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Can we save money now and race more in 2009?

I was removing our all-aluminum 572" Mopar wedge built by Ohio Crankshaft from the Project 4-Link Dragster last weekend and was starting to make a list of “freshen” jobs I would usually do to any  before the beginning of the next racing season.

The 572” Mopar Wedge we are uses a World Products aluminum block, Ohio Crankshaft rotating assembly, Indy 440-1 heads and Terminator fuel injection. It is full of the best parts we could afford: Jesel Rockers, Comp Cams cam, lifters and springs, Milodon Oil System, Fluidampr and MSD ignition.

The list I was making included new piston rings, rod and main bearings, magnafluxing everything else, have the heads freshened, maybe new roller lifters, timing chain, and the list just went on and on. The cost would easily reach $2500 and that is if I did the work. It is a tradition that I have carried on for about 20 years or more. Freshen the engine, freshen the transmission and converter, check the rear gear, and how about installing some of the "trick" new parts that are on the market. If you race you probably know what I am talking about. Spend, spend and spend some more.

I think this has become a habit for a couple reasons. A few years ago it was not unusual for me to put 200 to 250 runs on the car in one season and sometimes we hit the 325-run mark if we made the early spring races and maybe the Florida Winter Series events. Lately though we have cut back some  running the engines only about 150 laps per year and this year we only made 98 due to weather and limited travel (oh yeah, and limited amount of rounds we won as well. Not good!)

Over the past several years the race cars have gotten quicker and engines more powerful. With that power comes some heavy parts breakage. Aftermarket companies have tried to keep up with the power levels of faster bracket cars designing and building bigger, better, longer-living parts.  The result I have seen in the last four or five years has been a significant improvement in overall durability of the 750 to 1000 horsepower engines, especially the Mopars.

A lot of this improved durability started with the “Mega-Block”  and has continued on with the availability of several different aftermarket steel and aluminum blocks. The "stroker kits" have improved too as has the quality of the crankshafts, rods and pistons in those kits. The "right combinations" have proven themselves and are readily available at affordable prices.

When I first started running my stroked 400" blocks at 451" and then 477" they were built using stock blocks. The blocks were the weak point and it was necessary to tear the engine down every year to at least have the block crack-checked. Then the offset ground stock crank might as well be checked and so on and so on.

The one thing I have done for the past several years is to send my used race oil to the Schaeffer Oil labs for a UOA (Used Oil Analysis). You can see if there is a change in lead or copper content (signs a bearing could be going out), water in the oil (gasket problems) and even watch the percentage of fuel and contaminants that show up. The UOA was the primary reason I now run a K&N air filter. I was getting a significant amount of silica in my analysis and the lab said it was likely from a faulty or dirty air cleaner. They were right; I wasn't using one(filter) then. Since that report I always have a filter and now the silica or grit never shows up in the oil analysis again.