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My Crew: Take Two

The questions have been pouring in about the crew.

The crew members are volunteering their time to be on the Kyle Wurtzel Racing team. Several of the crew members have worked on other part-time or full-time teams in the fast and a few are first time crew members. The crew members come to us through recommendation and are from Illinois, Iowa, Canada, and Indiana. Obviously this is a dangerous sport and having a sharp crew like mine is very important to help keep me safe and the parts in the car.

For more information about our amazing crew, click here.

Please note, we aren't currently accepting new crew members.

 

 

What does the crew do?

Quite a few of you have asked what the crew does at the race track.

On Friday and Saturday nights we spend about 3-4 hours after everyone leaves servicing the race car and parts to be ready for the next day.  This typically involves working on heads to make sure they are in tip top shape, grinding the flywheel and pressure plate so they are straight and new, cleaning up the mess on the car from the two runs, and fixing any of the small things that might have happened. 

We also put a set of rods and pistons in the motor for the next run but don’t bolt on the heads because we have to wait and see what the weather conditions are going to be like to make a head gasket call.  We then pack everything up for the night.  My crew guys will leave and stay at a local hotel.

We couldn't do what we do without our amazing crew, who take time out of their lives to support Kyle Wurtzel Racing!

Last Week at Route 66

It's been a week since our last race. I want to start this post by thanking Mike Wojciechowski at Xtreme Edge Excavating for his support this past weekend!  Thanks Mike!! 

Heading into the weekend we were very excited, but nervous.  With both qualifying shots being night sessions, we assumed the bump was going to be fast.  Our game plan was to make two early shut off shots on Friday.  We are working on our mid track numbers trying to run harder to get in the mid to low 3.80 range.  On the first shot, I shut the car off around half track.  Which turned out to be a good thing.  The left side cylinder head was trying to push out a head gasket and it started to melt the head a little.  On the second shot on Friday, I shut the car off at half-track again and for the second time in a row we were lucky.  This time we shot out a spark plug on the right side of the motor. 

Most likely, if we didn’t plan on the early shut offs, I probably wouldn’t have felt the problems and we would have ended up with some catastrophic damages.  After Friday, we were optimistic about Saturday because the car is wanting to run 3.85-3.86 pretty easily and we escaped Friday night with limited damage and no oil down penalties.  On Saturday for the Q3 we had the car set up to try to run a 3.86 and unfortunately on the run we broke an air fitting on the clutch management system that caused the clutch bearing to move quicker and subsequently smoked the tires.  When we got back to the pit for between round service is, we found the problem.  The fitting was an easy fix, but the biggest problem was going to be bleeding the management system.  

Thankfully fellow competitor Luigi Novelli saved our day.  This shows you that he and his crew are first class people.  Luigi was going to be the car that we were going to try to bump out and without his help we wouldn’t of had that chance.  Thank you very much Novelli Racing! 

Unfortunately for us, mother nature had a different plan and prevented us from making the last qualifying shot.  So we were left outside of the top 16 and were spectators for the rest of the weekend.  Overall, we had a great time but just had a little bad luck over the weekend.  We are very content with the car and the direction we are heading with it. 

A big thank you to our fans for your tweets, comments on Facebook, and your presence at the track. We look forward to seeing you all in St. Louis this September!

Win a FREE Kyle Wurtzel Racing Hat

Help us generate buzz about Kyle Wurtzel Racing on social media.
Post a photo on twitter with the hashtag, #kylewurtzelracing either at the track, watching the race on TV, or how you get your information about the race. One random person will be chosen from their tweets to win a hat!

The race will be on ESPN 2 on Friday from 10 p.m. to midnight and on Saturday LIVE from 2-5 p.m.

We look forward to chatting with you on Twitter! If you aren't already, make sure to follow us.

The Top Five of the NHRA Kansas Nationals

1. We ran our career best of 3.89
2. We qualified. (If you're keeping track, we've qualified for our first two NHRA races!)
3. We were able to get 4 runs in to work on our tune up with the new parts we bought in the off season.
4. We were able to get a good baseline for the Chicago race, which will most likely be the quickest race we will attempt to qualify for.
5. The crew guys were able to get back into the swing of things. (It had been 8 months since our last run).

