Performance Exposed: Engine Performance Expo, Day 1 Recap

Once again, the Engine Performance Expo is here and bringing everyone a ton of information. Regardless of what aspect of engine performance you are interested in, there has been (and will be again, tomorrow) something for you. Here’s a recap of the first day of 2023’s Engine Performance Expo with timestamps of the stream if you want to skip to each specific segment.

Unfortunately, the show opened on a sad note, as the crew discussed the recent passing of engine performance pioneer Dan Jesel, and shared memories and lessons from the man whose name is synonymous with high-performance engine parts. At the 35-minute mark, the first topic discussed was removing the barrier which plagued the Engine Performance Expo’s supercharged engine last year — fuel pump capacity.

From there, George Bryce had a whiteboard session with Lake Speed, Jr. and Ben Strader on tuning an engine, with the key points being that you need to keep your mind open when tuning and that you need to listen to what the engine is telling you. Then, at the 55-minute mark, Strader and Speed discussed performing leak-down tests as part of determining engine health.

Speed and Hidden Horsepower host Joe Castillo hosted a live recording of the podcast with Jason Line at the 1:05:00 mark, followed by a presentation on the usefulness of a Borescope in engine inspection at the 1:40:00 mark. That was followed up with a discussion on engine oil analysis, and its usefulness in catching issues before they lead to failures.

It wouldn’t be the Engine Performance Expo if we didn’t post a funny photo of our friend Billy Godbold while he gives one of his famous valvetrain lectures. However, this year, we chose the high road, and are using the photo where he isn’t making a funny face and weird hand gestures.

At 1:55:00 Dan Begle and Billy Fischer dove really deep into the process of porting cylinder heads for maximum performance. And then at 2:22:00, a roundtable discussion with Mark Cronquist, Jon Kaase, Jason Line, Ben Strader, and Lake Speed, Jr. talking about how to achieve and maintain consistency on the dyno, along with the ramifications of not doing so.

At 2:48:00, Strader hosted a really informative video on the Spintron, with the EPE project LS engine as an example, followed at 2:58:00 by a whiteboard session with Billy Godbold discussing some advanced valvetrain concepts, explained in only a way Godbold can (pay attention for the Barney Fife reference). At 3:15:00 another valvetrain concept — overall system stiffness — was covered, with a valvetrain roundtable with Scooter Brothers, Cronquist, Godbold, and Strader at the 3:23:00 mark.

The subject of engine corrosion was covered at 3:42, with a discussion about the relationship between EFI and clutch setup in Pro Stock with Matt Hartford, right after. At the 4:00:00 mark, a roundtable with Chris Straub, Charles Navarro, Randy Neal, and Scooter Brothers on the economy and how it’s affecting businesses in the industry provided incredible insight into where we are, and where we are headed.

Dan Begle and Billy Fischer discuss the finer points of porting a cylinder head.

At 4:15:00 Jimmy Barton discussed the importance of ring gap, and dropped some knowledge bombs on us, including an example of a ring with a .125-inch gap that ran well, to illustrate the fact that a little too much gap is better than too little gap. That led into another roundtable at 4:30:00 on competition engine development with Keith Dorton, George Bryce, Ben Strader, Jon Kaase, and Mark Cronquist which dove deep into the process of developing an engine program.

At the five-hour mark, the usefulness of an ultrasonic cleaner was covered, especially so for both hardened carbon deposits, and getting into nooks and crannies, like ring lands, gas ports, and the groove of Napier rings, all without no abrasiveness. That moved into an engine assembly roundtable at 5:13:00 discussing the art of assembly, with attention to details and following a process being heavily espoused. Then, at 5:30:00, we saw the video of Greg Anderson honing Lake Speed, Sr.’s vintage Cup block.

A very special award was presented at 5:40:00, as John Callies was given the Engine Performance Expo Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades of dedication to innovation in engine performance.

2023 Engine Performance Expo Lifetime Achievement Award winner, John Callies.

Another roundtable at 5:50:00 saw the discussion of creating an engine builder hall of fame, which is an incredible idea, and something we would absolutely love to come to fruition. That was followed by a debut demonstration of the Rottler EM45 block machining center and then a machining roundtable followed at 6:15:00, with Ed Kiebler, Cass Choate, Charles Navarro, and Billy Godbold.

At 6:30, Dan Begle and Speed had an incredibly insightful discussion about all the different failure modes of engine bearings and how to diagnose and prevent them, using the now infamous “Jell-O explanation.” That was trailed by another live episode of Hidden Horsepower at 7:15:00 with Street Outlaws’ “Dominator” Joe Woods, and his daughter Josie, where they had a candid discussion about being part of the show.

The roundtable discussions really are the best part of the Expo, in our opinion. There have been quite a few already this year, with more planned for tomorrow.

Randy Neal then hosted a brief discussion on the difference between balancing a crank and dampening one. Since harmonic dampers are often called “balancers,” the two terms were clarified and explained. That led into the final segment of the day at 7:55:00, with a roundtable discussion of the internal combustion engine, the challenges it’s currently facing, and how we’re going to keep it alive going forward.

To say that day one was packed would be an understatement. While we’ve provided you with the timestamps for you to be able to jump directly to an individual segment, we strongly recommend that you watch the whole day’s events. There is so much information there, it would be a shame not to take advantage of it. That said, Day two kicks off at 10:00 AM tomorrow (Saturday, January 14). You can check out the live stream right here:

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About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent eighteen years and counting in automotive publishing, with most of his work having a very technical focus. Always interested in how things work, he enjoys sharing his passion for automotive technology with the reader.
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