Tim Schwanke follows the same philosophy that ASA President Dennis Huth has about grass roots racing. They both strongly feel that in order for it to survive there has to be ways to make that happen. Over the past ten years Schwanke has been working on perfecting an electronic fuel injection package for oval track racing, and at the recent ASA Transcontinental Series Free State 500, Schwanke's hard work came to fruition with a top-five finish.
Two competitors, Johann Spies, who finished fifth, and Shaun Richardson, ran the Schwanke Engines LLC 525HP ASA Transcontinental Series Engine in the event. "I was pretty happy with it. We never had the experience on this big of a speedway with this LS3 series engines except for the old ASA tour days with the little 5-7 brother," Tim Schwanke said. "This is nothing more but a big brother to the old whole package just ten years later. In the interest of economics, thinking green and all of that, I thought it was a pretty good showing."
"The fuel-injected engine is definitely the way to go in the future, I was very happy with the way it performed and the power did not drop away. They are a lot more economical so there are less pit stops and more green flag action because we are burning less fuel," Richardson said. "Ron Barfield and his team did an amazing job with my #98 car. The Schwanke engine performed on race day 100%. We were leading the race before the caution on lap 179. Because of debris on the track, I was unfortunate to pick up the debris and on the re-start we got a left flat tire which put us in a spin and it was game over. At that time in the race, we were lapping quicker than anybody else and this shows how strong these engines are."
The economics and catching up with what is being produced for the streets today are just two of factors that inspired Schwanke to focus on this for the past ten years, "When is the last time you drove a carburetor vehicle? Detroit hasn't produced one in almost twenty years. So its 21st century technology that makes sense. The fuel economy, the lighter weight oils that can be used, there are a lot of production standards. In fact there are 110 part numbers used to build the 525 package, 48 of them are production GM numbers that you can go to your local dealership and order the parts which is pretty much unheard of in racing today," Schwanke explained. "What I am trying to incorporate is economics. We have 12 dealers across the United States that we trained here in Minnesota to build these engines and work the program. You use the on-board automotive computer that is used to control the whole programming for ignition and fuel. I just promote the idea of rotating that computer amongst competitors and that is pretty much the end of your tech."
ASA Transcontinental Series Tech Director Mike Lemke agrees, "All we need to do is change the "brain boxes," checking RPM's as far as the rev limit, and measuring the bore of the throttle body. That is it," Lemke said. "I am very encouraged by this engine package especially from the cost side. In many American top racing series, teams are paying anywhere from $40,000-$50,000 for a 12:1 engine where this package comes in at $14,999.99."
The sealed assembly with the ASA seals weighs 385 lbs and it features 505 ft-lbs torque (rating based on 94 octane unleaded gas) with a 7000 rev. limit chip. It uses the LS3 Vortec Aluminum Block Assembly, Low Oil Pressure & Overheat Protection, EFI PCM & Custom Wiring Harness, GM LS3 Aluminum Heads, L92 Truck Intake and 90mm T-Body, 36lb Injectors, Custom Pistons and Forged Rods, .550 Lift Hydraulic Roller Cam, ATI Super Damper, 85 Amp Alternator, Steel Dry Sump Pan, Barnes Single Stage Scavenge Pump, KRC Power Steering Pump, Front Motor Mount Kit, Electric In Tank Fuel Pump Kit, Inline Fuel Filter & Regulator, Serpentine Belt Drive, Air Intake & Mass Air Flow Sensor Kit, Throttle Cable, 1 3/4" Spec Chassis Headers, Hydraulic Clutch Kit, Steel Bell Housing, Spec 8" 26 Spline Clutch and an Installation Kit with Instructions. The price $14,999.99 + freight.
"Our fuel economy was just under seven laps per gallon, which is about 40-50% better than the carburetor counterparts, so we are happy with that. Matter of fact, Ron Barfield Sr. had a pretty big smile on his face. They were about ready to skip a fuel stop there then Richardson lost a left rear tire and that was the end of his day after he tore up some stuff in his battery box otherwise he had a good run going," Schwanke said. "The two biggest things from an engine building standpoint is that we have an overheat protection shut down system built in to the program. The engine gets up to 242 degrees water temp, the engine starts randomly shutting down cylinders. It won't quit, it won't stop, and it just loses power and slows down. There is also a low oil pressure system safety as well. It gets below 19 lbs of oil pressure it shuts the fuel pump off. That is another feature that is on a production vehicle that you drive everyday."
One project that is being worked on is to introduce drive by wire technology. Drive by wire is a way to eliminate such things as a stuck throttle cable. This is just one phase as they continuously work on enhancements for the future of this engine.
The trip to South Africa was beneficial for Schwanke as he has established new relationships and is currently working with car owners in the U.S. to ship more cars to South Africa for their new ASA National African SuperSeries. He is already working worldwide as he already has over 500 of these types of engines in service in 14 different series of racing from road racing to experimental aircrafts.
The bottom line for him is that this is an economic way of racing. He feels that this will help strengthen today's grass roots racing. Schwanke feels that from an economic side, grass roots racing needs to be looking at what is being made for the streets needs to be brought into racing. Everything from better fuel mileage to the environment as a whole would benefit from this type of package.
The reason it hasn't according to Schwanke is resistance from the racing community. With what they were able to accomplish in South Africa should help prove that what is made for the streets can also work on the track and be competitive. The repair costs on this engine are much less than what is being produced in racing today.
"The great thing about our event in the Republic of South Africa was that we were able to start with a clean slate. We had the opportunity to try new things like Schwanke's fuel injected engine and Five Star Race Car Bodies composite body," Dennis Huth, ASA President said. "With us having that clean slate, we are able to produce a product that is cost effective to the race team which allows more people to participate and be competitive. Grass roots racing, that is on the local, regional and national level needs to be heading in this direction for racing to survive and I am proud of what our ASATS staff has done with this package and proving that these things do work and we are showing on the track that this is the way to go."
For more information on the Schwanke ASA Transcontintental Series engine, please visit www.schwankeshortblocks.com.
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