World Class Engine Builders Depend On Driven Racing Oil, Do You?
When championships are on the line, engine builders can’t afford to play favorites. That’s why the best choose Driven Racing Oil.
By Jeff Huneycutt
Racing is a no-excuses business. It is hard to argue with the man or woman who has the checkered flag. And every team that isn’t celebrating in victory lane at the end of a race knows they have to make improvements if they hope to get there next week.
That’s why motorsports is the ultimate proving ground for every component on—or in—the race car. This survival-of-the-fittest philosophy is so strong with championship-caliber race teams and engine builders that they have no reservations about throwing anything straight into the dumpster that doesn’t help contribute to victories.
So it only makes sense that you can trust products that the top teams and engine builders are racing—and winning—with week in and week out. After all, they are putting their careers on the line every time their race cars hit the track. That’s why Driven Racing Oil has become one of the most widely used high performance motor oils in racing. Almost every component on the race cars of the top big-money teams is either highly modified or completely fabricated in house, much of the rest is kept secret for the mythical “competitive advantage.” Driven Racing Oil is one of the few products that anyone can purchase and use with confidence that they have the very same stuff that’s consistently finding victory lane in the big leagues.
Mark Cronquist is the lead engine builder at Joe Gibbs Racing and also contributes to engine development for Toyota Racing Development. He was the head engine builder at JGR when Driven Racing Oil was first developed and explains that the revolutionary product was created out of necessity.
“Back in 1999 the oil companies were big on wanting (NASCAR Sprint Cup teams) to run off-the-shelf oil in our engines so that they could say, ‘Look, they are running our oil.’ But our horsepower levels had gotten beyond what those oils could handle,” he says, “and the EPA was changing the regulations forcing the oil companies to take stuff out of their street oils. Street vehicles could survive without the stuff they were taking out like Zinc, but it was stuff we needed.
“And while the oil vendors were telling us that we needed to run their street oils to help their marketing, it had gotten to the point where we were having trouble just getting engines to survive break-in on the dyno. So finally we decided that we had to go out and make our own oil.”
The idea, according to Cronquist, was to create a motor oil without compromise. The only goal was to win NASCAR Sprint Cup races, and with that in mind the JGR engine department sought out the top scientists who could help them do exactly that.
“As an engine builder,” Cronquist says, “my only concern is power and eliminating failures that can cause a DNF on the race track. So we told the chemists what we needed and gave them some baselines from oils we had tried in the past. All I care about is results, so I didn’t get in their way about what to put into the blend. We let them make the chemistry choices, and when they came back with recommendations, I started testing them to see what worked best in real racing conditions.”
The success came almost instantly. The very next year Joe Gibbs Racing claimed the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship with driver Bobby Labonte. Of course, it takes an entire organization coming together and operating at peak performance to be able to best dozens of other teams to win a championship, but Cronquist says the improved oil definitely played a part. Joe Gibbs Racing has used Driven Racing Oil exclusively since then, and that includes two more Sprint Cup championships and another in the Nationwide Series.
“Since we won that first championship a lot of other teams realized they need to run their own specialized motor oil. Many buy their oil from us, but some also have their own. So to stay on top we’ve continued to test new blends and improve our racing oil season after season,” Cronquist says. “It definitely has changed a lot since that first batch. The oil is thinner now than I ever thought we’d be able to get it back then. That frees up a lot of horsepower, but the chemistry is so much better that the protection it provides the engine is also improved, even at the lower viscosity.
“This oil is as good or better than any other NASCAR team has at its disposal; the difference is we aren’t keeping it to ourselves. You can buy Driven Racing Oil and it can be the very same formulation we put in our race cars, or you can choose a different blend if that’s what your engine needs. We’ve won a lot of championships with Driven Racing Oil, but that number looks pretty small when you compare it to all the championships in different racing series other engine builders have won with it.”
Cronquist is right, the list of engine builders and race teams that have won championships while using Driven Racing Oil is extensive. And we’re not just talking about NASCAR’s top racing series. Driven Racing Oil is finding victory lane in all forms of racing; from sprint cars to dragsters to sports cars, and even in motocross and go-karts. That’s because while each blend of Driven Racing Oil is formulated for a specific purpose, every Driven oil excels at providing superior lubrication at temperatures so extreme that the competition has given up long ago.
Famed engine builder Jack Cornett agrees with Cronquist’s analysis. He switched to Driven Racing Oil years ago after extensive testing and says it has lead to better performance on the race track. “We definitely have seen performance gains,” he says. “We’re always looking for an edge and regularly test different oils, but we haven’t seen anything that suits our needs for Dirt Late Models better than Driven’s XP9 oil.
“We’ve noticed that the oil holds up longer, too,” he adds. “It’s a premium oil and it costs a little more, but we tell our customers that they can make it 300 laps of racing between oil changes. That’s longer than we trust most oils. And we’ve seen some guys go 500 laps between changes without any problems to the engine.”
