Driven Racing Oil’s GP-1 Blurs The Boundaries Of Semi-Synthetic Oil

If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re a “car person.” You have been exposed to a plethora of automotive information and some things are just “known” – like the hierarchy of racing oils.

Almost every enthusiast will tell you if asked, that synthetic oil outperforms conventional oil in most applications, and semi-synthetic (or synthetic blend) is a more economical option that falls somewhere in between the two in performance. The average enthusiast probably can’t give you the exact chemical engineering reasoning to back that hierarchy up, but it’s common knowledge.

Then, there’s Lake Speed, Jr., whose mission in life is to break down the walls of misconception and misunderstanding when it comes to performance lubricants. He’s often talked about things like understanding what your oil is telling you, and how to choose the appropriate oils based on real science over emotion.

So, when he starts talking about Driven Racing Oil’s new GP-1 synthetic-blend oil, and how it can perform like a full-synthetic racing oil and a break-in oil, we tend to open both our ears and our minds, because learning is about to occur.

Pennsylvania Is More Than Just A State

The secret to Driven GP-1 is no secret at all. In fact, it’s something that has been known about and used since before cars even existed – Pennsylvania-Grade Crude Oil. “Pennsylvania-grade base oil is derived from the sweet crude oil primarily found in the Appalachian basin in many eastern US states,” explains Speed.

While named for the state where it was first extracted from in the 1850s, it’s the Pennsylvania-Grade crude’s chemical composition as it exits the ground that makes it a better grade of oil before refining. “Pennsylvania-Grade Crude Oil yields some of the finest high-performance motor oils. It’s recognized in the racing community for its protection and performance,” Speed says.

As any chef will tell you, your final product is only as good as the ingredients you start with. Since GP-1 is a synthetic blend, there is more to it than just the crude oil base stock. “GP-1 is compounded with select synthetic base stocks and our advanced additive technology to provide maximum engine protection and excellent film strength.”

By taking top-tier crude oil that has been renowned for its performance for a century and a half, with modern synthetic oils and additive packages and creating a “best of both worlds” which also has an additional benefit – affordability. “We feel that GP-1 offers more performance per dollar than any other oil,” Speed relates.

Specialty Blends Aren’t Just For Coffee

“Different engine designs and different fuels create unique lubrication requirements for each application. Driven offers unique formulas to reduce engine wear and increase horsepower. The motor always comes before the molecule,” says Speed. That philosophy is something that anyone familiar with Lake Speed, Jr. has heard before.

“In simple terms, we don’t put the chemistry before the application. Motor oil is for the motor, and the application always dictates the chemistry. Think about it — the best gear oil for a rearend is a terrible motor oil, and the best motor oil for a Ford Modular engine is a terrible gear oil.”

By using both extremely precise measuring equipment to establish before and after sizes (down to the micron) of the cam lobes, along with detailed used-oil chemical analysis, the test team is able to accurately determine wear levels during the testing, which equates to the effectiveness of the oil.

While overly simplified, this can be seen in the variety of oils in the GP-1 lineup. Ranging from traditional multi-weight motor oils, such as 5W-20, 10W-30, 15W-40, and 20W-50, to a straight 30-weight break-in oil and even a Nitro70-grade race oil, meant for nitromethane-powered monster engines. Although they all share the GP-1 name, they are each formulated for their specific applications.

For those who are scoffing at the thought of a semi-synthetic oil being able to compete with today’s modern synthetic oils, Speed explains that there are some areas where GP-1 actually outperforms synthetics. “GP-1 utilizes the unique pressure viscosity coefficient of the Pennsylvania-Grade base oil, to create 15-percent thicker oil films than a full-synthetic oil. Thicker oil films mean better protection for the parts it’s coating,” relates Speed.

The Proof is in the Pudding

The team at Driven recognizes that without any kind of proof, what they are saying about GP-1 might be hard for some to swallow. So, they partnered up with COMP Cams and Shaver Specialties Racing Engines to develop an engine test that would provide real wear and performance numbers for both GP-1 and similar products on the market.

“We started with a custom COMP flat-tappet camshaft, that was measured on an Adcole Model 911 machine before and after each test,” says Speed. The Adcole measuring machines can measure cam lobes accurately down to one micron (that’s 0.000039 inches, or 3.9 hundred-thousandths of an inch), and by measuring before and after, an accurate wear number can be determined.

“After several months of repeated dyno testing, camshaft testing, and used oil analysis, The results showed GP-1 offered 50-percent better protection compared to API-licensed conventional oil of the same viscosity and 30-percent better than the same viscosity high-zinc racing oil,” Speed reveals.

In addition to measuring the components, they were examined under intense magnification to see if there were visual wear differences between oils after testing.

In addition to the wear testing on the dyno, the test team also measured horsepower during the tests. After all, race teams have been looking to the oiling system for extra power when every last bit matters since before most of us were born. “The dyno testing saw a measurable, repeatable power increase with GP-1,” says Speed. “Along with the increased power, we saw lower engine oil temperatures.”

All of the test results point to GP-1 offering a greater level of friction reduction between engine components, which manifests itself as more power to the wheels and less wear and tear on parts. Speed concludes, “And because GP-1 is a semi-synthetic, it’s half the cost of a full-synthetic race oil.”

About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent fifteen years and counting in automotive publishing, with most of his work having a very technical focus. Always interested in how things work, he enjoys sharing his passion for automotive technology with the reader.
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