Category: Info

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 To speak with one of American Powertrain’s highly qualified technicians, call 931-646-4836.

For more information about Hoonigan, visit

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


Red Dirt Rodz
4518 Braxton Ln
Stillwater, OK 74074
405-880- 5343

American Powertrain
2199 Summerfield Rd
Cookeville, TN 38501
1-931- 646-4836

Heil Hydra(Max)! Setting up your hydraulic release bearing

High-performance engine installed- Check. Close-ratio Tremec T56 installed- check. Clutch fully operational- nope. Well that isn’t good, it is kind of hard to put 650hp to the ground when your clutch won’t engage or disengage when you operate the clutch pedal. Unlike a mechanically-operated clutch, most modern manual transmissions require hydraulic release bearings, and if you are not close enough, you may as well be a mile off. Installing the American Powertrain Hydramax hydraulic release is not difficult, in fact it is pretty easy, but it does require some math.

The relationship between the clutch diaphragm and the release bearing is the key to a properly adjusted hydraulic set up. The release bearing should ride the diaphragm without putting pressure on the fingers, but also should not be too far away. It is pretty easy to install the bearing where it is either too close (clutch is always disengaged) or too far (clutch won’t disengage). Because these installations are not stock, you have to figure out this relationship on your own. Don’t worry, it isn’t difficult.

What you need:

  • Pen
  • Scratch paper
  • Straight edge
  • Calipers or ruler that reads to .001
  • Partially-assembled drivetrain.

To start the process, the engine must be assembled with the flywheel and pressure plate. The clutch does not have to be installed at this point, because it doesn’t matter; but if you want to do everything at once, install the clutch with an alignment tool in place. Additionally, the bellhousing must be installed on the engine as well. Begin by placing the straight edge across the center of the opening in the bell housing. Use a ruler or measuring tape to determine the resting depth of the diaphragm, this measurement is taken off of the fingers themselves where the release bearing rides. Take this measurement in three places and write the results down on the scratch paper.

Moving on to the transmission, the center alignment dowel must be installed, along with the Hydramax bearing with the notch locked onto the dowel in the fully seated position. Use a straight edge on the transmission, running across mounting surface for the bellhousing. Measure from the transmission mating surface to the face of the bearing where it rides on the diaphragm. Measure in three places and record the results.

The two sets of measurements provide the variables needed for the final calculation using the following formula. This equation will tell you how many shims are needed to achieve the proper air gap between the bearing and the diaphragm. The recommended air gap is .150-.200”, you can have as little as .100” (absolute minimum), but try to stay inside the recommended range. It is possible on some GM applications to not have enough room to get to even the .100”. If this is the case, you may have to shim the actual transmission from the bell housing using washers or spacer. This is due to the shallow nature of the GM bell housing design. There are 3 shim thicknesses for the big 3. Mopar uses .063, GM uses .090 and Ford uses .057. The conical shape of the GM shims creates the .090 thickness, even though the metal used to create the shim is not that thick.


Bell facing to clutch diaphragm – minus Bearing Face to Trans bell face – minus .150 / .090 = Number of shims 


For example: Bell to diaphragm= 2.450, bearing to trans mount face= 2.125

2.450 – 2.125 – .150 / .090 = 1.94

This means your application needs 2 shims, which yields an air gap of .180”, which is perfectly acceptable.

For GM T56, Tremec Magnum, and Viper 6-speeds, American Powertrain recommends the following procedure for measurements:

Install the clutch and pressure plate to the flywheel on the engine. Place the straight edge across the fingers of the diaphragm and measure from the inside edge to the block mating surface. Record this measurement as A.

Next, install the Hydramax bearing retainer base with guide pin to the transmission and load the bearing onto the retainer, with the guide pin in position on the bearing. Install the bellhousing to the transmission. Place a straight edge across the bellhousing and measure to the bearing face. Record this measurement as B.

Using the formula below, calculate the number of shims. A block plate for a scattershield can be factored in by adding the thickness to measurement B.


