Every year, the racing industry uses the Performance Racing Industry and IMIS-Indy trade shows, both held in early December to debut new products that will be available to racers and engine builders for the upcoming racing season. That’s why we’re always eager to attend the shows to see just what goodies are going to be on our Christmas wish list. And this year was no different.
We saw—and drooled over—everything from air cleaners to tire cleaner. Lots of it is simply a refinement of something that’s already out there, some of it is incredibly inventive, and some of it left us scratching our heads. To help give you a heads-up on the competition we’ve rounded up some of the best, most interesting, and most useful items we found from the show.
There should be something in here you can find useful. Enjoy!
Lots of racetracks and sanctioning bodies try to hold down speeds by requiring the use of an rpm limiter. And a lot of times racers are trying to use their tach and the driver’s eyeballs to make sure they are hitting the chip consistently and at the right point on the racetrack. But a mechanical tach can vary considerably from your engine’s true rpm, and if you can’t trust your tach, how do you know that the rev limiter is accurate?
Crane solved that problem with its Digital Rev Limit Tester. This unit not only works with Crane’s racing ignition systems, but it’s also compatible with MSD’s 6 series and Mallory’s CD ignition systems and is accurate to plus or minus 5 rpm. Not only can you ensure that your rev limiter is hitting at the right rpm level, but it can also be used to check the accuracy of your tach.
GM’s crate racing programs have taken off at racetracks across the country. They are popular because they are quite inexpensive compared to most handbuilt race engines, but with that economy does come a few trade-offs. One of the big ones is the valvesprings. The stock springs used in the 602 and 604 crate engines lose their tension, and most race teams find they must change the springs after just three or four weekends of racing.
To deal with that issue, Comp Cams has developed these valvesprings designed to be a drop-in upgrade for Chevy crate engines. They install at the same height and have the same pressures, but the improved quality of materials and surface finish means these springs won’t lose their tension over the course of a season versus just a few races. And if your sanctioning body just happens not to allow aftermarket valvesprings, these bad boys visually look just like stock—not that we’re suggesting anything…
Modern action sports video cameras are a marvel of engineering and we’ve seen some incredible in-car videos produced from these little gems. But one complaint we often hear from teams is that after sitting on pit road waiting to get onto the track, warm-up laps, and if there is an extended caution, the small batteries the cameras run off of can’t make it through to the checkered flag.
Replay XD has a new hardwire system for its cameras that not only means a dead battery is no longer an issue, but you can also control when the camera is recording right from easy reach on your dash. No more wading through 20 laps under caution filling up your memory card because some backmarker hit the wall again.
Super Light Clutch
Quarter Master continues to push the boundaries of lightweight clutches. Its newest design swaps out the standard back plate for a machined aluminum unit. There’s also a fulcrum ring, which cuts additional weight. This cuts a full pound and a half off of an already light clutch system. Best of all, if you already have a Quarter Master clutch, it will sell you just the parts you need to upgrade your existing hardware.
Rear Mount Alternator and Power Steering
KRC Power Steering’s new rear mount alternator and power steering pump assembly for Ford Racing crate engines is designed for dirt track racing. It allows you to simplify everything going on at the front of the engine and move a little more weight to the center of the chassis. The mounting system keys off the bellhousing and includes a single serpentine water pump drive with an idler tensioner. All the necessary bolts and brackets are included in the kit.
KRC Power Steering
LS Oil Pan
More and more tracks are allowing LS-based engines because they make easy power and are quickly becoming plentiful in the junkyards. The aftermarket has supported the LS engine for years, but this time around we noticed a big uptick of products to help the LS engine go stock car racing. Milodon’s dry-sump oil pan for LS engines is definitely one of the coolest in this category. This pan has all the tricks to minimize horsepower losses from windage. It can handle stroke up to 4.25 inches, but is only 4.5 inches deep to work with big bar/soft spring setups. There are two oil pickups under the windage screen, and the adjustable scrapers fit tightly between the crankshaft counterweights.
Quick Fuel Technology now has billet carburetor fuel bowls with extra volume. The larger bowls mean more stable fuel delivery to the carburetor jets and venturis, as well as more stable fuel temps. Quick Fuel has also incorporated baffling into the bowls to minimize fuel slosh so that the jets are never uncovered.
