Hoonigan’s Jon Chase Banks on American Powertrain For Shootout with Roadkill’s Mike Finnegan

The definition of a Hoonigan is a person who operates a motor vehicle in an aggressive and unorthodox manner, consisting of, but not limited to, drifting, burnouts, doughnuts as well as acts of automotive aeronautics. In effect, one who ‘hoons.’ And what an apt description for Ken Block’s business that is always one step ahead of the curve with every vehicle build, every race, every video game app, and every Gymkhana event production. Block, co-founder of DC Shoes is a professional rally driver with the Hoonigan Racing Division formerly known as the Monster World Rally Team. Over the years he has amassed an impressive team of 30+ within the Hoonigan ranks, one of which is Jon Chase, also known as Design Daddy by his fellow team mates. Jon is responsible for the company’s branding, art direction, video hosting, and most recently for talking trash with Roadkill’s Mike Finnegan.

When Chase and Hoonigan’s Garage team created the YouTube video, ”Building a 9 second street car-Jon’s Gasser,” Jon called Mike out at 10:02 with a challenge. It turns out, the two share a passion for the ’55 Chevy Bel Air.  Finnegan and his Gasser Blasphemi had long been a high-profile car in the hot rod world.  Chase discovered an abandoned project car that was under the freeway overpass, then purchased and restored his own ’55 Chevy Bel Air as a Gasser named Tri Five by Fire. Hot Rod Magazine shared the callout post on their site and social media, where it came to the attention of Finnegan.

This summer, both are making modifications to their Gassers in preparation for the shootout, and on a visit to Westech with Blasphemi, Finnegan stopped in at Hoonigan’s Donut Garage for more car talk, video production and trash talk.

As soon as Tri Five by Fire’s new engine is built, the two will schedule a shootout of epic proportions. Hoonigan fans have been wanting this to happen for some time, and are delighted. Finnegan runs a 528 Gen II Hemi that makes 900 HP at the wheel, and Chase’s goal is to run in the 9:90’s, make at least 700+ HP and be sure the car is ‘streetable.’ The engine building team at Hoonigan’s knew that to reach those goals, they would need a power adder and a bullet proof drivetrain. That’s where American Powertrain entered the picture.

American Powertrain Director of Marketing Matt Graves and Jon Chase met several years ago during Hot Rod Power Tour, and discussion ensued regarding the best possible drive train set- up for the Tri Five by Fire.

Chase says, “Originally I had restored my gasser with junkyard parts. Both my gasser and our chief creative officer’s ’72 Nova broke nearly every day on the tour.  Fortunately, Matt and American Powertrain was on the tour and with their help we were able to get the parts we needed to stay on the road. There’s no question now I have this big shootout with Finnegan that I would use anything but American Powertrain. I trust the quality, service and reliability of their products and know that Matt will steer me in the right direction to get the win. And no matter what the outcome, we still get a win with all the great exposure the callout has created.”

“It’s pretty exciting to be associated with and considered a go-to source with a company the caliber of Hoonigan,” said Graves. “We’ve enjoyed developing a relationship with this great team, and for the Tri Five by Fire, we outfitted Jon with a custom fit 6 Speed Magnum with Cryo gears to withstand the high horsepower this power adder outfitted Gasser would need to battle the likes of Finnegan’s Blasphemi. We will be following this build and upcoming race very closely.”

For more information about American Powertrain TREMEC transmission kits for Ford, GM or Mopar visit www.americanpowertrain.com. To speak with one of American Powertrain’s highly qualified technicians, call 931-646-4836.

For more information about Hoonigan, visit https://www.hoonigan.com/

Bobby Alloway of Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop Selects American Powertrain Exclusively for Manual Transmission Installs

Bobby Alloway gained his love of cars from his father who after retiring from a long term well digger career went to work as a local car salesman. Eventually and because of his love of cars, Bobby landed a job with a local Ford dealership and worked as service manager for 16 years. When the philosophy of that dealership began moving from serious customer service to placing all their resources toward moving vehicles in volume out the door, he felt the culture of the company did not fit with his beliefs and began seeking a change. Luckily, Bobby had a side job that turned into an illustrious career move for him.

