Congratulations to our New Champion - Paul Schils!
British V8 2008 Valve Cover Racing Resultsas published in BritishV8 Magazine, Volume XVI Issue 2, October 2008
by: Curtis Jacobson
Valve cover racing is a GREAT SPECTATOR SPORT - and not just for men - the races
seem to be equally popular with women and youngsters too.
This year's BritishV8 valve cover races saw a two hundred percent increase in participation from 2007. A loud cheering crowd witnessed thrills, spills, and wipe-outs normally more associated with NASCAR than with drag racing. And this was nothing like that sissy-boy, wannabe "sport" they call "bracket racing". Our BritishV8 competitors run all-in and mano-a-mano like they're racing for pink-slips. You won't find an automatic tranny under our valve cover racers!
Frankly, I forgot to take notes about the actual races. Paul Schils won convincingly. Paul and Bill were both real good sports. The kids had fun. The cars were diverse. Here are the basic specs of the three cars:
|Paul Schils||Fredonia WI||BMC (B-Series)||12.0||6.375"||2.5"||10.25"|
|Bill Young||Kansas City MO||BMC (A-Series)||9.8||7.0"||2.0"||8.75"|
|Curtis Jacobson||Longmont CO||Oldsmobile V8||12.0||11.5"/0.25" (F/R)||3.75"/4" (F/R)||16.375"|
Hmmmm. Thinking about it... Maybe it's the sheer brute machismo of the sport that has deterred "some" from competing in the BritishV8 valve cover racing arena. Maybe you, dear reader, are afraid of a little competition? Chic-chic-chic-chic chicken...! I'm sure more than a few of our spectators were shaking in their boots thinking "I just wish I could screw up the courage to be a real man like Paul Schils, Bill Young, or Curtis Jacobson." Well, you'll get another chance. The rules are so simple. The costs are so low. You have all winter to build a car. Once you build it, you can mail it off to next year's meet organizers (Max Fulton and Emily Turner) - so you don't even need to pull a trailer all the way to North Carolina to compete. Our competition rules are listed below.
Paul Schils's winning racecar was built from an MGB engine (BMC "B-Series 1.8L 4-cylinder) valve cover.
It seemed to benefit very greatly from spring-suspension!
Bill Young's Advice About Building a Valve Cover Racer
What You Need
Valve cover - It doesn’t make any difference what type, as long as it's not too
big to fit the rules: less than 24" long and less than 18" wide. Inline 6 cylinder
covers and Chrysler "Hemi" covers start pushing the limits. Most of us either have
an old valve cover laying around the shop or know where we can get one from a friend
on the cheap. If you want to go "top drawer" it's up to you. I once saw a valve cover
racer made from a Lotus "Twin Cam" cover. Now that's getting rare and probably
expensive! Incidentally, all sorts of classic car valve covers are available on eBay,
and they often sell for less than $15 each.
Wheels - Less than 6" in diameter. That's it, nothing special needed, but the better the bearings the better the car will roll. Here's a case where wide rubber may not be the best, but let the builder decide what works for his car. All sorts of suitable wheels are available on eBay or at your local big-box or sporting goods store. "Inline skate" wheels are popular, as are somewhat larger diameter scooter wheels. Visit "www.skates.com" to see literally hundreds of high quality rubber wheels from 44mm to over 100mm in diameter. (Note that they offer different "rubber" materials and hardnesses!)
Weight - This is a trade off, more weight equals more energy for the (downhill) launch area, but also more friction on the wheels. (The track has a long level section!) Test and balance the weight-to-friction for your car, because it may run better with a little less than maximum weight of 12 pounds. Weight and its placement will effect the car's stability. Where to find weight? Steel or lead shot for reloading shotgun shells will work nicely. Steel shot is also available for media tumbling, from tool sources such as Harbor Freight Tools. (Expect to pay about $25 for 25 pounds.) Add a plastic bottle or cloth bag that will fit inside the cover and fill to the required level. You can put marks on the bottle to correlate fill level to weight level. Your local post office has an accurate scale in their lobby upon which you can verify that your car is under the legal weight limit. Note: your excess shot will also works great in "shot bags" for sheet metal forming.
Do you need to have suspension or other high tech elements? Your call. It really depends on the smoothness of the area where you are racing. I learned something this year and I will look into suspension for my car for future events. One bounce, and you may wind up off-line and run out of your lane or hit the opponent resulting in a loss. Paul Schils, the 2008 winner, had a nice spring suspension. It worked great! Paul's car went straight-as-an-arrow, despite the abrupt transition from launch area to flat ground.
Bill Young's low-slung racer featured chrome radiator surround, side exhaust, and a driver!
Valve covers come in all sizes. Bill's cover fits a BMC "A-Series" (803-1275cc 4-cylinder) engine.
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Notice: Valve Cover Racing provides kids a nice way to PARTICIPATE in our meets.
Why not build a valve cover racecar to share? Then, let somebody's kid race it for you.
Hint: you can bring a valve cover racer even if you don't bring your "real" car. Bill did!
Last year's winning entry, the "Retro Rocket" was built with a "spooled" single-bearing rear axle to reduce
friction. It was very quick, but too fragile. It was pulling away from the competition in the first heat, running
straight and true, but before it got clear it was clipped and spun-out by the other car. Like NASCAR, valve
cover racing is a rough sport! The Retro Rocket never ran quite straight enough after that heat!
Will we see a more robust development of the design next year?
Rules for BritishV8's Valve Cover Races(other clubs will differ)
- The cars shall have no power source. All motive power is provided by gravity.
- Cars shall be based on an actual rocker cover or cam cover (valve cover)
from a car engine.
There shall be no limitation on engine make, model, cylinder configuration, or displacement.
- Wheel base shall be no more than 24 inches.
(Note: The staging lane is only 24 inches long.)
- Wheel track shall be no more than 14 inches.
- Cars must have 4 wheels, each no greater than 6 inches in diameter.
- Cars shall weigh up to but certainly not more than exactly 12 pounds.
- The course shall consist of a launch incline 8 feet long, followed by a level run of 20 feet.
- Two lanes shall divide the launch incline, each 2 feet wide.
The incline shall be 2 feet high at the rearmost part and level with the course at the front edge.
The front edge shall be mitered so as to provide a smooth transition from the incline to the run out area.
- The official "Starting Line" shall be 2 feet from the rear edge of the incline.
A mechanized starting gate, which is 2 inches high, shall be used.
- The run out section of the course shall consist of 2 lanes, each 3 feet wide.
The lanes shall be clearly marked.
- The finish line shall be marked 20 feet from the front edge of the launch incline.
- Cars will be run in heats of 2 cars each.
- The cars are to be launched with their front wheels on the starting line.
(Note: If your car's design doesn't allow this, it's to your disadvantage.)
- The first car to have its front wheels cross the finish line shall be declared the winner.
- If neither car makes it to the finish line, the car going farthest shall be declared the winner.
- If a car's wheels touch or cross over the lane markers, that car shall be disqualified.
The remaining car shall be declared the heat winner.
- Winning cars will advance to the next round until all are eliminated - except one champion!
Photos by Curtis Jacobson, Brian Kraus (autocross background) and Ken Hiebert (cars at the starting gate),
for BritishV8 Magazine. All rights reserved.