Quick Fuel Technology
CP-Carrillo’s new X Forging pistons aim to bring top-shelf quality at a great value. These Chevy flat-top pistons, for example, sport an 0.043-, 0.043-, 3mm ring package and gas ports for great cylinder sealing. A short 2.250-inch pin length also helps keep weight to a minimum. These forged pistons are designed to work well in high compression applications.
Dirt Accessory Drive
Jones Racing Products’ new rear-mount accessory drive system for dirt track racing cleans up the accessory drives and moves the alternator to the rear of the engine where it is better protected and out of the way. The alternator pulls less than one-half of one horsepower and is driven off the pulley of the multi-stage oil pump. The entire system mounts up to the bellhousing unlike many systems that mount to the motor midplate. This eliminates fitment issues for teams that wish to scallop the midplate to cut unnecessary weight.
Jones Racing Products
Brake on Left
Afco’s new brake pedals are quite a switch—literally. The Ultimate Brake Pedal Assembly, as Afco calls it, moves the brake pedal to the left and puts the clutch in the center between the brake and throttle pedals. The idea is that you don’t stand with your feet directly side by side, so the extra space between the pedals will feel more comfortable to you in the race car. Besides the pedal switch, this unit has been designed through FEA analysis to be as much as 30 percent more rigid. And less pedal flex equals better brake feel for the driver.
JRi is a trusted shock manufacturer for several of NASCAR’s top Truck, Nationwide, and Cup teams, and now it’s consistently moving into the Saturday night racing ranks. Its newest offering is a United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS) legal shock. It can be had with and without a Schrader valve depending on your rules, and it features the same JRi commitment to quality found it its shocks for high-level professional teams.
Lots of engine builders working with GM’s LS engines are forced to use a double-row timing chain for the strength it provides to stand up to the extra stresses from racing. But the added thickness of the double-row chain creates fitment issues. It can create problems with the timing cover and require spacers for the water pump. But Cloyes has eliminated that need with its single-row Z Chain timing sets for LS engine. The Z Chain is said to be incredibly strong and can handle engines with as much as 680 pounds of open spring pressure. And that’s with the camshaft spinning the distributor as well. The sprockets are heat treated billet and the crank sprocket is adjustable to plus or minus 6 degrees.
Cloyes Gear and Products
479/646-1662, ext. 228
One of the issues all shock tuners have to deal with is the fact that as the shock compresses, the rod takes up volume inside the shock body. That’s the reason there is always some type of gas inside the shock. You have to have something that will compress when the rod extends into the shock body because the shock oil won’t.
But Penske’s Through-Rod Shock design eliminates the need for that because the rod extends all the way through the shock body so the volume inside the shock body never changes. With this shock design, fiddling with gas pressure is no longer an issue. The one drawback is that the through-rod system won’t work with every car—especially if you have clearance issues above the shock. The through-rod also won’t allow the shock to be mounted in double shear.
Penske Racing Shocks
Every year the racing industry uses the Performance Racing Industry trade show held in early December to debut new products that will be available to racers and engine builders for the upcoming racing season
Currently, Auto Meter’s new digital gauge readout is designed specifically for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars because it ties into the engine management system they use, but we don’t doubt that we’ll be seeing something like this for Saturday night racers before too long. This is more than just a fancy video screen with some gauges on it. Auto Meter has programmed this unit so that it changes the readout based on the situation. For example, if the engine is at low rpm levels, the tach redlines for your programmed pit-road speed. Or while the oil temps are low, the unit assumes you are warming the engine and the oil temp gauge moves to the normal position for the tach for easy readability. Warning lights and gauges can all be programmed to your specific parameters. The panel is three times brighter than an iPhone and glare resistant, so it should always be easily visible to the driver no matter the sun’s position.
Sprint Car Front Drive
Here’s an item that’s still in prototype stage, but we were impressed enough to share it with you. CV Products’ XTS line is developing a new Sprint Car Cam Drive system for small-block Chevys with the raised cam that’s prominent in Sprint Car racing. The beltdrive system uses a 40mm belt to help dampen valvetrain harmonics and is said to be able to withstand engine temperatures in excess of 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The drive uses a roller thrust bearing to eliminate excessive fiddling with a bunch of shims, and rare earth magnets are used in the integrated crank trigger for accurate cylinder timing. CV’s engineers say that the system is currently being tested with a few select teams, so the design won’t be finalized until they see success on the racetrack.