For several years, he had been building from ground-up street rod project builds. While still with the dealership he won the coveted Ridler Award with his ’33 Ford Victoria Altered Street Sedan in 1985. The Ridler Award, sponsored by Meguier’s was named after Don Ridler who was hired in the 50’s to help promote the Detroit Autorama, and soon enthusiasts flocked to the event held at the Cobo Hall at the Michigan State Fairgrounds to see some of the wildest hot rods that cruised the streets of the Motor City. After passing away at an early age, the Ridler Award was established in Don’s memory. Since it has grown to be one of the most illustrious awards given in the indoor custom car show industry. The winners also receive a $10,000 cash prize, and entries must be making their first official showing at the Detroit Autorama. Best in Show Ridler Awards are judged on creativity, engineering, and quality workmanship.

After the success of his win at the Autorama, Bobby began building even more ground up project builds and as his reputation grew, the idea of going into the business of building ground-up projects full time got stronger and in 1991 he opened Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop. He has won almost every award there is to win including Battle of the Builders at SEMA, America’s Most Beautiful Roadsters, is in the Hot Rod Hall of Fame, IHRA Hall of Fame, and his builds have been featured on the covers of almost every magazine among the endemic press.

Bobby has a very strong work ethic and his business philosophy when it comes to his parts suppliers is that the products are no better than the people who sell them. When he finds a supplier who does what they say they will do, provides immediate customer support and deliver parts on time every time, that supplier has his loyalty. That’s why he has used American Powertrain exclusively for all of the manual transmissions he installs in his builds for the past five years, which is typically three to five per year for customers from across the country.

Bobby also serves on a number of builder panels, one at the SEMA Show and one at Detroit Autorama each year, and he does so in order to help preserve the influence of project builders in the industry by working with the youth who will be the future of the business.

KC Mathieu, formerly of Fast N’ Loud uses American Powertrain Exclusively for Manual Transmission Installs

KC Mathieu, owner of KC’s Paint Shop and former regular on Discovery Channel’s Fast N’ Loud, grew up at a young age helping out at his Dad’s collision shop. Mathieu says, I would him always hear Dad muttering about what hard, hot and back-breaking work it was, and telling me I needed to find another career option.”

Luckily for Mathieu, he chose not to follow Dad’s advice. Instead, he worked with his Dad and other shops until renting his own building, and starting the business that he learned to specialize in since age 12 – custom automotive paint.  A few years ago, call it chance or serendipity, Richard Rawlings, owner of Gas Monkey Garage, walked in and Mathieu’s destiny tooka new turn. When Richard landed a TV deal with the Discovery channel for Fast ‘N Loud, it was KC he turned to as a regular for custom paint segments.

“Of course this was a wonderful opportunity to showcase my passion. With the success of Fast ‘N Loud,” it reached a point that fans would line up and hang around the building when we were filming. If I headed out for lunch we would be mobbed. Three and half years of this it began to get old to have this kind of attention, so I decided to go back to what I love most and re-opened KC’s Paint Shop: Hot Rods and Restorations.”

The silver lining of leaving for Mathieu was the immediate success of his business as there was nearly nearly instant recognition of my name and expertise. Through social media, and with triple digit followers on Instagram, Facebook and You Tube, the shop exploded in growth. In fact, the company has gained so much business that KC’s staff has grown from one to nine employees adding support for accounting, marketing, vendor support, fabrication, bodywork and paint specialists.

“I am so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short period of time,” concluded KC. Over the course of my career, some things stand out as more important like developing close relationships with my preferred automotive suppliers like the one I have with American Powertrain. About five or six years ago, I was poking around trying to find the best options for a manual transmission to install, and American Powertrain came highly recommended. Paul Unterstein and the whole team over there are so supportive and helpful from determining the best options for my builds, to quick turnaround and immediate customer support when needed. In fact, just a few days ago, I ordered two transmissions from them for a couple of projects I have in the shop. We do a good dozen vehicle service projects and two or three ground up builds every year, and if any require a manual transmission install, I call American Powertrain every time.”

