KNOXVILLE, Iowa — In an attempt to make sprint-car racing more affordable for its 410 c. i. division, Knoxville Raceway has legalized new displacement criteria for engines.
Known as the Knoxville Open Sprint Engine, officials will allow 435 cubic inch engines with a maximum displacement of 440 c.i. Certain restrictions will also apply.
These changes will allow several other configurations in the works by engine builders and manufactures to try to come up with engines capable of running a complete season on one rebuild and costing a lot less for the initial investment.
“We absolutely do not feel this is creating a ‘new class,’ it is simply opening up some of the current restrictions that make it too expensive to operate a competitive sprint car at Knoxville,” said Competition Director John McCoy. “It is all about cost per cubic inch and right now it is unsustainable to our headline division.”
McCoy cited the high number of older 410 engines, which are sitting around, but not racing because they cannot compete with the current versions of the 410 being produced.
“Engine builders from across the country are unable to agree to anything to restrict the current engines. By raising the cubic inches from 410 to 435, teams may gain 50-70 horsepower, just enough to close down some of the gap with the high dollar pieces out there today,” said Director of Racing at Knoxville Ralph Capitani. “It’s also important to acknowledge that some may want to build a new engine with these specifications. We certainly will allow this. It’s important to understand that we cannot open up the cubic inches without some restrictions. That would solve nothing and probably make the cars just too fast, especially at Knoxville.”
Still, Capitani and McCoy do not believe these engines will deliver the horsepower enjoyed by the professionally built engines currently running at the front of the pack, but the encourage this new option for beginners and for use as backup powerplants.
“We are confident that with the right team and driver these engines will perform very well at Knoxville,” McCoy said. “We expect this particular engine will also be a great stepping stone for the 360 teams that want to move up to the premier sprint division. We also hope other areas in the country will watch this development and allow these engines to help with their car counts.”