Project G.R.E.E.N. Camaro Super Late Model at speed on New Smyrna Speedway's half-mile ova
When we began Project G.R.E.E.N. it's safe to say that everybody on the team had his or her own set of expectations. Those of us deeply rooted in oval track racing wondered whether or not the on-track testing phase of the project would validate the results we saw on the dyno. If you've already read "The Proof is in the Stopwatch" on page 26, then you know they did. If you haven't read it, please go back and do so. I'll wait...
OK, now you know that our little EFI/E85-fueled engine combination bested every other combination, some as much by 0.5 a second, an eon in oval track racing. Add that up over five laps and you get more than a 2-second improvement (now you know where the headline on this month's cover came from).The results of the test session were impressive though not all that surprising when you take an analytical look at torque curves and things of the such. But we left that analysis up to resident engine gurus Jim McFarland and Forrest Jehlik. What we'll talk about here is exactly what all this means to oval track racing, both from an industry perspective and a racer perspective.
Team owner Marty Zehr and Rob Fisher discuss the potential benefits we may see with the EF
But rather than me sit here and spout off how great the EFI/E85 engine package was, we're going to the one guy who knows better than anyone-our driver Dalton Zehr. Longtime readers of this magazine will recognize that name. In the past he has driven several of our project cars and has been featured in the magazine. Dalton has raced and won in just about everything from Bandeloros to Trucks to Super Late Models. And while he's only 19 years old, he has more hours in the cockpit than some racers twice his age.
So, Dalton, what did you think?
As soon as I got on the gas, it would pull from the beginning of the run all the way to the end of the run. And it was a good, solid pull; it never pitched, it never burped, it pulled really strong throughout the entire run, which is what I loved. The power off the bottom (end) felt like I had 100 more horsepower, largely because of the way the torque curve is shaped.
Could you pick out where this engine combo would have the biggest benefit?
He's not just the driver-here Dalton installs one of the Optima Yellow Top batteries that
It was very easy to tell that the real advantage of this engine combination will be in passing coming out of a turn. As I said, the torque off the bottom is incredible but the motor continues to pull all the way down the straightaway. It doesn't spool up and peak like a carb, there's gobs of torque available the whole way around the track. Plus, you don't have to gear the car way up to get the motor in the usable torque band. You're already there, so the EFI gives you more options.
Other than the lap times, what other differences did you find between the carburetor version and EFI?
Tunability for one. On the first run with the carbureted version of the motor, the motor would lay down coming off the corner. We started adjusting the carb, changing jets, and so on, but by the time we got the problem solved, it had begun raining and our whole day of testing was washed out. Now, we've had carb issues like that in the past, on race day, but having to add an extra day of testing because we spent too much time trying to fix a problem and no time on the track is no fun.
Now, on the first run with the EFI configuration, we were rich. I pulled into the pits, the guys plugged in a laptop and in less than two minutes they had the motor dialed in perfectly. That's the beauty of EFI, if you have a problem it's a lot easier and a lot faster to fix it and get it right.