“It’s better to allow a little trash to circulate inside the engine than to risk a catastrophic failure due to insufficient oil flow.”
Oil is the lifeblood of a racing engine. I know this isn’t breaking news for most racers, but that doesn’t diminish oil’s importance. The majority of catastrophic engine failures are caused by lack of lubrication.
Hello! I wanted to share a picture with you of my first win of the year with my new Reher-Morrison 583 Big Block engine. I won this engine at the 2015 Sunnen Engine Charity Sweepstakes. Engine runs great! 7.04 @ 190 first pass off the trailer in 3000′ DA. There is definitely a 6.9 in there!
“Excessive valve clearance is the enemy of compression – and compression is your best friend in a naturally aspirated racing engine.”
One of the most common mistakes I see in engine building is excessive valve clearance. One of the rules at our shop is that we always check the valve clearance in any engine that we didn’t build before it’s torn down.
-Top Dragster- Another first-time winner got the job done in Dart Machinery Top Dragster at Thunder Road, as Mike Greene of Burleson, TX., survived from the number 11 qualifying spot to beat number 12 starter Derrik Sholar in the final.
Greene qualified his Reher-Morrison 598 BBC powered ’08 Undercover dragster with a 4.13 pass at 171.31 mph and dialed in at 4.13 for three of his four elimination rounds. He ran 4.18 against the .13 in his first round win over Louisiana’s own Michael Kile, then went 4.14 on the 4.13 dial in to beat Jeb Adams, who broke out by a hundredth in round two. In the semis, Greene dialed in at 4.12 and ran another 4.14, but courtesy of an excellent .006 reaction time after Cody Moore ran dead on his 4.18 dial.
That left only the final, where a 4.16 against his 4.13 dial in got the job done for Greene as Sholar also broke out by a hundredth under his 4.22 dial in.
-Mike Greene- “My 12º Raptor headed Reher-Morrison engine is the best, most consistent fast engine I’ve ever owned. I can run this car down the track like a bracket car and even drive it to the lanes and back to my trailer after a run. I can’t thank the guys at the shop for everything they do. Thanks.”
Congratulations to Chris Eidson on his Division IV Bracket Finals Championship! Chris won the Pro category and then went on to win the run off between Pro and Super Pro winner for the trip to Pomona and the bracket racing World Finals!
Chris utilizes a Reher-Morrison 565ci in his ’63 Corvette roadster. To win a bracket race championship it takes a good car, a good driver, and a dependable engine that can go 8 to 10 rounds, one after another. That’s what Chris got in his 565 Reher-Morrison engine.
“The pressure curves explained what I’ve learned about racing engines through years of experience and observation.”
Unless your race car is powered by a jet engine or a turbine, a critical factor in engine performance is the pressure exerted on the pistons. The goal in race engine development is to maximize the cylinder pressure that pushes against the pistons and thereby rotates the crankshaft.
“Spark plugs are the best source of information on what’s really happening in the cylinders.”
If you really want to know what’s happening inside an engine, look at its spark plugs. The spark plugs are eyewitnesses to the combustion process, and their expert testimony provides insights into what is really happening inside the cylinders.
“CNC is a manufacturing process, not a thought process.”
When the racing season ends, the show season begins. This winter I made the journey to Indianapolis to attend the Performance Racing Industry trade show. After several years in Orlando, the PRI Show returned to its former home in Indy, and it was amazing.
“The only source of power in any internal combustion engine is the energy in the fuel.”
The hottest topic in engine building these days is power adders. It seems like every magazine, website, and online forum is talking up nitrous oxide injection, superchargers, and turbochargers. What’s the big deal?
“In my experience, one of the best indicators of valvetrain stability is also the simplest.”
My longtime friend, teammate, and business partner, the late Buddy Morrison, had a direct approach to problem solving. When Buddy wanted to learn about oil control and crankcase windage in a racing engine, he convinced me that it was a good idea to make a dyno run on an engine without an oil pan.
“In a wet-sump engine, the rotating assembly whips the oil like a milkshake in a blender.”
It’s great to be back in the pages of National Dragster after taking a break from writing columns. I appreciate the many comments from racers and readers, and I’ll attempt to come up with interesting topics now that I’m back on the keyboard. Continue reading →
“I’ve learned that engines with pistons and valves are fundamentally alike.”
I count myself among the fortunate people who enjoy going to work every day. The fact is that I love working on engines – all kinds of engines. After nearly 40 years of messing around with motors, I’ve learned that there are more similarities than differences in various types of engines.
“A basic nitrous oxide injection system can make a huge difference in fast Sportsman racing.”
I’ve been around drag racing long enough that I can remember when racers first reached many of the sport’s performance milestones that are being celebrated during NHRA’s 60th anniversary season. There was a time when a 6-second elapsed time was sensational. Don Garlits was so elated to run in the sixes that he famously shaved his beard on the starting line after winning the 1967 U.S. Nationals. Today, however, six-second runs are commonplace – and they have become the price of admission in fast sportsman eliminators like Top Dragster and Top Sportsman.
