Drag Racing Crankshafts Bennington VT
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Drag Racing Crankshafts
The differences between a stock shaft and a racing piece are many
By Darrel Arment
With photos and words by Steve Temple As any experienced engine builder already knows, a drag race engine is made up of hundreds of precision parts bolted together to form an assembly that spins at a furious rate in order to propel its vehicle to victory. Meeting this challenge requires that all those parts going into this assembly be just right. Because the entire engine assembly is such a large and diverse topic we won't be so pretentious as to try to cover it in its entirety, so we'll focus on the heart of the matter, the crankshaft. Not just any common crankshaft, but more specifically shafts used in the sport of drag racing when the capacities of the stock shaft are far exceeded.
By simple definition the object in question is a shaft with U-shaped cranks. Its sole purpose is to convert the up-and-down motion of the pistons into a rotary motion that will eventually turn the rear wheels.
The differences between a stock shaft and a racing piece are many. These provide a multitude of benefits that make a specialty shaft highly desirable: it's stronger, more precisely machined, has greatly improved oil control and is available in a limitless variety of configurations. It will also lessen the likelihood of taking a perfectly good assembly made up of expensive performance parts and turning them into a 9,000rpm hand grenade.
Before we get into specifics of crankshaft technology, it's important for engine builders to identify what the customer's expectations are. The engine builder should consider how long the end user intends to keep a car with the engine intact.
For instance, some people jockey a dragster in different classes, while other people may stay in a particular class for a long time. Someone else may have the goal in mind to start out in a Pro category and then go to Super Pro, and then maybe from there they want to go to a Quick 16 if you're talking bracket racing categories.
One of the biggest problems you can run into is a customer making a decision based solely on dollars. The problem is, what's the cost per year, or per lap to go out and run these things? An engine builder can get caught in this price trap, unless he can convince the customer to spend a little more money up front so that in the long run the cost of ownership isn't so great.
So what makes a good racing crankshaft? First on our list is the type of metal used. In the case of high-end racing crankshafts the choice is typically between forged steel or billet steel. The grade of that material will differ by manufacturer to best suit the needs of their specific design. As with all selections you will find supporters from both sides and in equal numbers, but there are a couple of points that we all can agree on.
Because a racing crank must survive extreme torsional loads as well as bending and flexing that would bring lesser material to its knees, strength is pa...
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