PENN YAN, NY — Blog by Race Chaser Online New York Correspondent Steven Ovens — Jeremiah Fish Photo — Karl was right all along.
In an early season episode of Turn 5 titled ‘The Great Crate Debate’, we sat down with the Chief Editor of Speedway Illustrated, Karl Fredrickson, to discuss GM Crate Engine packages.
One of the hot button issues with Karl was the technical inspection of said engines. He pointed out that there are YouTube videos on the internet showing teams and engine builders how to get around the sealed engine component that had made the GM Crate Motor so popular with race promoters across America.
The reality of the class of engines is that there are supposed to be mandated GM Crate engine builders and repair shops that specialize in performing this work and are allowed to ‘seal’ the engine. The cost of being a certified shop is pretty expensive and even involves legal ramifications if your certified shop is found to have tampered with the ‘engine seal’ program.
However, the importance of carrying out a successful GM Crate Engine program at your racetrack is to properly enforce the technical rules laid out, without any exceptions. In this early part of the race season we have been able to see both ends of the Crate tech inspection spectrum.
My checkered flag for technical inspection goes out to the Go Nuclear! Crate Late Model Series based out of Syracuse, NY and the surrounding areas. We invited them to be a part of the Crate Debate in the offseason on an episode of Turn 5 and after all of that great discussion, the series invested a large chunk of series dollars toward new tech inspection tools and processes.
The series even has contracted with a lab to perform tire testing and has looked into swapping different components on the cars running their series, all to promote an equal playing field. I commend their efforts to make sure that when a competitor falls short in a race, he knows he played on an equal playing field.
The tech debate with this series was put to bed their first event out in 2014. The driver who won a rather prestigious event on their tour was found to not have the proper engine seal bolts and was disqualified as the winner.
The following excerpt was taken from a press release put out by the Go Nuclear! series:
“…series tech officials identified a discrepant seal configuration, with two engine-builder seals in place (incomplete) and nominal GM bolts in other required locations. A follow-up with the car owner, as well as the engine builder whose seals were on the engine, provided confirmation that the original builder’s seals had been removed in order to facilitate a repair by a non-authorized rebuilder. As a result of the non-conforming seals, Tim Sears Jr. was disqualified from the Gnome Cup Event.”
Further engine inspection did not find any non-conforming parts but the rule was applied as per the rulebook. Well done Shayne Tenace and technical staff.
My black flag goes to a particular dirt track in the Southern Tier who has turned a blind eye to properly carrying out GM Crate Technical Inspection. During competition on the first weekend in June of this year, it was found that 11 of the 21 GM Crate Sportsman cars competing that night did not have proper GM Seal Bolts from an authorized dealer in their engines.
This does not mean that the components inside the engine were not legal, however it does mean that the team did not go to the proper authorized repair shop to have their Crate engine repairs done. This certainly opens the discussion up for what parts could have been in these engines that do not meet the GM Crate specifications. According to this track’s rules, this would result in a disqualification with no questions being asked.
Where this track has gone terribly wrong was by giving the teams found with illegal engine seal bolts 1 week to fix this problem or they would be disqualified from future competition. Say What?!
Every racetrack has a section in their rulebook that allows them to change anything at any time as they see fit. The old NASCAR section 12-1 rule ‘actions detrimental to stock car racing’ comes to mind. I understand why that rule is in place but this is not the time to enact that rule.
Some say that you can’t disqualify 11-12 cars in a 21 car field because that’s not a good show for the fans. But if that is the case, where do we draw the line on fair competition? If I knew I’d get the ‘1 week to fix it’ treatment why not just strap a big-block powerplant into my Sportsman car and go out and get myself at least 1 win?
The GM Crate Sportsman class isn’t new to this area in 2014. These teams and drivers know the rules and when they have done wrong or overstretched the limitation of fair competition. I just can’t understand why a class that was laid out to prevent these ‘gray areas’ has been given any wiggle room by this track. It is completely unfair to the 10 drivers who followed the rulebook to a T and got beat by the teams in question.
This past weekend’s competition at this Southern Tier track saw many of the drivers found not in compliance with the GM Seal Bolt rule in different cars or even different divisions of competition altogether. If that doesn’t make this problem obvious, I don’t know what does.
One certified GM Crate engine builder we talked to this week said he had to rush and get 7 engines sealed prior to this week’s competition. All I can do is sit here and shake my head. If this Southern Tier track is not going to comply with the rules that THEY have laid out in the rulebook, what is the compliant team’s motivation to come race fairly for wins?
Only time will tell if this problem persists and whether it spreads to other speedways and series across our great state of New York. As far as I’m concerned, everyone needs to take a look at what the Go Nuclear! Late Model Series is doing for technical inspection and relook at what they are doing going forward.
Until next time folks, take your kids to the races and keep it on the cushion!