2021: Vested interests, emerging technologies and the dangers of ignoring change

Bertie S. Brown:   At a lunch table at last week’s MPMC conference, Cam Benty joined a seated media group. “In just four years’ time.” he said, “there’s a likelihood you’ll hardly recognize our automotive scene.” Benty, the editorial director of the magazine Power & Performance who was attending the SEMA event held each January in Los Angeles where 100 manufacturers meet the media, was referring to news from the VW Group who had recently formed a car/minibus company called Moia. An ancient name from the vast south Asian country India—Moia means magic and its aim is to exploit the many alluring opportunities in the emerging autonomous (no driver required) vehicle markets. As today with Uber, you will use your app to summon a vehicle. The purpose of Moia’s electric minibuses is to provide a service similar to taxi convenience for little more than a bus fare. They will shuttle about the major cities, pooling common journeys wherever possible to reduce emissions, congestion and cost. The trick in business is staying in business and developing a new concept—in this case ‘smart electric taxis’ that carry up to eight people—seems a fairly safe bet, especially useful for those who live in large towns and cities. Though the technology is near, the bigger hurdle will be gaining the approval of city authorities with extensive public transport networks already in place. Persuading governments to enact the required legislation is usually arduous. But the pace of change has never been suppressed for long. Last month while visiting the Auto Sport International show in England (originally the Racing Car Show), an Uber driver told... read more

Testing first small-block Ford Hemi

By Alfie Bilk: If you were seeking a guidebook on how not to carve out a career in motor sport, Greg Brown’s story might be a good starting place. Following two years of studying numerous concepts and with a prototype partially complete, he undertook the daunting task of pioneering production Hemi cylinder heads for the small-block Ford engine in a scant period of just under four and a half months. The processes for developing the rare Hemi included complex scanning to gather CAD data, mobilizing a casting company to create the tangible form and developing a CNC program that would sculpt its final shape. Then, a head was urgently dispatched to Jesel to develop crucial rocker development. With an intuitive grasp of the technical and an eye for future opportunities, what had shaped Brown’s decision? “If I failed to display it at the 2016 PRI exhibition in Indianapolis, I could potentially squander a year,” he said. The performance-minded public, particularly those based in the Northeast is large and active and languishing for a further 52 weeks in obscurity was obviously not an attractive proposition. Even more astounding, word of the unique cylinder head would be released without any convincing proof of a single dyno test. There was simply no time. When the inaugural dynamometer test of the new heads, which were attached to a 427ci World Products block, was eventually undertaken in January 2017, the results were astounding: 604hp and 601lb-ft torque. Astounding because the initial set up was meant to deliver 10.5:1 compression ratio. However, final valve changes were made, which entailed moving the intake valve seats to... read more

Sponsorship guru: a contract-clincher like no other

By Martha Maglone: Zak Brown briefly attended the opening of this year’s Auto Sport International show in Birmingham, England. The traditional curtain-raiser of the international motor racing season, it was formerly known as the Racing Car Show and, held annually, has been running since the 1960s. Brown, a 45-year old Californian, is known as the man with the magic touch. This Formula One sponsorship guru has sealed deals that have shaped motor racing worldwide. So successful and so well connected, he was tipped to succeed the most influential man in motor sport, Bernie Ecclestone. Born in Los Angeles, Brown arrived in England almost penniless, just sufficient funds to buy tuition at the Jim Russell Racing School at the Leicestershire venue Donington Park near Derby. Under the tutelage of Richard Dean, an adept, former F3000 racer, the nineteen-year old Brown proclaimed at the end of the week he wanted to be a professional racing driver and live in England and said to Dean, “Can I stay with you for a couple of nights?” Who would have known that this relationship would endure and thrive and that Brown would go on to attract business connections that would make your mouth water. He formed JMI, Just Marketing International the world’s largest motor sport marketing agency and is widely credited with the highest profile deals, attracting the most new-money sponsors in the F1 paddock. Bizarrely, he didn’t attend college, “I’m not sure I could even spell it,” says Brown. “The business came out of a necessity to make a living because I wasn’t making a good living as a driver. The business came... read more

Steering pump creator: Ken Roper

By Fergus Ogilvy: The annual PRI exhibition in Indianapolis provides valuable time to catch up with old friends. It also offers particularly good opportunities to tap into the productive minds of our industry’s designers and problem solvers. You’ll see their familiar faces peak out from their booths among the surge of racers in the corridors. I’m particularly interested in those whose work is not always predictable—those who tend to ignore boundaries, odd ducks often given to the unexpected. Some have sunny dispositions while others can be dour or aloof. Some are self-absorbed, some chronic complainers and a few irascible. But all are characterized by a keen sense of observation, ingenuity and persistence. Their products are brilliantly conceived—some just sitting there quietly on a show table hitherto unseen and unheralded—ready to rise from obscurity. “Look,” says Ken Roper, with youthful enthusiasm, “this 10-rib pulley belt system transforms the Dirt Late Model’s durability.” These cars, as we know, operate in thick dust and dirt and this example had run 1,500 laps on a Super Late  Model. “It looks immaculate—have you encountered better?” A retrospective of Roper’s work always fascinates. In 1985 at age 33, the father of a 14-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter, Roper had served the telephone company Southern Bell and AT&T for 15 years when an ultimatum came: move to Miami. But Southern boys with dirt track racing settled in their minds have a deep attachment to home turf and little interest in moving from the domain they know. So instead he accepted his $18,000 severance compensation and developed his first company, Fast Lane Racing Equipment. Based in Woodstock,... read more

