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Al Bartz, USA, what's his story?


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#1 kiwiboss

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 19:50

Does anyone have any info on Al Bartz the engine builder out of Southern California around the 60's/70's. Seems to be very limited info on Al as i believe he died young. Down here in Kiwiland if you had a Bartz race engine you had something!! alot used them in sprint boat racing in the 70's. and offcourse F5000 and Can Am as well.

Dale Mathers(NZL)

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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 20:58

I should be talking to Peter Molloy some time very soon...

He had a lot to do with him building engines for Niel Allen. See what I can find out.

#3 Giraffe

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 21:00

I think Jerry Entin can probably add something here??

#4 Jerry Entin

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 21:50

bartzgarybruce_zpsed7abdb5.jpg
Al Bartz and Gary Knutson and Bruce McLaren at Champion Dyno

Al Bartz worked for Traco engines in Culver City to start his engine building. He then went on his own and built engines for George Follmer. And Jerry Entin and Carl Haas Racing for Chuck Parsons and Skip Scott. He also helped Graham McRae and Jerry Hansen and John Cannon among others.

Al loved working on Vintage American cars, like Stutzs and Marmons and Packards and Cadillacs and Lincolns from the 1930's. He did pass away very young.

Al Bartz was born August 12, 1939 and passed away November 27, 1980. I believe he was 41 years old. He was a chain smoker and I suspect this had alot to do with his early death.

alinsprint600x433.jpg
Al Bartz racing sprint type car in his youth
Al Bartz was Rookie of the year around 1962 in the Sprint cars in Southern California.

He did build a very good engine.

Top photo: Tyler Alexander
scanned for site Phil Henny.

Bottom photo: Bob D'Olivo


Edited by Jerry Entin, 08 August 2014 - 01:32.


#5 Lola5000

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 22:49

Did the Elfin ME5 have a Bartz Chev?

#6 S A Dunbar

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 22:55

To those who remember Trans Am and IMSA racer Carl Shafer....Carl always ran Bartz built motors. As did my father in his 1969 Camaro up until about 1976. Al was great to work with. Typically answered his own phone and would spend whatever time necessary with you... A good guy and great engine builder...

#7 E1pix

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 23:20

To those who remember Trans Am and IMSA racer Carl Shafer....Carl always ran Bartz built motors. As did my father in his 1969 Camaro up until about 1976. Al was great to work with. Typically answered his own phone and would spend whatever time necessary with you... A good guy and great engine builder...


Carl Shafer.... Man, that guy was fast (as was your Dad!).

I knew Carl ran Bartz motors at the time, as did lots of fast guys.

Even as a club driver, Carl's "Shafer Farms" cars were always pro-level and he drove them very hard.

Great memories, Thanks.


#8 oldtransamdriver

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 23:53

Carl Shafer.... Man, that guy was fast (as was your Dad!).

I knew Carl ran Bartz motors at the time, as did lots of fast guys.

Even as a club driver, Carl's "Shafer Farms" cars were always pro-level and he drove them very hard.

Great memories, Thanks.



I believe Mo Carter (Trans-Am and IMSA) also ran Bartz motors.

Robert Barg

#9 Lola5000

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 00:01

I've got a feeling the cigarette race boat ran his 427/454 engines.

#10 kiwiboss

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 00:29

Posted Image
Al Bartz and Gary Knutson and Bruce McLaren at Champion Dyno

Al Bartz worked for Traco engines in Culver City to start his engine building. He then went on his own and built engines for George Follmer. And Jerry Entin and Carl Haas Racing for Chuck Parsons and Skip Scott. He also helped Graham McRae and Jerry Hansen.

Al loved working on Vintage American cars, like Stutz and Marmons and Packards and Cadillacs from the 1930's. He did pass away very young. He was a chain smoker and I suspect this had alot to do with his early death.

Al also raced Sprint type cars in his youth. He did build a very good engine.

photo: Tyler Alexander
scanned for site Phil Henny.


At one of the Shelby American conventions some years back i spoke with Phil Henny about Al, Phil spoke quite highly of him!! said he was a beach bum after leaving Traco and it was Folmer? and McLaren that dragged him back into business as everyone else was using Traco so no one had any advantage!! as a kid in the late 70's i use to think, what is a "Bartz engine" as everyone that was racing up front had a "Bartz" engine and he was talked of as some sort of engine Guru! he must have known his stuff? My brother ended up with some Bartz chevy cylinder heads recently, they just looked to be regular ported fuelies to me. Was he ever married with family?