Overall, it was a great weekend. Check out the awesome pictures from Auto Imagery!

Topeka Bound

In just two short weeks, we will be heading to Topeka to make our 2015 debut.

On Friday, May22nd, our goal is to make two half track passes to make sure all of the new parts we bought in the off season are working the way we think they should before we run the car to the end.

On Saturday, our game plan is to get in the top 16 and get a good baseline for Sunday. If all goes well, and we make the field, we will do our best to give our first round opponent a run for their money.

We can't wait to see our fans. Make sure to share your photos and videos on our Facebook page or tweet them to @kwurtzelracing with the hashtag, #kylewurtzelracing.

The Off Season

We get a lot of questions at Kyle Wurtzel Racing. One of the most common is asking what tyoe of work we do on the car during the off season.  Believe it or not, there is a lot that needs to be done before our season begins.

We spend the most of our time doing maintenance and looking over our parts. This past weekend we completely disassembled the rear end and changed out the gear, pinion, and spool. The parts all looked good, but we are trying to avoid a major catastrophe by not breaking it.

If that did happen, it would be a major set back for us because a broken reared typically means a destroyed motor because it will over rev. The rest of the weekend was spent grinding used and new clutch disk flat to be able to run. Then we built packs that where all the same thickness so in-between round service is made simpler.

We hope to see you at some of our races this season. Keep checking our schedule for the races we plan to attend!

New Primary Sponsor for the Route 66 NHRA Nationals

We are proud to announce that Xtreme Edge is going to be the primary sponsor for the Route 66 NHRA Nationals July 9th-12th at the Route 66 Raceway in Chicago. This is an amazing opportunity, allowing Kyle to participate in a fantastic NHRA experience.

Stay tuned for more information about this partnership. We hope to see you all in Chicago in July!

If you are interested in sponsoring opportunities, please contact us. If you want to know more about our sponsors and supporting sponsors, visit our website!

 

Rear Wheel Speed

First of all, I'd like to apologize for waiting almost a month to blog. If you didn't know, my wife and I adopted a newborn baby in late January. I'm finally back in the swing of things and gearing up for the racing season to begin!

Today, I'd like to talk about rear wheel speed. All of the tune up adjustments for the launch of the car are in an attempt to get a certain rear wheel speed. If there is too much wheel speed, the car will smoke the tires and not enough will cause tire shake. Both results end up in aborted runs.

There are several variables that can be changed to affect wheel speed. Those adjustments also depend on track conditions. If a track is hot and greasy, we need to be careful to not get too much wheel speed. In these conditions we will run used tires because they are bigger in diameter.  When track conditions are the opposite, we will run new tires to get more rear wheel speed because they are smaller in diameter. Some teams will make rear wheel changes in the staging lanes if weather conditions are changing quickly.

Other adjustments we will make to affect wheel speed is primary weight on the clutch, height of the wheelie bar, and air pressure in the tires.

Have ideas for content you'd like to see on the blog? Feel free to let me know via twitter or contact me here!

More about the car: Ignition Timing

Recently, I had request about ignition timing so this week, I will talk about that!

Timing is one of those tuning adjustments that can occur right up to the fire up in the water box. During a race, you might notice the crew chief with a small black box in the staging lanes or in the water box before they start.  This is called a graphic editor or pro mag digital retard interface. The part number is 7570 from MSD. They use this box to adjust the timing map. Most crew chiefs will have several timing maps saved in the editor for various track conditions and can change the timing map very quickly in the car.

This editor hooks up to the the digital multi-stage retard controller part number 8971 from MSD via a small cable. The controller is what sends the timing map to the motor. At the hit of the throttle for the launch there will be a lot of timing in the motor 55 degrees or more. This is done to get rear wheel speed going but timing is then immediately being pulled out to control the rear wheel speed.

