For as little as $400, you too can have perfectly replicated 602/604 seal bolts. Jeff Hune
With the arrival of the finely-crafted, highly-machined GM-stamped cheater bolt, the nature of sealed crate motor racing took a significant turn for the worse. Racers, hell-bent on winning at any cost, could now get into and out of a sealed motor and nobody would be any wiser.
Problem CompoundedThis problem is compounded by the fact that some tech inspectors both from independent tracks and for actual sanctions will rely on the seal bolts to say that an engine is legal, even when it is obviously not. Consider this, Racer A is running a cheated up crate that turns 7,500 rpm and makes 430 hp at the rear wheels. He goes out and spanks the competition week in and week out. At some point Racer B is going to want to go get that extra muscle as will Racer C. Those two Racers could easily spend upwards of $15K each for a new, legal (wink, wink) motor. While that's their decision to cheat and potentially risk getting caught, the other 20 guys they race against who play by the rules will be robbed at a chance of victory. And that's not fair.
How Big Is It? Cheating within the crate racing ranks is hard to pin down. What is easy to pin down is the wide array of things guys are doing to the engines. From simple valve spring swaps to exotic ported heads, it's being done. "Frankly the guys have gotten a lot more creative than we ever envisioned," admits Martens.
Nobody is really certain how many cheated crate motors are out there, but all admit they exist. "We're not blind or oblivious to the challenges," says Martens. "But GM cannot be the crate police. Once it leaves the factory its out of our control."
And that's the truth. Policing cheating isn't GM's responsibility, although they are working on some new inspection tools and methods for track owners. They are also offering workshops on how to tech a crate at the RPM Workshops. Ensuring that racers are following the rules falls squarely on the shoulders of the promoter and track owner. It's their problem and it always has been, regardless of whether or not the motors are sealed crates, specs or open.
The only thing that can combat cheating is a good tech inspector. Here, Ronald Leagon, ins
"I have to chuckle, I think proportionally we have more of our 9:1 two-barrel motors trying to be cheated," says IMCA's Brett Root, whose Northern SportMod division gives the option of a GM sealed engine as well as an open motor. "We only caught a couple of guys replacing the valve springs in them (crate motors) so far."
While IMCA is just three years into the crate motors and offer it in only two divisions, there are a number of other sanctions that have been running the crates longer. Some take a relatively soft line against cheating while others take a hard stance banning not only racers but even engine builders.
Stan Lester's Fastrak Racing Series was one of the first series to use the crate motors exclusively and also has one of the toughest penalties out there. That coupled with a lot of hard work has allowed Fastrak to grow and flourish at a rapid rate over the last several years. Coming straight from the Fastrak rule book, the penalties for cheating a crate engine include:
1.Competitor will be barred for balance of season.
2. Loss of all points and any monies due.
3. Illegal parts will be confiscated and destroyed via FASTRAK sanctioning body.
4. Competitor will be fined $1,000.
5. Competitor cannot compete in any Fastrack event.
6. Competitor may return the following year if fine has been paid in full.
7. Second offense competitor will be barred for life.
8. Barred means car, competitor and car owner.