Lester has made the penalties for cheating a crate so stiff that racers are deterred from even trying. Lester's penalties are lightyears ahead of other sanctions whose penalties sound more like a slap on the wrist. Taken straight from a Midwestern track's rulebook: cheating inside the bolts will result in a $1,000 fine, loss of winnings for the night, and neither car or driver will be allowed to participate until fine has been paid in full.
In 2007, IMCA offered a crate...
In 2007, IMCA offered a crate Late Model division as a companion to its popular late-model ranks shown here. Bruce Badgley
The bottom line when it comes to cheating can be summed up by Bobby Diehl's pet saying, "It's their job to cheat and it's our job to catch them."
The DebateCheating aside, the core debate about the crate motors deals with how it will affect the industry long term. Those for the crate make the argument that crate racing offers a low-cost alternative that brings people back and gets new people into the sport.
"If it wasn't the right thing and didn't work, we wouldn't still be selling them today," continues Martens. "Time has proven the premise to be right on. Is it going to displace all forms of racing? Absolutely not, we never intended it to."
And why would they? Do not forget that General Motors manufacturers a whole slew of performance parts that are used by engine builders at all levels of racing.Those against crates argue that their very existence poses a threat to the foundation of the motorsports industry. Here's the fundamental theory behind that threat. Let's assume that 60 percent of the motorsports industry is made up of companies that relate to engines and engine building in some form. If crate motors can supplant the built motors at the local track level, that 60 percent goes away and a significant portion of the industry is controlled by a single entity.
"I don't think we need to lose any competition and make no bones about it, engine builders compete just as much as drivers do," says Scooter Brothers, Director of R&D and Part-Owner of Comp Cams. "Any time we lose that competition, I think we've lost some element of this whole thing we call the racing industry."
The thought of losing 60 percent of the industry should send shivers down everybody's spine and that's the anti-crate position. What effect will crate racing have on the industry?
Some argue that crate racing...
Some argue that crate racing can produce crowds like this, others argue that they will be a thing of the past. Chuck Gonzalez
It's a sticky issue and arguably the most significant issue to ever confront the industry. Next month in Part Two of this series, we are going to offer our answer to that question as well as our solution that will allow each side to achieve its goals while maintaining the common good for the industry. Stay tuned.
Getting BiggerIn the course of the research for this story, we got a scoop straight from General Motors' Bill Martens. This scoop was so new at press time that we couldn't get a picture until the PRI Show which was well after this issue went to print. However, the General is coming out with a third sealed engine in its crate motor line. It will deliver 525 horsepower in an extremely durable package that will retail south of $10,000. Check out www.gmperformanceparts.com for more information.