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Moroso Performance Company Insight - CHP Insider

Rick Moroso Of Moroso Performance Explains What It Takes To Build Race-Bred Oiling, Cooling, And Suspension Components

Stephen Kim Mar 1, 2010

If there's a common thread amongst Moroso's vast array of products, it's that they're all hardcore, every single one of them. Founded by racers for racers, few companies have contributed to kicking the snot out of the guy in the other lane more than Moroso. Whether it's an oil accumulator, a vacuum pump, or a dry-sump pan, if you need something out of the Moroso catalog, chances are you have a pretty serious street or strip combination. Even the company's more mainstream parts, like deep-sump oil pans and front drag skinnies, are a staple of every dragstrip in the country. However, meeting the demands of high-end racers-who can spot shoddy craftsmanship from a quarter-mile away-is no easy feat. For a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to keep such a legendary marquee at the top of its game, we recently had a conversation with company President Rick Moroso. As we found out, parts once associated only with high-end race cars are becoming much more common in street applications, which translates to more power potential for the average street machine.

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Family Tradition
"My father, Dick Moroso, was one of the era's most successful Modified Production drag racers in the '60s. He left his racing career behind in 1968 to start the company known today as Moroso Performance Products. As an avid racer, he knew firsthand what parts were in demand, and his new business specialized in designing, testing, and manufacturing specialized products aimed exclusively at racers' needs. The performance world quickly recognized that Moroso products performed well because they were designed and built for racers, by a racer! Even today, we specialize in ultra-high-performance racing parts. My father's legacy fuels Moroso's continued commitment to incorporate the very latest technology necessary to deliver exceptional products to our customers, from grassroots asphalt and dirt track racing to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NHRA, IHRA, NMCA, and NMRA."

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From the very beginning, the Moroso product line has revolved around the needs of hardcore racers. As such, the designers at Moroso continue to work closely with professional engine builders and racers to engineer products designed to solve real-world challenges. "Our customers look to Moroso for our combination of highly skilled craftsmen and precision machinery guaranteed to deliver race-proven products," says Rick. "These include specialized tools, maximum-performance chassis and suspension components through our Competition Engineering by Moroso division, and state-of-the-art ignition wires through Moroso Wire Technologies. Moroso also tests new product designs on our own fleet of project test cars, including my father's classic '61 Corvette, and several late-models. We've carved out a niche dedicated to serious racers, and that wouldn't be possible without actively participating in motorsports."

Pressure and Volume
Oil control is often a balance between pressure and volume, a relationship that's far from simple. Oil pressure is the measurement of how much resistance there is against the oil pump outlet. According to Rick, this simple way of measuring oil pump output tells you that the pump is getting oil to the components of your engine by force-feeding it, creating a hydrodynamic wedge. That said, oil volume is what most racers care about, but they have no way of measuring it. Oil volume is the value of how much oil is flowing through the engine, and ultimately pulling heat away from the bearings and the journals, or the two mating surfaces that are being protected. "An increase of oil volume has its good and bad points. One good point is that the proper amount of volume will always guarantee that your engine is protected," Rick explains. Regardless of oil pressure, oil volume will protect your parts long before oil pressure will. Lower viscosity oils are a perfect example of how the oil pressure is lower, but the flow rate is higher. The oil pump creates less backpressure, but the thinner oil flows more freely through the engine, and pulls the heat away from the parts more efficiently. "The negative side of increased oil volume is the inability to return the oil fast enough to the oil pan to maintain the required oil level to keep the oil pump submerged. When the oil volume is higher, it will fill the heads and lifter valley faster. If there is any restriction, which is quite common, it will cause a buildup of oil-and as a result-the oil will not return to the pan fast enough. External drain backs are a common way to solve this problem."

Pan Construction
With all the different shapes and sizes of parts that go into a short-block, designing an oil pan that performs and fits well is a tremendous challenge. While different types of automated machinery, such as computer-controlled turret punch presses and various CNC machines, are used to make the individual components, Moroso oil pans are precision welded one at a time by skilled craftsmen who take pride in their work. "Many of our latest oil pans come directly from our success designing custom pans. Once Moroso's R&D department completes their design work, it is entered into a computerized interface where exact tolerances of the original pan can be repeated endlessly," says Rick. As part of Moroso's comprehensive quality control process, components are computer checked for dimensional accuracy before assembly. Once all components are welded, the completed pan is fitment checked on the corresponding engine block. Moroso routinely performs high-pressure leak tests on its fabricated pans. "Moroso was the first company to manufacture racing oil pans with deep and kicked-out sumps, thereby solving lubrication problems for countless racers. Features such as one-piece billet aluminum rails and billet end seals provide stability and ensure consistent sealing surfaces, while trapdoor baffling and louvered windage trays provide improved oil control."