But dirt tracks aren’t the only place where Driven Racing Oil is winning races. Ron Hutter of Hutter Performance builds a wide variety of racing engines. Everything from naturally aspirated LS engines for sports car racing, to drag racers to asphalt modified circle track cars. Hutter says he was an early adopter of Driven Racing Oil and has never regretted the switch.
“We’ve been using Driven oil for a long time,” he says. “Lake (Speed Jr.—Certified Lubrication Specialist at Driven) sent over some to test right when they first started selling it. We tested it in a motor and saw less wear on the components and less metal in the oil. We wouldn’t hesitate to switch to oil if we thought there was something out there that was better. In fact we regularly test new oils whenever they come out, but the Driven oil has always been better power-wise and parts always look better after a teardown, so we stick with it.”
Others, like legendary engine builder Ed Pink of Ed Pink Racing Engines, says he basically had to make the switch to Driven Racing Oil because it was the only lubricant capable of keeping up with the power levels his shop was producing. “We started using Driven Racing Oil just about as soon as they made it available to the public,” he says. “At the time the government was changing regulations on oil and what was going it them. We started noticing problems with the engines we had not noticed before, so we started a pretty extensive testing program on the dyno to see if it was an issue with the oil or a mechanical problem on our part. And we found it was an oil issue.
“We started testing different oils, and it was pretty obvious the Driven Racing Oil was a better formulation for our engines. It made more power and the problems with engine wear went away. So we started recommending it to our customers and switched to the Driven oil exclusively. We still use it exclusively to this day.”
Frank Honsowetz, Ed Pink Racing Engines’ general manager adds to that, explaining how Driven Racing Oil actually helps give their engines an advantage on the competition: “We see a power increase from being able to use lighter-weight oils than ever before. Much lighter. But the thinner oil still has to provide good protection.
“We do a lot of USAC racing–Midgets and Silver Crown cars–and they aren’t equipped with oil coolers. They also typically have very small capacity oil tanks because weight is so critical with those cars. Because of that, during green flag runs the oil temps can get extremely high. You can get really low viscosity oils from lots of places, but the Driven Racing Oil is the only one we’ve seen that can hold up to that heat.
“We use Driven’s XP3 oil in those engines,” he continues, “because you are always trying to squeeze every last bit of power out of them. We also do a lot of high-end vintage racing engines. For them we usually use Driven’s XP6 oil. With both we see great wear characteristics even when racing with methanol fuel, which can be very hard on motor oils.”
Surprisingly, not all engine builders are using Driven Racing Oil to handle problems directly related to the engine. Believe it or not, engine builder Ken Troutman of KT Engine Development says he turned to Driven Racing Oil to fix a problem that originally started as a chassis issue with several asphalt Late Model Stock race teams.
“Since lots of teams are going with the big (sway) bar/soft spring setup, they are trying to let the nose settle to the track as low as possible,” he explains. “To get the nose of the car even lower, lots of my guys have started raising the engine up to the maximum crank height and raising the chassis crossmember so that the front suspension can travel more before the car bottoms out. But that wasn’t enough, so to get even more travel they wanted us to shorten up the oil pan.
“We only cut half on an inch out of the bottom of the pan, but that cost us about a quart-and-a-half of oil capacity,” Troutman continues. “Because the engines are carrying less oil, the oil was getting hotter than it could handle and we started seeing oil pressure drops. Race teams were seeing a benefit from dropping the nose lower, so they weren’t willing to give us that extra half-inch of oil pan back, so we had to find a different solution.
“So after doing a lot of testing and research, we switched over to Driven’s XP9 oil. That oil was not only able to handle the heat without degrading; we also saw a drop in water temps after switching to XP9 versus the other oils. By using the Driven oil we were able to keep the oil pressure stable so that the engines weren’t having lubrication issues any more, and we could safely give the race teams the extra clearance they wanted. And we’re winning races because of it.”
More Engine Builders Who Trust Driven Racing Oil
“We used to have a piston ring micro-welding problem and had spent a ton of money and time trying to fix it. The solution turned out to be as simple as switching to Driven Racing Oil as soon as it became available. After all that time and money, we fixed the problem just by changing the oil!
“Now, even if another oil manufacturer could come up with an oil every bit as good as Driven Racing Oil, we wouldn’t switch. The support we receive is just too good. If we ever have an issue, they get on it right away. We can send them oil samples and within a couple of days they can have an analysis ready with recommendations for how we can take care of whatever issue we’re experiencing. That kind of support is invaluable for an engine builder.”
— Ron Shaver, Shaver Specialties Racing Engines
“We do a wide range of different types of engines, but they are all high horsepower, and meeting the lubrication demands for each is critical. A truck-pulling engine that’s on full-go for 18 seconds is a lot different than a drag motor that only sees seven-second passes, so they don’t need the same motor oil. Driven Racing Oil has the right mix of blends that can take care of all my different engine lubrication needs, and their technical support also helps me match the best oil to each application.”
