Editor’s note: When you speak with Kasey Slemmon, VP of Southern California’s Esslinger Engineering, it’s clearly obvious how he feels about his company’s involvement in racing. On a personal note, I’ve experienced the multiple benefits of designing and producing racing products when you are in a position to control virtually all aspects of the evolutionary process. As you read into this visit with Kasey, you’ll see how Esslinger literally fits into this mode of operation. In addition, he makes some well-focused points.
How healthy do you believe the engine builder market is right now and are you experiencing growth or just maintaining market share?
From our perspective, about five years ago the overall economy had a definite impact on the racing community, in a negative sense. However, since then we’ve seen an improvement in not only the national economy but gains in our sales activities. Right now, I’d say our business is the best it’s been in five years. Keep in mind that we build and sell a variety of race engine components, in addition to the complete packages that we produce. Of course, and I think this applies to a broader segment of motorsports, racers are going to find ways to pay for the equipment they need to go racing. It’s pretty much been that way for a long time.
Are you seeing new technologies appearing in the parts that you use and, if so or not, how do you account for this?
Esslinger Engineering may be a bit different from many engine builders because we design and build quite a number of the parts we use. For example, the Ford cylinder head we sell for the 2.0L and 2.3L OHC, 4-cylinder engine was designed by our engineering staff, we make all the pattern equipment necessary for the casting and then perform all machining operations. This enables us to not only keep overall costs in line but also maintain a high degree of control over the product’s quality and performance. Shops that utilize multiple outside sources have less control over the ultimate price of a product because all these exterior suppliers need to make a profit as well, so end-product pricing is not as easily controlled. As far as seeing new technologies coming into being, we’re continually researching ways to update and refine everything we build, so at least to us, this is an ongoing challenge that only benefits our customers.
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?
As I mentioned, we design and build many of the parts we use. However, when we do rely on outside suppliers, like JE Pistons for example, they will typically build to our specifications. I think this goes on frequently in these type relationships between engine builders and certain suppliers. But again, I want to emphasize that we do a good amount of internal engineering for all the reasons we just spoke about.
What role do you see EFI having in the various circle track applications, both now and going forward?