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Windage Trays
Some people swear by windage trays and baffles while others feel they aren't necessary. According to Rick, they're a requirement in all pans to a certain extent. "The rpm of the engine, the oiling system setup, and the type of car a motor is in will all determine what will work best. All oil pan companies have their own opinion on what works, and the same pan will work for some, and not for others," says Rick. "In general, when vacuum is created, the characteristics of how oil responds to trays and baffles will change. That is why we are continually developing these parts, and new oil pans are always added to the Moroso product line."

Vacuum Pumps
"A Moroso vacuum pump will increase horsepower in two ways. The biggest attribute of our vacuum pump is it allows the engine to accelerate faster based on the lack of crankcase pressure in the engine. The rotating assembly will accelerate faster, and the oil sheds off the rods and crankshaft easier since no atmosphere is present. The second benefit is that our vacuum pump allows your piston ring package to be changed to lower tension rings, lowering oil pressure and creating less parasitic drag on the engine. Lower oil pressure occurs because the vacuum draws the oil from the bearing and the journal quicker, thus the oil pump sees less resistance and creates less pressure. That means less power will be used to drive the oil pump. The piston rings require less tension because the vacuum will actually create a better seal by creating negative pressure on the backside of the pistons.

The required accessories Moroso offers to run a vacuum pump are a drive kit from the crankshaft or any other component that runs at engine speed or half engine speed. A breather tank for the outlet side of the vacuum is required to catch any oil that may come out of it, and to release all the crankcase volume. In many cases, running a vacuum relief valve is critical, since maintaining a safe vacuum level is important. In most wet-sump engines, 10 to 12 inches of vacuum is ideal. Higher levels are capable of making more power, but oil return and oil pressure issues can occur. Using a Moroso vacuum pump on the street is definitely a viable option. It will prevent oil leaks, and pulls the moisture out of the engine faster. Again, too much vacuum can create problems, so speak with an engine builder for their recommendation."

Dry-Sump Systems
High-end drag and road racing cars often utilize dry-sump oiling systems, but when are they necessary and what components do they require? "The primary reason for running a dry-sump system is to have better oil control and make more power. Oil control is defined as having less windage in the oil pan, and pulling oil from certain parts of the engine to reduce drain back issues that can occur with certain cylinder head and block configurations," explains Rick. "Having less windage in the rotating assembly, and creating crankcase vacuum, in most cases without a vacuum pump, will increase power. Crankcase vacuum will always create more power as compared to running breathers."

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Drag Springs
Moroso's drag springs have been used by racers seeking maximum hook for years. Selecting the correct set for your car isn't the least bit difficult, as long as you know how much it weighs. "Moroso's Trick Springs have been track-proven by professionals for optimum performance, and replace stock OEM springs with no modifications required," says Rick. "With a stock spring setup, unequal forces such as body movement and tire load cause unequal traction. Moroso's Trick rear springs are specially engineered to compress at a highly controlled rate, equalizing these forces to provide balanced weight transfer and traction for more consistent 60-foot times. To select the correct spring, you must weigh your car properly. Most towns have a public scale, or you can check with your local truck stop or race track." Specific procedures for weighing your drag car are available in the 2010 Moroso & Competition Engineering Catalog, or online at

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Like oil pans, oil filters are an often underappreciated component in an engine's oiling system. Contrary to popular opinion, however, there's more to it than trapping the tiniest of particles. After many years of designing and testing racing oil systems and related components, Moroso has been able to determine what's most important to oil filtration. "Many people stress the importance of filtering the smallest particles out of your engine's oil, with references to micron ratings of 10 or less for a filter's efficiency. With the help of research performed by filtration technology experts, Moroso engineers have determined that particles smaller than 20 microns in diameter are not large enough to produce engine wear," Rick explains. "Furthermore, we've found that filters with extremely low micron ratings create an excessive pressure drop across the filter. They can be so restrictive that it will cause the filter bypass valve to open, and when that happens, no filtration will occur! To maximize filter performance, Moroso racing oil filters have a rating of 27 microns, which produces a maximum initial restriction of only 2.5 psi when tested to SAE J806 standards. The result is less pressure drop, more flow, less oil bypass, and maximum filtration performance, all important factors in severe racing conditions."

