Every year many of the nation's best and most successful engine builders gather for the annual Advanced Engineering Technology Conference (AETC) held just before the start of the PRI racing tradeshow. The conference brings in a different set of speakers every year to share some of the latest advancements in engine technology. Many of the engine builders we've spoken to have told us that they have been able to take some of the things they've learned here and applied it to their own programs for additional wins and faster lap times.

At Circle Track we're always looking for the best ways to provide you with the very best engine information—whether it comes from the renowned engine builders in the industry, parts manufacturers or conferences like this one. That's why for several years Circle Track has stepped up as a corporate sponsor for the AETC conference. It's not only our way of giving back to the community with a chance to gather and discuss ways to improve racing, but it also allows us the opportunity to share with our readers some of the more helpful things we learn. And you'd better believe we learn something new every year.

We understand that many of the readers of Circle Track are racers who will purchase their racing engine from a professional builder. But there are benefits found at AETC to anyone involved in racing. Lots of the information we're passing along will help you with the performance and longevity of your engine, everything from choosing the right motor oil to data acquisition during track testing, while other nuggets of information can help you determine if the engine builder you are depending on is up on his game and capable of building you a race engine that is up to date with the very best in performance technology.

Lubrication Lessons
If we are honest with ourselves, as racers we don't care what's in the oil as long as it helps make power and meets our expectations for protecting the engine's moving components. When you get right down to it, whether it is made from some miracle synthetic material created in a lab or dishwater from the local diner doesn't matter to most racers as long as you get good engine protection with minimum horsepower drain.

So the question becomes, what oil works best for my race engine? Scott Diehl of Driven Racing Oil presented some of the latest findings in the development of performance motor oils. Finding the best oil for your race engine is always a balancing act. To provide maximum protection for your expensive engine components the oil must be able to maintain a boundary layer of fluid between two moving components. As the temperatures and engine speed get higher with a performance engine, this usually means increasing the viscosity.

But, thicker, more viscous oil is harder to pump through the engine, robbing you of valuable horsepower. Diehl informed the conference attendees of a new synthetic molecule that Driven Racing Oil is starting to use in its formulations that creates an oil base stock that's more resistant to heat. The new base stock is called Metallocene Poly Alpha Olefin (mPAO for short) and it is an improvement on what was previously considered the best synthetic base oil stock for performance racing—PAO.

Diehl says that currently, Driven Racing Oil is the only company producing racing oil using mPAO, and we're interested to see when and which other oil companies follow suit.

However, even with the improved synthetic oil technology, you still have to carefully balance oil viscosity with other factors including engine rpm, bearing clearances and the oil temperature you see on the racetrack. Many racers and engine builders are fearful of pushing the limits using a thin oil because they simply can't afford to push beyond those limits and damage an expensive engine. There is, however, an option besides simply using ever thinner oil until you start damaging bearings. A Stribeck Curve is an equation used by lubrication scientists that basically tracks an oil's ability to protect given engine speed and loading. Driven's tech department is actually able to use the Stribeck Curve to help its customers determine exactly the viscosity that will provide the best combination of good engine protection without absorbing excessive horsepower. If you can provide the engine horsepower, the rpm range the car sees on the racetrack and the typical oil temps, Driven can provide you the correct viscosity and grade of oil and even what your ideal bearing clearances should be.