Every year the Performance Racing Industry--better known simply as "PRI"--holds a trade show in Orlando every year for, you guessed it, the racing industry. One week later the International Motorsports Industry Show--or IMIS in Indianapolis. Technically, these shows are all about business, but what it really feels like is a giant toy store for grown-ups. Imagine vast areas filled with manufacturers that brought along their very best offerings for going faster, staying safer and racing better. Yeah, we love it too.
But it'sn't all playtime. While there we scoured the shows and collected what we feel are the very best new products on display that will be available to racers in the coming year. Some are safety products, some will help you race more economically, and some will help you do what it's all about: go faster on the racetrack.
So without further ado, we give you the best of what's new for 2012.
Comp Cam's Ultra Gold series of rocker arms were already among the best available when it comes to aluminum, stud-mount rocker arms, but that didn't stop the company from undertaking a complete engineering redesign on the Ultra Gold series to make them even better. Now known as the Ultra Gold ARC Series, Comp has taken the lessons learned from its Ultra Pro Magnum steel rocker arms. The arched tip improves valvetrain geometry to provide a very precise rocker ratio. The pushrod cup is cut from 4130 steel for excellent wear characteristics, and integral spring oilers help improve spring life. These new ARC rockers are available in a wide variety of ratios.
Street Stock level racing classes often won't allow a lightweight aluminum bellhousing, but that doesn't mean you are necessarily stuck with an insanely heavy stock bellhousing. Quarter Master's steel bellhousing provides great protection to the driver's legs and feet while still coming in lighter than most stock bellhousings. This design is set up to provide clearance for a block-mount starter and is large enough to accommodate stock diameter flywheels. Quarter Master has these steel bellhousings for both Fords and Chevrolets and they will work with most hydraulic throw out bearings.
TCI didn't exactly show us a brand-new product at the show, but the automatic transmission specialist has made several upgrades to all of its high-performance torque converters that should provide for greater durability and more consistent power to the ground. Improvements include a change to 1018 heat-treated steel for the spline. The hub is now heat treated as well. Finally, TCI has changed its brazing process so that when connecting the fin and the casing the edges of the fins aren't melted and stay sharp. We're told the old brazing process was plenty strong, but the new method helps the torque converter work even more efficiently.
Few organizations have the depth of expertise as Roush Yates Engines. For example, besides engine builders, RYE also has experienced at-the-track engine tuners and even its own manufacturing arm for its NASCAR Cup engine program. Now the parts arm of Roush Yates is manufacturing its own carburetor bowl repair tool in-house, based on the experience of its engine tuning expertise. This device is designed to fix stripped out bolt holes in a Holley carburetor quick and easy--even if you're at the racetrack. The CNC-cut aluminum body holds everything you need, including a properly-sized drill bit, a tap, and helicoils. The body also serves as a jig locator to precisely center the drill in the holes so that everything goes back together just like new.
XRP has developed a filter system that allows you to easily customize exactly the filter you need. The company's new stackable filter system is called the Multi-Stack, and it can adapt to practically any need. Simply choose the filter elements you want and then screw together the canisters in the correct configuration. The filter elements are 2 inches in diameter and come in either 5- or 2-inch lengths. The pleated mesh wire screens are available to filter at 45, 60, 75, or 100 microns. Finally, you can choose to go with or without a 15-psi bypass valve. So, for example, you can choose a 5-inch first stage with a freer flowing filter to catch only the larger contamination particles and a smaller screen with super-fine mesh. Overall, filtering is improved but the fine-mesh filter won't be easily clogged because of the pre-filter.
Race engines running super-light motor oil need to have their oil systems pressurized before firing up to prevent damage to the bearings, lifters, cylinder walls, and other vital areas. With a dry-sump engine running an external oil pump, this isn't a problem. But it's much harder to pre-lube a dry-sump engine with an internal oil pump. That's no longer an issue with Peterson Fluid Systems' remote oil filter mount that features a built-in oil pump. Simply run a -10 oil line from the oil pan to the filter mount and all you need is a drill to pre-lube your expensive race engine at the track before firing up. The system is cut from billet aluminum and features either a tube or firewall mount.
When it comes to assembling rods and pistons, spiral locks are a pain. And although wire locks are easier to work with, that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. When wire locks are allowed to spin inside the piston's pin bore, the sharp edges at the ends of the wire can cut into and damage the lock grooves. Kramm-Lox is a new style of wire lock that can't rotate in the pin bore and also uses a special tool to make installation and removal literally a snap. Best of all, using the Kramm-Lox system doesn't require special modifications to the pistons you'll be using. If they are machined to accept wire locks, Kramm-Lox will work there too.
