NASCAR News

Countdown to Daytona - Part 2
Ford's new Cylinder Head
February 5, 2004

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Ford Racing's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams head into the 2004 season with a new cylinder head and front/rear aerodynamic improvements. Mose Nowland and Jeff Klaver, Ford Racing Technology Engine Engineers, talk about the development process of the new Ford Racing D3 cylinder head, the first new cylinder head for the Ford NASCAR program since 1992.

MOSE NOWLAND - Ford Racing Technology Engine Engineer

What is your background with Ford? "I've been with Ford since 1955. Most of my years have been spent with the race engine groups. I was a part of the original 1960 race group when we were running the FE family of racing engines, starting with the 406 and later the 427 CID. We raced in the south with Junior Johnson, Dan Gurney, Cale Yarborough, Ned Jarrett and the like. I worked with the Holman Moody gang and worked with the GT-40's that won at LeMans in '66 and '67.

"When Mr. Ford decided to go to Indy in 1963, I worked with that program in '63, '64, '65. I worked with Bill Stroppe in the desert truck program as well. It's been a very interesting career at Ford. You know, if you find a job that you really love you'll never work another day in your life. And that's the way I feel about it.

"When Ford stopped racing in 1970, I did some other things within the Ford Engine Group. When Michael Kranefuss started the SVO Technology group in the early 80's, they called and asked if I wanted to come back into racing".

What Ford NASCAR cylinder head will this be replacing? "It's a head that we call our C3 head. The C3 head had smaller and lower intake port locations. In a race engine, the ideal design would allow you to look from the base of the carburetor through the intake port and be able to see the back of the intake valve. With the new D3 head, we nearly achieved this by picking up the entrance of the intake port. Our first approval attempt on this head was to raise the intake port only. But at the time, NASCAR still declined to approve the head for Winston Cup. We did not want to waste the development time so we took the design and released it as the SC1 or Sprint Car 1 head for the Ford guys that ran in the World of Outlaws series. The head has been well accepted in that series. In late 2003 we made another run at NASCAR with the head and it was approved."

Are there any new technologies used in the development of the head? "The head may eventually be cast of a stiffer material, as for now it is being cast in 356 T6. The other thing that helps this cylinder head is during early design stages, CFD and flow bench work confirmed use of a higher port and unfortunately, the valve stem gets longer. New material, technology and methodology will allow the weight of the valve to be lightened. Valve material will be titanium while your typical street valve is made of stainless steel.

"As far as other innovative technology, premium aluminum alloys, thin wall casting technology and use of titanium valve components will add up to a very competitive cylinder head. Stereo lithography, or what we call SLA, allowed us to speed up the development of the D3 head. We also looked at technology that allowed us to look at exhaust port cooling. We were doing cooling studies because we have added material in certain areas of the casting and that retained more heat. Before we released this head to the Ford teams, we wanted to make sure that we had cooling issues resolved and we didn't just take a guess in our design.

"We do a lot of dyno runs on our components at the Ford Dynamometer and Research Center. In our dyno cell we have recorded NASCAR track data and we program tracks of our choice that we simulate testing. For example, we can set the program to run a simulated Michigan (International Speedway) test cycle and you can hear the engine go into turn one, let off and then throttle up for the straightaway. It is a dedicated race engine cell that we share with Cosworth and the Formula 1 V-10 group."

In what form do the Ford NASCAR teams receive the heads? "We ship the heads out machined with the combustion chambers un-finished, and less porting. That's where the engine builders at the teams apply their secrets and do their custom work. The valve seat inserts and valve guides are shipped in the box loose with the heads. All the teams over the years have preferred to install their own inserts, because all the teams have their own press values that they believe in. We do offer a finished version of the head in several levels."

In developing the head, I'm sure you had a lot of feedback from the Ford NASCAR teams. Does this require you to travel to North Carolina? "Occasionally, but with e-mail we can send data, photos and things of that nature back and forth."

Ford has developed the head to a certain point. What will the Ford teams do once they start working with the head? "The Ford NASCAR teams will work with it until they are comfortable with racing it. It depends on the team. They are working on it right now in addition to getting ready for Daytona. It shows promise. But the one thing it does, because of the raised port configuration in both intake and exhaust, the teams will have new real estate to explore. They will have to work on things like header tube design, camshafts, and head porting, all in an attempt to optimize the combinations. We have had the old head since 1992 and the teams have exhausted every possible way to improve that head."