DaleMathers(NZL)

#11 Levin68

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 08:26

According to his book, George Begg also sourced engine parts from Al Bartz for the FM5 and 018 cars but not, apparently, completely built-up engines. I'm sure others will know the details of how the Begg cars' engines got built.

#12 dcoupe

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 18:27

Bryan Taylor, Joe Wright?, & Fred Maclean were all more than capable of building engines during there respective invovements with the Begg cars. Coombes in ChCh did a lot of the balance work & I remember an article wher either Ray Stone or Dennis Marwood did some exhaust tuning on one of the FM* cars while it was up north. Plenty of talented guys down south who could 'fill in the gaps' when it came to stuff like building exhausts etc & dont forget George himself.

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 20:11

Originally posted by Lola5000
Did the Elfin ME5 have a Bartz Chev?


Yes, I'm sure it did...

I will confirm this with Peter Molloy at some time, or with Niel Allen. I would reckon the 'Traco' (Elfin 400) also had one right at the end of its time.

#14 RacingCompagniet

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 07:53

I distinctly remember reading an article about Al Bartz in Sports Car Graphic some time in the late 1960s, probably in connection with McLaren´s use of his engines. Maybe someone has a copy of that issue...

#15 Lola5000

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 08:17

Yes, I'm sure it did...

I will confirm this with Peter Molloy at some time, or with Niel Allen. I would reckon the 'Traco' (Elfin 400) also had one right at the end of its time.

Elfin book page 64.
Niel had Elfin build the car around a Barz Chev.Peter Molley reworked the motor and got 460bhp.

#16 Jerry Entin

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 14:25

Posted Image
Al Bartz smoking
I think Al smoked out of habit. He probably didn't realize the price he would pay for this habit.

His friend Gary Knutson remembers that everytime he would come to Los Angeles he would always try and meet Al Bartz for dinner. And what a nice guy Al was.

The following is from Phil Henny who worked with Al Bartz:

"I worked with Al Bartz from 1969 until 1972. He was not only a great friend but he is the one who helped me to open a very successful business manufacturing dry sump systems components in the seventies.

Al was a very quiet and a shy person, very smart autodidact. He came from Mountain, a very small community in Wisconsin. He bought his first car at age 12, a 1930 Graham - Paige. At 16 he hitchhiked to Los Angeles, put himself into Santa Monica City College and graduated in Mechanical Engineering. Employed by Hilborn Injection and Traco, Al Bartz opened his own business in 1966. Al raced sprint cars and was named Rookie of the Years in 1962 competing in the Western USAC Division.

I visited his birth place two years ago, and learned more about his short but fabulous life. I decided to write a book about him. I am in touch with his family, many of his friends and customers. For the last eighteen months I found lots of great stories about him, the McLaren Team, the Pontiac Trans Am development project and the powerful F-5000 motors that he built for John Cannon and Graham McRae.
What I need the most, are: PHOTOGRAPHS of Al, there are very few around.

If anyone can contribute to the book with pictures or stories, I'll be very appreciative.
Look for the Book to come out this fall. AL BARTZ "Flower Power"

Sincerly yours, thank you.

Phil Henny
www.philhenny.com

phihen@netzero.net





photo: Tyler Alexander
scanned for site: Phil Henny

Edited by Jerry Entin, 03 March 2011 - 21:51.


#17 kiwiboss

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 00:25

Posted Image
Al Bartz smoking
I think Al smoked out of habit. He probably didn't realize the price he would pay for this habit.

His friend Gary Knutson remembers that everytime he would come to Los Angeles he would always try and meet Al Bartz for dinner. And what a nice guy Al was.

The following is from Phil Henny who worked with Al Bartz:

"I worked with Al Bartz from 1969 until 1972. He was not only a great friend but he is the one who helped me to open a very successful business manufacturing dry sump systems components in the seventies.

Al was a very quiet and a shy person, very smart autodidact. He came from Mountain, a very small community in Wisconsin. He bought his first car at age 12, a 1930 Graham - Paige. At 16 he hitchhiked to Los Angeles, put himself into Santa Monica City College and graduated in Mechanical Engineering. Employed by Hilborn Injection and Traco, Al Bartz opened his own business in 1966. Al raced sprint cars and was named Rookie of the Years in 1962 competing in the Western USAC Division.

