff, Ron Douglas, Dean Antonelli, Todd Smith and Dan Hood have a lot of experience and we want to continue to be competitive at a championship level. Guys like Jon Schaffer and Tim Fabrisi as well as new hires, Ronnie Thompson and Nick Casertano, will keep us young and on the cutting edge.” In addition to Schaffer’s promotion JFR has added car chief Nick Casertano to the PEAK Camaro SS Funny Car team. On the Top Fuel team led by Todd Smith, JFR has hired Ronnie Thompson to assist Smith with the Top Fuel dragster piloted by Brittany Force. Thompson was previously with Al-Anabi Racing working on Khalid AlBalooshi’s... read more

Kiwi magic: an infatuation with engine power

By Titus Bloom, February 4, 2015 In America we are continually impressed by the sheer numbers of racing enthusiasts in the little-populated large land of Australia. Dozens of Kaase Boss Nine hot rod engines have left our shores destined for the land Down-under. But have you ever contemplated the engineering accomplishments from the even smaller population of New Zealand? The World’s Fastest Indian Bert Munro was a phenomenon from Invercargill, located at the very tip of the South Island. He developed a 1920’s Indian motorcycle that became so successful on the Bonneville Salt Flats a movie was made to celebrate his achievements, many of which were financed in later life by his weekly pension. Munro’s Bonneville record of 1967 remains unbroken today. Then a generation later, John Britten emerged. Another Kiwi with a brilliant creative mind, Britten began his career as a sculptor and later as an outstanding architect. But in unaccountable contrast, for anyone who stood in the pits at Daytona in 1995 and witnessed his Britten 1000cc V-twin being started on the rollers, its irregular air-cracking staccato would remain indelibly in the memory. It competed against the best factory machines of the time and defeated them. Now, here’s Duke’s unique new concept:... read more

Autosport International Show: Radical RXC goes Spyder (open)

By Freddie Heaney, January 28, 2015 Birmingham, England: Fancy embarking on a great adventure? To occupy your mind in the grip of winter, you might consider the Autosport International show. It began in 1991 as the Racing Car show and has just celebrated its 25th anniversary this January. A pioneering concept originally, it revealed an era of optimism and energy, opening up an alluring world of racing cars old and new. It’s a venue where technology and industry and science and racing people flourish. Always based at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham, the inaugural event attracted just 150 exhibitors and 30,000 visitors. Last year, by comparison, the four-day show enticed 600 exhibitors and 82,000 visitors. Presenting an enchanting mix of modern and classic exhibits, it’s the nostalgia flavor, apparently, that’s often the main draw. Like our own PRI event held annually in Indianapolis, the UK exhibition serves as the traditional precursor to every race season. Company head Phil Abbott said, “The reaction to the Spyder quite surprised me—this was probably the best show we have ever attended in terms of sales. The SR3 is also selling well and the RXC, our gull-wing coupe, has just been homologated.” Radical race cars arrived in the US at the turn of the century. Always elegant and fast, they quickly established six lap records in the SCCA 1-liter D-Sport division between 2000 and 2002, won the prestigious June Sprints as well as two successive Southeastern National championships. Today, Radical North America thrives through a nationwide network of dealers. To find out more click on the link below it’s worth a look!... read more

Bright outlook for 2015 Engine Masters Challenge: Final rules revealed within 10 to 14 days

Sam Logan, February 3, 2015 Up to 40 of this country’s most gifted race engine builders will descend upon the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima to compete in the prestigious annual five-day contest known as the Engine Masters Challenge. Scheduled for October 5-9, crucial changes will affect this year’s format. The first change signals the end of Popular Hot Rodding magazine’s reign and the beginning of Hot Rod’s future. The largest auto performance magazine in the world, Hot Rod’s page circulation is estimated to be four times larger than that of the former PHR, and their website traffic approximately ten times greater. Even more interesting news is what Hot Rod plans to do with the contest. Significantly, they decided rather than settle for the traditional one or two elite classes they would expand the tournament to include five categories—crowning a winner at the end of each day. From the magazines’ perspective the new concept is brilliant. They set out to stimulate the imagination of the common enthusiast with a wider campaign. As a result, the new regulations allow them to exploit their editorial before a much greater audience during the course of the succeeding year—a concept not possible for Hot Rod hitherto. In addition, the rule makers are sympathetic to the idea that competing engines can be sold and put to productive use after the contest, unlike past dyno racing engines that were rarely useful to anyone without significant modification. At last year’s PRI exhibition, held on the second week of December in Indianapolis, Hot Rod, instead of conveying the rules, presented the engine builders with their new... read more

