I read your story in Circle Track mag about low-budget Saturday night racers. My son and I own a UMP Dirt Pro Stock and run at Fulton Speedway. After many years of struggles, he won his first feature this year. He went on to win three times this season and capture eight Second place finishes. The problem is we do this all out of our paychecks. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how tough this is. Even so, we finished Second in points this year.
However, the track has dropped our class for next year. So, we bought a northeast dirt modified that we will run in the Sportsman class but we are finding it difficult to come up with the money to buy a 602 GM crate engine and that's pretty much all we lack to get going again.
We are trying to sell the Pro Stock right now but no luck on that yet and we can't use the motor from that because you are required to have the crate engine in the Sportsman class. So, you talk about low-buck racing for the love of the sport, we are the poster child of that category.
Thanks for listening and keep the great stories coming,
A lazy tech inspector will...
A lazy tech inspector will assume that this motor is legal because of these seal bolts. Is he right? Photo by Jeff Huneycutt
Last month we opened the can of worms that is The Crate Debate. We laid out the original concept of crate racing as well as the problems that cropped up once the tracks and teams began using sealed engines. This month we bring you part two of the debate where we offer our idea for a solution to the problem.
But before we do that, let's revisit the actual problem. The very heart of the problem lies with the seal bolts, their existence of the bolts has made it very easy for a technical inspector to get lazy. It's a simple process to lean over a motor check for the presence of the bolts and declare it legal because it is sealed. Why bother checking any deeper when you can plainly see that the engine is sealed?
True, but as the cheater bolts we showed you in last month's issue have gotten more sophisticated, it's made it easy to slide an illegal motor through the inspection line.
Who cares, cheating goes on everywhere?
Again, true. Consider this: IMCA has a crate motor option in its Northern SportMod division where you can also run a two-barrel open engine. It's the racer's choice. Brett Root, IMCA's VP of Operations, says that his inspectors catch more racers trying to cheat up the two-barrel motors than the crates. Perhaps because it's easier (and cheaper) to get into an open motor or perhaps because there is a bigger percentage of opens in that division, either way there will always be somebody trying to sneak around the rules.
That in and of itself is a problem, but we believe that there is only a small percentage of people doing the cheating compared to the overall racer population. Problem is, those cheaters, particularly those cheating a crate, are running the cost of racing up into the stratosphere.
The winning built engine in...
The winning built engine in Gary Parkhurst's car is now obsolete in his division because of a sanction rule change to a crate motor. Courtesy of D&B Photo
Whether legal or illegal, the bulk of the problem with crate motors and what to do about them falls squarely on the shoulders of one group in our industry, the racetrack owner. "My fear is that racetrack promoters see this crate engine as a gift from heaven that will automatically double their car counts," says Comp Cams' Scooter Brothers. "The only thing that I have ever seen to double a car count is to roll up the sleeves and go to work."
Brothers' fear is more of a reality than many people in the industry realize or even admit. Consider this recently received letter from a Circle Track reader, Gary Parkhurst out of Fulton, N.Y.
Ironically, in the case of the Parkhursts, the crate motor program has actually increased the cost of racing. When UMP switched the Pro Stock division from a purely open class to a purely crate class it obsoleted the Parkhursts' motor. So now they'll have a hard time recouping their original investment and will have to pony up more money for the new crate motor.
That is a problem that could reinvent itself in the future. "What happens when times get tight (for the manufacturers)?" asks Jack Jerovsek at Baker Engineering/Pro-cam. "What happens if say GM stops building the crates like it did with the EFI motor for the old ASA. As a sole source engine supplier you're gonna have a problem and there will be a lot of racers out there with useless inventory."