Blog: 30 years

well if experience means anything to anybody…….
July 2015:
  Wow..  30 years ago this very month I started this company…July of 1985. Actually it was originally called FTZ Performance Research until we incorporated in 1988. Seems like a long time ago……. and yet seems like yesterday.. and with many memorable moments along the way, perhaps I could share some here:
 Seems I was just destined to do this stuff – ever since I was 12 yrs old I have been taking some kind of motor apart and trying to make it run better and go faster. I went to work at the local Kawasaki dealer at 16, and at 18 I was already service manager at the local Suzuki dealership. At 20 I found myself in El Cajon, California working in the legendary Don Vesco’s race shop building 2-stroke exhausts.. Most know Don as the motorcycle King of Bonneville, but they also were at the time headquarters of the Husqvarna Desert racing team, and had just been a couple years before, the base of the Yamaha road race team. Big excitement for a gear-head kid from the Midwest! In fact I just remembered the other day it was actually Don who first taught me to tig weld… By that next summer I was back in Missouri, trying to scratch my own racing itch, and again working at the local bike shops….it was then I started modifying motors and frames/suspensions for many of the local motocross racers, and of course my own flattrack equipment..which I had really developed a passion for.. A few years later when flattrack racing morphed from250cc 2-strokes to 500cc 4-strokes, I got on board and built a locally competitive open class bike from a $75 salvage yard motor and a cut up stock frame.. In the quest to keep up with the expensive Rotax engines that I had to race against, I constructed a flow-bench using a industrial blower from a local scrap yard and with homemade manometers. Laid off from my construction trade at the time I spent day & night, for weeks, on that flowbench with everything from flathead motors to Harleys to state of the art 4-valve motors of the day.. doing heads for local racers….and with some kind tutoring from another motorcycle racing legend: Jerry Branch of Branch Flowmetrics I got pointed in the right direction. Jerry had built one of the first flow-benches in the country and had strong involvement with the HD factory racing team- since back in the day when they won with flathead KR’s! I have much gratitude for these folks who took interest in a young man with dreams of being an engine tuner, and took the time to steer me away from the ever present bullshit, and point me the right direction. The rest just kind of evolved from there.. 1985 I started the business just as ATV racing was getting big, and they sought me out… that took off with our engines winning 2 classes at Ashtabula in ’87, then Jackie Meadows winning the 4-stroke Pro class at Boyd, Texas the next year, then Mark Lee winning the 250 Pro class there in ’89 and later the nationals in OH & NY. A trip to Garden City, Kansas that August gave us our first Micro Sprint 250 National win with Paul Esworthy winning the 100 lap event, with our Jimmy Brewer finishing 2nd. Seems Paul won the NMMA National Championship the next year, and Jimmy went on to win the Nationals at Sweet Springs in ’91…in the following years we build hundreds of 250’s (and 125’s) and won many NMMA Champioships and Nationals & Regionals, but after a while it looked like the sport was obviously heading towards the 600’s, and so in late 1994 we built our first F2/F3 600 motor, using the building tricks & techniques I had learned on the single cylinder machines over the years..(only times 4!) Well Rick King won the NMMA championship in ’95 with that motor, the first of 9 consecutive NMMA Championships that used our motors…  2006 was memorable year with successes we had at the awesome I-30 $10000 to win event, and then our first trip downunder when Travis Senter won his first Oval Express series (with a borrowed car and a head and engine parts I brought down in a suitcase!) and again in 2008. Fast forward to more recent years, with the building of the new shop, the addition of the new dyno, and Nathan Benson winning the 2014 Powri Championship, it feels like a rebirth has taken place… and I know we are now going stronger than ever..
Please contact us on how we can improve your horsepower program- I am 100% confident that we can..
Thanks for the read, and a BIG THANK YOU to all that supported us over the years,
Jon Fitzpatrick

Engine Builder Blog

A recent post put up on our Facebook page:
(this could apply to any type engine build)

Aren’t most built motors all about the same?
  Sometimes I get a feeling from talking to some 600 micro sprint people that they think all 600 motors are built about the same.. like any Outlaw 636 Suzuki or R6 is like any other Outlaw 2mil Suzuki or R6, and so on….. I can assure you we have been inside lots of 600 motors in the last 20 years, and we have seen the work of nearly every other builder out there- and we can tell you there is a LOT of difference between them. Not only with the power a motor produces- but also in the quality of the parts used and the precision in which it was put together..
  So the question is: Do you put just any right rear tire on? or just any shock? No, of course not.. you try to put the best one on…So then why would you bolt in just any motor?
  When choosing an built engine to buy, or when choosing an engine builder to work on your motor, perhaps you should consider a few things:
-Do they always put in new “critical” parts? or do they re-use head gaskets, clutch plates, cam chains, oil pump rotors, rod bolts and even crank & rod bearings, just so their estimate will be less?
-Do they provide a detailed estimate with every part and labor item priced out? or do they try to give you a “lump sum” figure that is supposed to includes vaguely “everything that is needed”.
-Do they take the extra hours to shim the valve clearances to an exact .001″ to .002” tolerance? or do they just use the factory manual’s range of .004” or .005” variance or more?
-Do they take extra hours to properly size each bearing from a huge in-house stock of 100’s of bearings?.. using special bore gauges and micrometers instead of just plastigauge? or worse yet: do they not size them at all?- just order them up and “stick ‘em in”.
-Do they spend time to block every unused oil passage in the transmissions to prevent oil pressure loss?
-Do they have full machine shop and aluminum welding facilities, and guys with those skills to expertly repair any damaged crankcases, etc?
-Do they use stock replacement parts like pistons and valves- even in Outlaw motors?, or use “off the shelf” aftermarket parts, available to anybody? or do they have CAD design ability to draw up their own custom parts, and a long history of working closely with piston, rod and valve manufacturers to get them properly made?..
-Do they use parts like pistons “right out of the box”?.. or do they have the means to performance modify them such as in-house CNC mill and lathe?
-Do they manufacturer many of their own engine accessories to their unique specification?.. or only have access to what’s commonly available to everyone else?
-Do they have decades of flow bench expertise, plus the special skills and techniques to shape the ports correctly, or precisely freshen the valve seats for maximum air flow as well as minimum leak down and compression loss?
-Do they have an in-depth knowledge of fluid dynamics that allows them to do superior intake and exhaust port shapes, manifold and throttle body shapes, or even design a proper oil pump pickup that won’t aerate the oil?Do they have an in-house chassis or engine dyno? with decades of dyno tuning experience? able to do R&D as well as tune your car- or troubleshoot a problem if necessary?
-Do they have a skilled 7 man staff including a full time telephone guy?
Well, FTZ Performance can truthfully give the right answers to all these important questions …because we realize all these critical factors contribute to both the power and reliability of these micro sprint engines, whether it’s a new build or just a rebuild, it’s all important…..and by the way, we aren’t here to provide “second best” of anything..
  Now sure, lots of different motors, in lots of different cars, win at different racetracks somewhere- but then again so do worn or wrong tires and shocks!!… that certainly does not mean that is the “best way to go”…not if something better is available….
  Get with FTZ for 2015 and start getting more of what you are paying for….
and thanks for reading,
Jon@FTZ