Saturday, March 16, 2019

More Reaction to the Hamner Restrictions on Practice Day at the Rattler 250

Stephen Nasse, who races with a Progressive Engine, has had plenty to say about the recent restriction imposed on competitor Hamner Racing Engines. (Daniel Vining/

By: Daniel Vining, Twitter: @danielvining

OPP, Alabama (March 15, 2019) — The big story coming into the 43rd Annual Rattler 250
weekend at South Alabama Speedway was the new restrictions imposed on Hamner Racing Engines following dyno testing during the winter.

The Hamner motors, which are the most widely used engine within the garage area at South Alabama Speedway this weekend, have a mandated spacer size of 1.350” to bring those power plants closer in line with competitors Progressive, McGunegill and RW Engines.

PixelatedSPEED spoke with Southern Super Series officials early on Friday morning about the importance of maintaining the balance of performance.

“We tested eight motors in 2011, and we got our baseline,” said senior technical inspector Ricky Brooks. “In 2011 we felt like we were as close to having everything as equal as we could. I’ve tested motors since then… every motor I’ve tested since 2011 has been spot on, including the Hamners, and even the parts motors (motors using parts from the main engine builders but put together by other independent motor manufacturers). When we dyno’d the motors after the (51st Annual Snowball) Derby the other motors were spot on, but the Hamner motor was way over that. (Brooks explained that he gives about a 1 percent allowance in the numbers for a motor to be over).”

“This was because of multiple changes that he (Hamner Racing Engines) made on his own, that he never got approved, that brought it to that level.

I asked Brooks to clarify if Hamner was in violation of the rules. While Brooks didn’t outright say that Hamner was in direct violation of a rule, he said that because Hamner changed parts without approval, that was the violation.

He added that it's common for parts and pieces to be changed out over the course of time, but the key point is that when those changes happen, they happen with the approval of the committee. In this instance, Hamner did not receive that approval.

Brooks summed up with, “These restrictors are being put in place to bring everything back in line.”

“The S.E.A.L committee performed baseline testing of these motors and it’s very important to keep these builders within the range of that baseline,” said Nicholas Rogers, Southern Super Series Race Director and seasoned tech inspector.

From the standpoint of the officials in charge of maintaining balance, it’s an effort that helps save racers from themselves by preventing the floodgates from opening and spending going into complete chaos.

Editor-in-Chief of Short Track Scene, and fellow motorsports writing colleague Matt Weaver chimes in on Twitter, making a very valid point.

“It can’t be the Wild West because it will turn into an arms race if you let the builders do whatever. That’ll cost racers too, y’know?,” said Weaver.

In the garage, there is mixed reaction. The thoughts of several racers have been well documented, including Stephen Nasse, who basically called out Hamner Racing Engines as cheaters, but also added to the conversation of the importance of the balance of performance in an interview with PixelatedSPEED earlier in the day at SAS. Note, Nasse races with engines built by Progressive Engines.

“The deal that’s going on with that is a crazy deal right now but I hear they’re getting to the bottom of it,” said Nasse. “They are really trying to sugar coat it for Hamner because they don’t want to discredit all the wins they’ve gotten in the past couple years, but in all reality 18 horsepower is 18 horsepower. “

He continued, “You have certain specs you’re supposed to run inside the motors, and if you’re outside the rules no matter which way you want to put it…”

“The balance of performance is very important,” added Nasse. “The spec engine program was brought in to save racers money. When you’re starting to jack those prices up by doing all these performance edges you’re losing the point of what we came to the spec motors for. I just want it all to be on a level playing field and put it in the hands of the drivers and I think we are heading that way.”

Ronnie Sanders, car owner of the machines driven by Casey Roderick added his thoughts while waiting in the tech line this morning.

“If it’s the 18 horsepower they are saying it is, that’s a lot, “ said Sanders. “A lot of teams are already using restrictor plates to reduce tire spin. I’ll say this… I think they should’ve used a chassis dyno at the Derby right after the race instead of sending the motors off. By the time they are tested they could have all kinds of things different on them. Carbs, timing and many other things that will tell you where that horsepower number really is.”

It should be noted that the motors tested from the Derby were taken directly from the cars and placed in a van within sight of the other teams, the inspectors and media… including myself.

While some drivers have used restrictors voluntarily to help prevent tire spin, some, like Marietta, Georgia's Kyle Plott, prefer having all the available power at the ready.

“I never run restrictors,” said Plott. “That gas pedal is on a hinge for a reason. It’s going to help me at the end of the race, no doubt.

Others, like defending Rattler 250 champion Harrison Burton have chosen to not worry about the engine adjustments. While Burton’s car is powered by a Hamner, he said that because he drives so many different types of race cars, the adjustment really hasn’t affected him.

“It’s hard for me to tell, really,” said Burton. “I drive so many different cars I don’t really have an exact feel for every motor. I have an idea what it should feel like and everything but a small change is hard for to pick up on. We seem to be quick and competitive and that’s all I really care about.”

He added, “Our idea was that we weren’t really going to complain about it… we’re just gonna take it (the motor) and try to whoop their butts with it.”

Again, the widespread opinion throughout the fanbase is that Hamner shouldn’t be penalized for making their motors better over time. I personally still feel that in Super Late Model racing, teams and builders should have more room for innovation and evolution.

I understand, however, the point of the officials that want to keep the costs down at a more manageable, and reasonable level.

Over the next few months, it seems likely that further changes will be made in an effort to bring Hamner Racing Engines back in line with the rest of the engine builders that service these Super Late Models, most likely resulting in the lifting of the engine restrictions in the long run.

Until then, however, teams and drivers will have to adjust to the current requirements and continue to work to move forward.

Moving forward starts with the completion of the 43rd Annual Ratter 250 weekend at South Alabama. Tech Day is over, Saturday will feature qualifying for the Southern Super Series cars, and the running of the Baby Ratter 125 for the Pro Late Models.

PixelatedSPEED is a motorsports news and views website covering all things racing and has been “Bringing Pixels 2 Pavement Since 2018”. If you've made it this far into the post, thank you. Please consider sharing this content on the interwebs and following PixelatedSPEED on Facebook and Twitter and joining in on the conversation. & 

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