Because of its no-compromise philosophy, Driven Racing Oil can provide power and protection to your performance engine in ways other oils can’t–or won’t
Hot rodders and racers spend a lot of time working to to make their cars unique. For hot rodders it’s often an effort to reflect the owner’s unique personality or to simply stand out from the crowd. For racers its a way to gain an advantage on the competition. Either way, the car and engine are your pride and joy, and the investment is quite substantial.
So why expect a random, off-the-shelf motor oil to be able to provide optimum protection to your engine?
All motor oils are not created equal, and the division isn’t between the cheap stuff and the more expensive “performance” oils. That’s what the big manufacturers want you to think because their business model is to refine massive amounts of a single blend and then sell it into as many applications as possible.
But your classic hot rod, or your max-effort race car, or even the street cruiser you only bring out on perfect days doesn’t have the same needs as a minivan that will see 15,000 miles in a year but rarely get above 2,000 rpm the entire time.
For example, many car enthusiasts have a favorite car–maybe it’s a numbers-correct restoration, a street rod or anything in between–that rarely leaves the garage except for perfect driving days. Such cars often sit idly in the garage all winter only to be taken out on the first warm Saturday in spring for a long weekend with lots of road miles.
Believe it or not, this is a very difficult environment for both the engine and the lubricating oil. When an engine cools after being shut down it draws condensation. This isn’t a huge deal if the engine is run regularly, but when a car is allowed to sit for extended periods this moisture from condensation can cause rust to form on your engine’s internals. And you can imagine the type of damage that incredibly gritty rust can do to bearing surfaces, cylinder walls, crank journals and piston rings when the engine is first fired up and all that rust gets pumped through the engine. It can happen every time an engine is fired after being allowed to sit for an extended period, and since a motor cannot heal itself that damage is cumulative, building up over time.
The result is an engine that no longer runs the way it should. It runs rougher, burns oil, and–most of all–doesn’t make the power it used to because the damaged piston rings can’t hold compression. Now combustion gasses and carbon are leaking past the rings and getting into your oil to only make things worse. It is a scenario that has frustrated many of us, but fortunately, there is a cure.
While the major refiners have concentrated on motor oil as a one-size-fits-all commodity products, Driven Racing Oil excels at building oil formulations around specific needs. The very first formulation was created to help Joe Gibbs Racing win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship–which it did in 2000 and again in 2002 and 2005. Driven Racing Oil was also integral to Joe Gibbs Racing’s three-straight NASCAR Nationwide Series championships between 2008 and 2010. Since 2000 it has been the only oil used by Joe Gibbs Racing as well as many other top level racing organizations. And despite what some advertisements may lead you to believe, Driven is the only oil company that will sell you the very same oil that wins races in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Granted, it is more expensive than the stuff you can get at your local big box store, but the capabilities of Driven Racing Oils are light years beyond that stuff. Put that stuff in your grocery-getter if you want to, but doesn’t your performance engine in your performance car or truck deserve better?
Of course, Sprint Cup racing teams change their oil after every race, so no matter how high the quality, the formulation isn’t designed for the needs of your typical hot rodder. Knowing this, Driven’s engineers created an entirely new formula designed specifically around the needs of Hot Rodders. This new oil, known as the “HR” series, is blended with the highest grade components and meets Driven’s extremely rigorous standards for quality.
In addition to the same superior chemistry providing high-temperature wear protection in Driven’s XP line of max performance racing oils, the HR blend uses more zinc (also known as ZDDP) than passenger car oils which is critical for protecting flat tappet camshafts and lifters. But to help protect against the unique environment that hot rods are often required to operate in, Driven’s engineers pushed even further with a very innovative solution.
To help protect the vital engine internals from the rust that can form from water vapor condensing inside the crankcase during long periods of inactivity Driven’s engineers actually use the same additive used by the US Military for storing and protecting their combat equipment. Not only is it the best solution, but currently, Driven is the only motor oil manufacturer using it.