New alternator mounting brackets: SBC and BBC

By Ben Mozart, January 28, 2015 Two new alternator mounting brackets for Chevrolet small and big blocks KRC has released two new alternator mounting brackets: one places the alternator on the left side of the small-block Chevrolet, while the other is a reversible style that allows the alternator to be mounted either on the left or right hand side of the big-block Chevrolet. In both applications, the alternator is driven by the water pump and the brackets accommodate the small Powermaster 138mm Denso alternator. Much to the delight of the asphalt short-track racer the new small-block bracket moves 5lbs to 6lbs of alternator mass to the more favorable left side of the race car. KRC believes it to be the first of its kind. Supplied with bolts and spacers and assigned part number KRC40565000, this new bracket is perfect for pavement crate-engine race cars. It costs $113.26. The other bracket is a reversible style that positions the alternator on either the left or the right of the big-block Chevrolet engine. Instigated by requests from Northeast big-block racers, this bracket is also furnished with bolts and spacers, is assigned part number KRC40575000 and costs $93.08. Source: KRC Power Kennesaw, Georgia (800) 451-1074... read more

Nitrous: the race tuner’s biggest challenge

By Fergus Ogilvy, February 4, 2015 Starting a competition piston company in the second decade of this century could be a bleak proposition. Finding new customers isn’t easy. Engine builders have a stubborn tendency to remain faithful to their existing suppliers, unless something goes awry. You could play the game grimly and die of ulcers or you could play it with a light heart and dedication and perhaps survive without losing sleep. Gibtec Pistons, the Denver-based operation did exactly this. But they had one other valuable resource to rely upon: decades of experience at the competitive edge, including several ten-year development programs with NHRA Pro Stock teams But when asked where they see the biggest challenges in race engine tuning, company founder, Robbie Giebas, responds with one word: Nitrous!  Why so? “Well, the top tuners will tell you nitrous engines have never been completely mastered—there’s still an element of mystery about them. Nitrous oxide induction requires a totally different approach, and it’s a volatile science; if the tune-up is off a little, parts need replacing. “Unlike the turbo or blower guys, who might get fifty or sixty runs from their pistons, when those nitrous guys are really pushing hard they’re replacing rings every three or four runs—it resembles the Top Fuel class in many ways. If they ease off a little on the tune-up they’ll become uncompetitive. And when the racing gets close, they’ll routinely dismantle the engine after every pass. Leak-down tests, ring end-gap checks, raised ring lands, pinched rings these are constant topics in their world.” What provokes a raised ring land or a pinched ring? “Race... read more

Why we struggle: Surprise yourself by adopting the power of parallels

In John Pollock’s latest book “How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas,” he demonstrates a philosophy—a fundamental way of thinking—that can help us all. Thomas Edison famously said that genius requires “1percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” Edison’s third criterion for would-be innovators is less well-known but perhaps even more vital: “a logical mind that sees analogies.” To make an analogy is to make a comparison that suggests parallels or similarities between two distinct things and these connections have advanced some of the most important breakthroughs in history. These include the printing press, the airplane, the computer desktop and the assembly line, all of which were developed by the use of key conceptual analogies. How overhead trolleys in a meatpacking plant unlocked the potential of Ford’s Model T  Credit for the moving assembly line is often attributed to Henry Ford, but it was actually the brainchild of a young Ford mechanic named Bill Klann. After observing butchers at a meatpacking plant disassembling carcasses moving past them along an overhead trolley, Klann conceived a similar process by adding pieces to a chassis moving along rails. Overcoming significant management skepticism, Klann and his cohorts built a moving assembly line. Within four months, Ford’s line had cut the time it took to build a Model T from 12 hours per vehicle to just 90 minutes. In short order, the moving assembly line revolutionized manufacturing and unlocked trillion of dollars in economic potential. And while in retrospect this innovation may seem like a simple, obvious step forward, it wasn’t; the underlying analogy between moving disassembly and moving assembly had... read more

Quarter-mile world record for drag bicycle: 207mph in fewer than 4.8 seconds

By Freddie Heaney, October 28, 2014 On November 7, 2014, in the cool mid-autumn air of Circuit Paul Ricard located at Le Castellet near Marseille in the south of France, Swiss cyclist Francois Gissy riding a rocket-propelled bicycle reached a top speed of 207mph (333 km/h) in 4.8 seconds. Designed by Arnold Neracher, the bicycle has no aerodynamic aids, suspension or, seemingly, any effective braking system. To the elongated, ordinary-looking bicycle, Neracher added a hydrogen peroxide-powered rocket with three small thrusters fastened to its frame. The bicycle generates the approximate equivalent of 560hp and 416kW (4.5kN) of thrust. Gissy, the daredevil who lies above the highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide apparatus with legs and feet extended rearwards and subjected to 1.96Gs under acceleration, mentioned that his chief concern was the high wind forces acting upon his head. He and his team are currently focused on establishing a 250mph record. Click here to watch this record-setting... read more