Most of us don’t have the means to perform our own sled testing, so there is a certain amount of trust that must be taken when purchasing a head-and-neck restraint system. That’s why we’re sharing with you that Simpson’s Safety Solutions Hybrid Pro head-and-neck restraint system has been certified by the FIA for racing. We understand that few of Circle Track’s readers will be doing any sports car racing in Europe any time soon, but its acceptance by another high level racing body is just another level of proof that the Hybrid Pro works as advertised.
Custom Crew Shirts
Custom crew shirts have been around for a while, but a company called Throttle Threads is putting a new twist on the old work shirt. First, it will help you design a logo for your race team. Once you have the look you want, it can stitch whatever you want onto patches practically any size and shape. Instead of stitching directly on the shirt, the patches are heat bonded to the shirt so you won’t get that bunching you so often see. Plus, Throttle Threads has a cool option where you can have a sleeve patch identifying each crew member, such as “Crew Chief,” “Tire Specialist,” and more.
Big Cam Iron Block
World’s new cast-iron block brings big time engine tech to an affordable cast-iron block. A big cam tunnel will accept a 50mm cam with a roller bearing or a 55mm big boy with a babbet cam bearing. The crankcase can handle a stroke of up to 4 inches and the block can be ordered with either a 9.025- or 9.075-inch deck height. The lifter bores arrived already bushed and can be sized to accept either 0.904- or 0.842-inch diameter lifters. Best of all, World doesn’t upcharge its customers for the different options.
Pro Seal Gaskets
JE’s new Pro Seal line is taking MLS gasket tech to the next level. The steel layers are all laser cut and the embossed lines that provide the critical sealing capabilities are created in a multi-step process (instead of a single stamping) to reduce stress points. JE is also using a proprietary new coating technology on the gaskets that covers all the material, not just the outer two pieces of metal.
Lightweight Connecting Rod
Molnar Technologies is a new kid on the block, but its engine components are already showing up in winning race engines. Of particular interest is its new lightweight Chevy rod which is a great option for Late Model Stock and other two-barrell classes that top out at 450 to 500 horsepower. This rod has a very narrow beam and can be ordered as light as 496 grams. Quality 3/8-inch ARP bolts are used, and lengths can be had between 5.800 and 6.250.
INEX, the sanctioning body for Legends racing, has announced that it will now allow radios to be used in the Masters and Pro Legends racing classes. And right on the heels of that announcement, Racing Electronics stepped up with a custom-designed radio harness designed to suit the needs of these racers. This radio harness will adapt to all receivers, is easy to install and—along with most things in Legends racing—is designed to be affordable.
Wireless scales have been around for a while now, but Longacre has made life easier for race teams by eliminating the bulky receiver unit and replacing it with a lightweight tablet. Besides giving you your information in an easy-to-read format, Longacre has also taken advantage of the modern tablet technology for a few extra conveniences. For example, as you work your way around the car, you can spin the screen to always keep the readout oriented in the same position you are. You can quickly hide the readout if you happen to be scaling your car at the racetrack and a competitor stops by to visit. Heck, you can even download a photo of your own race car to the tablet.
The Pit Grill
How’s this for efficiency: You can go to the pit box for the 3/8-inch socket and flip the burgers at the same time? It may sound silly at first, but this has got to be one of the most interesting pit boxes ever. PitBoxes.com’s Grill Box measures 24 inches wide by 58 inches long by 60 inches tall and features a stainless steel gas grill built in. Actually, this isn’t really a box for tools, but there’s plenty of room for vittles and even a space for a cooler. The Grill Box comes in red, black, or white and is sure to be a focal point for entertaining family, friends, and—most importantly—sponsors in your pit.
We saw—and drooled over—everything from air cleaners to tire cleaner
Meet the Lil’ Bo, BLP’s newest invention. By cutting on the venturis BLP has created a 750 size carb body that can flow 1,200 cfm. Of course, there’s more to it than simply going in and hogging out a lot of material. We’re told they have to weld in a bunch of material to reshape the sides of the two big venturis to maintain proper throttle response.