“That particular additive proved to be the very best when it comes to protecting an engine during storage, so it was practically a given that we’d use it,” Driven’s Lake Speed Jr says. “Other manufacturers may not choose to use it because they might feel it cuts into their profit margins, but we’re always pushing to create the highest quality oils we can provide so really, our greatest concern was if we could get enough of it.”
The additive is called a “vapor phase rust inhibitor” and it’s demonstrably better because it works differently than other rust inhibitors. The path other oil manufacturers take to improve storage protection is simply to increase the oil’s surface tension. The idea is that the greater surface tension will help the oil cling to the metal surfaces longer before finally dripping off. This may incrementally increase the amount of time an oil stays on the cylinder walls, but it often isn’t long enough. Plus, increasing the oil’s surface tension has a very serious consequence–it also increases the oil’s tendency to foam at higher rpm levels. And when foam forms it seriously degrades an oil’s ability to protect moving components.
The additive Driven uses in its Hot Rod oil works on an entirely different level. It actually creates a microscopic film on all metal surfaces that blocks the metal from moisture and even rust-causing oxygen. The boundary layer this rust inhibitor creates won’t ever drip off, so it’s effectiveness isn’t reduced over time, and it also doesn’t reduce the oil’s ability to protect the engine when it is running. This actually is one of the few times when you can have the best of both worlds.
The quality of a motor oil can also vary when the ingredients list actually seems the same. For example, it’s no secret that almost all brands of oil designed for modern cars contain very little zinc, or ZDDP, because they can interfere with some sensors or catalytic converters. But those additives are critical for the survival of older engines with flat tappet lifters.
Because of this, some specialist oils advertise higher levels of ZDDP. And some companies are doing big business selling ZDDP additives to boost the levels of commodity brand oils. But just because the label on the front of a quart of oil advertises either zinc or ZDDP, that doesn’t mean it provides the best possible protection. To put it bluntly, all additives aren’t created equal.
“There are several different zinc additive packages that an oil blender can choose from,” Speed explains. “The purpose of zinc is to create a protective barrier between metal parts. So the zinc slowly wears away if there is contact and not the metal. When an engine is brand new it takes a lot of zinc to build up that sacrificial protective layer that you want. Imagine painting a cinder block wall. That first coat is going to use a lot of paint to fill in all the cracks and crevices, but after that you will use less paint.
“It is the same thing when you first fire up an engine. That’s why for our break-in oils we use a very high concentration of a fast acting zinc additive that starts binding to the camshaft and lifters practically right away. Some oils can use a different zinc additive package that doesn’t bond as quickly and can actually allow harm to the cam and lifters before it has a chance to start the bonding process.”
Because the zinc additives are sacrificial, they also wear off over time. When all the zinc in the oil is used up, that oil can no longer effectively protect the engine, even if the base oil is still good. Driven Racing Oils are blending with the expectation that the engines they will be going into are built for performance and will be driven to their potential. Because of that, the zinc additive packages included in Driven oils are a greater percentage found in most competitive oils designed for older engines or hot rodders.
Speed also adds that in order for zinc additives to properly mix with the base oil, it must be added at a specific temperature. If the oil is too cold the additive won’t mix–a lot like sugar falling to the bottom of a glass of iced tea. So the bottle of zinc additive many people are pouring in to boost their oil isn’t doing the job they think it is. Because it is blended in a scientifically controlled environment, you can be certain the zinc additives in both Driven’s Break In and Hot Rod oils are properly mixed with the base oil and ready to do their job as soon as the engine is fired up.
The key when it comes to making a great oil is to think a lot like an engine builder. Just like a race-winning engine, you build the oil to excel in its specific application. It requires research, testing, attention to detail and an unwillingness to ever cut corners. Don’t confuse a commodity motor oil that is sold on a price point with an oil that’s truly engineered for maximum performance. And the only way to determine what oil is actually engineered to win is to look at its track record. No oil is tested in competition like Driven Racing Oil, and no oil that you can buy has proven itself in Victory Lane like Driven Racing Oil. That’s a track record you can believe in.