Redline vs. Bottom Line, Racers Balance Competition and Cash
Floyd Clinard and Tony Cruse are the real deal. Day jobs for the first nine or 10 hours of the day, then in the shop until the late hours of the night. Cold fried chicken gnawed on with greasy hands. The distinct scent of gear lube in the air. And they love it. Clinard and Cruse race in the Quicksilver Street Stock Performance Series at Clarksville Speedway, a 1/4-mile clay oval that’s been part of the northern Tennessee landscape for more than six decades.
“I’ve run with Tony probably 15 years on and off. He’s really stepped up his game the past year,” said Clinard. “I think we’ve got the strongest cars in this part of the U.S. Tennessee boys are pretty competitive. I didn’t get a feature win this year, but got close a bunch of times.”
But while the wheel-to-wheel action gets everyone’s blood pumping, it’s not hard to get caught up in the old racing adage: “How fast do you want to go? How much do you have to spend?”
Keeping costs in check is as big a part of racing as the on-track battles, and sanctioning bodies are desperate to find a combination of competition and performance. Let’s be frank: Clinard, Cruse and racers across the country do this because they’re passionate about racing, not because they’re making much money at it. Chip Ganassi, the NASCAR and IndyCar racing team owner, is famous for his quote: “You know how you wind up with a small fortune in racing? You start with a big fortune!”
Grassroots racers spend WAY too much of their personal time and money in pursuit of bragging rights and an occasional trip to the pay window. Spouses and kids wonder what they’ve gotten themselves into.
That’s where Quicksilver comes in. The company cut its teeth over the past seven decades, learning the ins and outs of engine performance. Buster Kingsbury, of Quicksilver, says that while horsepower numbers are sexy, “It’s torque that gets you off the corner and down the straightaway.”
So that was the angle Quicksilver took when developing its race engines, including the 383 CT and the 357 CT. More torque and delivering it smoothly makes the company’s engines drivable in the toughest conditions. Cruse says it clearly: “I’d rather have torque than horsepower any day.”
“They’ve got a lot more torque than the (Chevy) 602,” Clinard added. “They’re pretty competitive with each other, but the Quicksilver has a lot more torque. It’s smooth.”
That pull off the corners isn’t the only advantage for Clinard.
“I’m still running the motor from 2018, and it’s as strong as ever,” he said. “Haven’t even had the valve cover off it this year. I use the Quicksilver oil every time because that’s what they recommend, but there’s no smoke, no nothing. Haven’t had a moment’s trouble.”
And that saves his team time and money.
It’s a similar story with Cruse.
“We have great rivalries, and since we’re not spending money on engines, I get to beat them on the track rather than seeing them broke,” he said about his competition.
The success Quicksilver engines has had in Tennessee is spreading. Track promoters from across the country want an engine package that allows for this level of competition without breaking the bank. Kingsbury points out that the Quicksilver program is expanding.
“The Florida Late Model Challenge Series is allowing our engines for 2021,” he said, adding that there are others on the edge of saying yes. Whether in a spec engine class or an open series, Quicksilver and the teams that run its engines are ready for the competition.
“With the other engines, you’re always putting valve springs in them,” Clinard said. “Not on this. I’d say if you don’t want to do any maintenance, this is your motor. It gives us the time to spend on the car and the suspension. Not the engine.”
Racers race because they love measuring themselves against their peers. Motorsports take that to a higher level because the target is constantly moving. It’s not just the traditional “man vs. man” conflict. It’s a combination of man vs. man, man vs. machine and man vs. nature. Then throw in some good old-fashioned racers’ luck just for fun. But, the value of the Quicksilver engine is creating a series that has the competitive nature Clinard and Cruse crave while keeping their budgets realistic.
To sum it up, Clinard cut to the chase: “I got the motor Thursday, put it in Friday and was battling for the lead Saturday.”
Click here to see how Quicksilver engines fit in your race program.