Too much timing will cause the car to smoke the tires and not enough can cause it to shake. Wheel speed is a very touchy issue and deserves its own blog.  Some of you might wonder how the timing map is triggered in the car. In my car, I have a small air activated button under the gas pedal so when it is smashed all the way down it triggers the timing control along with the fuel system controls and clutch controls. Going back to the launch, we start pulling timing out of the motor at 1 tenth of a second into the run and continue to pull it out until 1.1 seconds in the run down to 35 degrees. From there we ramp timing back into the motor and at 2.0 seconds into run the motor might have 46 degrees or more back in it. Remember, timing is power and these cars are all about making power.

The Fuel We Burn: Nitromethane

Nitromethane, otherwise known as "nitro" is best described by HotRod Magazine, which notes "Nitromethane-or CH3NO2-is one member of a family of explosive compounds that contain nitrogen and oxygen." For more details, please check out HotRod's great article, What is Nitromethane, Anyway?

Now that you have read a little bit about nitro, lets discuss how we get it and use it.  When you run an NHRA national event, a driver has to buy it onsite at the race from their provider.  In years past, it has been VP but this year, it is changing to Sunoco.  This is the NHRA’s way of making sure everyone is running the same fuel and that we are all on a level playing field.  When we buy it, we receive 42 gallons of 100% nitromethane in a drum.  The rulebook only allows us to run 90% nitro. Many teams cut down the percentage with Alcohol.  Now every team will run a little different percentage based on their tune up, but it can’t be over 90%.  Our tune up is based on a percentage of 88. The first thing that I do when I get the fuel is pump it into 5 gallon containers and then adjust the percentage down to 88. Everyone does this differently, but I weigh out a certain amount of the 100% nitro and add certain amount of alcohol.  I then use my nitro tester to see where I am at as far as percentage. 

There are two types of testers: a digital one that sucks up a little fuel into a straw and then tells you what percentage you are at and a manual process where you use a chart, a thermometer, and a hydrometer.  I do it the manual way.  I can usually get within a couple tenths of percent of the 88.0 I am shooting for and then I will fine tune the adjustment from there.  When we go to run the car, we always carry what we call a cutter or chicken juice.  This is two different bottles of 100% alcohol to be able to dump in the tank of the car to knock down the percentage by .25% or .50% depending on what bottle we poor in.  This adjustment is done if the weather conditions or track conditions change significantly from when we leave the trailer up to the point we make our run.

If you recall, in my last blog post, we talked about the size of the fuel pump that we run.  Remember these cars use a lot of fuel.  When we warm the car up in the pits before the run, we use 4-6 gallons of fuel.  Then during the run which is 1000’,  we typically use 12-13 gallons.  Between the warm up and the actual run we will consume a total of a about 17 gallons.  So if anyone is doing the math that means we get about 89.76 gallons per mile.

Have questions about fuel or how we use it? Feel free to send me a tweet at @Kwurtzelracing or comment on this post!

The Technical Side of Drag Racing: The Fuel Pump

It was really exciting to see how you responded to our first post about the technical side of drag racing. I'd like to continue our fuel tank discussion with a description on how we get the fuel to the motor.

We use a four gear section waterman pump that at 8000 rpms will pump 104 gallons per minute. Thankfully, we only need all of that fuel for a couple of seconds when the motor is getting tugged down as the clutch is locking up. Maintenance of the fuel pump is very important. If it starts flowing less or breaks, the motor is going to blow up.

After every weekend that we race, the pump gets taken completely apart and sometimes we have to replace a gear section or an end plate. Sometimes, major repair is needed and we have to get new housings. After a pump is fresh and ready it usually takes a couple of runs before the fuel flow stays the same. Like most things in this sport you need to have two pumps at all times or a good buddy who will loan you one.

Stay tuned for next week when we talk about fuel mixtures.

The Technical Side of Drag Racing: The Fuel Tank

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone that offered suggestions for the blog on my Facebook page. Please keep them coming and I'll continue to post content that is meaningful to you!

I often get asked about the technical side of the car. The easiest way to talk about that is to start with the front of the car and work our way to the back in other blog posts. This week, I'll discuss the  fuel tank.

I know that many of you will laugh, but I know a couple of tuners who have one particular fuel tank they like and when they switch cars during the year, that tank goes to the new chassis.