“It’s astounding to think about driving a car with 1,000 horsepower on the highway.”
One of the recurring themes in automotive advertising is the notion that racing improves the breed of production cars. There’s strong evidence to support that idea, at least in engine technology. Not too many years ago, 300 horsepower was a stout number for a showroom engine. Now it seems that every four-door sedan has 400+ horsepower, and high-performance models have more than 600 horses under the hood.
“Something that looks simple from the outside is actually incredibly complex.”
There was a time in my life when I thought that Pro Stock was the center of the universe. I’d spend every minute of the day – and many sleepless nights – thinking about how to extract more horsepower from a 500-cubic-inch Pro Stock engine. Unfortunately, focusing so intensely on one combination can lead to a severe case of tunnel vision. I didn’t appreciate the much wider world of racing engines until I retired from Pro Stock.
“How a drag racing engine is treated during burnouts has a lot to do with its long-term reliability.”
In my recent back-page columns, I’ve focused on the mechanical side of drag racing – cooling systems, lubrication systems, fuel systems, and ignition systems. This time I’m going to address a different topic: How a driver’s burnout technique can affect the engine and chassis.
“Most drag race cooling systems are utterly inadequate to dissipate such staggering heat.”
An engine has two fundamental needs: lubrication and cooling. Racers typically devote a great deal of time and money to oiling systems, devising windage trays, baffles, deflector screens, and dry-sump systems to ensure continuous lubrication. In comparison, drag race cooling systems are almost an afterthought – and that’s a grave mistake.
“There are some basic skills that must be mastered to build an engine successfully.”
I traveled backward in time last week. It happened while we were rebuilding a big-block Chevrolet engine. This particular engine won the 1982 NHRA Pro Stock championship, and overhauling it was like firing up a time machine.
“Installing titanium valves is simply the best way to improve a racing engine.”
The same properties that made titanium the metal of choice for nuclear submarines and high-altitude spy planes during the Cold War also make titanium an ideal material for engine valves. Depending on its alloy, titanium is 45 percent lighter than steel and twice as strong as 6061-T6 aluminum. Replacing steel valves with titanium is simply the best way to improve a racing engine.
“A great car setup can’t overcome a bad engine, and a terrific engine can’t win in a lousy car.”
Although it’s been several years since Reher-Morrison Racing Engines last competed full-time in NHRA Pro Stock competition, I still follow the category with interest. The fact that we have expanded our engine business with customers competing in classes ranging from Pro Mod and Top Sportsman to tractor pulls and 400 mph Bonneville land speed racers has given me a fresh perspective. Since this issue of National DRAGSTER celebrates the accomplishments of this year’s Pro Stock champion, I thought I might offer some observations on the state of the class.
“The most powerful oil pan is not necessarily the best oil pan for a sportsman drag racing engine.”
It’s an article of faith among racers that there is “free” horsepower to be found in an engine’s oiling system. Reducing windage and cutting frictional losses can indeed improve engine performance. Unfortunately, the unintended consequences of these horsepower-enhancing techniques can be a loss of reliability, followed by a big repair bill.
“Building better engines was literally a matter of national survival.”
As a professional engine builder and a self-confessed motorhead, the development of internal combustion engines is both my livelihood and my passion. While unlocking a few more horsepower in a racing engine is always rewarding, I recognize that ultimately it’s not a matter of life and death. There was a time, however, when the fate of the world literally depended on engine development.
“Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten.”
Anyone who buys a “Rolex” watch on the Internet for 25 bucks has a pretty good idea that it’s not the genuine article. Producing and selling counterfeit products is a lucrative global business, and it’s not just high-end luxury goods like watches and leather goods that are knocked off. There are black markets for everything from blue jeans to perfume. In the traditional auto parts business, name-brand oil filters, spark plugs, and brake pads have been counterfeited by unscrupulous operators who sell low-quality parts in familiar looking boxes.
“Next year, when the weather turns warm and the days grow longer, racers will still be racing, and fans will still be watching them.”
Along with death and taxes, the third inevitability in our lives is change. Certainly the world has been going through some major changes in the last few months, and most were not for the better. But I’m not going to join the drumbeat of depressing news – there’s already a surplus of doom and gloom on television and the Internet. The fact is that racers are going to find ways to race in good times and in bad times.
“The pursuit of a big cfm number has ruined countless cylinder heads.”
“What’s it flow?”
Whenever a conversation about cylinder heads begins with that question, I cringe. I know where this discussion is going, and it’s not good. When a racer wants to distill the performance of a highly developed cylinder head down to a single number, I know I’m dealing with someone who is fixated on the flow bench.
“A new generation of 800-cubic-inch engines has turned those old Mountain Motors into molehills.”
Back in the early days of Pro Stock match racing, any engine with more than 500 cubic inches of displacement was labeled a “Mountain Motor.” Now a new generation of 800-cubic-inch engines has turned those old Mountain Motors into molehills. Continue reading →