The inaugural event of the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour presented by GM Performance Parts on Saturday night at Toledo Speedway was seen as a significant event by many industry insiders. The activities on the Monday following the event may have held even greater significance for the future of Asphalt Crate Late Model racing.
With support and encouragement from short track representatives from General Motors and Ford, a group of racing leaders led an across the board examination of the current crate late model engine packages being utilized in most parts of the country for pavement racing. Ricky Brooks, who has provided technical leadership at events at Five Flags Speedway, Mobile International Speedway, Montgomery Motor Speedway, Lanier National Speedway and New Smyrna Speedway in the last 12 months, and Eddie Chew, representing Champion Racing Association (CRA), led the investigative efforts. DeWaine McGunegill of McGunegill Engine Performance donated the use of his facility and resources for Brooks and Chew to conduct the testing and evaluation.
Following Saturday night’s inaugural event for CRA in crate late model racing, CRA officials took possession of the top finishing engine from each engine package permitted in competition: the GM 604, the Ford Blue Oval, and the McGunegill 425LM. At 8am Monday morning, officials started the dyno assessment utilizing the same carburetor on all engines, as well as a baseline set of headers. The key goal of this effort was to evaluate the different engine packages in comparison to each other, rather than establishing a specific horsepower or torque number for each type of engine. Since these numbers vary from dyno to dyno, the specific numbers were of less significance than the comparison of those numbers to each other.
In addition to the process of back to back to back dyno runs, additional inspection efforts included compression checks by use of a “Whistler” as well as the removal of a head for specific head “C.C.” evaluation. Camshaft profiling, bore, stroke, piston, rod, crankshaft and lifter evaluations were also part of the process. “Thorough and Complete” was the mantra for a full and busy day.
To the delight of the teams whose engines were taken, but of no surprise to any of them, all engines were found to be within specifications permitted. More importantly, where the industry is concerned, is the result of the dyno comparisons: all three different engine packages fell within five horsepower of each other. Besides the results of the three engines that Brooks and Chew personally oversaw on Monday, the pair had dyno results from over a dozen more engines, from some of the top competitors in racing, to review and compare. Significant data analysis backed up the results they found in their own assessments from that day.
“This was a very important day in crate late model racing,” noted Brooks. “For too long we have had had to endure rumors and conjecture about how these different packages compared to each other performance-wise. We do not need to wonder anymore…we know now. Utilizing the best performing engine from each package, allows us to eliminate a whole bunch of questions and doubt. It was a great day for people to learn and analyze.”
For Chew, working with Brooks in Monday’s evaluation process was invaluable. “Every time Ricky and I have a chance to work together, side by side, it is a benefit to everyone involved, especially the racers,” CRA’s top Technical Inspector commented. “We get the opportunity to compare our inspection tools as well as our processes, to make sure the racers are getting the most consistent technical inspection they can, when they go from the North to the South or vice versa.”
The results of Monday’s testing and analysis resulted in Brooks eliminating the 25 lb weight penalty for the McGunegill package that had previously been in place for the events he serviced in the South. That change puts the North and South on common ground where engine packages and weights are concerned.
“We have a goal of utilizing the exact same rules for the North and South and all other willing parts of the country,” Brooks stated. “Just like we have established with identical rules for the Super Late Models, we expect that the 2012 rulebook will be the same for all the parties that want to participate and utilize them.”
Chew additionally noted that, “it is important that teams that come from the South be able to confidently compete in our JEGS/CRA/GM events in the North, and that our teams can go to races in the South with the same confidence that they are racing under the same technical specification and inspection guidelines they are accustomed to in the North.”
Besides a commitment from all parties to build identical rules for 2012, officials also outlined some specific verbiage and specifications for engine builders for 2012 and beyond.
After running three engines on the dyno, the tear downs that came after, and data analysis and discussions following all the work, everyone ended the day feeling confident and comfortable in the process and results.
In addition to the officials previously mentioned, CRA officials Greg Wood and R. J. Scott were present and witnessed the process.
Scott, co-owner of CRA with partner Glenn Luckett, reviewed the activities of the day. “It was one of the most productive days I have ever witnessed. We really appreciate Dewaine McGunegill opening the doors to his top notch facility, then stepping back and letting the Eddie and Ricky lead the process how they wanted. Getting to watch those two guys dissect the engines and poor over all the data was very special and I just think it leads to even better things in the future for everyone!”