Racecars created from production vehicles have all sorts of extra amenities we don’t need at the racetrack. Vanity mirror? Nope? Cupholders? Nope? Windshield wipers? Well, sometimes. Anyone who has built a racecar from scratch has gone through the process of getting rid of some things and modifying others.
Recently, I was building a car and wanted to remove the EGR valve. This valve, which is designed to recirculate engine exhaust back into the intake manifold, was only going to hurt horsepower. Being a guy who is a “bolt on” car builder, I was looking for an EGR blocking plate I could buy. That was when I was reminded by some friends, who are much more talented than I am, that we could fabricate the part instead of waiting for it to be shipped to us.
Dan “Gadget” Bordeau works at Performance In-Frame Tuning, a tuner shop in Napa, Calif., owned by NASA racer, AJ Gracy. Gadget earned his nickname by solving problems and building insane rides out of nothing more than hard work and ingenuity. Every time I am at Performance In-Frame Tuning, I learn something new about racecars and fabricating from AJ and Gadget. This particular visit I learned that we could create a blocking plate out of nothing more than some scrap metal lying on the ground and a band saw.
Gadget removed the part we wanted to block on the intake manifold, traced it, created a template, and then used Steel Blue layout fluid on the metal to score a perfect line to cut out our steel. Then he expertly ran the metal through a band saw, and then used a belt sander to create the perfect size blocking plate. Then he used a drill press to punch a few mounting holes and this part was done. It was much faster than ordering a part from eBay. He used scissors to cut the universal gasket material and then bolted the blocking plate onto the intake manifold. He literally built this project in less than 30 minutes. I probably delayed the process by asking him to slow down so I could take some pictures for Speed News magazine.
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So, next time you think you need to scour the Internet for something, take a step back and think, “Can I just fabricate this?” If your nick name is Gadget, chances are you probably can.