We love letters, especially technical questions. Submit your tech questions to Kevin McClelland at email@example.com. Regular shout-outs and good tidings are also always welcome.
By the time you read this, we will be close to the final court date for Auto Club Dragway at Fontana, California. This has been an ongoing sound control issue for several years. Just this last week there was news that we would have a limited schedule for the rest of the year until this final court date. I don’t want to talk today about Fontana’s specific issues, but rather in general how we got here.
Southern California is arguably the birthplace of drag racing and the National Hot Rod Association. Back in the day, most of the drag races were held on abandoned World War II airstrips that were converted to dragstrips. These airfields were built far from population, and sound wasn’t an issue. With the growth of neighboring communities, in addition to the purpose-built dragstrips popping up around the country, it was only a matter of time before conflict began.
Well, here in Southern California, we have lost at least three dragstrips and countless circle tracks over the years to sound issues and the tracks’ neighbors. When I say, “let’s be proactive,” I mean let’s be good neighbors to the community. When I worked at Flowmaster, everyone said I was just trying to sell mufflers. Back in 1988 when I brought out my Camaro for the first time, it had mufflers on it. That was long before any muffler rules were even being considered. It made my car easier to tune and diagnose problems early, and you could hear your competition in the other lane. I had the advantage of hearing the games they were playing with their throttle.
I think it’s high time that all of us racers help by trying to be good neighbors. Also, track owners and race promoters requiring muffled race cars won’t hurt your car count. If everyone requires mufflers at our local bracket events, there would be nowhere else to race. Yes, there will be holdouts, but in time, they’ll want to be racing and outfit their cars.
Have I lost my mind? Well no. I have two perfectly good muffled race cars that are sitting idle because some of us have not taken care of our sport. I want to be doing this until I can’t get in my car any longer! Also, I want this sport passed down to my grandchildren. It’s been alive and well for three generations in my family, and I don’t want to see it end anytime soon. It’s time for a change!
Q. When building a 383 small-block, when should one use 5.7-inch rods or 6.0-inch rods? Thanks.
A. Boy, this is a question for the ages. Years ago, Smokey Yunick said that you couldn’t put too long a rod in a small-block Chevy. This was back when all they had for cylinder heads were stock iron heads ported by the latest grinder jockey! We’ve come quite a long way since then. We now have cylinder heads that flow serious air. Today the main reason you would want to run longer rods in your 383 would be to reduce side loading on the piston skirts. The stock 400 small-blocks were equipped with a very short rod of 5.565 inches, which allowed GM to use the same compression height in both the 3.48-inch stroke and 3.75-inch-stroke engines. This was done for durability, keeping heat out of the wristpins.