Engine Power Builds

Parts Used In This Episode

ARP
ARP is the Official Bolt Supplier to Engine Power
Matco Tools
MATCO Tools are the Official Tool Supplier to Engine Power

Episode Transcript

(Narrator)>> It's the same story all across the world of racing. The driver gets the glory but we rarely see the team behind that success. Today on Engine Power we've got a pit pass to watch the Sam Tech crew in action at the NHRA Spring Nationals. You'll see what goes on behind the scenes so these drag cars can make big power. Plus how Sam Tech stays on the leading edge of automotive technology, creating the race teams of tomorrow.

(Mike)>> Welcome to Engine Power. Today we're on the road where Pat used to spend 23 weekends out of the year chasing the biggest trophy in drag racing, "The Wally". Now it took a ton of man hours, dedication, and blood, sweat, and tears for just a little over six seconds of glory.

(Pat)>> But today is nothing about that moment of glory. We're gonna be bringing you the behind the scenes action of what it takes to get to that point, and we're bringing it straight into your living room. From the work on the cars, to the talented men and women who make it all happen.

(Mike)>> We're at Houston Raceway Park for the NHRA Spring Nationals. Sam Tech invited us out to spend the weekend with their students as they compete with their Copo Camaro. This will show you the involvement these guys and gals get while attending classes in machining, engine building, tuning, and ultimately racing.

(Pat)>> And we'll also talk to some graduates who have made their dreams come true when Sam Tech's job placement assistance guided them to positions on professional race teams, and I am pretty sure we will also run into some of those professional drivers who put their lives on the line for our entertainment. [ engine revving ]

(Tim)>> This car's 99.99 preparation. I mean really is Pat. It's a difficult thing to explain to somebody but in order for all of these parts to be the same we go through endless tasks of c-c'ing cylinder heads, and c-c'ing pistons, and checking heights, and it's endless.

(Erica)>> I love it. I love the speed, I love the competition, I love how much hard work and tenacity goes into it.

(Pat)>> Tell me a little bit about what it takes to be a crew person.

(Erica)>> Oh gosh, a lot of time and a lot of effort. You know these guys spend a lot of time away from their families. We all spend more time together than we get to spend at home. So they're great people. They're really wonderful at their jobs. We're all very fortunate and I consider myself pretty blessed to drive for this group.

(Mike)>> Chris Vang is a busy man. After graduation from Sam Tech's cylinder head and engine block programs in just 11 months he now lives and breathes drag racing as a driver with his family's dragster and as a crew member.

(Chris)>> I knew what I wanted to do when I was a freshman in high school. I wanted to work on a Pro Stock car. Right now I work for Deric Kramer on his Pro Stock team. I do clutch, transmission, back half, drive the truck. I'm just about a one man team with my crew chief.

(Pat)>> Working on drag cars demands skill, passion, and commitment. Often major maintenance that would take five hours in the shop must be completed in two hours or less. Anything it takes to get the rig to the line when a driver's name is called. Plus these vehicles can be very unpredictable.

(Chris)>> You never know what you're gonna do. You could roll it back, put the new clutch in it, and that's it, or you could roll it back and change absolutely everything.

(Mike)>> Chris values his education as a crucial part of his success. The decision to study at Sam Tech was easy.

(Chris)>> I knew I wanted to go, and then my dad and I were like alright, let's go, let's go look at it, and see what everything's like, and plan it out. I mean at that point yeah, I had already decided.

(Lori)>> And it becomes your extended family, your racing family. Chris with the Sam Tech folks, they are his extended family. We go to PRI and we see them, and enjoy spending time with them. You have your own family but it's an extended family as well in the community.

(Pat)>> After serving six years in the Marines Adam Torres was searching for a new carrier. He found that Sam Tech shared his military values of respect, organization, and a strong work ethic.

(Adam)>> They love veterans there. So they helped me out. I spent after hours and the instructors stayed after with me to help me learn the machines better. Getting more effective and better quality work. It's great. They have a lot of instructors too. An instructor can take a group of students and get hands on because anybody can read a book, but touching, and feeling, and doing the process many times becomes muscle memory. You become very good at it.

(Michael)>> But I wanted to be the best at what I did and I continue to work hard. Even today after 19 years I still try to put in hours every single day and work as hard as I can possibly be to be the best.