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Electric Water Pumps
"Upgrading to an electric water pump is an easy way to reduce parasitic power losses on any motor, and improve cooling. Moroso's electric pumps are designed for demanding, high-temperature applications and have undergone extensive testing on the street and track. The motor design is one of the most durable and efficient on the market. Our motor turns higher rpm, and flows up to 44 percent more coolant than others pump designs. Also, it has larger brushes with a 20-bar commutator, which increases brush life. The windings are varnished to keep them in place during severe vibration, such as during tire shake or on the street, and the wire is a very heavy gauge for higher temperature use. Furthermore, the bearings are preloaded to accommodate thermal expansion and extend bearing life. There are real power savings to be gained by removing the parasitic drag on the crankshaft of a standard mechanical pump, but that amount varies with each application. The cooling demands of a race car compared to a street car are different. Street cars require efficient cooling at low engine rpm, while race cars need efficient cooling at mid to high rpm. There are too many variables in each engine and each vehicle application to make a blanket statement that 'X' horsepower will be realized using an electric water pump or electrically driven mechanical water pump, but there will definitely be a measurable increase."

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"They key to designing front drag tires is maximizing stability and minimizing rolling resistance. The tread design of Moroso's DS-2 drag tires offers improved lateral control due to the interrupted tread grooves. This design limits tread groove side flex as a result of the tread groove ends being connected to the contact surface of the tire. The staggered tread groove design provides lateral control as the tire revolves, and each groove makes contact with the track. The staggered tread also eliminates any bump if the grooves were directly adjacent to each other. Furthermore, the straight tread groove design offers reduced rolling resistance since there are no angled tread grooves that would tend to push against the track surface and increase friction. When choosing a front tire for a drag car, there are a number of things to consider. First, and perhaps most obvious, would be size. Moroso offers three sizes of our traditional Drag Special front tires and, five sizes of our DS-2. Proper fit on the wheel and inside the wheelwell should not be overlooked.

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"It's also important to consider the type of racing that's going to be done. If a full, five-tenths Sportsman tree is used, like in Stock, Super Stock, and footbrake bracket classes, then a tall tire like our 17100 or 17600 Drag Specials should be considered. A tall front tire gives you more rollout on the starting line, giving you a running start on the race, so to speak. This could shave a few thousandths off your e.t., which is important for qualifying and record runs. An increase in rollout may also help a driver that has a propensity for redlighting. If a four-tenths Pro tree is used, such as in Super Gas, then you may want to consider a shorter tire, such as the 17023 or 17040 DS-2, to minimize rollout and reduce reaction time."

Stud Girdles
In addition to top-notch oiling, cooling, and suspension hardware, Moroso also offers a line of high-end valvetrain components. And with the kind of rpm small-blocks are turning these days, one of the most useful upgrades for enhancing valvetrain performance is a rocker stud girdle. "Moroso's single-bar stud girdle stabilizes the valvetrain by tying all the rocker studs together to form a rigid bridge to minimize stud deflection," says Rick. "You will realize the benefits of a stud girdle anytime spring pressure or rpm is increased. Naturally, the higher these values, the more critical it becomes. When using a mechanical roller cam with very high spring pressures of 200 pounds and up, stud girdles should be considered a must."

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New Products
With the exploding popularity of GM's LS-series motors, Moroso has introduced tons of new hardware to cater to the swap-happy Bow Tie crowd. "The new 2010 Moroso and Competition Engineering performance products guide contains over 140 new products, so we're certain to have something new to give you that extra edge. We have an entire new line of parts for LSx motors, including oil pans for muscle car engine swaps, remote coil mounting kits, oil pumps, and sheetmetal valve covers," says Rick. "We've also expanded on our offerings of power steering pumps, coolant expansion tanks, and air-oil separators. To help you build better and more power motors, we have a new precision cylinder leakdown tester in addition to our race specialty tools. The best way to see our new and innovative products as soon as they're available is to regularly check our websites at and Products are added frequently throughout the year, and are listed online before anywhere else." CHP



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