A Meeting of Engineering Minds

More than 50 members of the Society of Automotive Engineers gathered in the tech bay of Banks Power’s North Engineering building on Tuesday evening to listen to company president and founder Gale Banks speak about the many great aspects of high-performance diesel power. The attendees, gathered from all around southern California, represented a wide cross-section of industry and academia. Automotive engineers from Honeywell, Subaru, General Motors, Nokia, Mazda, Denso, HR Textron, US Hybrid Corp., and more mingled well into the night with representatives from local universities Cal Poly Pomona and the University of Southern California.

Gale took the attentive group on a 45-minute slide “tour” of his company’s long involvement in diesel design. The man who has led the growth of Banks Power from a one-man shop to raise college tuition to a multimillion-dollar business employing more than 200 and boasting upwards of 600 dealers covered many highlights of his company’s 50 years in business.

Gale spoke of the teamwork and engineering savvy required to seek and attain world speed records. He recalled the vision and dedication that his teams have shown on the Bonneville salt flats, on road courses, and on dragstrips to make clean diesel power a new and respected symbol of high performance.

Ever the futurist and always up on the cam, Gale was most enthusiastic when he began talking about his plans for breaking new ground (and records!) using diesel power. He indicated, smilingly, that there is still plenty of record-setting performance in both the Dakota Sidewinder Bonneville truck and the S-10 drag truck. He also talked about plans currently afoot to break the 200-mph barrier in the quarter-mile with a new rear-engine Duramax V-8 Top Dragster and to blast past 300 mph in a Banks Bonneville “streamliner” (one guess on the fuel for that one) also equipped with a Banks Duramax.

After Gale’s presentation, many attendees took the opportunity to stroll through the Banks race shop, dyno rooms, and design facilities and to chat with the legend of the automotive aftermarket. And, as often happens when engineers get together, a number of informal mini-seminars broke out on the shop floor.

A completely instrumented Chevy Silverado test vehicle was located just outside the bay, and factory test engineer Peter Treydte was on station to explain how Banks tests not only its own products but all competitive units as well.

A couple of high-tech BMW 7-Series sedans, one powered by liquid hydrogen and one by turbo diesel, were given more than a once-over by the engineers in attendance. Both machines are on loan to Gale Banks for his evaluation and feedback to BMW.

Hayes Diversified Technologies brought in one of its diesel-powered motorcycles. The 600cc paramilitary machine is a marvel of technology that a lot of civilians would like to get their hands on — power, torque, and diesel fuel economy on two wheels!

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