(Collin)>> When you start putting in the effort you realize it's not so much work. It's a hobby for me still, and you can be at the shop until midnight and you really don't tire from it. I wouldn't have found this without going to Sam Tech. It really helped me grow and figure out who I was and who I wanted to be.

(Narrator)>> Up next nothing beats on the job experience, and Sam Tech students are getting plenty of it.

(Pat)>> We're back at Houston Raceway for the NHRA Spring Nationals. The School of Automotive Machinists and Technology, Sam Tech for short, calls Houston home as well. In addition to classroom and hands on training in race engine construction the school provides students and instructors the chance to gain additional real world experience by running a stable of sportsman class drag cars. The first lesson you'll learn in the pits is to expect the unexpected.

(Aaron)>> Oh yes this is a very typical race weekend, and nothing ever goes perfectly smooth, and that's one of the advantages of being able to bring our students out here and show them this. They get to see the build up at the school. Then come out, see us make a pass, see the problems, and then help us solve them. So it's very hands on for them. It's very good to be here at the Houston track cause we can get them all out here, show them what we do, and get very hands on.

(Mike)>> Brian Massingill drives Sam Tech's factory stock Copo Camaro. The car qualified well but Brian fought some ignition issues with the two step rev limiter. The two step lets the driver set a lower maximum r-p-m when the engine's at wide open throttle. This helps the car hook up at launch when the two step button is released. Once the car launches the second and higher rev limiter is engaged, which of course sends maximum power to the tires.

(Aaron)>> Some of our adjustments we were making when we were in the car was I was putting on the two step and them coming off of it just to see where that die is so our tuner could get in there, look at the fuel map, and make the appropriate adjustments. I also did a few little changes to our timing and just launch r-p-m, things like that.

(Pat)>> The crew works quickly tracking down all possible trouble spots looking for anything that could be wrong with the car. They spray all of the ignition connections with WD 40 to ensure a good electrical contact. They check the condition of the spark plugs and put fresh one in to help diagnose the engine's tune. After making some adjustments to the tune-up the two step works fine and Brian heads off to win the second round of eliminations. You can't say anything about that but that was a real win. That was a real win!

(Judson)>> You earned every bit of that.

(Pat)>> You ran him down and held the fender on him the whole way.

(Brian)>> Held the fender on him. You know I got him a little after the 1,000 foot, and we were dancing around a little bit. He got on the brakes and gave me the stripe, and luckily we put a good number on the car to catch him early, and I kinda tapped the brakes at the end. I got the round win and we're ready to go again here in the next half hour. It's gonna be quick turnaround but we're ready to go.

(Pat)>> I can't express how proud I am of you.

(Brian)>> Thank you, I appreciate it. There's a lot of hard work and energy to my nine and half second passes. For me to mess something up in that nine and a half second pass when these guys have been working on this car for nine hours, nine month, nine weeks, nine years, whatever it is, and there's a lot that goes on as a driver. So I'm really happy to get this round win and be on to round three for the students, and Aaron, and Cole, and everyone else that works on this car. It is a total team effort from the cylinder head department, the block department, to c-n-c department, to the e-f-i department. It's really good and it feels great whenever you can keep racing.

(Mike)>> The team headed out in high spirits for round three but joy can be fleeting in any competition. Brian made a strong pull but got edged out by his opponents.

(Pat)>> Nah it's okay, no worries. Dude don't worry about that stuff. That happens, no worries. You really did a great job. Starting from a field of 46 racers Brian made it down to the final 12, and the team will carry more determination and knowledge the next time they return to the track.

(Narrator)>> From time tested fundaments of engine performance to the most cutting edge technology. You can learn it all at Sam Tech.

(Mike)>> We're back at Sam Tech, which is the School of Automotive Machinists and Technology. We just saw the students and instructors thrash in the heat of battle out in the pits at the NHRA Spring Nationals.

(Pat)>> It takes a ton of skill, knowledge, and composure to survive at the highest level of drag racing, and this is where the Sam Tech students receive the training that they need to succeed.

(Mike)>> Sam Tech was founded in 1985 with a mission to create machinist working at the highest levels of engine building and motorsports racing. The foundation is based on engine block and cylinder head machining, offering comprehensive nine month programs for each subject. Classes begin with the basics such as part and tool identification along with proper shop practices. No prior mechanical experience is required. Students quickly learn the math and science of how engines work, how to blueprint an engine, and how to operate the machinery correctly. The lessons learned in the classroom are reinforced by hundreds of hours of shop time, putting down the books and getting real world experience. If you are willing to learn the instructors are willing to teach.

