03-01 "On the Road" with Luke Bogacki
Taming the Juice
Juice, spray, horn, bottle, passing gear, squeeze, go-fast, power fuel, the jug...Nitrous. Forever hailed as the quickest and easiest way to destroy a perfectly good bracket motor, nitrous has been avoided by bracket and index racers for over two decades. As technology and knowledge have improved in time, however, the use of nitrous oxide has become more common and acceptable within sportsman drag racing. Last season, we got started with a small Nitrous Works plate system on the Bogacki Motorsports Nova, and this winter have stepped up the program on both of our entries.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating spraying a 500 horsepower, dual-stage fogger system all the way down track--in time that WILL tear up even the best of competition engines. What we’ve done, and what I see many bracket racers turning to, is run a relatively small (200-350 hp) plate system, strictly as a top end over-ride. We’ve dealt with Nitrous Works, a subsidiary of Barry Grant’s GPT 300 Inc. umbrella to get things worked out in the past few months. Both of our cars run a 250 horsepower plate system, that I can activate by a timer within our K&R Pro Cube Delay Box, or with a button on the steering wheel. It’s great for finish line games, but it takes a lot of discipline to use the juice correctly. For example: If I know I missed the tree, and I can’t get close to my opponent, I can spray up to him, giving him the impression that it’s close on the stripe, then shoot out the back on the dump--hopefully he breaks out. That’s all I can do in attempt to win the round. On the other hand, in the same situation, I could spray all the way around my opponent and try to take the win stripe. Unless my opponent is mis-dialed, I have lost the round by abusing my nitrous privileges. Like I said, it takes some discipline, and a lot of experience to get it right. Any bracket racer can think of hundreds of scenario’s in which the correct use of an over-ride such as Nitrous Oxide could help to light the beacon at the end of the racetrack in their lane. The situations are seemingly endless.
Contrary to popular belief, the use of this type of nitrous setup--where we spray for very short intervals of time, at high rpm, in high gear, is not that tough on equipment. I presented this question to our exclusive engine builder, Garry Reavis of Huntsville Engine and Performance Center: What, if anything, do you recommend doing differently to a competition engine to withstand this type of nitrous use?
Garry responded with a comment that even surprised me. “I can’t speak for other engine builders, but any of our Huntsville Engine competition motors will stand up to a short spurt of 200-350 horsepower nitrous without a hitch. For that type of setup, we really don’t do anything differently.” This comes from an engine shop that is very familiar with the use of nitrous, as they build Top Dragster and Pro Outlaw motors for many of the country’s top competitors.
The nitrous system is really a pretty simple deal to get set up. A Nitrous Works system comes complete with Bottle, line, plate, solenoids, and hardware. For anyone not familiar with a nitrous system, a plate has two inlets, one for nitrous (line from the bottle), and one for fuel. Obviously, if the same fuel pump that runs the motor is utilized, the line will have to be teed off for a separate regulator to set pressure going to the fuel solenoid. When wired together, the nitrous and fuel solenoids open simultaneously and inject a mixture through adjustable jets into the motor.
Jerry Dooley and Doug Schriefer at GPT 300, Inc. have worked with us extensively on this project, and recommend a few basic tips. 1.)If you’re going to run over a 200 horse power system, a separate fuel pump for the nitrous system is recommended. 2.)A timing retard should be activated with activation of the nitrous system. For the type of nitrous use that we run, Nitrous Works and MSD recommend a 4-8 degree retard. The MSD 7AL-3 Ignition box and new Digital Ignition utilize a 4-stage retard within the box that can easily be wired into the nitrous button. If an older MSD setup is in use, MSD does manufacture an additional retard box that can be added to the existing ignition to retard the timing at start up and when nitrous is activated. 3.) Nitrous Works also strongly recommends that racers use the jetting outlined within their nitrous kit on the nitrous calibration card. Using incorrect jets will throw off the nitrous/fuel mixture and could cause numerous problems.
In learning about nitrous over the last year or so, we’ve been in contact with some of the folks who know best-Top Dragster and Top Sportsman competitors. These racers usually use a big single stage or two stage system in national competition, and will usually have some type of over-ride setup available. Thanks to Mike Fuqua and Britt Cummings for sharing some knowledge with us on the nitrous combination. Among other things, these competitors said that they try to run right around 1000 lbs. of nitrous pressure for their Top Dragster settings. Obviously, the amount of nitrous pressure greatly effects the “hit” of the nitrous system when activated. Any manufacturer will request racers to never spray more than 1200 lbs. of nitrous into the motor.
If we were spraying on a timer, maintaining a constant and consistent pressure would be absolutely crucial. In fact, even when using the nitrous as an over-ride, we want to keep a fairly consistent pressure to ensure that it hits the same each time that we need it. For our setup, we try to maintain between 700 and 900 lbs. of nitrous pressure. I measure this with an Autometer gauge in the dash of both cars, and control it with a Nitrous Works purge system. During our warm Texas Summers, I can purge excess pressure prior to the run.
The main concern that I have about the use of nitrous is not when spraying down track. Rather, I most fear a solenoid failure or inadvertent activation of the system that would allow nitrous to enter the motor when it is not running. As you might guess, igniting a cold motor full of nitrous is usually not a pretty sight. Many racers use a full throttle switch to activate power to the nitrous button, which is a good idea. I would recommend doing this with a “normally on” switch, so that the circuit were closed at idle, and open at anything above idle. This way, a racer could purge the nitrous through the motor in the water box or staging lanes to make sure it worked properly, and not have to have the throttle to the floor.
For that reason, and since I have no intention of spraying every run on a timer, we do not use a full throttle switch. Instead, I incorporate a C02 Shutoff valve from DRC products in New Jersey. This valve was developed by John Dibarolomeo to shut off CO2 systems with the kill of the ignition switch, so as not to lose pressure in between rounds due to leakage. It just so happens that most nitrous bottles utilize the same thread that CO2 bottles do, so this piece threads right onto the bottle valve. I wired the DRC pressure valve into a separate switch on the dash (which also activates my nitrous system’s BG 280 fuel pump). The power “in” for this switch comes from the ignition switch, and the power “out” goes to the Nitrous valve and nitrous fuel pump. This way, I cannot activate the system without the ignition on. Then, I’ve wired the nitrous button so that power “in” comes from the activation switch I just mentioned, and power “out” goes to the solenoids. This way, I cannot activate the solenoids or drain the lines without the ignition on, and the nitrous system activated. It’s the best way I could find to ensure that I would not allow unwanted nitrous into the motor.
In conclusion, Nitrous may not be for everyone, but it is a nice addition to a competitive bracket or index-racing vehicle. When used properly and used with great discipline it can be a great tool to help win races. I would like to thank the following companies for their input and advice, and urge anyone interested about a similar nitrous setup to contact them with any questions or needs: Nitrous Works, Barry Grant, MSD Ignition, Huntsville Engine and Performance Center, K&R Performance Engineering, Autometer, and 76 Racing Fuel. Also, thank you to Texas Raceway, Dragraceresults.com, and the numerous manufacturers who make this testing and informational program possible.