Ian Tocher takes tough decision for better prospects

By Martha Maglone: Ian Tocher’s total recovery from severe injury was blighted when infection penetrated his injured left leg in mid-October. Two weeks and four days ago he took the decision to go prosthetic and have it amputated below the knee.  “The lower leg was beyond repair and I’m going to have a better quality of life with a prosthetic,” said Ian this morning. His infection stalled a promising recovery and brought the situation to a head. Bacteria, apparently, was residing in the hardware, the titanium rod and fasteners, and to address the problem all the hardware had to be removed. His orthopedic surgeon confirmed the matter, saying that the bacteria had migrated from the screw threads and penetrated his bones, causing them further deterioration. Under no illusions, his stark prospects were either a series of bone grafts, involving multiply invasive surgeries—which might or might not leave the leg strong enough to support him—or a prosthetic limb. “We’d reached the point where the prosthetic limb was the most sensible option,” Ian commented. “It was a point of relief. I’d been handicapped by 15 pounds of dead weight down there, which was physically taxing. And in the New Year I’ll have my prosthetic and I’ll be walking again, attending the races and playing hockey again.” I’m the goalie and goalies are irrepressible!” Ian Tocher, who is Drag Illustrated’s senior reporter / photographer, was struck by Ronnie Davis’s Corvette when it crashed during a qualifying run at Rockingham on April 10,... read more

New Idea, New Price: Steering news for short-track racers

By Archie Bosman: Did you know most hydraulic racing and high-performance power steering pumps are rebuilt street car pumps and that electric steering is regarded as the single worst attribute of the modern road-going car? Lack of consistent feel and listlessness on-center are its common criticisms. When Porsche was asked why they use such an abomination, their sources reported that its advantage is fuel saving—a free tank of fuel every 40,000 miles. Maybe so, but would anyone care? Thankfully, KRC the Kennesaw, Georgia, power steering specialist, didn’t pretend to be treading virgin territory in  earlier times, but now they probably stand alone. Le Mans 24-hour endurance race winners and NASCAR teams are among their highest profile proponents. What is new, though, is their Elite series power steering pump. Based on their Pro Series III, the Elite shares many of its best properties, including 9 flow adjustments that allow drivers to adapt steering feel to their preference. Also, the Elite features sealed bearings—an upgrade from the standard bushings found in competing power steering pumps. But most important is its price: PN# ESP 10096000 Elite Series Pump $299.98 PN# ESP 10096100 Elite Series Pump with bolt-on aluminum tank $399.98 Considering a Pro Series III or the new Elite Series? Click here for a list of the features of each. For more information contact an Authorized KRC Power Steering Pump Distributor or visit www.KRCPower.com Meet KRC founder Ken Roper and his team at the PRI exhibition Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, Dec 8-10, Booth... read more

Exclusive LS3 crate engine just announced

From Ohio Speed Shops. Owner Chuck Fitch has released information on their latest GM LS3 6.2L 525HP crate engine package with self-learning EFI system. Only $8679.99 And for a limited time they offer Free dyno testing and engine break-in service. 48-state Free Truck Freight shipping also applies. For more information click here.   Optional upgrades include: Integrated auto transmission controller + $250.00 Oil pan change/upgrade. + $350.00 (average cost of engine swap style oil pans and installation) Forced induction EFI system, supports up to 750HP +... read more

New Edelbrock Victor II 5.0L Coyote Intake Manifold

Edelbrock has announced the release of their new intake manifold for the 2011-16 Ford 5.0L Coyote V8 engine. Designated Victor II the intake (#7180) is designed for use with Ford Coyote engines running in the 1500 – 7500 rpm operating range. To gain optimum performance it features long tapered, crossover-style runners with a large plenum. In addition, its cast aluminum construction makes it ideal for nitrous, supercharged and turbo applications. This intake manifold also includes provisions for all emissions equipment and retains the stock fuel rail. Moreover, the Victor II features cast bosses on the runners to accommodate a direct-port nitrous system for competition applications. Plus, its low-profile design accommodates all factory 2011-16 Ford Mustang hoods and strut tower braces. It’s also compatible with Ford Performance Parts 90mm throttle body without requiring an adapter. Engine dyno testing revealed an additional 27lb-ft of torque over a common aftermarket plastic upgrade intake manifold and a further 16hp over the stock intake manifold. Features Include: • Designed for use with factory Ford Coyote 5.0L engines with stock-style cylinder heads • Features long tapered, crossover-style runners with a large plenum for outstanding performance • The Victor II generates a further 27lb-ft of torque over a common plastic upgrade intake manifold and 16hp over the stock manifold • Designed, cast in aluminum and machined in the USA for unsurpassed quality and performance... read more

