Buttoning up our crate Late Model engine with select components to help maximize efficiency and put more power to the ground
Words and Photos by Jeff Huneycutt
Like football, crate racing is a game of inches. Everybody on the track has the same power plant, so the difference between winning and losing often becomes hair’s breadth thin. Of course, it’s still possible to find a consistent advantage over the competition, and there are three main areas where you can find one.
The first two areas are pretty obvious: setup and driving skill. But it seems like racers are often running over the same plowed ground there. The third area where you can still find an advantage is by improving the efficiency of your driveline — and we think there’s still lots of opportunity here.
Recently, we’ve been working with Jones Racing Products to upgrade and improve a Chevy 604 crate engine in a Dirt Late Model to see just what is possible. To move weight off the nose of the car and utilize some of Jones’ ultra-low drag belts and pulleys, we’ve already relocated the power steering pump, fuel pump, and alternator to the back of the block using a Jones Racing Products setup. If you haven’t seen that story, it’s definitely worth checking out. Read it HERE. We promise it will be worth your time.
And now we’ve circled back again to finish buttoning everything up and get ready to go racing. Of course, after talking to CJ Jones of Jones Racing Products, we found he’s got a few more tricks up his sleeve that we wanted to try for ourselves.
First of all, Jones has a very cool three-blade radiator fan they are calling the Hustler. The Hustler fans hold a number of advantages over a stock-style four-blade radiator fan. First of all, cutting a blade cuts weight, both from the loss of the blade and from Jones’ superior manufacturing quality — the fan uses a machined central spine to mount the blades instead of using two stamped plates riveted together. Plus, it moves more air than a stock-type four-blade design, so instead of a 19-inch fan you can get away with a 17- or even 15-inch diameter to further reduce rotating weight and inertia as you try to rev the engine coming out of the turns.
Since we’ve already moved all the pulleys to the back of the motor, we also needed to find a way to spin the water pump and radiator fan, so we’re going with a lightweight cogged belt drive that is low drag and also eliminates slippage. Because of that, Jones can go with a smaller crank pulley to make sure the water pump isn’t spinning too fast.
Finally, we’re also trying out the company’s new hoses and AN fittings as we finish plumbing up the fuel system. Fuel line and fittings may not seem like such a big deal, but once again, Jones has found a trick that makes you wonder why everyone doesn’t do it this way. Follow along and see for yourself.
Jones Racing Products