— Steve Schmidt, Steve Schmidt Racing Competition Engines
“We switched to Driven Racing Oil about five years ago when we were having problems getting the rings on fresh engines seated on the dyno. We knew we needed more Zinc, and Driven had one of the better break-in oils. Switching to their BR break-in oil solved the problem right away, but we also learned that their standard race oils also have higher levels of Zinc. Now we don’t even use break-in oils. We break in with Driven’s XP5 which is still good for the first race. After that we have our customers switch to Driven’s XP6 and they are good to go.”
— Don Ott, Don Ott Racing Engines
“Besides race engines, we also build a lot of hot street engines for our customers. We’re a strong advocate of Driven Hot Rod Oil for the street guys. Not only does it give excellent protection, but those kinds of cars will often sit for several weeks or even a few months without being cranked up, and the Hot Rod Oil does a great job of protecting those engines even after long periods of inactivity.”
— Ed Pink, Ed Pink Racing Engines
“We developed Driven Racing Oil to fix our flat tappet camshaft problems. Just changing to our BR Break-In Oil from off-the shelf products, we virtually eliminated break-in failures. Next, we began to develop qualifying oils and race oils, and that is where we found significant power gains. Every engine we build uses Driven Racing Oil because it delivers power and durability.”
— Mark Cronquist, Head Engine Builder, Joe Gibbs Racing
“Ed Pink Racing Engines uses BR30 Break-In Oil in every engine that we run on our dynos, and I use Driven HR Synthetic 15W-50 in my 29′ Highboy Roadster. I recommend this oil to anyone who has a vintage performance car. It is the best insurance for long engine life that you can get.”
— Ed Pink, Ed Pink Racing Engines
“We used to have a piston ring micro-welding problem and had spent a ton of money and time trying to fix it. The solution turned out to be as simple as switching to Driven Racing Oil. After all that time and money, we fixed the problem just by changing the oil! And if we ever have an issue, they get on it right away. We can send them oil samples and within a couple of days they have an analysis ready with recommendations for how we can take care of whatever issues we’re experiencing. That kind of support is invaluable for an engine builder.”
— Ron Shaver, Shaver Specialties Racing Engines
“We have to run stock rocker arms, and the XP1 oil tripled the life of the rocker arms. The oil more than pays for itself.”
— Lance Line, Line Performance
These Top Engine Builders Use And Recommend Driven Racing Oil:
- Dan Bedell − Bedell Racing Engines
- Louie Bossio − AMS Engines
- Gerald Brand − Brand Racing Engines
- Jeff Burrill − Sterling Performance Engines
- Larry Clark − Custom Race Engines
- Tomy Clements − Clements Automotive
- Keith Craft – Keith Craft Racing Engines
- Bob Cronin − CRD Engine Development
- Jay Dickens − Jay Dickens Racing Engines
- Butch Dowker − Dowker Racing Engines
- David Draime − Draime Racing Engines
- Matt Driskell − Driskell Racing Engines
- Kevin Enders − Enders Racing Engines
- Galen Fox − Foxco Engineering
- Charlie Garrett − Garrett’s Racing Engines
- Dan Gentrup − Wesmar Racing Engines
- Jim Hamilton − Hamilton Machine
- Jeff Hamner − Hamner Racing Engines
- Phil Harper − Phil Harper Motorsports
- Vic Hill − Vic Hill Racing Engines
- Ron Hutter − Hutter Racing Engines
- Craig Hyland − Engine Dynamics
- Jay Ivey − Ivey Racing Engines
- Jon Kaase − Jon Kaase Racing Engines
- Paul Kistler − Kistler Racing Engines
- Bob Kriner − Kriner Racing Engines
- Kevin Kroyer − Kroyer Racing Engines
- Sonny Leonard − Sonny’s Racing Engines
- Lance Line – Line Performance
- Rick Lowery − USA Performance Engines
- Arnie Loyning − Loyning’s Engine Service
- Brad Malcuit − Malcuit Racing Engines
- Bill Maropoulos − Maropoulos Racing Engines
- Doug Mascaritola − Proformance Unlimited
- DeWaine McGunegill − McGunegill Engines
- Kenny McNamara − KRE Racing Engines
- Julian Motola − JPM Racing Engines
- Chad Mullins – Mullins Racing Engines
- Bob Myers − Performance Automotive
- Don Ott − Don Ott Racing Engines
- Alan Patterson − Patterson Racing Engines
- Brad Peters − Peter’s Racing Engines
- Ed Pink − Ed Pink Racing Engines
- Jake Raby – Raby Engine Development
- Joe Rhyne − Rhyne Compeition Engines
- Ronnie Rogers − Wall 2 Wall Racing Engines
- Bill Schlieper − Pro Power Racing Engines
- Scott Shaffiroff − Shaffiroff Racing Engines
- Ron Shaver − Shaver Specialties
- Gary Stanton − Stanton Racing Engines
- Mike Tesar − Tesar Engineering
- Bob Thornton − Race Engineering
- Rick Waters − Rick Waters Racing Engines
- Carl Wegner − Wegner Racing Engines
- Robbie White − RW Racing Engines
- Jim Wright − Motor Heads Garage