Kenny Duttweiler holds court at PRI

By Martha Maglone: About six or seven years ago, noted engine builder Kenny Duttweiler was invited to speak at the PRI show. They told him to look respectable and show-up at 7:30am, half an hour before his presentation. Hair cut neatly, finger nails cleaned, the appearance of a successful businessman, he duly arrived. It was the biggest empty space he’d ever seen. “Must have been three hundred empty chairs or more; they’re optimistic, I thought.” By 8:00am the place was packed. Following his feats of power production with the famous land-speed record breaker, the Streamliner, Kenny Duttweiler is admired as much for capturing the turbo era and its mood at the Bonneville Salt Flats as the life he has lived since the age of 12, cleaning carbon deposits from engine valves in the flower of his youth with his father . Naturally aspirated or turbocharged: the difference is dramatic Last year in naturally aspirated form, the Streamliner generated 642hp compared to 2660hp with the turbochargers engaged—same engine, same day.  “I had 70 pulls on the dyno,” he comments, “some of them normally aspirated, some at different boost levels, some with vacuum in the sump and some not. But when I hook up those turbochargers, adjust boost levels to 45psi, boy, does it make power!” Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, Saturday, Dec 10, 8 till 8:50am: Kenny’s presentation is open to all, a free walk-in and sit-down affair. Expect astute analyses followed by a question-and-answer session. So head for room number 243, grab a seat and... read more

Update on new Hemi cylinder heads for small-block Fords

After twenty years of reporting developments in racing and performance parts, it’s useful to remember just how confounding it is to accurately predict what new designs might appeal and what might not. But the response to our recent account of the new small-block Ford Hemi cylinder head from Hammerhead Performance Engines was unprecedented. It inspired tens of thousands. Distinguished innovations and their inherent beauty, their complicated geometry and the precision of their machined parts are the things that motivate us all. This being the case, here below are a few of the latest photographs illustrating the assembly of the 427cu-in block on which the first Hemi heads will be attached. This week, December 8-10, Greg Brown, the product creator will debut the new heads, rockers, valve covers at the 2016 PRI exhibition in Indianapolis. His exhibit can be observed at the World Products booth #1343. Contact Greg at: hammerheadperformanceengines.com Read the original story... read more

Androwick on Oval Track, Pro Stock, a new racing head, an intake and a vacancy

By Sam Logan: In the past eight years, Mike Androwick’s reputation along with that of his son, Mike Jr. had become synonymous with designing and preparing race-winning cylinder heads for big-block Super Dirt Series championship winners. His heads have graced those winners in 2013, ’14, and ‘15. And this year, as an associate sponsor, they won 5 track championships and finished 2nd 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 9th in the Super Dirt Car Series. Year-to-date his company, Mike’s Racing Heads based in Concord, North Carolina has supplied 150 cylinder heads to these racers. This being the case, you might conclude he had rendered every other racing head market as inconsequential. Except he didn’t. Success boils down to passionate effort and much of Androwick’s passion has been riveted on Pro Stock since boyhood. This year he and his team assisted the Denver, North Carolina-based Gray Motorsports in designing and preparing heads and induction systems for their NHRA Pro Stock campaign. And the results? Three number-one qualifiers, three wins, two runners-up and 15 semifinals Creating successful racing heads and induction systems is a craft, part inspiration but mostly know-how and hard work, which reminds one of that wonderful Bob Glidden line: “All hard work ever did was to make you tired.” Still, when you’re in the shop from around 7am and remain there until 8 or 9pm you’d think the romance of your chosen career would gradually fade. Not so with Androwick. He still embodies the young man’s eagerness for learning and improvement. Displaying at booth 2332 at this week’s PRI exhibition at the Indianapolis Convention center, December 8-10, here are... read more

The anatomy of the supercharger or what makes it tick

By Titus Bloom: Superchargers are magical devices. They increase the oxygen supply to the engine by compressing the air, thus increasing its density. Accordingly, the engine burns more air-fuel mixture and produces more power. In a centrifugal supercharger, the air is propelled through the compressor wheel and compressed in the diffuser—the thin passage formed between the compressor cover and the bearing housing—and in the volute or scroll where its kinetic energy is converted to pressure. All of the dimensions, including the diameter of the diffuser, diffuser gap distance, size and diameter of the volute, contribute to the degree of compression. In a turbocharger—exhaust-driven forced induction—the compressor wheel is powered by exhaust flow, but in the supercharger the compressor wheel is driven via a gearbox that takes its power from a crankshaft pulley by way of a drive belt. The gearbox accelerates the compressor wheel from engine speed to a point where the compressor operates efficiently. Here below is the assembly process:                                         Source: TorqStorm Superchargers Rick Lewis (616) 706-5580 Sales@TorqStorm.com... read more