Something odd happened at Santa Pod

By Archie Bosman, December 5, 2015 Earlier this year, on September 3-6, a number of records tumbled at the FIA European Drag Racing finals at Santa Pod Raceway. But Europe’s first permanent drag racing venue, established in 1966 on a former Second World War airbase at Podington near Bedford in England, had more in store. Unexpectedly, the event also included a most bizarre accident when Top Fuel biker Filippos Papafilippou crossed into the other lane, colliding with his rival, Steve Woollatt. The Greek landed fully on Woollatt’s wheelie bars, while his own bike ran on without him. Uninvited, Woollatt had acquired a passenger and dragged him along beyond the finish line. Though it took some time for Papafilippou to free his left foot from Woollatt’s wheelie bar frame, the Greek miraculously suffered only skin abrasion to his foot where the track surface had burnt through his leather boot. Watch the video: Almost 300 teams from all over Europe gathered to compete in 16 race classes including Top Fuel Dragsters, Pro Mods, Pro Stocks and Supertwin Drag Bikes. On the Friday, Norwegian Thomas Nataas, who secured the FIA Top Fuel title at the event, recorded 315mph over the 1000-foot race distance, a 4mph gain on his previous mark set in Sweden a couple of weeks earlier. He then lowered his time and raised his speed in Saturday’s qualifying with 3.949sec at... read more

Hydraulic release bearings: operating with the correct gap.

By Alfie Bilk, December 5, 2014 Unlike OEM clutch release bearing mechanisms that operate in constant contact with the clutch diaphragm fingers, high-performance aftermarket release bearings function only when the clutch pedal is depressed. Typically, these release bearings operate with 0.800in of potential travel. But more importantly they must be positioned with the correct gap when the pedal is not depressed; that is, the gap between the contact face of the release bearing and the clutch fingers. Excessive gap causes improper release; inadequate gap can cause the bearing to over-travel and collide with the snap ring or encounter slippage as the clutch wears and the fingers move back, making contact with the bearing. Single-disc clutches operate best with a gap of 0.150in while dual-disc sets require a gap of around 0.200in. Because the clutch fingers automatically travel toward the release bearing as the friction disc/s wear, an additional clearance of 0.050in is assigned to the dual-disc arrangement. Click to enlarge illustration. To establish the correct position of the release bearing on the input shaft, these measurements are required. Click here to access them: or to watch the video click here. Source: Ram Clutches Columbia,  SC 29203 (803) 788-6034 read more

Hill back on track: champion on bikes, boats and cars

Written by Bertie Scott Brown, November 3, 2014 Wichita Falls, Texas: Eddie Hill is a driver and team owner with a 40-year involvement in motor sport. He won numerous drag racing championships on land and water. On land he was the first to run the quarter-mile in the four-second range (4.990 seconds), which earned him the nickname “Four Father of Drag Racing.”  He also won the NHRA Top Fuel national championship in 1993. On water he won championships with all major marine drag racing sanctioning bodies and set a lowest, wet elapsed-time record of 5.16-second, which, at that time, was lower than the land drag racing record of 5.39 seconds. Earlier, in 1966, he established a motorcycle dealership in Wichita Falls and switched to motorcycle racing, winning the Texas state road racing championship in 1972, at the ripe age of 36!  By 2008 his operation had become the oldest Honda and Kawasaki dealership in Texas. In 1987 Hill became the first person to hold both land and water speed records simultaneously. When he retired in 1999, he had captured 12 national season point championships on land or water, more than 100 trophies in motorcycle racing and 86 drag racing events between his land and water careers. Today at 78 years of age he is still active…in an Ariel Atom. “I was afraid I’d be terminally bored when my Top Fuel days were over,” says Hill, “but the Ariel Atoms saved me.” Last year in the February issue of Kit Car Builder magazine they described an event at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit near Tulsa, Oklahoma, thus: “Eddie Hill can win... read more

PRI Grand Opening Breakfast energized by Snake and Mongoose

By Titus Bloom, September 2014 Snake Prudomme and Mongoose McEwen, the two former, prominent drag racers around whom the Snake and Mongoose movie was based, are scheduled to appear at this year’s PRI Grand Opening Breakfast. The event takes place on Thursday, December 11, at 8am in the Sagamore Ballroom in the Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis. If you missed them at the SEMA Breakfast held two years ago, which attracted an early morning audience of 1800, you might like to catch them at the PRI show. Doors open at 7am.  Joining MAVTV’s Dave Despain they’ll share their colorful racing stories, kicking off what PRI cites as the world’s largest gathering of motorsports professionals. With 49 career victories, Prudhomme remains the sixth most successful competitor in NHRA history. Beginning his driving career in 1962, he was the first driver to win the NHRA series title on four consecutive occasions. McEwen is listed as number 16 of the 50 most significant drivers of NHRA’s first 50 years, winning five NHRA national events. But these statistics hardly tell the entire story for McEwen went on to win three AHRA world titles competing against the same NHRA competitors. He also missed a significant number of ‘association’ events while chasing the lucre of match racing. Match racing paid the bills and in this arena he excelled, winning the 1973 Super Nationals in a Funny Car at Ontario, California, claiming a purse of $20,000 and the PDA event in Tulsa, Oklahoma which paid $35,000. But carrying victory in the last race at the famed Lions track in Los Angeles in 1972 was probably his most... read more