Every year the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show in Indianapolis, Indiana, offers racers and hands-on performance enthusiasts a cutting-edge slice of what will be available for the coming season. This year was no exception, and while we ran across multiple items that caught our attention, there were probably double that which we somehow missed.
We’ll narrow our focus to what we feel could qualify as the top five items of the show this year. There is at least one here that we plan on expanding into a full-fledged technical story in the near future so watch for that. These parts run the entire range from leading-edge stuff to items that you wonder why they are just now being thought up and produced.
Thitek Billet Aluminum Gen-III HEMI Intake Manifold
In the late-model horsepower race, the top dogs are waving the Mopar flag proudly as the Gen III-HEMI has the potential to make serious power. To pump that up even more, a relatively new company, Thitek, owned by Craig Thibeau, debuted a beautiful fully-billet-6061-aluminum intercooler intake manifold for the Gen-III HEMI.
Thibeau says that each runner flows plus-or-minus one-percent of each other and the manifold is designed as a high-flow replacement for Hellcat applications boosted with turbos or centrifugal superchargers. Plus, he can add methanol nozzles, nitrous spray bars, or fogger kits on demand. The custom manifold with its 3-inch thick top plate has been tested to handle up to 50psi of manifold pressure. The Gen-III HEMIs are already a stout platform and this will only add to their dominance factor.
MSD Pro 600 Coil-Near-Plug Ignition
The holy grail of power is cylinder pressure. When that pressure goes up, it puts a major load on the ignition system. To keep up with demand, MSD has just released its Digital Pro 600 capacitive-discharge system. An 8-channel, coil-near-plug ignition, the Pro 600 cranks out an amazing 680 millijoules of power.
To put that in perspective, we’ve included a small chart that shows comparative outputs from other MSD ignitions. This is a major leap forward for turbocharged, supercharged, and nitrous engines that keep extending the boundaries of cylinder pressure. The Pro 600 can be adapted to any engine with a crank trigger and cam sensor. It can obviously also be used as an upgrade to late-model engines like Chevy LS, Ford Modular, or Gen-III Mopar engines.
It also offers a toggle wire that permits selecting a lower output setting for street operation and then, at the flip of a switch, upgrade to the maximum 680 mJ output. The Pro 600 is fully compatible with Holley EFI, MSD’s Power Grid, and the Davis Profiler.
Ignition Power Chart
|MSD 7AL-2 Plus||160|
|MSD Pro 600||250-680|
Total Seal Gas Ported Top Ring
From a simplicity standpoint, it might appear to the uninitiated there’s not much that goes into a simple piston ring. But the magic that the Total Seal guys are pulling off with this latest product would give pause to that statement. The featured product this year at PRI was a gas ported top ring.
Internal combustion cognoscenti all know that drilling pistons for vertical gas ports delivers a better ring seal. Racers have been doing this for decades. More recently, piston manufacturers are now utilizing horizontal gas ports, aimed at garnering the same result. Total Seal took this idea and integrated it into the top ring, placing small horizontal grooves along the top of the ring which allows cylinder pressure to slip behind the ring to enhance the seal.
Now you can take advantage of the increased ring seal offered by gas porting, without spending cash on new pistons. These piston rings are currently available in bore diameters ranging from 3.00 to 5.125 inches and thicknesses ranging from 2.0mm all the way down to 0.9mm.
Composite Connecting Rods
Engine technology continues to evolve at an astonishing rate and Arthur Warfield and Associates (AWA) has just expanded the boundary even further. Using a polymer matrix composite (PMC) material it claims is capable of withstanding 4,000-horsepower cylinder-pressures. AWA claims that a connecting rod made from the PMC material is as strong as — yet half the weight of — a comparable aluminum connecting rod.
This matrix material is beyond simple carbon fiber, which by itself can be brittle. AWA has partnered with aerospace company ATA to analyze this design and is offering custom-build applications for 2020. Last year, AWA offered an extremely lightweight bellhousing in a similar matrix composite material.
Trick Flow Specialties Connects Magnum to LA
The blending of the Mopar LA and Magnum engines has begun. This has everything to do with a new Trick Flow Specialties (TFS) small-block Mopar cylinder head that will be equally at home on either the older LA-style Mopar small-blocks or the later Magnum engines.
This means Magnum 360 engines can now benefit from typical LA-engine cylinder head technology. The pushrod holes on the Trick Flow Power Port 190 heads have been expanded to accommodate up to 3/8-inch pushrods. There’s no custom machining or special oiling system fabrication required to fit on either small-block Mopar short-block. The intake ports measure 190cc and flow over 300cfm at .700-inch lift, thanks to the 2.02-inch intake and 1.57-inch exhaust valves in the 60cc chambers.