I visited his birth place two years ago, and learned more about his short but fabulous life. I decided to write a book about him. I am in touch with his family, many of his friends and customers. For the last eighteen months I found lots of great stories about him, the McLaren Team, the Pontiac Trans Am development project and the powerful F-5000 motors that he built for John Cannon and Graham McRae.
What I need the most, are: PHOTOGRAPHS of Al, there are very few around.

If anyone can contribute to the book with pictures or stories, I'll be very appreciative.
Look for the Book to come out this fall. AL BARTZ "Flower Power"

Sincerly yours, thank you.

Phil Henny
www.philhenny.com

phihen@netzero.net





photo: Tyler Alexander
scanned for site: Phil Henny


Thanks Jerry, great input!!! that is one book i'll be buying!!! One of the most famous Kiwi Saloon cars was the Jack Nazer Vauxhall Victor, twice NZ Saloon car champion in the mid 70's, this car was a Hotrod!! im pretty sure the first season it had a Bartz SB Chevy engine, unbeatable in its day!! the Bartz heads my brother had where from this vehicle. I did see Chad Raynal casting his eye over it at the recent Amon Festival in January!!

Dale Mathers(NZL)


#18 Jerry Entin

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 01:33

Posted Image
Al Bartz with his 16 cylinder Marmon
Al Bartz was passionate about Vintage American cars. This was his first love after engine building.
When Al Bartz was finished restoring one of these cars it looked better than new on the showroom.

Photo: Phil Henny collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 09 March 2011 - 21:49.


#19 Jerry Entin

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 01:43

Posted Image
Phil Henny with Bartz USAC type engine
This engine was used by George Follmer to win an Indy type race at Phoenix


photo: Phil Henny collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 04 March 2011 - 01:43.


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#20 Tom Smith

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 03:21

Posted Image
Al Bartz with his 12 cylinder Lincoln
Al Bartz was passionate about Vintage American cars. This was his first love after engine building.
When Al Bartz was finished restoring one of these cars it looked better than new on the showroom.

Photo: Phil Henny collection


Al Bartz story goes thusly, I was over at his shop in Van Nuys sometime in the early 70s. We had a rebuilt Can Am 510 cubic inch Chevrolet engine that belonged to Cuddy on his dyno. It had a Reynolds 390 alloy aluminum block. They were lousy castings with porosity that caused major coolant/oil contamination issues. This block had been sent back to somewhere in the mid west to have the cooling passages pressure sealed and have steel liners installed to try and keep the h20 and oil separated. Al was running the engine around 3000 rpm seating in the piston rings, probably having a cigarette and relaxing before making a power run. He was telling me that he thought Gary didn't pay quite enough attention to the engines when he ran them. Literally right after he said that a liner dropped out of the block and hit the crank. Pieces of piston, liner, valves, block fragments, and flames shot out the intake trumpets before he knew it had happened. I was amazed that I had witnessed it with Al first hand! So much for paying attention, it happened so quick there was no way Superman could have saved that one.
Bill Eaton told me the first job he did in the states was building engine shipping stands for Al. They had small gold stickers proclaiming Custom Crafted by Eaton Enterprises, Van Nuys, Calif.

#21 Bruce302

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 08:42

Thanks Jerry, great input!!! that is one book i'll be buying!!! One of the most famous Kiwi Saloon cars was the Jack Nazer Vauxhall Victor, twice NZ Saloon car champion in the mid 70's, this car was a Hotrod!! im pretty sure the first season it had a Bartz SB Chevy engine, unbeatable in its day!! the Bartz heads my brother had where from this vehicle. I did see Chad Raynal casting his eye over it at the recent Amon Festival in January!!

Dale Mathers(NZL)


Dale,

I guess your brother would like a couple of these to go with his heads

These are genuine NOS.

Bruce.

Posted Image

#22 Jerry Entin

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 09:10

Posted Image
Al Bartz with Jerry Hansen and Scotty Beckett

I will tell the forum members an Al Bartz story also. I had an engine break at Kent, Washington in 1968. I brought it back to Al Bartz to fix. He took it apart and said the block was no good. We threw the bare block in his dumpster.