(Steven)>> It's a good building block for getting into this industry. They're gonna teach you a lot of things, and they're gonna point out the things that you think you know but that you don't know. If you're just looking for a hobby or something like that I wouldn't recommend it, but if you eat, sleep, and breathe racing I would recommend it.

(Connor)>> Don't just go home after the bell rings. Make sure you stay there cause I learned more after hours than I did during school just because there was more one on one time whenever the doors are shut and everybody else decides they want to go home.

(Pat)>> Automotive technology continues to advance and Sam Tech is prepared. From bumper to bumper computers control more parts of a vehicle than ever before. The e-f-i calibration problem teaches students how to remap air and fuel curves for peak engine performance, how to get the best results from power adders such as turbos and superchargers, and how to work with modern electronic systems like traction control and launch control.

(Makena)>> EFI's pretty interesting just because you are literally changing how the engine runs through a computer.

(Mike)>> These students are testing a Coyote equipped five liter Mustang. With factory air induction it's laying down an impressive 444 horsepower at the wheel. Instructor Jason Haynes takes time to explain what goes on during a dyno run, showing his class how to analyze large amounts of detailed data to get the engine running perfectly. After installing a cold air kit the Ford makes another run. [ engine revving ]

(Mike)>> It picks up four more horses and 12 pound feet of torque.

(Pat)>> From modern muscle to stunning classic cars plenty of quality rides make their way into the shop. This gasser caught our attention and we couldn't wait to get the details from the owner.

(David)>> Well it's a '61 Pontiac Tempest. This was probably a four cylinder sedan grocery getter in its previous life. It had had a blown head gasket and that led to finding out it was a 13 to one motor. It didn't have a computer or any kind of O-two sensors, anything running the fuel injection system. So it was definitely in need of some work. So I gave Judson a call and that turned into about an eight month project here to get a new engine in it. An old four speed Muncie transmission, a nine inch Ford. It had a 4.88 gear when I got it, which made it a little bit nasty on the street. So I've since put a 3.50 gear in it. Obviously the dropped front axle and the leaf springs, it's pretty much like driving a buckboard. It goes in a straight line though and it runs good.

(Pat)>> The interior in this car is beautiful and I'm led to believe that's the original interior in this thing.

(David)>> That is the factory original interior.

(Pat)>> That's incredible!

Woo, that is clean, clean!

(Mike)>> It doesn't get any prettier than that.

(Pat)>> Wow!

(David)>> It's a ZZFour short block. Just a standard bore 350 cubic inch.

(Mike)>> So what kind of attention does it get? What do you like to do with it? Drive it down the road, what?

(David)>> Yeah I live in a small town and you don't take it anywhere. If you're watching the mirrors you'll see people behind you jockeying in and out of traffic just to pull up beside you. Either give you a thumbs up, taking pictures, taking videos.

(Pat)>> Unbelievable.

(Mike)>> Beautiful car. C-n-c machining has been around for decades but the technology has really advanced in the past few years.

(Jonathan)>> C-n-c is computer numerical control. So we have our milling machines here that are controlled by a computer that we program. So that way they remove the material from the metal to get whatever desired object out of it.

(Pat)>> Some of the biggest advantages of c-n-c machining are accuracy, automation, and repeatability.

(Jonathan)>> Repeatability's a big thing, especially if you're producing cylinders heads with the exact same port over and over again. All I have to do is turn the machine on, bolt the head down, and hit go and I get the same result over, and over, and over again.

(Pat)>> Sam Tech has a thorough c-n-c program, which gives students the knowledge they need from the ground up.

(Jonathan)>> So what we do is get into "G" code, which is what these machines run on. So they learn how to write that program by hand, and then we move into Master Cam, which is our cad cam software. So then they learn how to do design work, they learn how to do tool pass. We come down here on the machines. We do class projects. Projects for the school, their own personal projects if they want.

(Mike)>> Today the students are working on a part for a hand built Rolls Royce roadster. The vehicle will run a P-51 Mustang engine, and it needs a custom designed intake manifold. From a solid block of aluminum the c-n-c machine slowly sculpts the finished piece, which will hold multiple Webber carburetors once it's complete. C-n-c capability is in high demand in all aspects of industrial production.