BLP Racing Products
Sprint Car Billet
Callies has a new high-end crankshaft specifically for Sprint Car racing engines. The crank is designed to be among the lightest on the market at just 38 pounds. Besides being cut from billet steel for maximum strength, it is also profile cut to reduce windage and has an oil-shedding finish. The flanges can be modified to your specifications and a variety of journal diameters and stroke options are available.
Design Engineering Incorporated is an industry leader when it comes to heat protection in your race car. One of its newest products is the Titanium Pipe Shield. Instead of a wrap, this shield can be laid over a portion of a tube—like the exhaust pipe after of the collector. The insulator covers only the area of the tube you want to keep heat away from and leaves the rest uncovered so that the heat can radiate out. Meanwhile, you aren’t carrying any unnecessary weight. This can be helpful for keeping exhaust heat from cooking your transmission and fluid. The Titanium Heat Shield connects securely and easily with integrated hose clamps.
Design Engineering Inc.
It’s great when parents support their sons and daughters to follow their racing dreams, but fitting a smaller body into a fullsize race car does require a few adjustments. Unfortunately, sometimes the changes required to get a shorter, smaller driver comfortable in the cockpit can move him or her outside the range where the chassis is designed to keep the driver safest. For example, to compensate for short legs and arms the easiest solution is simply to move the seat forward. But that makes it more likely the driver can hit his helmet on the halo bar or dash. Instead, Allstar Performance has developed this pedal extension kit to safely move the brake and clutch pedals forward either 2 or 4 inches while leaving the seat mounted where it will do the most good when it comes to keeping the driver safe.
Pull Bar Rater
Intercomp’s new Pull Bar Rater is small and portable, making it easy to take to the track for last-minute setup changes. It has a 5,000-pound capacity and allows pull bars to be loaded in tension. You can also rate compression-type traction links. The maximum travel of 6 inches means it’s compatible with most pull bars, and the total length is extendable to 36 inches.
Keyser’s new line of aluminum radiators are made in the USA and are fully brazed for maximum efficiency. They can be had with a variety of options, including single- or double-row cores and 1- or 11/4-inch tubes. Keyser can help you choose the style that suits your engine and track the best. But the most interesting feature is its adaptability. Each radiator is threaded to receive screw-in fittings. Some engine builders prefer a -16 AN size water hose, while others build their engines for a -20. If you change engines, no more throwing out your radiator. This one can handle either.
Better Bushed Lifters
Isky has improved its already- exceptional line of bushed roller lifters for high-horsepower racing engines. Called the Epsilon-ZMAX, these new bushed lifters use an ultra low friction material for the bushings, which eliminate the possibility of a failed needle bearing. Besides low friction, this new material can handle higher loading than ever before. The bushed lifters are recommended for any 0.842, 0.904 or 0.937 diameter lifter installed with over 400 pounds of spring pressure on the seat and 1,100 to 1,400 pounds of pressure with the valve open.
Isky Racing Cams
Dart has been trusted for years by engine builders for its excellent engine castings, and its new LS-based block looks like it will be a real winner in racing circles in coming years. Dart didn’t simply copy the GM design, it added many of its own touches to the block which should make it quite attractive to race engine builders. There is a priority-main oiling system which keeps plenty of oil around the main journals even at high-rpm levels, enlarged water jackets for improved cooling, steel four-bolt main caps, traditional small-block motor mounts, and beefed up main webs—just to name a few of the upgrades. But what’s most noticeable about this block is the lack of a lower skirt like you see on a stock LS block. Dart’s engineers say that the skirted design robs power and that by going to a conventional small-block–style crank barrell area around the main caps they not only strengthened the block but also eliminated the problem of separate bays in the crankcase.
Updated Ford Crate
Ford Racing’s crate engine program has been around for a couple years now, so it’s not exactly new. But there are some interesting new developments that we thought were worth passing along. The engine is still available as either a sealed crate or a kit that you (or your engine builder) can assemble yourself, but the block is now honed from the factory with torque plates to add another level of precision. You can also order the engine with smaller 7mm valve stems for tracks or classes that don’t require stock sized valves. Ford Racing’s “Blue Oval” crate has definitely seen success on the track; last year Ford Racing engines won 13 events in the UARA Late Model series, and of those 13, 12 were crates.
