In order to meet the power levels required in the engines you build or rebuild, is it necessary to modify the parts you use or do they pretty much work right out of the box, so to speak?
We kinda massage all the parts we get directly from parts manufacturers. We’re custom engine builders and are often required to do that. But on the other hand, say compared to 15 years ago, the parts that we build for our high-end customers, like cylinder blocks, pistons, and connecting rods are all built to our specifications. They’re not like the parts that you generally buy. Each engine builder has his own recipe when it comes to the way he builds engines. Like when compared to the parts we used, for example, back in the old 23-degree cylinder head world we’d just pick up the phone and maybe call J&E and order a set of pistons they had in stock. We don’t do that today for the high-end engines. Instead, the parts we get for these would maybe have a shorter wristpin that we requested, or a smaller diameter pin or additional gas ports, that sort of specialization. And it’s all custom, based on things we learned over time.
Parts manufacturers have no problem working like this, but the downfall is these are all custom parts and require time to produce. Like with the new motors we build, we have to have parts ordered three months in advance of when we need them.
What role do you you see EFI having in the various circle track applications, both now and going forward?
This sorta goes back to the question of how much technology do we need. For example, in the Dirt Modified, short-track type of racing that we do, we have no engine rules. So, 98 percent of the time, we’ve got more engine than we have racetracks to hold ’em. There’s no question that the EFI stuff is definitely a step ahead. It’ll allow us to individually tune cylinders and build a better piece that will, obviously, make a little more power and it’s going to be more efficient. But, is it going to cost more? Yes, it will. Is this good? I don’t think so. Not in today’s economy. Plus, I don’t know if we need it right now. I also don’t know what it would take to outfit a car with EFI, compared to a carburetor. But its’ coming. It’s just a matter of when. I’m for it, but I’m worried about the cost.
As more is learned about the pros and cons of using E85, in the place of conventional racing gasoline, do your forecast its increased use or not?
I guess so. We would have to make some changes to use it right now. Especially if EFI was in place, but with some minor adjustments in compression ratio, I think it’s doable. It’s not unlike back in the days when we ran alcohol, so we could adjust for it.
Given the current status of circle track racing and the role your business plays in that community, what are your plans for the next five or more years?
You know, it’s really pretty hard to say right now. I’d say for the next year or so we’ll be working along the same lines we are today. But somebody, and maybe it’s us, will need to jump off and begin experimenting with the new technologies we’ve been discussing. The only negative thing I see is the money part of the deal. I’ve not yet done enough research to know what it’s going to cost to outfit cars with these new technologies, but on the face of it, I’m concerned about the costs involved. It’s like anything else, if that’s the approach racers want to take, they’ll find a way to pay for it.
What rules or rules changes to you think would benefit circle track racing the most?
As far as engines are concerned, realistically, there’s not much that can be done without getting into a lengthy technical deal that involves more money. Simple things like requiring cars to be a little heavier to make them safer, is a possibility. Tire limitations would help reduce the amount of power required to be competitive, and that would cut back on engine costs. I’d just like to see costs kept in line. We want to see the sport continue to thrive, love what we do, been fairly successful and have some really good guys in the shop.