C.J. Rayburn is flanked by his two newest creations a Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang Dirt L
Mention Dirt Late Model design and the name that usually comes to mind first is C.J. Rayburn. Racer, innovator, and pioneer are all words used to describe the man who advanced the sport of Dirt Late Model racing. Personally, he has hundreds of wins to his credit and professionally, his car designs have visited Victory Lane thousands of times from the local to the national circuit.
Rayburn chassis sit outside C.J.'s Whiteland, Indiana, shop awaiting the engines, body, an
Rayburn cars have seen many innovations and technical advancements through the years. But the origins of those innovations can be traced back to the late-1970s when C.J. designed a lighter, stronger car to complement his coilover design, a first in 1977. The success of that car revolutionized the sport and formed the foundation for Rayburn to bring more advancements such as modern disc brakes to the sport of Dirt Late Model racing.
"I always tried to make my cars simple and easy to work on," the veteran Whiteland, Indiana, builder explained.
The engine compartment is bare now but when you take delivery of one of these cars there i
Once an innovator, always an innovator-and Rayburn is at it again. He's not happy with a lot of things he sees happening in the sport of Dirt Late Model racing that he loves, specifically the cost. So, he decided to do something about it.
Take a close look at the braided line and perfectly bent brake line, Rayburn's attention t
"It comes down to the cost of the sport. I wanted to make a new Late Model that is capable of today's Super Late Model performance for less than half the cost of a current race car," he said. As ambitious as that plan sounds, Rayburn has a very good reason for wanting to develop just such a car. "There is no way that a vast majority of my customers can afford a $30,000 to $40,000 engine."
NHRA Drag Racing has used the roof hatch safety concept for years in its Funny Car divisio
Indeed, given today's current economic climate affording a custom-built open motor can be a challenge at best for racers across the country. Couple that with the cost of a rolling chassis and you can easily crest 50 or even 60 thousand dollars in expenses before you get to the track. With that in mind, it's not surprising that there has been more than one story of a guy or gal who parked the car or dropped back to a lower division purely because he or she could no longer afford to race.
Inspired by the need to create a competitive and affordable Dirt Late Model platform, C.J. devised a plan which involves the use of a high-performance crate engine and a reduction in car weight.
At six-foot-four, C.J. is no small guy so he demonstrated how easily he can maneuver his b
Of course, the use of crate engines in Dirt Late Models is nothing new, it's been happening now for several years on the strength of a number of Crate Late Model series. However, the majority of those series rely on the first generation of sealed crate motors, GM's 602 or 604 circle track engines. But with only 350-400 hp those motors' performance is far short of a typical Super Late motor.
Here is where things are different with C.J.'s idea. "I have been talking to the people at General Motors and they have an engine called the 525. It's an aluminum engine, fashioned off their LS3 Corvette engine, so it should have a lot of horsepower and at the same time be really light.
Take a close look at how the hatch is mounted with rivets, a piano hinge, and how it's not
"So, if we can get the cars about 200 pounds lighter and put out at least 150 hp more than the 602 engine, I think that we'll really have something. The goal is to make this car competitive with a 2,300-pound car with an open engine."
While much of the weight savings comes courtesy of the aluminum block CT525, Rayburn tweaked the chassis and body design of the car he calls his Super Late Crate which he hopes will open up Dirt Late Model racing to the low-budget guys.
The cars will have a slightly different outward appearance. Traditional side panels are complemented by a one-piece sail panel and spoiler support that extends from the B-pillar to the spoiler itself. Those sail panels also fit flush with the side panels giving the new Rayburn Super Late a distinctive, unmistakable appearance.