B-A-.150 / .090 = # of shims


Once you have determined the number of shims, count them up and stack them behind the release bearing on the transmission shaft, install the bearing, and mate the engine to the transmission. It is that simple. Before you mate the trans to the engine, lube the o-ring on the inside of the bearing base with a little DOT 3 brake fluid.

To demonstrate the process, we installed a HydraMax hydraulic release bearing system on a GM LS- series engine with a Muncie 4-speed (mechanical linkage with an LS is not a simple proposition) which was being installed into a 1969 Chevelle. Setting up the bearing was simple, and the results yielded a smooth clutch without any hiccups.

The process begins by mounting the flywheel to the engine. We torqued the bolts to spec.

The clutch does not have to be installed if this is a mockup, but if it is the final install, make sure it is in there. Be sure to put the clutch in using the correct orientation.

Use an alignment tool to keep the clutch in position.

Next, the diaphragm is installed to the flywheel. There may be multiple bolt patterns on the flywheel, so you might have to find the right holes and line it up.

Use a couple of bolts to secure the bellhousing and then use a straight edge and ruler or caliper to measure the depth of the transmission mounting pad to the diaphragm fingers. Measure in 3 different places and note each measurement. This is measurement A.

The hydraulic release bearing mounts on a stud in the transmission. The American Powertrain kit comes with several studs to match the threads from the front bearing cover. Remove one bolt and match the threads.

Then the stud is installed into the transmission. Don’t forget to use medium threadlocker on the threads and bend the retaining tabs back over the hex on the stud.

The Hydramax bearing slides over the input shaft and locks in place on the stud, this is a free-floating unit, it does get bolted down.

Now measure the height of the release bearing to the transmission mounting flange. Make sure
that you measure to the top of the bearing. This is measurement B.

Using the formula, we determined we need 2 shims: (A – B)-.150”/.090 will determine the number of shims required. For example, 2.45-2.125- .150/.090 = 1.9 shims, so you use 2 shims. You can run as little gap as .100”, but .150 to .200 is optimum. Stack up the shims and install them behind the bearing.

At this point, the bellhousing is removed from the engine and bolted to the transmission using new grade 8 bolts.

Each hydraulic line threads onto the bearing and the line ran out of the bellhousing through the clutch fork hole. The lines are secured with a wire clamp.

Finally, the engine and trans are mated together and ready for installation in the vehicle.

Written By: Jefferson Bryant


Red Dirt Rodz
4518 Braxton Ln
Stillwater, OK 74074
405-880- 5343

American Powertrain
350 Transport Dr
Cookeville, TN 38506
1-931- 646-4836

TREMEC discontinues production of all Magnum 6-speeds with a .50 overdrive gear.

If you want a .50 6th gear call now because when they’re gone … they’re  gone

We still have a few in stock. If you want one give us a call!

Tremec will still offer the 2.97 first gear option previously offered with the .50 6th, but it will now only be available with the .63 6th .

YES – that is correct you have 2 choices of 1st gear that are only .31 apart but no factory option for the .50

After the supply of factory built .50 6th gear  Magnums is gone American Powertrain will be able to custom build a new Magnum with the .50 6th gear for an additional charge. Call for details and pricing.

931-646-4836 or shoot us an email

TUET11009 MAGNUM for GM   2.66/.63
TUET11010 MAGNUM for Ford  2.66/.63
TUET11011 MAGNUM for Ford  2.97/.50  Discontinued
TUET16884 MAGNUM for Ford  2.97/.63  NEW MODEL
TUET11012 MAGNUM for GM   2.97/.50  Discontinued
TUET16885 MAGNUM for GM   2.97/.63  NEW MODEL
TUET11430 MAGNUM XL for Ford 2.66/.50  Discontinued
TUET16886 MAGNUM XL for Ford 2.66/.63  NEW MODEL
TUET11940 MAGNUM XL for Ford 2.97/.63
TUKT12019 MAGNUM XL + Mustang install kit 2.66/.50  Discontinued
TUKT16901 MAGNUM XL + Mustang install kit 2.66/.63  NEW
TUKT12021 MAGNUM XL + Mustang install kit 2.97/.63