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Oh, The Engines I’ve Blown

By Rob “Right Foot” Krider

Rob takes us down a whimsical path of the engines he has destroyed. 

My name is Rob. That is what my parents named me and that’s what I intended to be called until I was lowered into the ground someday (hopefully many, many, many days from now). However, I have been given a new name by my closest friends, you could call it a nickname: Rob “Right Foot” Krider. This is not something I am particularly proud of, as it depicts me as a reckless person behind the wheel of a racecar. I don’t consider myself a reckless person. I think of myself as an easy going, jovial soul, a guy you can have a beer with and a enjoy laugh with. I’m just a simple dude who likes cars, hanging out at the race track, and when I strap on a Bell helmet, I will kick your ass into the ground, run you off the track, block you, bump you, and destroy every panel and bolt on the car I’m driving to ensure that I absolutely am the first one across the finish line when the checkered flag drops!

Helmet

It’s nothing personal. It’s just racing.

My “Right Foot” nickname came after I destroyed, four, yes I said four, engines. Allow me to provide lame excuses and point out design flaws in every situation where I ended the life of a racing engine. Yes, I have been wrongly accused of being hard on engines, so allow me to explain. Let’s start from the most recent “instantaneous disassembly” of an engine.

ENGINE: Honda B18A1

Currently, I am racing in the National Auto Sport Association Honda Challenge series which requires that I drive a relatively stock Honda product.

Honda Challenge

This series requires drivers stay within the limited modification rules as they aggressively race their Hondas at tracks all over the country. One of the specific parts of the B18A1 engine that must remain stock is its valve springs.

33 Integra

While racing at Willow Springs International Raceway, known as the fastest road course in the West, I decided to test the limits of the rev limiter on our #33 Acura Integra. What I found out was that the rev limiter was set well beyond the capabilities of the valve springs resulting in numerous broken rocker arms, and chunks of metal that found their way into all sorts of naughty little places in the engine. This resulted in horrifying noises, and blown motor #4. Obviously this is a design error by some overworked engineer in Japan and has absolutely nothing to do with my driving style.

Acura Engine

The crew was not surprised by this result as they have seen me grenade motors before so no real news to report here. In the little B18A1’s defense it did keep all of the internal components inside the engine, which can’t be said for some Nissan power plants I have destroyed.

ENGINE: Nissan SR20DE (#2 of 2)

For years I campaigned in Nissan Sentra SE-Rs in endurance races. These cars are powered by two liters of fury: the SR20DE engine.

Nissan SE-R

These cars not only had to be fast, they had to last for over 24 hours in grueling endurance races, namely the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Asking a race engine to survive 25 hours is asking a lot in my opinion, which is why I don’t take any responsibility for destroying two of these engines.

Smoke

During the 2012 running of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill a lower connecting rod bolt let go resulting in the connecting rod ejecting itself from the engine. There was no place for the connecting rod to actually eject itself from the engine so it went ahead and created its own window to jump out of the side of the block.

Hole

The car instantly filled with smoke from all the oil that suddenly exited the engine and I thought I was on fire. I brought the car into the pits and jumped out of it just like Will Ferrell did as Ricky Bobby in the film Talladega Nights. To quote ole Ricky Bobby, “Tom Cruise use your witchcraft to get the fire off me! Help me Oprah Winfrey!” Engine #3 in the books.

Crew

The crew blamed me for the engine failure, when clearly there was a design flaw with the lower connecting rod bolts on the Nissan SR20DE engine. Even though they blamed me they didn’t hesitate to pull the engine and replace it. We were only in hour 10 of a 25 hour race. When your nickname is Rob “Right Foot” Krider, you know to bring a spare engine for just these sorts of things.

Two Engines

The crew worked diligently and got us back out on the track with the second engine and we were able to finish the race which was awesome. While they were busy swapping engines they created a trophy for me, the bent connecting rod from the blown motor.

Trophy

During the awards ceremony after the race while we were collecting our trophy (a clock for the 25 Hour) the team presented me with a new necklace, a warped SR20DE connecting rod. It was Krider Racing Team Manager, Eli Cronbach, who presented me with my newest award and also coined the name Rob “Right Foot” Krider. Thanks buddy.

ENGINE: Nissan SR20DE (#1 of 2)

Before I lunched a SR20DE engine at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, I did the exact same thing to another SR20DE engine at the ChumpCar 7 Hours at Laguna Seca during the same year, 2012. Not a great year for me or my right foot.

Hood Up

I was leading the race and was heading up the hill toward the world famous Corkscrew when the bottom end of the engine let go. Obviously, Nissan has a real issue with these lower connecting rod bolts. I think a recall is certainly in order.

Window

This little “incident” chucked the connecting rod out of the side of the engine “windowing” the aluminum block. There wasn’t enough time left in the race to swap the motor. I asked the crew if we could yank the piston, pull the spark plug, JB weld the hole in the block, and just run on three cylinders to try and finish the race.

Bad News

Our crew chief for the race, Dan “Gadget” Bordeau, informed me, “There isn’t enough JB Weld at every Autozone within 100 miles that is going to fix the enormous hole in this block.” Obviously, he is a glass half empty sort of guy. I was certainly willing to try it.

Rest In Pieces

Our engine builder, Rich Olivier, of TEM Machine Shop, who I keep quite busy building new engines for our race team, figured out the issue with our SR20DE engines. His solution was to have me drive less.

ENGINE: MGB BMC B-Series

The first engine I destroyed wasn’t in a sanctioned automobile race. I was merely driving a 1977 MGB down a public road. I was still racing, but it wasn’t to be first to a checkered flag. Instead, I was racing to a girl’s house to hopefully lose my virginity.

MGB

Unfortunately for me (and my virginity), due to some crappy metallurgy and questionable British engineering I wasn’t able to complete that particular race that day. Instead, I sucked a valve seat into the top of a piston resulting in a destroyed BMC B-Series engine. This little road trip was detailed in an earlier column here at GearHeads4Life titled: Karma Or Carma?

So, yes, four engines in the books, I probably deserve the nickname. But, I think we can all agree that engineers have their work cut out for them. As a society, we need to make these engines a little tougher, in my humble opinion.

Vette

I’ll do my job and continue pushing the boundaries of RPMs, metallurgy, and physics. All I ask is that designers, engineers, and mechanics, step up their game up too. We have races to win, dammit!

Fish Car

Rob Krider, author of the novel Cadet Blues, is a factory pilot for Double Nickel Nine Motorsports. To read more stories from Rob go to robkrider.com.

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