He told me when the Waste Management guys came in the morning to pickup his dumpster, they had brought and empty truck. They were listening to music real loudly. When they picked up the dumpster the engine fell into the empty truck from way up. The noise sounded like a Cannon going off. They both jumped out of the truck and ran for their lives. Bartz couldn't stop Laughing. They told him don't ever put an engine block in the dumpster again. He almost killed them with fright.

Seemed funny at the time.


photo: Scotty Beckett Family collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 04 March 2011 - 09:22.


#23 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 20:28

Posted Image
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#24 kiwiboss

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 20:43

Dale,

I guess your brother would like a couple of these to go with his heads

These are genuine NOS.

Bruce.

Posted Image


Bruce, he just recently sold the heads to Craig Stacey for the Nazer Victor!!! but i could do with some of those!!!LOL

Guys, great information, keep it coming!!

Dale Mathers(NZL)

#25 horizon

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 23:45

A bit OT but as an ex pat kiwi...how about a Jack nazer/victor thread ?
I remember watching the car at Puke...was about 6/7 years old.

Edited by horizon, 04 March 2011 - 23:46.


#26 John M Cannon

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 15:19

There's a quote in an earlier US F5000 thread, from David Hobbs, to the effect that he sometimes had good a motor but John Cannon ALWAYS had a good motor. Well those would've been Bartz motors...My dad thought very highly of Al's motors and of Al himself. I didn't know Al personally as I was quite young in those days but I will say that I don't think I've ever seen my parents more sad than when they learned of Al's passing.

#27 Jerry Entin

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 15:44

Posted Image
Al Bartz and his friend Gary Knutson looking over a Team McLaren CanAm motor



photo Bob D'Olivo

Edited by Jerry Entin, 06 March 2011 - 13:09.


#28 rogered

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 08:42

Does anyone have any info on Al Bartz the engine builder out of Southern California around the 60's/70's. Seems to be very limited info on Al as i believe he died young. Down here in Kiwiland if you had a Bartz race engine you had something!! alot used them in sprint boat racing in the 70's. and offcourse F5000 and Can Am as well.

Dale Mathers(NZL)


interesting Thread
I have a set if bartz 492 heads under my bench
I have had these since the mid eighties,
They have done may laps of baypark in the sports sedan days but were origionally ex F5000 i belive
I see the previous owner from time to time. I might ask as to their origins

Cheers

#29 Bruce302

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 22:54

interesting Thread
I have a set if bartz 492 heads under my bench
I have had these since the mid eighties,
They have done may laps of baypark in the sports sedan days but were origionally ex F5000 i belive
I see the previous owner from time to time. I might ask as to their origins

Cheers


I have Traco 492's that have been on the flow bench, it would be interesting to see how they compared.
Both Traco and Bartz used Charlie Slover at Slover Porting in Simi Valley to do head work for them. Slover Porting also did the heads for Jim Hall on his Chapparel's.

Many years ago we had a set of Bartz heads at the speed shop I frequented (both sides of the counter) They sat there for a long time, unloved.

Bruce.

#30 rogered

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 00:40

interesting Thread
I have a set if bartz 492 heads under my bench
I have had these since the mid eighties,
They have done may laps of baypark in the sports sedan days but were origionally ex F5000 i belive
I see the previous owner from time to time. I might ask as to their origins

Cheers


I have Traco 492's that have been on the flow bench, it would be interesting to see how they compared.
Both Traco and Bartz used Charlie Slover at Slover Porting in Simi Valley to do head work for them. Slover Porting also did the heads for Jim Hall on his Chapparel's.

Many years ago we had a set of Bartz heads at the speed shop I frequented (both sides of the counter) They sat there for a long time, unloved.

Bruce.


if you have access to a flow bench you are welcome to give them go.
it would be interesting to see the results


#31 Tom Smith

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 00:52

Al Bartz story goes thusly, I was over at his shop in Van Nuys sometime in the early 70s. We had a rebuilt Can Am 510 cubic inch Chevrolet engine that belonged to Cuddy on his dyno. It had a Reynolds 390 alloy aluminum block. They were lousy castings with porosity that caused major coolant/oil contamination issues. This block had been sent back to somewhere in the mid west to have the cooling passages pressure sealed and have steel liners installed to try and keep the h20 and oil separated. Al was running the engine around 3000 rpm seating in the piston rings, probably having a cigarette and relaxing before making a power run. He was telling me that he thought Gary didn't pay quite enough attention to the engines when he ran them. Literally right after he said that a liner dropped out of the block and hit the crank. Pieces of piston, liner, valves, block fragments, and flames shot out the intake trumpets before he knew it had happened. I was amazed that I had witnessed it with Al first hand! So much for paying attention, it happened so quick there was no way Superman could have saved that one.
Bill Eaton told me the first job he did in the states was building engine shipping stands for Al. They had small gold stickers proclaiming Custom Crafted by Eaton Enterprises, Van Nuys, Calif.

