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A view of Charlie Fisher in one of his sprint car...
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One of Fisher’s real talents is being able to pro...
A Million Here, A Million There – Fisher Racing Engines Builds Winners
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Meeting Customers’ Needs
While yesterday’s and today’s engine components may, at first glance, look the same, it’s important to understand the differences. “It’s hard to distinguish a 40 year-old valve spring from a modern one. But with the better metal in the newer version, it will withstand over twice the load,” says Fisher.
In the earlier years, he says, the ratio of injected versus carbed engines was about 70/30. Now, he says, it’s about 90/10.
As with the stock cars, he has also had great success with injected sprint engines through World of Outlaw sprint drivers such as Joey Saldana, Craig Dolansky and Dale Blaney.
With his experience directed mostly to the sprint car injected engines, he thinks he will continue that emphasis in the years to come.
A lot of attention has been given to the fact that NASCAR’s top series will be implementing fuel injection starting next year. Fisher believes that should have little to no effect on the short track dirt stock cars.
“NASCAR has a lot of money to police them, something that isn’t present with the short track groups. I don’t think that the dirt stock cars will go with injection,” Fisher says.
Keeping his shop up-to-date mechanically has enabled Fisher to achieve precise tolerances and accuracy. But in order to keep up with the real needs of today’s racers, Fisher actually took his research a step further.
Ever the investigator, Fisher actually went back to racing in 2010 for a short stint after being out of racing for a decade. But the reason for racing this second time was different: “I felt that the feel of the engine in a sprint car could provide certain insights for my engine building.” The results? He hadn’t lost his driving skills in fact, he brought home a couple of first place finishes during that time.
“One of my customers who has a few of my engines offered me a ride. I took it as an opportunity to try some things under the hood to make my engines more user-friendly. The sport changes, what’s necessary changes as well,” says Fisher.
“For example, the 410 sprint cars recently went to a tire (Goodyear) that has different characteristics than they used to run (Hoosier),” he explains. “The new tires have given engine builders new challenges it stirred the industry up so that the cutting edge builders like myself had to find a different power curve to make the engine more competitive.”
According to Fisher, the old Hoosier tire would grow on the left rear, but the Goodyear tire has a different sidewall the circumference doesn’t grow at the amount or the rate the Hoosier did “The new tire gave us the challenge of developing a flatter torque curve in the engine,” he says.
“The challenge no longer is ‘who can build the most horsepower,’ it’s ‘who can build the most driveable engine,’” says Fisher. “It’s challenging for all of us. The airfoil people, for example, have different needs, because now the racecar has to be stuck on a different tire. In our case, with sprint cars, it’s the right front that needs to be stuck more. All those little things add up to us having to look at engines with a different rpm window, a different torque curve and, in today’s world, the engine has to last longer.”
If you don’t think that’s a challenge, wait until you hear the kicker. “Plus, we have to hold our prices or reduce them while offering more options,” Fisher explains.
The price the customer pays covers not only Fisher’s experience on the track but his expertise AT the track as well.
“I’m at a track every weekend,” Fisher explains. “Building engines is my passion but my job is to maintain the communication and relationship between the driver/owner and our engine shop. I feed back into my boys and our system what we need to do and what our customers need.”
With customers in so many different racing series, Fisher says it really forces you to get around and understand that there are different needs in different places of the country. “The guys who run Knoxville every week need a different motor than the guys who run Attica, OH,” he says. “You have to be aware of that and give them power accordingly.
“If you’re running Knoxville every week, we need to give you a motor that builds a lot of torque, because you’re running a 5:1 gear. If you’re running Attica, we need to build a motor that builds rpm quickly, because we’re running a 6:1 gear,” Fisher says. “It’s the same racecar but there’s no such thing as a generic 410 sprint car engine anymore. There’s an application for every track and for everyone’s pocketbook.”
Fisher says that despite his successes, he still looks forward to doing more. “It continues to be a challenge, with the excitement and the passion that I have. I still have great fun doing it, and can’t wait for the season to start in Florida. My customers feel my enthusiasm and I enjoy that.”
With Fisher Racing Engines, the teamwork is palpable.
“I’m on the podium during the winter months when I tell them what we’re accomplishing with their engines,” explains Fisher. “Then in the summer, THEY’RE on the podium, hopefully with our engines!”
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