By admin | January 29, 2009
By Steve Monday
Anyone who is involved professional motorsports will certainly attest that it requires basically a 24/7/365 commitment. Besides Professional racing being a career, often times is becomes a way of life. This is especially true in the world of NHRA Pro Stock Drag Racing.
The NHRA season consists of 24 National Events that stretch from coast to coast. During the racing season, NHRA Pro Stock teams have little time to test and conduct engine Research & Development. Between the travel schedule, engine maintenance, race car prep, clutch grinding, maintaining a complete replacement parts inventory, plus other very important bumper to bumper tuning tricks, time is a valuable commodity.
Off season testing and R & D work begins immediately after the last race and carries through the first National Event in Pomona which will kick off February 5th.
The “off season” is often times one of the busiest periods in Pro Stock. Engine builders are on a never ending quest for additional horsepower. Even gains as small as 1 - 2 HP can make a huge difference. This is the most competitive class in motorsports with wins or losses often decided by less than 1/100 of a second.
At a recent test session, three time NHRA Pro Stock Champion Greg Anderson made the quickest and fastest 1/4 mile pass in the history of the class. He sped down the Palm Beach International Raceway surface with an Elapsed Time of 6.527 seconds @ 212.63 mph. This fast lap is the result of all the hard work and long hours contributed by every member of his team.
A tremendous amount of effort is required to make any gain in the H.P. department. Today’s NHRA legal 500 cubic inch Pro Stock engines are making in excess of 1200 H.P. on the engine dynamometer. Improvements come in very small increments and require many man hours. It is a painstaking process, not to mention a costly one as well.
Over the last few seasons, engine builders have been able to produce more power in the higher RPM bands. The shift points for the five speed transmission are at 10,000 RPM or higher. Making power in the higher RPM range has proven to be beneficial in the performance of the race car.
As is the case in other forms of motorsports, performance improvements in Pro Stock are often the result of many small gains in various areas of the machime, rather than one large gain in a specific area. Attention to detail is imperative and every crew member’s responsibility is vital to the team’s success.
Race engine builders and crew members are a very driven and a very intuitive group. Regardless of the series (NASCAR, NHRA, F-1, IRL, or Dirt Late Models), their goals are the same. Build an engine that produces the most power, one that is almost bullet proof, and one that out performs the competition. Additionally, the crew members examine and tinker with every component of the race car hoping to find any edge. This is no easy task.
Most of us have seen the Geico Insurance commercial touting the phrase “It’s so easy a Caveman can do it.” Rest assured this is not the case when it comes to race engine builders or dedicated crew members of any race team. Everyone cannot do it. Including the Caveman…….
Steve Monday is a guest blogger for RacingWithRich.com.
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