Keith Jones— Total Seal Piston Rings

How To Optimize Cylinder Finish for Maximum Piston Ring Seal

Engine sealing is important. Keith Jones of Total Seal Piston Rings is an expert on the subject and talked about changes in engines and rings that have an effect on ring seal. Keith explains that cylinders are much harder than they have been in years past. Rings are much thinner and lighter with lower tension, and both have exotic coatings available. Beyond the hard parts, oils have significantly changed, with reduced friction and viscosity. The reason for all of this is the need to squeeze more energy from less fuel.

Keith went on to discuss many different topic in relation to piston rings and engine sealing, and it started with the purpose of piston rings. He went on to talk about what is required to achieve proper ring seal, and named proper cylinder prep, the correct rings, piston design for the correct application, and the correct oil as key requirements. He also spoke about honing and how it affects ring seal. He went into to proper honing and crosshatch angles. It was very interesting to hear how different crosshatch angles can affect oiling and ring rotation.

Keith’s presentation was extremely informative. There was a large amount of info to take in and it is great information to have for your next engine build. So be on the lookout for a dedicated story on that subject in a future issue.

Dan Jesel—Jesel Valvetrain Innovation

Tomorrow’s Valvetrain Trends and the Latest Advancements for Performance

Jesel has been around a long time. The company makes great products and their stuff can be found in all kinds of race engines. When Dan Jesel addressed the crowd, it was interesting for a lot of reasons. He talked about his background in racing and how his engine business transformed into Jesel Valvetrain Innovation out of sheer necessity. It all started with valvetrain problems in a small-block Ford engine. The problem was remedied when he moved the rocker arm and used a big-block Chevy rocker. And with that, Jesel was born!

Since 1980, Jesel has grown into one of the top valvetrain companies producing rocker arms, valvesprings, pushrods, roller lifters, camshafts, and cam drives. Dan spent a good portion of his hour talking about some of the product development Jesel has done over the years, including its beltdrive systems, and one of its latest products, the split cam gear for large OD camshafts.

Jon Sams and Laura Shehan—Holley Performance Products

How to Setup and Tune Race Carburetors for Optimal Performance

Having a properly tuned carburetor is a huge part of winning races. Jon Sams and Laura Shehan of Holley were speakers at AETC to discuss the setup and tuning of race carbs. The presentation started with a discussion about choosing the right carb. It starts with the application. A carb used for circle track racing is going to be vastly different from a carb designed for drag racing. Next, engine configuration is considered. For this, they look at engine size, max rpm, normal rpm operating range, camshaft, and induction type. The fuel being used is also considered and all of these combine to determine the appropriate carb for the application.The duo then went into the testing procedures and how Holley builds and tests its race carbs. They discussed cfm, wet flow bench testing, dyno testing, and common ways to tune a Holley carb. They went into details on idle circuits, fuel level and pressure, main circuit, booster, jets, power valves, and high-speed air bleeds. Just about every part of the carb was covered and the presentation in extremely informative.

Brian Kurn— Four-Stroke Design

Finding Hidden Horsepower in Exhaust Port Design and Optimization

Engine builders will tell you that an efficient exhaust system is essential to making big power. According to Brian Kurn of Four Stroke Designs it all starts in the exhaust port. He talked about how the exhaust port is normally overshadowed by its big brother—the intake port. He discussed what the exhaust port does, what blowdown is, he explained pumping work, and the exhaust port’s role in overlap. He also talked about why the exhaust valve is so much smaller than the intake valve.

He then went on to talk about how the shape of exhaust lobe of the camshaft effects the shape of the power curve. He touched on low speed power losses from early exhaust valve opening and high speed power gains from a reduction of pumping loss. Traditional and advance methods for testing were also discussed, with pros and cons given each set. It was very interesting to hear about how computational fluid dynamics and combustion analysis are used to virtually test exhaust ports, and how accurate the results are.

Ozzie Hutchins— Roush Yates Engines

Understanding and Optimizing Engine Oiling Systems For Racing

In any race engine, the oiling system is extremely important. Ozzie Hutchins of Roush Yates Engine presented on the topic and did a great job of breaking the oiling system down. He discussed the system as a whole, and broke down each part, its purpose and duty, and how each can be optimized.

He explained how the oiling system is there for lubrication, cooling and heat rejection, and cleaning. He discussed the different types of lubrication and the important aspects of each. He explained the different types for different bearing types found in race engines, how pistons and valvetrain components are cooled by the oil, and how contaminants are removed as the oil passes through the engine. An optimized oiling system will do all of these things efficiently.

From there, Ozzie discussed how each component can be optimized for the greater good of the entire system. When you can minimize friction, you gain horsepower. And as racers, isn’t that what we are all after?


The AETC is an extremely informative multi-day conference gear towards hardcore engine technology. If you’re a novice looking learn about engine or a seasoned vet looking for an advantage for your race engine, this is the place to learn it. If you’re interested in attending the 2014 AETC (and we strongly recommend it) visit for more information.