After Al croaked Dennis Fischer took over the company. They built some Trans Am Corvette engines and worked with Chevrolet developing some V-6 engines. Ryan Falconer also worked on the Chevrolet V-6 program. He did the turbo Indy version.

#32 Bruce302

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 01:32

if you have access to a flow bench you are welcome to give them go.
it would be interesting to see the results



I just PM'd you


#33 S A Dunbar

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 03:36

After Al croaked Dennis Fischer took over the company. They built some Trans Am Corvette engines and worked with Chevrolet developing some V-6 engines. Ryan Falconer also worked on the Chevrolet V-6 program. He did the turbo Indy version.


Dennis Fisher's Fisher Engineering engines, along with Ron Neal's Prototype Racing Engines out of Chicago dominated short track stock car racing in the 70's and 80's.

#34 rogered

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 08:07

I just PM'd you

did you recieve my reply

#35 Bruce302

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 17:34

did you recieve my reply

No I haven't, but I have been waiting. Nothing in my PM box.

Bruce.

#36 Bruce302

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 17:35

did you recieve my reply


please try: bandst@ihug.co.nz

#37 KGB911

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 05:31

Posted Image
Al Bartz and his friend Gary Knutson looking over a Team McLaren CanAm motor



photo Bob D'Olivo


I knew Al from my childhood. Al spent many days in the early sixties in Don Brown's shop while learning his trade at Traco Eng. My father shared that shop with Don and I swept the floors. In 69 Al was doing the McLaren Can Am motors and Al would get crates of many Loosely assembled engines from GM with everything on them including Magnesium valve covers and oil pans. When GM developed the Open Chambered heads which developed 50+ horsepower over the Closed Chamber Al had many engines that would never be used. I blew up the 427/400hp in my Corvette and Al offered to sell me one of those engines for $1000 and being the fool I was I passed on it and installed a L-88 instead.
Oh Well, can't change the past!
Dan Ruth
[

#38 OCTARD

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 01:09

Phil Henny's new book, Al Bartz Engine Man is now available. Phil was employed by Bartz, working on his classic cars... And Bartz even used many of Henny's dry sump oil pans.

Phil has listed the book here on eBay for the next few days. He will suspend the eBay auction for a few weeks while he's on the road to Watkins Glen for a Shelby reunion.

By June 25, 2012, the book will be back on eBay and Amazon.

#39 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 06:44

Posted Image
Phil Henny with Bartz USAC type engine
This engine was used by George Follmer to win an Indy type race at Phoenix


photo: Phil Henny collection

Bare in mind I am talking from hindsight but looking at the exhaust ports on that engine they are oh so wrong. As were it seems most US engines of the day. I have seen several different heads from that period with exhausts like that and they would almost certainly be worse than standard. All modern Chev heads have lifted the exhaust port considerably as it was far too short originally. And those heads have in effect shortened it even more!

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#40 David M. Kane

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 00:54

I knew Al from my childhood. Al spent many days in the early sixties in Don Brown's shop while learning his trade at Traco Eng. My father shared that shop with Don and I swept the floors. In 69 Al was doing the McLaren Can Am motors and Al would get crates of many Loosely assembled engines from GM with everything on them including Magnesium valve covers and oil pans. When GM developed the Open Chambered heads which developed 50+ horsepower over the Closed Chamber Al had many engines that would never be used. I blew up the 427/400hp in my Corvette and Al offered to sell me one of those engines for $1000 and being the fool I was I passed on it and installed a L-88 instead.
Oh Well, can't change the past!
Dan Ruth
[


I think Phil Henny will selling the Al Bartz book at the SAAC booth in Watkins Glen in next week at Cobra Reunion. I think Gary might even be joining him on the trip from the West Coast.

#41 SJ Lambert

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 09:15

Embryonic Elfin ME5 with Bartz Chevy centre stage!!

 

037.jpg