 

Pedal Pusher: How to measure and adjust your Clutch Pedal Ratio

So you just converted your clanky old manual clutch to a hydraulic release bearing setup and you thought the pedal would be easier to operate than before. While that should be the case, it isn’t always, and that is due to geometry. Much like a brake pedal, there is a specific ratio that you need to achieve in order for the pedal to be easy to operate. For hydraulic clutch systems, that ratio is 6:1.

Manual clutches are different from hydraulics, they use a bell-crank system that increases the effectiveness of your clutch pedal. With a hydraulic system, it is all in the placement of the master cylinder push rod on the clutch pedal. The higher the pickup point is on the pedal (closer to the fulcrum of the lever), the easier it is to push the pedal. There are three key factors to this equation: pedal length, pick up point to fulcrum length, and master cylinder bore.

The bore of the clutch master cylinder is the smallest part of the equation because most clutch masters are in the 7/8” range. The bigger you go, the more effort is required to operate the master cylinder. Provided you have a 7/8” bore or smaller, the 6:1 standard is used.

To determine the ratio of the pedal, you need to do some measuring. There are two measurements you need to take: the length from the pivot (fulcrum) of the pedal to the pushrod hole (Y), and from the fulcrum to the center of the brake pedal (X). The formula is X/Y=Ratio. For example, your stock clutch pedal is 14 inches long (X), with a pickup point measuring 4 inches from the center of the fulcrum (Y). 14/4=3.5, which is 3.5:1. While this may have worked for the factory manual linkage, it is about half of what it needs to be for a hydraulic set up. In this situation, 100 pounds of foot pressure yields 350 pounds of pressure to the master cylinder. Move the pickup point up 1.75 inches, (Y measurement of 2.25”), and that same 100 pounds of foot pressure yields 600 pounds at the master cylinder.

For most applications, you can raise the pickup point by simply drilling a new hole in the pedal arm, but some cars, like GM A-bodies, use a convolute pedal design that requires welding if you want to raise the pickup point. This can be done with a ¼” tab of steel welded to the pedal in the location you want it. This process can become more complicated when you are trying to use a factory firewall hole for the master cylinder.

The sharper the angle is on the master cylinder, you run the risk of creating a bind, which no amount of pedal ratio can overcome. There are a couple of solutions for this scenario. The first is to move the master cylinder up on the firewall, decreasing the angle. This is not always possible, as the brake booster or other items that cannot be easily moved are in the way. The other option is the American Powertrain adjustable firewall mount.

The patented firewall mount allows the master cylinder to accommodate the clutch pushrod angle while being mounted above or below the pickup point on the pedal itself. Because the master cylinder is a sealed system, the angle itself does not affect the operation of the master cylinder. If you have this mount and the angle is still too great, then you have to move the master cylinder.

Here is the diagram for measuring pedal ratio. Always measure to the center of the fulcrum, pickup point, and to the center of the pedal.

This is a brake pedal, but the math is the same. On this pedal, the pickup point is 5 5/8” from the fulcrum.

The pedal measures 14 inches from the fulcrum to the center of the pedal. The math reveals this is a 2.48:1 ratio, which is ludicrously low.

To make this pedal match the 6:1 (which is also the optimum ratio for brake pedals), we drilled a new pickup point. All better.

On this 1965 Mustang, the factory clutch pedal is very close to the fulcrum, yielding a suitable ratio for the master cylinder. We were even able to use the original firewall hole.

GM A-body cars (Chevelle, Skylark/GS, 442, etc) have funky clutch pedal as shown here. If you have to change the ratio, fabrication and welding is required.

 

Written By: Jefferson Bryant

Sources:

Red Dirt Rodz
4518 Braxton Ln
Stillwater, OK 74074
405-880- 5343
www.RedDirtRodz.com

American Powertrain
2199 Summerfield Rd
Cookeville, TN 38501
1-931- 646-4836
www.americanpowertrain.com