My tank holds 15 gallons of fuel. Most tanks will have a baffle to prevent cavitation. During the warm up, we typically burn about 4-5 gallons of fuel and during the run about 12-13. Nitro weighs about 9 pounds per gallon, so it is a heavy liquid. Every time I fill the tank for the run, I always try to put in the same amount of fuel, in order to keep the weight of the car the same.

Next week, we will work our way back to the clutch management system!

Meet Kurtis Ruszkowski, Short Block Specialist

Kurtis Ruszkowski, the short block specialist for Kyle Wurtzel racing is a maintenance mechanic and truck driver for Xtreme Edge Excavating Inc. in Bolingbrook, IL. Kurtis became interested in racing when he and his brother, Andy, worked on the Chicago Fire pro-nostalgia funny car.

Kurtis enjoys the “controlled chaos” at the track that goes along with servicing cars. (This is a plus because things definitely get chaotic!)

Kurtis has many fond memories of racing from a first round win at Bristol with Bruce Litton to his time with Pat Dakin and Leah Pritchett.

We are grateful for Kurtis’ help and continued support!

Meet Phil Stuart, Car Chief

Phil Stuart, car chief for Kyle Wurtzel racing lives in Brantford, Ontario. Originally from Binbrook in Ontario, Canada, Phil is a machinist, welder, and fabricator at Chatterson Fabrication.

Phil became interested in racing after a conversation with his high school guidance counselor. She phoned a local drag racer (Paton Racing) when she realized he had an interest in building race engines and he began volunteering with them. He stayed with them as they moved from an alcohol funny car, to a nitro funny car, to a top fuel dragster.

In 2004, Phil began working for Bruce Litton and has been with him ever since, periodically helping other teams. Phil loves to learn all of the aspects of tuning and assembly and to date, his most memorable experience has been being a part of the 2007 IHRA Top Fuel Championship Team with Bruce Litton. 

Meet Tony Biffer, Left Cylinder Head

Tony Biffer, who runs the left side cylinder head for Kyle is an Automotive Teacher at Waterloo High School in Waterloo, IL.  

Tony has taken a group of students on NHRA field trips in St. Louis through the Army AYES program for many years and was introduced to Kyle by Andy Cacena, another teacher. Tony first worked on Kyle’s car at a race in Grand Bend.

One of Tony’s favorite aspects of being on the crew is getting to know other crew member. “The group of guys were awesome,” Tony says. “I can’t wait until next season so I can hang out with them again.”

Like other crew members, Tony’s most memorable experience was Kyle's NHRA debut in St. Louis this past September.

Thank you to Tony for his dedication to the team!

Meet Brett Konken, Right Cylinder Head

Brett Konken, of Beach Park, IL is in charge of the right side cylinder head for Kyle Wurtzel racing.

In his real life, Brett is an engineering technician responsible for large utility boilers, pumps, air compressors and is involved with utility projects from conception to completion. Like his brother, Jeff, Brett grew interested in motorsports from going to a local dirt track in his youth. In 2006, he worked with T.J. Zizzo’s top fuel team and has worked with four other top fuel teams since.

Brett’s favorite part of being on the crew is as he notes, “the challenge of working quickly, with no mistakes, to ensure the driver has a car that is safe.” Brett would like to also thank Kyle for the opportunity as well as thanking his wife, Sita, for her support.

A big thank you to Brett for his hard work and dedication to the team!

Meet Randy Heintzelman, Clutch Specialist

Randy Heintzelman, from Minooka, IL has been a clutch specialist for Kyle Wurtzel Racing for the past three years.

Though he works in home remodeling, Randy has been interested in racing since his childhood when he learned more about it from a shop teacher. Randy’s favorite part of racing is standing at the starting line just before the car takes off. His most memorable moment? The first time the car broke 300 mph.

A big thank you to Randy for his hard work and support!

Thank you, Dj's Floater Service

A big thank you to Dj's Floater Service for supporting Kyle Wurtzel Racing.  

Dennis Jarrell met Kyle while he was a crew member on Bruce Litton's team. Dennis is a retired engineer who owns a small business in Jackson, Michigan grinding clutch components for several teams. 

We are very grateful to Dennis for his hard work and dedication to the sport!

For more information about Dennis or to learn more about his services, you can find him on Facebook!