Engines, Racing, Motorsports: Science vs. Religion

Science vs. Religion

Something I sometimes take for granted in this industry is the amount of knowledge at our disposal. It comes from all walks of life, different ages, genders, regions, as well as from different areas of manufacturing, development, engine building, racing, you name it. We have some very smart, talented people helping spread information throughout our industry. We also have some characters too, but that comes with the territory, and who doesn’t like a little fun?

I say that I take our industry’s knowledge for granted sometimes because a lot of what we talk about and cover when it comes to engine building can get repetitive at times. Engines only have so many components, and some don’t change too drastically very often. However, nothing reinvigorates you like hearing from or talking to someone with a fresh perspective, or someone who can explain complex, highly technical subject matter in an easy-to-understand way or an entertaining way.

I’ve had the opportunity over the past seven years now to speak with some of the industry’s brightest minds on nearly a weekly basis. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with guys like Gale Banks, Pat Musi, Steve Morris, Charlie Buck Jr., Drew Pumphrey, Jared Alderson, Tom Lieb, Lake Speed Jr., Billy Godbold, Ken Tyger, and more – if I left your name off this list, please don’t feel offended. There’s a ton you smart men and women out there!

Someone I recently got to speak with a few times in the past month is Ben Strader of EFI University. He’s just one of those guys that oozes enthusiasm, pride and joy for talking about engines, racing and making motorsports better. That’s fitting because he teaches for a living and passes along knowledge to thousands of tuners and engine builders either looking to get into this industry or advance themselves further in this industry.

Something he said to me recently that struck a chord was that a lot of engine builders and racers learn so much of what they do based on religion. What he meant by that is most people look around to see who the fastest guy is or who’s winning all the races. They want to know what equipment they have and what procedures they do, and that’s what they want to do too. 

In Ben’s words, it’s really difficult to move forward and expand the performance envelope if all you’re ever doing is copying somebody else and never really knowing why or how that works. Therefore, he ensures his EFI U classes and courses have a full dose of science, math and data behind them, which is the opposite of religion.

Science refuses to accept any contradictions and always digs farther to find the result, find the answer, to find out why. EFI U uses a lot of math, physics and science as well as test data to teach its students how to never accept ‘because I said so’ or ‘because I won’ as an answer. 

Many engine builders and racers get stuck in that hamster wheel of doing something simply because someone else is or told them to. Ben says he teaches a lot differently than that and I think that’s why so many people have such a great experience getting involved with courses at EFI U. It’s refreshing to learn from somebody who gives you the tools to teach yourself rather than standing up and telling you to simply take their word for it.

I thought that was refreshing and certainly captured many people in this industry. You can read much more about Ben Strader and EFI U on page 52, as well as about several other ways to gain more knowledge in this industry throughout this issue. What side of the coin do you fall on – science or religion? EB

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