Jones Racing Products has developed an accessory drive system for small-blocks that utilizes individual belts for the alternator, power steering pump, and an external oil pump. This means each component can be driven at the precise speed necessary to work properly without wasting precious horsepower. Also, all the belts have a radius tooth for positive engagement with no slipping. And as always, all of Jones' brackets are billet aluminum for secure accessory placement with minimal vibrations.
Most racers perform a routine check on all of their suspension springs to make sure they are still at or near their stated rate. But how often do you check your sway bars? Your answer is probably, “Not very often,” but the reason for that is there really isn't an easy way to do it. But that's all changed with Bicknell Racing Products' new Sway Bar Rate Checking Tool. It's really one of those “Why didn't I think of that?” solutions in its simplicity. Basically, the tool mounts onto one of your scale pads and uses the scale as your measurement device. Install the sway bar you want to check, turn on your scale, pull the handle and check the reading. It's basically that easy. Bicknell says you can check both ends of a bar in less than five minutes. Scales, obviously, are not included.
Lightweight 360 Sprint Pistons
360 Sprint Racers are always fighting for more power, and JE Pistons has recently redesigned its 360 Sprint pistons to significantly cut weight and free up more power. JE's engineers scrapped the old fully skirted design for a more modern slipper skirt that not only reduces mass to the tune of 25 grams, but it also significantly cuts friction between the skirt and cylinder wall. The boxed design also brings the piston's pin towers inboard to shorten the length of the pins. Overall, the total weight savings comes to approximately 60 grams per piston.
Wiseco now has available a new series of pistons called the Thunderbolt line for select Brodix and All Pro cylinder heads in 410 Sprint Car engines. These pistons feature lateral gas ports and ring lands machined for GFX rings for great sealing. By designing the dome specifically for these heads, higher compression can be achieved while limiting weight.
K1 has long been known for its value-oriented crankshafts and connecting rods, but it has also been steadily adding very high-quality components to its lineup of engine components. The latest is a line of lightweight cranks for Chevy small-blocks. These cranks are forged from 4340 steel and come in a variety of stroke lengths from 3.350 to 4.00 inches. You can also have a choice of rod end sizes of 2.000 or 2.100 inches. The cranks are all fully machined on all surfaces and include undercut counterweights for lower overall weight. Knife edging on the leading edges of the counterweights should also help reduce windage in classes where this is allowed. The most popular option for stock car racing will probably be the 3.500-inch-stroke version with 2.100 rod journals; we checked and it weighs in at just 43 pounds.
Everybody is playing the weight game these days, and we guess every little bit helps. Of course, with Racing Electronics' newly introduced Titanium Series in-car communication wiring, you get a lot of benefits on top of a few ounces of weight savings. The Titanium Series is highlighted by a new proprietary wire. It's a lightweight, triple shielded wire that has an abrasion-resistant Teflon jacket for ultimate protection. There's also an upgraded quick-disconnect system, a low-profile pressure switch push-to-talk, and even the connectors have been made smaller to cut weight. Best of all, it's all made in the USA.
Pay Attention to the Small Things
Every year we are surprised by at least one product we find at the trade shows and how it can be used to improve a racing program—and this year it was definitely Big C's Dino-Lite Digital Microscope. The microscope hooks up to a computer through a standard USB port, and Big C also includes all the necessary software to record and save either photos or even video. There are several different options available with prices starting under one hundred bucks, and magnifications range from 10x to 220x. The microscopes come with a built-in light and the clarity that they are capable of is quite surprising. We can see this becoming a great tool for engine builders who want to document such things as bearing wear, cylinder bore crosshatch wear, or even cracks between rebuilds. A good diagnostic tool like this can prove valuable in any number of ways.
We found this bad boy radio controlled car sitting in the Out-Pace booth. The cool Modified body is custom made by a company called Barts Parts and we're told versions are available to fit most common hobby-grade RC car chassis.
Creature Comforts for Crew Chiefs
Here's another product still in the development stages that we were able to get an early look at and pass along a few details to you. Racing Radios has a new radio headset with a top strap that many people will find more comfortable than the older style with the clamping spring running across the back of the head. It should also be lighter weight than most radio headsets currently on the market. This is a prototype only and Racing Radios hasn't even given it a name yet, but you can look for it to appear early in 2012.
Dart's Iron Eagle lineup of cylinder heads is an excellent resource for economical iron heads that perform way beyond their price and are legal in many different racing classes requiring stock-type cast iron heads. A new Ford head from Dart ups the ante a bit by keeping the tried-and-true Iron Eagle Windsor head design but with larger 200cc intake ports. These heads should flow significantly better than the old-style 180cc heads and also feature a dual bolt pattern for more exhaust header options.
