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Feb 14, 2014 - 07:33 AM
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EMCO Gears A Behind-The-Scenes Success Story At The Rolex 24 At Daytona
Posted by: newsla on Feb 14, 2014 - 07:30 AM
Grand Am News
EMCO Gears A Behind-The-Scenes Success Story At The Rolex 24 At Daytona


A high-profile and historic victory last month in the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona by Action Express Racing was also a milestone behind-the-scenes success story for EMCO Gears that supported and supplied both the overall race-winning No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype of drivers Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais, and the team’s third-place No. 9 sister entry, with top personnel and four different key technical components and assemblies.

 

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EMCO Gears has been a fixture in North American sports car racing for more than 30 years with its competition-proven gearboxes but the all-American manufacturer offers much more than race and championship-winning transmissions. A Rolex 24 that marked the first event of the inaugural IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship was also a breakout race for EMCO as the Chicago-based company supplied a full-time technician and variety of technology for Action’s podium-placing prototypes.

“The approach of EMCO Gears to this Rolex 24 At Daytona race was to plan for the unexpected,” said Dan Cota, EMCO Gears Director of Racing. “Over the off season we took what rules changes that apply to the drive line and used that as guidance to refine our products to the next level. We knew that the competition was going to be strong so we had to be stronger.”

Part of the increased strength came through brain power as Action Express is one of the first organizations in major-league motorsports to take advantage of EMCO’s trackside service program, which assigns a fulltime and factory-trained technician to participating teams. The program includes any and all maintenance at either EMCO’s Indianapolis-based technical center or trackside at a test or race event. Action’s assigned technician was a fully embedded member of the team with them from the onset of preliminary testing last year straight through the winning checkered flag at Daytona.

The victorious No. 5 Corvette DP completed 695 laps around the 3.56-mile Daytona road course, crossing the finish line just over one minute ahead of the second-place finisher and just shy of completing 2,500 miles. The third-place No. 9 Action Express entry, driven by John Martin, Fabian Giroix and brothers Burt and Brian Frisselle, was the only other car to finish on the lead lap in the grueling day-long race.

The list of EMCO technical components supplied to the winning Corvette DPs included not only each car’s gearbox but also the manufacturer’s lesser known but equally strong axle, Tripod axle and rack-and-pinion steering assemblies.

“We redesigned our gear change-section from a five speed to a high-torque capacity six speed to handle the increased horsepower and torque,” Cota said. “We redesigned our differential carrier for the same reasons. We worked in the areas of transmission efficiencies to help our teams go farther on a gallon of fuel.”

Designated the GA45-5.0, the EMCO gearbox used by Action and other top IMSA teams is designed to have a long cycle life so no major changes are needed to the transmission at a race, including one as long as the Rolex 24. The speed-gear section of the transmission is also of a cassette design, easily removable for pre-race inspection or quick repairs, neither of which was needed during the winning Daytona campaign. The gearbox case and its components are cast or milled using superior-strength-graded aluminum as holding gears and bearings at their designed positioning is everything in transmission reliability, particularly in a race that sees each car that goes the distance go through nearly 35,000 shifts in 24 hours.

While the gearboxes and Chevrolet V8 engines combined for the winning drivetrain on the Action Express Corvette DPs, it was EMCO’s axles and in-house designed Tripod axle system that capably transferred the power to the track. A result of a long-term process of near misses, the Tripod axle is an onboard component that is a critical marriage between a three-point joint and the internal dimensioning of the housing. Simply stated, the combination keeps the various moving parts in and coming out of the gearbox from crashing into each other, a critical balance that must be maintained for more than 24 hours at Daytona.

The final EMCO ingredient for success used by Action was the company’s rack-and-pinion steering system. EMCO manufactures its steering system with the same attention to detail given to a precision set of gears or a critical axle assembly. A light-weight, billet-aluminum housing is engineered to correctly hold the rack and pinion at the designed mounting distance while quality gear geometry makes for a very smooth operating system.

“It all paid off with an overall first and third place finish by the Action Express team,” Cota said. “All of the best American products came together to win, Coyote Cars, Corvette, Chevrolet and EMCO Gears in victory circle together.”

In addition to Action Express, other premier IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship teams taking advantage of the EMCO Gears culture of operation include the No. 31 Marsh Racing/Whelen Motorsports Corvette Daytona Prototype, the No. 91 and No. 93 SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R GTLM entries, the No. 33 ViperExchange.com SRT Viper GT3-R GTD entry and top manufacturers Coyote Cars, Riley Technologies and Dallara Automobile.

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