There was a time when the size of your car’s rear tire could severely inhibit dragstrip performances. The only “power management” available was your own foot and optimal traction was had by stuffing the largest tire you could under the car. If you were planning on building a radical engine for your muscle car you had to plan on running some radically sized tires too, if you ever wanted your car to hook up and perform. There wasn’t a magic spell that could ensure your car would stick. There is still no such spell, but thanks to today’s advanced electronics, like MSD’s Power Grid Ignition System, drag racers can produce enormous horsepower and torque and not have to worry about blowing their puny tires off when they launch. Electronically controlled power management is what we’re talking about here, and although it’s nothing new (MSD’s Digital 7 boxes have been allowing racers to manipulate timing for over a decade), the way they do it is improving and, judging by this versatile system, both the hardware and software are getting more effective, yet simplified.
The Power Grid Ignition is MSD’s latest digital system, and it features technology that makes installation, as well as tuneability much simpler than the previous Digital 7 boxes, such as the 7531 box, which has been a staple part number in small-tire heads-up drag racing for the last several years. The Power Grid setup consists of a controller box (PN 7730), ignition box (PN 7720), a CAN-bus hub (PN 7740), and various modules that allow the user to control different areas of their engine. Timing ramps, rev limits, traction control, all can be almost infinitely adjusted with the Power Grid, and the user interface (the computer screen display) is so simple compared to the old program. That alone is enough reason for drag racers to make the switch over to the new system.
It’s designed using CAN-bus, an automotive and aerospace technology that allows devices to communicate with each other within a vehicle without a host computer. MSD has designed modules that feature specific functions, such as launch and rpm control, which easily tie into the Power Grid using a hub, making installation a breeze. Since it can be used with both MSD and RacePak’s (a popular data logger company) existing products, it’s a great setup for the serious racer. The Power Grid allows you to combine various systems together in order to relieve the complications that go with running multiple interfaces. In other words, the Power Grid puts all the log screens in one area. The Grid is a great upgrade for those racers who already have a 7531 and RacePak data logger because it allows the user to view both unit’s data on a common screen. Before, users would have to view each separately, inconveniently.
It’s engineered with a powerful 32-bit micro-controller and the Power Grid is monitored using all-new software called MSD View, which is very comprehensive and an easy program to navigate. Being USB compatible means it can be updated via download from msdignition.com and the Windows-based software is designed with tabs to help racers easily select different programming windows and parameters. Also, the data acquisition files of the ignition are captured on a micro SD card for ease of storage and review. One nifty thing about the setup is the CAN-bus technology reduces the amount of wiring, so for those racers looking to shed every ounce, the Power Grid system is light in weight, relatively.
If you are a casual gearhead who rarely races his car, the Power Grid has a lot of features you may not ever use. There are adjustability features that cater to the top-tier drag racer, but what you’ll care about is the super hot spark the Power Grid ignition box produces. According to MSD, the 7720 ignition box produces an even hotter spark than the Digital 7 boxes (200-220 mJ compared to 190 mJ). This means a more complete burn and ultimately, more horsepower, and we can all use that.