Everybody wants good protection, but for many racers heavy helmets can literally be a pain in the neck. Carbon fiber used to be a material used only by the teams racing on Sunday afternoon and assorted rich guys, but now smart companies are finding ways to make it affordable to the rest of us, and G Force is one of ‘em. Its new carbon-fiber helmet didn't yet have an official name as we went to press, but you should expect to see it available for less than $400. It's as lightweight as it looks, and its Snell 2010 certification proves that it also provides the protection you expect.
During a fabrication project you may have multiple uses for a good hydraulic press. But setting up fixtures takes time, and every time you have to switch out can cost you productivity. Trick Tool's new 20-ton hydraulic press features a rolling head so that you can set up two or more press fixtures for multiple uses at once. Time is money, and here's a great way to save some of it.
Jesel keeps moving the technology and lessons learned from working with top-level NASCAR Cup and drag racing teams down to make it useful to the guys racing on Saturday nights. One of its newest designs is the J2S Steel Series shaft mount rocker arms for Brodix and All Pro cylinder heads. These heads are popular with Sprint Car racing engine builders, and these new steel rocker are both exceptionally rigid for precise valve movements while also being quite light.
Wilwood's Spec 37 rotors use a new proprietary iron alloy developed to hold up to extremely high braking temps without warping or cracking. Wilwood says the Spec 37 alloy was developed originally as a military spec rotor for extreme duty vehicles, but it also works well in racing. Every Spec 37 rotor is machined to a tolerance of less than 0.001-inch when checking for runout. These new rotors are available for a variety of different applications.
Lincoln Electric's Tomahawk 625 plasma cutter is designed to be a go-anywhere, do-anything kind of tool. It's small enough to go to the track with you but can also be used daily in the shop. A purge control on the front panel allows you to set the airflow rate before striking an arc against the metal you plan to cut. Plus, there's a feature called Rapid Arc Restrike--which is a fancy way of saying that this unit doesn't flame out when you hit gaps or holes in the metal you are cutting.
ISP's new Sprint Seat is the first racing seat we know of that has passed the newest SFI 39.2 specifications. The seat is designed to be affordable to hobby-level racers but still provide the same protection level as much more expensive seats. Chrome-moly steel strips help reinforce the joints between the double-layer seatback and the head and shoulder restraints. The cover is CarbonX for excellent flame retardancy, and--in a very thoughtful touch--all the pads are held in place by Velcro for easy removal when you wash your race car.
Quick Change Cover for Your Quick Change Rear
Normally, all gear changes seem to be made at the last minute. And that hurry is also why it seems like one or two of the cover nuts will without fail get away from you and drop into the container of gear oil as you are working hurriedly underneath the car. Allstar Performance has the solution for that problem with their new Quick Change Gear Cover. This design captures the nuts so that they spin freely but can't fully separate from the gear cover. That means you can even zip 'em off with an electric impact (notice we said "off," not "on") without fear of slinging one across the pits. The gear cover is cut from 6061-T6 aluminum and fits both Frankland and Winters quick change rearends.
Do It Yourself Pull Down Rig
DRP Performance's Portable Dynamic Scaling System is an affordable pull-down rig designed for racers and chassis builders. This system allows the user to simulate car attitude at any given point on the track and measure wheel weights, shock travel ,and wheel location measurements such as dynamic camber, toe-in, and more. DRP's system allows 6 inches of movement in either push or pull simply by flipping a few toggle switches. Integrated dual load cells for each wheel measure wheel weights on a Longacre control panel. DRP says that this system can be used for both static and dynamic setups.
Fluidampr has upgraded its iconic damper technology with what it's calling its "CT Gold" technology. This new damper is easily recognizable thanks to its gold finish, but that's not all that's different. It uses a new method to keep the damper centered even when the engine isn't cranked. This means there is less crankshaft vibration and bearing wear in those first few seconds when an engine is cranked until the oil pressure comes up. The CT Gold damper is also said to improve control over torsional vibrations above 6,000 rpm. And if you are running an externally balanced engine, this new design can be balanced with the damper installed on the crankshaft.
In many cases, racing is a copycat industry. But Pro Shocks definitely did some outside the box thinking for this one. One of the keys in Dirt Late Model racing is to keep the car's weight over the right rear tire through the turns. But if the driver has to let off the throttle mid-turn the left-rear corner will fall flat and kill the car's momentum. The Pro Z Bar is designed to eliminate that problem. it's essentially a sway bar mounted at the rear of the car so that it crosses the axle tube. Where a traditional sway bar will pull the inside tire up when the car rolls over in a turn, the Pro Z Bar does the opposite. So when the dirt car rolls over on the right rear tire, the bar actually pushes the left rear down. Now if the driver has to let off the throttle because of another car, the Pro Z Bar will help hold the left rear corner of the car up until he or she can get back on the gas.
