Several years ago the world of high-performance tuning was, by many accounts, a mysterious black art, a skill that could only be honed by spending months poking around software and changing numbers hoping to find some positive results. The early adopters of aftermarket EFI tuning were masters of the notepad, scrawling cryptic notes, and storing boxes of chips with different tunes, trying to figure out which tables helped make cars faster down the dragstrip. These early adopters also collected other, more expensive things, normally in the form of burnt pistons, twisted rods, and torched cylinder heads. It was, to say the least, an interesting and expensive time for the automotive industry.
Of course, while most small-time tuners were out destroying parts and learning tricks, some of them were hitting the books, taking the time to learn exactly how an engine worked before taking the time to learn how to control it. One such tuner, a fellow named Greg Banish, actually started his career by earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering with a specialty in automotive applications, engine design, and power systems. In fact, Greg was so fascinated with EFI controls that he wrote his thesis on vehicle instrumentation and wheel torque measurement-a subject so nerdy, we're not even sure we would want to know what he found out! After school, Greg went on to establish his own tuning shop outside of Detroit, where he eventually caught the eye of several OEMs. Currently, Greg works full time as an OE calibrator, spending his days tuning and tweaking everything from torque-based controls to thermal modeling. To say he understands aftermarket tuning is an understatement, Greg has probably forgotten more about timing maps and Lambda controls than 99 percent of people will ever know.
So what does this mean for regular enthusiasts like you and I? Well, Greg also runs a business called Calibrated Success, where he spends his nights and weekends teaching students how to properly calibrate ECMs, for either their own personal use or for customers. Not only does Greg teach but he also writes, a lot. In fact, Greg is the author of several books including Designing and Tuning High-Performance Fuel Injection Systems and Engine Management Advanced Tuning, both of which offer a great amount of information for anyone looking to expand their knowledge on this subject. As if that wasn't enough, Greg also offers a full-length DVD entitled the GM Tuning Beginner's Guide in which he teaches EFI tuning for both HP Tuners and EFI Live. And when someone has that much to say, it normally pays to sit up and listen. So we decided to join up with Greg at a Calibrated Success class he held at Next Level Performance in Altamonte Springs, Florida, at the end of 2009 and we couldn't be more thankful that we did.
Unlike any other tuning seminar or class we have attended, Greg offers information that comes from the OE side of the tune file, an insider's look at not only what you can and can't do in a tune, but why you would even want to do it in the first place. His class offered a perspective that is rare in this industry and through a methodical, well thought out approach, Greg was able to teach us the ins and outs of a modern ECM in ways that made sense to an "average Joe." But, be warned, this class isn't for the faint of heart. Greg is a degreed engineer and you better have your thinking caps on. We saw some equations that were just plain intimidating, but with some effort everyone was able to work through them. As Greg said, "This is simple math, you provide the errors." We encourage you to check out the following pages as we briefly walk through our two days at the Calibrated Success course and seriously consider attending one in the future if you ever plan on plugging into your vehicle's OBD-II port.