Will this head be in the Ford Racing Performance Parts Catalog? "Oh, yes, we will keep our charter, 'What We Race, We Sell. What We Sell, We Race.'"

This head would be overkill on a street car? "It sure would. It will bolt to any Ford small block and could be used on the street, but you would have to detune the engine."

What other applications do you see the head working with? "Our main focus is in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup program. But it will fit any 5.0 or 5.8 Ford Racing Block."

What type of rocker arm configuration does the head accept? "There are quite a few aftermarket people that sell rocker arm set-ups, and you have the option of putting a rocker arm stud or you can buy the cluster that companies like JESEL and COMP Cams offer. Their set-up has individual shafts that the rockers ride on. The valves are canted, so that means the intake and exhaust valve has it own unique angle."

What material is the valve spring made of? "It depends in the application. The NASCAR guys use a material that has a very high tensile strength and it's one of those trade secrets that the aftermarket racing valve spring companies hold close."

JEFF KLAVER - Ford Racing Technology Engine Engineer

What is your background with Ford? "I'm a mechanical engineer. I started with Ford Racing about eight years ago in the Grass Roots area. I started with the N-351 iron head for the sportsman short-track racers. With more experience under my belt, I moved to more development projects. About three years ago, I made the shift over to the NASCAR development program and the Cup side of the business. My current responsibilities are cylinder heads, racing blocks and other components. In this department you get the opportunity to work on a lot of projects."

What were the challenges involved in developing this head? Any politics involved?
"The political stuff is the big thing. We were a bit behind with what NASCAR was allowing in comparison to the Chevrolet and Dodge engine. About five years ago, Chevy came out with the SB-2 engine. It was a completely new engine and head package for NASCAR. Ford has had the same engine with the C3 heads that were new in 1991. Then Dodge came along with a brand-new motor for their Cup program. Our engine was about as fully developed as it can get, so we needed something new. In recognizing new challenges and new manufacturers coming into the series, NASCAR allowed Ford to have a step up, sort of an interim piece. The architecture of the D3 head is similar to the C3 head but the ports are raised up to get rid of the sharp bend into the ports. This increases airflow and horsepower. That's where we went with this head, as an interim step toward where we want to be in the next few years. We will be able to learn a lot now that we are a lot more equal to what the other manufacturers have as far as valve sizes and valve locations.

"It's a lot more than just coming out with a new head and saying the ports are raised and it's better. Every single part of the engine is integral and when you change one piece it affects the other pieces. The design of the piston, the location of the piston rings, the camshaft profile, it's all related. All those things the teams spend time working on will change. When you throw a new piece at them, things will not be better until you have development time. That's what our teams are working on right now. Again, we have raised the ports so the teams will have to work on the port shape that works best. The teams will work on things like when the valves are open. All things are affected by a simple head change. The biggest challenge is we now have an NASCAR-approved cylinder head and we have the new potential for improvement. Our teams have new territory to work with and the potential to reap the benefits is the biggest challenge."

With Robert Yates Racing and Roush Racing working together, will that speed up the development process? "It does make things easier and it will speed things up a bit in some respects. Everyone will be working from the same direction towards a common goal. The danger you run into is if someone goes off in the wrong direction and you spend all your time and effort going one direction when someone else might have done something different initially, so now you only have one group going in one direction, where before you had two groups going from two different angles. So, there are benefits and there are disadvantages.

"Because the C4 head is not a radical departure from what we had before, we should be in good shape. It's not brand-new territory, just expanded territory. I think we will be in good shape once we get some development time on the engine."

With NASCAR going to the aero matched templates, do you see the manufacturers' engineers working on more engine updates? "I look at it as a box. And NASCAR gives you the parameters of the box you work in. All the automakers are working on a common goal to be the fastest on the track within the specified allowances. As the specs tighten up, everyone will come to the common denominator. In a perfect world there would be a single answer to make the most power and have the fastest car. But in the real world as the box gets tighter the smallest advantage becomes important. Today we can win a championship with a car that has 20 hp less than the competition. You might have a team with a better body or a better chassis. The day is coming when if you do not have a two horsepower advantage over the other guy, you're not going to do it. It will be so equal.

"The D3 head is machined to the NASCAR's NEXTEL Cup specifications. It does have two or three years of development time in the SC1 variant. The same casting is used but a lot of outside sources have been playing around with valve angles. And we have seen some big gains in the other series like Dirt Late Model and Drag Racing. It's a huge improvement over the old C3, so we see a lot of potential in the Cup series." 

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