PENDLETON, Ind. -- (May 26, 2000) - Officials from the American Speed Association recently reviewed detailed reports regarding the performance of the General Motors Vortec ASA 5700 engine. The review comes after the first five of 20 events on...
PENDLETON, Ind. -- (May 26, 2000) - Officials from the American Speed Association recently reviewed detailed reports regarding the performance of the General Motors Vortec ASA 5700 engine. The review comes after the first five of 20 events on the 2000 ASA A CDelco Series season schedule. Following the review, series officials indicate the new engine has earned high marks from both ASA and GM officials internally, and externally among teams and prominent onlookers.
"Based upon the number of changes we instituted entering the 2000 season, we could not be more pleased with the performance of the GM Vortec ASA 5700 engines," stated series President and Founder Rex Robbins. "They have performed virtually flawless, and in my opinion have added to the quality of the competition in the ASA ACDelco Series!"
The reports, compiled with statistical data obtained from GM engineers, ASA timing and scoring and individual teams and competitors, indicate that one of the biggest changes within the series has met and in most cases exceeded the expectations of both ASA and GM.
Through the first quarter of the 2000 ASA ACDelco Series season, the powerful Vortec ASA 5700 engine is demonstrating incredible reliability and extreme durability. To date, 57 race cars have completed nearly 60,000 total competitive laps -- almost 30,000 m iles of ASA action via practice, qualifying, qualifying races and feature events -- with only two known major incidents. Both problems were related to the oiling system and not the actual integrity of the engines: one a starvation problem (oil feed concern) and the other a worn bearing believed to have been caused by contaminants in the oil.
The preceding numbers exclude any on-track testing and dynamometer analysis conducted privately by the race teams; they are derived solely from data compiled by ASA's official timing and scoring equipment used during the first five events run between March 24 and May 21, 2000. Noticeably absent from these statistics are the lap totals from almost four hours of practice at Lanier on April 7 due to computer problems. Based on the knowledge of the lost data, officials reasonably conclude that the numbers are c onservative going into the sixth event at Louisville Motor Speedway.
Add to the mileage above the countless amount of testing 73 registered teams with engines have completed -- some turning over 500 laps of practice in any given weekend -- and even larger and more impressive numbers emphasize the reliability, durability and p ower that have many drivers and teams talking.
Of those talking about the engine is longtime car owner LeRoy Throop, who has fielded three championship-winning cars in his illustrious ASA career.
"I think it's a good program, not only for the financial end of it for an owner, but because it gets a corporate involvement and commitment from GM," said Throop. "I was a proponent of the program because I felt the factories would help out the teams and b ecome more involved. Now I see the type of financial commitment and time commitment GM has made to this program and they are significant. I believe that is an indicator that they are here for the long haul. They've made a commitment to and an investment in this series. As a car owner, that's reassuring."
The Phase 1 testing period proved the engines are able to run an entire season with minimal maintenance, and they now come to ASA competitors at an economic $12,000 each -- one-third the cost of the previous V6 engines.
"I think it's great," said 1998 ASA National Champion and current ASA points leader Gary St. Amant. "It's a huge impact economically, and I think that is why we are seeing so many teams now. This engine program is probably the biggest thing that has ever h appened to this series. I am just glad to be a part of it all."
Craig Smokstad, crew chief for veteran Scott Hansen, agrees. "The thing that's so great about the engines is that we don't have to do any work on them. That eliminates a lot of work we used to have to do in the shop and allows us to focus on the rest of th e car."
Even rookies see the importance of the new Vortec ASA 5700 engine.
"It brings it to more of a level playing ground for those teams who might not have the budget of other teams," said rookie Larry Foyt, son of legendary racer A.J. Foyt. "Because more money isn't going to necessarily do it here now, it's really going to be the car setup and how well you work with your team determining whose going to win week in and week out."
A strong point of the Vortec ASA 5700 is its reliability. The potential of using a single engine to race 20 times, along with testing, practice and qualifying, was previously unheard of in American motorsports.
"The thing I love best about the engines is their reliability, but first and foremost is the lack of maintenance," said second-year driver Tristan Dupuis. "They're not labor intensive; you don't need to take them apart every four races. It's been a really good thing for all those involved."
1997 ASA National Champion Kevin Cywinski has experienced the same luck. "A few years back with the V6s, it was like every three races that you had to take the engine out and refreshen it and that cost a lot of money. But so far, we have had five races on the same motor, plus we have gone and tested about three times."
The engines have proven in race conditions to supply excessive power and make for the close, competitive racing for which they were developed. Through five events, four different winners have emerged, with one driver from Wisconsin becoming only the second rookie to ever win back-to-back events when he took the checkers at Lanier and Hickory.
"The Vortec ASA V8 engine is a great motor," said Scott Wimmer, driver of the #05 Chevrolet fielded by Wimmer Racing, a self-proclaimed low budget team from Wisconsin. Despite missing one event in 2000, the team has won two races on the same engine that su rvived a bolt going through the radiator while leading the qualifying race at Lakeland. The engine shut itself off, preventing serious damage. After radiator repair, the same engine led Wimmer to victory at Lanier and Hickory.
"It saves everybody a lot of money and maintenance," said Wimmer. "Once you get back to the shop, all you have to do is change sparkplugs and the oil. It is a great thing for the series, because everybody is saving so much money and no one is having engine problems. It is just an overall great deal."
Other winners have included veteran Mike Miller at Montgomery, Tim Sauter in Nashville and St. Amant, who won the inaugural event utilizing the new engine at the season opener in Lakeland. "I have been pleasantly surprised by the engines," said Sauter. "They have proven to be reliable and consistent and, ultimately, that is what this is all about. And it is keeping the competition tight and close, so it should make for a better show for the fans in the long run."
In the end, the new engine package is meant to bring close, competitive racing to the fans while keeping the ever-rising costs of racing to a minimum for the teams. Many of those in the ASA community, along with many supporters in the motorsports world, ag ree that the first quarter has shown exactly that. Following meetings between GM and ASA officials, 1998 saw the first laps run in the test car utilizing a race-ready version of the engine. By May 1999, the test car had turned 4,065 laps, the equivalent of one season in ASA. Following further testing in race conditions that proved to be nothing but positive, the official announcement for the engine's use in 2000 was made during a press conference at Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids (IA).
Lead GM Vortec ASA 5700 Engineer Mark McPhail acknowledges the progress of the engine and looks to the future, stating, "Taking practice, testing and actual competition into consideration, it's still an intense environment in which to explore the further p otential of the factory-produced Vortec engine's capabilities."
Along with the announcement of radial tire use in the series, the 1999 SEMA show provided the spotlight for the official unveiling of the ASA Vortec 5700 engine, a production-line engine based on the LS1-V8 used in Pontiac Firebirds and Chevrolet Corvettes and Camaros.
One of the most vocal drivers in the American Speed Association is also a very big proponent of the engine package, saying it is for the better in the end, and better for all those involved.
"These changes, including the engines, have made this series 1,000 times more competitive," said second-year driver Russ Tuttle. "It's evident by what you see at the track. When you show up at the track and you have 50 cars, that makes this a great place t o race. I think that's a testament to the growth of the series, but we can't be satisfied with where things are right now. We have to keep striving to improve and grow. If you get satisfied, you stop growing and that wouldn't be good."