Recession Proof Horsepower

Recession Proof Horsepower
By Don Terrill (c) -

Does the news media have you all wigged out about the economy? Are you looking to cut costs, but still need your racing fix? Well, you can't race for free, but you sure can be smart about how and where you spend your money.

Build Affordable Horsepower:
  • Only Build What You Need - The vast majority of racers will build their engine with more horsepower than required. Instead, think about how much power you need and then find the most affordable (and reliable) way to get there.
  • Engine Size - If there are no restrictions on engine size, build one large enough so you don't have to put it on meltdown to make power. 400" with a flat tappet cam may be better than 350" with a roller.
  • Power-Adders - Throwing reliability out the window, power-adders (nitrous, blowers, etc) can add a lot of bang for the buck. It's hard to beat the HP per Dollar of Nitrous Oxide -- in fact it's impossible.
  • Airflow - Have a bunch of rules? Forced to make your horsepower the old fashioned way? Don't waste a penny on titanium rods or other nonsense. Put your money where it counts, in airflow improvements.
Build Reliable Horsepower:

The last thing you need is a blown engine when money is tight. Here are a few tips to help out with engine longevity.
  • RPM - There's no bigger killer of engines than too much RPM. Don't spin the engine any harder than required to be competitive. You won't have to give up any performance if you build/tune the engine to work down low.
  • Compression - The main problem here is the increased risk of detonation as you raise compression ratio. The lower the compression the better, but learning how to read spark plugs will help keep you out of trouble no matter what the compression.
  • Valvetrain - If you can only afford to build the engine once, then this is no time for any aggressive valve motion. Leave the camshafts with quick ramps and a ton of lift to the rich folks. Get more air into the engine through airflow improvements, not by wilder cam lobe profiles.
As for financial success in this economy, I don't see anything more important than protecting your ability to earn, and one of the best ways to do that is by furthering your education -- Make yourself more valuable to the marketplace.

The same goes for your racing success, there's no better bang for the buck than educating yourself. Dummies will never find themselves in the winner's circle very often.

Want to send off a nasty email about how wrong I am? Well, first read this and then write your own article.