Capetown, South Africa's Johann Spies stands next to his EFI-powered ASATS stock car.
Easy tech and cost effective parts are one thing but how does it race?
Two competitors ran the Schwanke 525 in the race. Capetown, South Africa, native Johann Spies, whose "Aaa-ooo-ga" yell became the trademark battle cry for the event, finished an impressive Fifth, in his No. 900 machine. Car No. 98, owned by Ron Barfield Sr. had Australian Shaun Richardson behind the wheel. Richardson actually led part of the race before a flat tire sent him spinning out of contention. Both racers had nothing but positive things to say about the fuel-injected engine.
"This engine . . . amazing!" exclaimed Spies. "I had so much torque, and torque is very important on a track like Phakisa. I could run down and pass anybody coming off the corners. The engine is really, really strong."
For Spies he never planned on racing the Schwanke engine but circumstances led him and his team down the EFI path. A catostrophicfailure of his traditional carbureted motor in practice sidelined his primary car the day before the race. Rather than installing the backup engine, he was able to negotiate a deal to buy Dustin Dudley's Schwanke-powered car.
His first opportunity to drive the car was at 11 a.m. on the Saturday before the race. With the rev limiter set to 7,000 rpm, Spies was clicking off lap times under 38 seconds with a best of 37.8 seconds, good enough for third fastest on the practice chart.
"I can't tell you how great this engine drives. I love it," said Spies. The whole story surrounding the South African's experience was something that engine builder Schwanke loves to recount.
"Putting a car together in three days, shipping across the world, putting 25 laps on it before selling to Johann and having him finish Fifth-that's a Hail Mary pass there," said Schwanke. "I couldn't have scripted it better."
For his part, Richardson agreed with Spies on the motor's prowess. "The fuel-injected engine is definitely the way to go in the future. I was very happy with the way it performed and the power did not drop away," he said. "They are a lot more economical so there are less pit stops because we are burning less fuel. We were leading the race before the caution on lap 179. Because of debris on the track, I was unfortunate to pick up the debris and on the restart we got a left flat tire, which put us in a spin and it was game over. At that time in the race, we were lapping quicker than anybody else and this shows how strong these engines are."
Schwanke seemed most proud of the motor's fuel consumption, or lack there of. "Our fuel economy was just under seven laps per gallon, which is about 40-50 percent better than the carburetor counterparts, so we are happy with that. Matter of fact, Ron Barfield Sr. had a pretty big smile on his face. [He was] about ready to skip a fuel stop there, then Richardson lost a left rear tire and that was the end of his day."
A 40-50 percent savings in fuel translates into a 40-50 percent savings in money. And with today's economy, every racer can appreciate how saving money can impact their racing activities.
Schwanke's engine also offers the racer a high degree of protection. The motor has an overheat protection shut down system built into the programing. If the engine gets up to 242 degrees of water temperature, it starts randomly shutting down cylinders. Now the motor won't quit, nor will it stop, it just loses power and slows down.
In addition to the overheating protection there is a low oil pressure system safety as well. If the motor's oil pressure drops below 19 pounds of pressure it shuts the fuel pump off. "That is another feature that is on a production vehicle that you drive everyday," smiled Schwanke. Those two features alone can save a racer from blowing an engine and loosing a serious amount of money.