Crower's new Endura Max roller lifters eliminate any chance of a needle bearing failure ruining your night and slapping you with an expensive engine rebuild. And Crower can guarantee it because it has done away with the needle bearings completely. The Endura Max lifters feature a bushed roller that utilizes high pressure pin oiling to reduce friction between the roller and the bushing. Crower says the bushed lifter allows greater load handling for aggressive camshaft profiles and are fully rebuildable. In fact, Crower can convert many of your existing roller bearings to this new bushed style to help upgrade your engine program without spending too much money.
Everybody is different, and that includes racing programs. What suits one racer or team might not work for another. Longacre understands that and is now offering a modular system for its scale pad leveling fixtures. The system starts with individual billet aluminum levelers that are CNC machined to extreme accuracy for holding your scale pads. Then you can purchase roll-offs in either 18- or 30-inch lengths, a slider for the left front to eliminate chassis bind, spanners, ramps, and everything else you may want as you need it. It's a great way to get everything you need to properly set up your car without wasting any money on stuff you won't use.
Upgraded Throw Out Bearing
Tilton's 6000 Series hydraulic throw out bearing should be a godsend to Street Stock racers. The throwout bearing works off an OEM retainer and should be an easy install on most drivelines as it features a press-in, threaded collar. You then thread on the throw out bearing to the proper depth and finish your clutch and bellhousing install. The 6000 Series also uses no banjo fittings which should result in a better, leak-free seal.
Accel's Directed HEI Cap will not only make your race engine look better, but it can also make working on your race engine a little easier. If you run an HEI ignition, this cap directs each plug wire exactly where it needs to go on a Chevy small-block. This will significantly clean up the plug wire routing, reducing the chances of running your plug wires to the wrong location and also cleaning up that nest of wires you work so hard to make sure stay off your headers.
Brodix's new raised oval intake cylinder head is aimed at producing ultimate power for a 23 degree small-block Chevy head. These CNC-ported castings utilize an oval intake port raised 0.400-inch to straighten up the path for the air/fuel charge. They are outfitted with 2.150/1.570 valves, and the seats are cut at 52 degrees for the intakes and 55 for the exhausts. The intake port can be sized at either 225 or 234 cc's and flows as much as 345 cfm.
The Ultimate Valve Cover Gasket
Cometic continues to produce some of the best gaskets available for racers and engine builders. Its new valve cover gasket has a steel understructure so that it won't warp if over-tightened, and the viton covering seals well and holds up even after the valve covers have been removed and reinstalled numerous times. No more annoying oil leaking onto your headers!
Dominator's new nose for Modified race cars will not only save your fabrication time, but it also looks great. This new nose should be an aerodynamic improvement over a standard sheet metal nose and is available in seven different colors to fit your color scheme. It breaks down into three pieces, so it can also be shipped economically via UPS. And in case you're wondering, the new nose is already approved by the UMP and more sanctioning bodies should be adding their approvals soon.
Edelbrock's new Super Victor 400 was available only as an SLA mockup, but it appears to be worth waiting for. This new single-plane racing intake is an update of the current 2925 intake. It features a raised plenum, larger and straighter runners, and what appears to be a raised carburetor location (but we can't confirm it). This intake is designed to work with Chevrolet 23-degree cylinder heads.
QuickCar's digital tach measures in at the standard 25/8 inches so it will fit in most current stock car dash panels. The tach may be used simply as an rpm indicator or as a shift light. Rpm settings are adjusted by simply touching the lens with a finger. The unit also includes a recall feature to show you the highest rpm seen while you were on the track.
Bernheisel Race Components has a new spindle design for its Dirt Late Model chassis. The new design is said to aid turn in for better steering response. It will also bolt to existing Bernheisel chassis so retrofit upgrades are possible.
Lunati was displaying these aluminum rockers but we don't have much in the way of specifics yet. They are beefy extruded aluminum so they should hold up to aggressive camshaft movement. They also have integrated spring oilers. They look like they will be a good economical option for racers on a budget.
Hoosier has decided to produce a racing tire specifically for the Mini Stock classes. This tire is designed to be as affordable as purchasing a street tire (costs should be under $100 each) while providing better performance and dependability on the racetrack. They will be available in either a 14- or 15-inch bead size, but that's the only variation. The tires are built to punch a 75 on the durometer and have a stiffer sidewall than a typical street tire to provide better handling a feel at the wheel.