Off-the-shelf parts are more readily available than ever. Custom cam profiles, crazy domed pistons, and what were once consideredwild rocker-arm ratios are now the norm in modern-day engine building. Honestly, it's easy to cook up big horsepower. Throw some compression in it, add some cubic inches, and you have the instant recipe for a 500hp surprise. Bon appetit! But it's also easy to overlook the benefits that a quality beltdrive system can offer, until you realize that cam timing is one of the most important tuning aids you can use to your advantage.
We're not opposed to traditional timing chains, but if the budget is open for a beltdrive system, it's the only way to go for powerplants destined for dragstrip duty. A beltdrive offers myriad advantages; aside from peace of mind, it just plain works better. For starters, it'll offer ease of tuning on the dyno or at the track. Cam adjustments can be handled in minutes. And in the event of a camshaft change, the timing cover doesn't have to be removed, which means no gasket scraping, no scrambling for a replacement, and no dropping the oil pan. And, lest it didn't cross your mind, with the rates dynos are charging for testing, that means less fussing around and more hits on your motor.
Additional benefits include up to 10hp gains through the elimination of oil windage. On top of that, a beltdrive will also eliminate the harmful engine harmonics that can sap your engine of power. How? The rubber timing belt acts as a secondary damper, soaking up crankshaft harmonics. Yes, these types of systems can get pricey, but there is no getting around it-depending on your application, the bottom line is it's going to work better, live longer, and be much more efficient.