(Kimberly)>> We have the big international oil and gas companies calling us constantly needing and wanting our c-n-c machinists cause there's such a need there. The hands on training, the machining, there's such a need right now for that, and we have employers that are not just automotive that are calling us asking for our students.

(Jonathan)>> There's no limit. They can keep going, progressing, moving on and there's no stopping them really.

(Narrator)>> Up next most schools have laboratories but Sam Tech's are the loudest. [ engine revving ]

(Mike)>> Any serious student spends plenty of hours with pen to paper but when the time comes for laboratory work Sam Tech easily has the most experiments of any school of higher learning. While others are creating ionic compounds, or at best dissecting a frog, these scholars are prepping a supercharged LS to make well over 1,000 horsepower. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> Well we just completed a dyno pull on 361 inch blown LS. 1,307 horse, 865 pound feet of torque. That is incredible. This is a race engine. Now what does this go in Jimmy?

(Jimmy)>> A Copo Camaro.

(Pat)>> Okay so a Copo Camaro engine. The idea that you can have that little of cubic inch and make that kind of power on one of these is unbelievable, and you can tell by the graph valvetrain stability is right. The actual package of the tune up is right. The engine is still one piece. So nice job to Sam Tech. There are jobs where you can make a good living and there are jobs where you do what you love. Meissa Neumann is making plans for both.

(Meissa)>> A lot of my friends grew up doing what their parents said. And they go right into high school or college, and they get a degree, and they do whatever their parents do, and they're not happy cause they don't have time to explore and figure out what they want to do. I could not imagine to live a life where you're working and you hate your job. So I'm very thankful for Sam Tech.

(Pat)>> Meissa appreciates the small class size. Typically about 20 students. It gives everyone plenty of time to ask questions and to train with shop equipment.

(Meissa)>> This place isn't a huge school. So there is a lot of opportunities for any time you want to work on hands on. You can talk to somebody, and I think just the availability of machines probably.

(Mike)>> One of the perks for students at Sam Tech is they occasionally get the chance to run their own project engines in the dyno cell. Bryce Sinner is currently in the block machining program. He's testing the 408 cubic inch engine that will go in his Cadillac.

(Bryce)>> It's going in a 2004 CTSV. It's kind of a street car. Maybe take it to the strip down there in Denver, Colorado, here and there. It's a six-zero block. We've got Wiseco pistons, Callies crank, Callies rods. Running about 13 to one compression.

(Mike)>> In search of more power the heads were ported by the crew over in the cylinder head program.

(Bryce)>> Fulling c-n-c'ed, flowing about 365ish round in there.

(Mike)>> Bryce wants the engine to make 600 horsepower or more, and based on the specs he shared with us we're sure he'll reach that goal.

(Pat)>> Keeping in touch with the demands of larger corporate employers, Sam Tech has added an associate of applied science degree to their curriculum. Focusing on engine block and cylinder head machining, it includes five courses in communications, math, science, and sociology required to achieve the degree. This opens doors to careers that require a two year diploma.

(Kimberly)>> And as they get out into the field it will help them become managers or directors. There are certain levels once you get into particularly a bigger machine shop or a bigger company that you must have an associate degree to apply for a higher level position. So it's allowed our students who climb higher in the industry.

(Mike)>> For six years Elizabeth Avitia served in the Army motor pool as wheeled vehicle mechanic. Later when she watched a machinist create more horsepower with his knowledge she decided that she wanted to be a machinist too.

(Elizabeth)>> I found it so fascinating that he's using all these math skills, all these science skills, all these other areas that you learn in school and you're putting it into this craft, into this masterpiece, and putting it into a vehicle and letting it go.

(Mike)>> From the moment Elizabeth made that choice and contacted the school Sam Tech was there to help.

(Elizabeth)>> I don't have my family out here. All of my family is back home in Washington. So the help that I received from Sam has been so important, so special.

(Pat)>> The automotive industry is expanding and so is the school.

(Judson)>> But we bulldozed two houses that we bought next to our property and we're building a building larger than the whole school now, and we're gonna include welding in there.

(Pat)>> In addition to the welding department the new building will house the e-f-i calibration department along with additional teaching space and machinery. If you are serious about learning automotive technology Sam Tech is serious about you.

(Mike)>> For more information on anything you've seen today visit Powernation TV dot com.
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