Ford Racing Parts
Modified Asphalt Body
Five Star’s new body for asphalt Modified racers looks like it’s putting quite a few new aero tricks into play for this class. The nose features Five Star’s new MD3 design, which has already had great success on Modified dirt cars. The cowl looks a lot like an asphalt Late Model Stock design with a few tweaks, and the sides have been given plastic rockers that look really sharp. There’s even an integrated flare for the rear wheels designed to minimize turbulence around the rear wheels. There are definitely too many tricks involved with this new body to cover in this small space.
Five Star RaceCar Bodies
Diamond Pistons had a unique display that definitely caught a lot of racers’ eyes. Balanced on steel rods were a series of pistons for different applications. The pistons are from Diamond’s new program designing pistons that are perfectly balanced both front-to-back and side-to-side. Balanced pistons are already in use with several big-league race teams, but they haven’t been available to Saturday-night racers before. The idea is to fight the tendency of pistons with super-light ring packages and small skirts to rock over at TDC at high rpm levels. The thin rings are great at reducing sliding friction against the cylinder bore, but they also lose cylinder seal more quickly when the piston rocks over. The balanced piston helps keep the piston—you guessed it—balanced throughout its stroke so less blow by makes it past the rings. Currently, Diamond is producing these as custom pistons only.
High End Axles & More
One of the biggest announcements of the tradeshow season was the introduction of Strange Oval. Strange Oval is a sister company of Strange Engineering, known for its ultra high-end rearend and suspension components for drag racing. Strange Oval offers a line of parts specifically tailored to the circle track industry. At the IMIS tradeshow, Strange Oval was not only introduced to the racing world, but also unveiled its high-end axles, torsion bars, and had a set of prototype shocks on display. Its lightweight gun-drilled designed torsion bars are made from aircraft quality chrome vanadium steel, which offers superior yield strength. They are available in lengths from 24- to 30-inches, in 0.800- to 1.050-inch diameters.
Powertrain Technology is making a major play in the racing market with its clutch and driveline products. It has offerings that cover everything from the Street Stock racers all the way up to NASCAR’s Cup Series—and that’s no exaggeration. Of the many innovative products the company had on display, we chose to spotlight this incredibly light flexplate. It weighs less than 2 pounds yet still offers a durable steel ring. Combined with the scalloped flywheel that you see here, Powertrain Technology says that it is by far the lightest clutch and stock-diameter flexplate setup you will find anywhere.
Before developing the FR9 race engine for Ford’s NASCAR Cup Series teams, Roush Yates Engines ran a front drive system on their Windsor race engines that was proven to be extremely tough, protected the valvetrain, and cut horsepower losses. Now Roush Yates Performance Products (an arm of the engine building operation) is providing the front drive to anyone looking to get more out of their Windsor race engines. This front drive will fit Windsor blocks from 289, 302, and 351 sizes. Everything you need is included to seal all oil behind the front cover so that your belt runs dry and cool.
Roush Yates Performance Products
Wilwood has redeveloped it’s lightweight braking systems for Late Model and Crate racers. The company’s new Starlite 55 XD hubs move the mounts for the rotor closer to the center of the hub where there is more material to reduce stress cracking. A steel back mount plate bolts between the hub and the brake rotor and has provisions for the rotor to be mounted either as a floater (to protect from heat warping) or direct. There’s also a super light steel rotor for crate racers that’s scalloped and is 11.75 by 0.35 inches. Steel has different friction qualities than traditional cast iron, so Wilwood has developed a new pad material specifically to work with the steel rotors, and there’s even a four-piston super narrow (and lighter) caliper to work with the rotor as well.
DRP Performance Products always seems to come up with inventive and simple ways to help racers do more for themselves. This year the company was displaying this rearend jig. Race teams can use this to confirm whether or not they’ve tweaked a tube or bell after a hit on the racetrack. If everything is good, the rearend can be reinstalled into the race car with confidence. And if not, it can be sent out for repair or the team can do it themselves using the jig to make sure everything stays aligned properly.
DRP Performance Products