Some Serious Progress Being Made On The Banks Top Dragster…

From SEMA Show Star To Fully-Functional Race Car.

April 2009, After a strong reception at its spectacular unveiling at the SEMA Show last November, the new Banks Sidewinder Top Diesel Dragster had to wait its turn in line while the Banks S-10 Sidewinder Pickup* went out to the starting line a few last times to finish up its development work with the powerful GMC Duramax engine that will also power the Dragster.

Now, with an early May date set for the machine’s national debut and the clock ticking, much of the “detail” work is being done in earnest including mostly unseen (but critical) things like wiring, cooling system plumbing, oil lines instrumentation (more on that later), engine controls, switchware, dials, gauges, and all the “inside stuff” that must do its job first time, every time, and that”s generally never seen but for during a total strip-down.

Sweating the small stuff has always been the hallmark of any Banks racing project.  Where Banks chooses to do its research and development there are few (if any) proprietary parts available even from specific racing equipment supply houses.  Of course that’s were Banks has a built-in advantage.  Being able to exactly assess what’s needed, design the part, make a mock-up for fitting (although that step is not always needed), and then make the part right on site, in house. There’s really not much waiting on the UPS delivery truck (unless it’s bringing raw materials) at the Banks Advanced Concepts Engineering department.

From complex bracketry to an oil reservoir tank for the multi-stage dry sump system that had to fit in a place where no commercial offering would, to a custom billet aluminum oil pan that sees triple duty as the oil collector, a windage tray, and an engine girdle to further strengthen and stabilize the already strong and stable bottom end of the 6.6L.

There are examples of specialized pieces like the above in every inch of this machine’s 272-inch wheelbase and beyond, and some of them are so subtle and so perfectly integrated that even a seasoned veteran of the racing wars might ask,  “Hey that ___________ is very cool, where did you buy it?”  The simple answer is… we needed it, we made it.

Of course all this designing, prototyping, building, and testing “under fire” is not done simply for fun, nor to win shiny trophies.  Every step, every nut, every bolt, every weld, every pass down the drag strip (racing record or not), is another test of Banks Engineering, the people, the process, and the end product of that interaction.

Cold facts, hard numbers, hot tires, and timing clocks that won’t lie are the tools of the trade and the hard-fought gains end up being real time technical advantages and a seasoned band of smart people who live for the tough challenges they get as everyday fare at Banks. That’s just the way that it’s been for as long as Banks has been in business.

This particular machine, which takes every criterion up multiple notches, will put the Banks bunch under ever-growing pressure.  At this level carving a few tenths of a second off of an elapsed time or going through the speed traps a few more miles per hour faster than the last time gets exponential.  In this part of the biz nice drawings of cool looking cars and crazy horsepower claims just don’t cut it.

Real world challenges require real world experience, and high speed drag competition with its emphasis on provides exactly kind the of “stress test” that  Banks looks for, and always seems to find.

We said that we’d get back to instrumentation, so here we are:  Just about every modern racing machine is very well “instrumented” these days.  Today’s drivers, even the drag racers who are only on the racecourse and racing for 6 seconds, need to know what’s happening under their foot at all times.  But engineers, they need to know more… A lot more.

And so, every Banks competition machine is always double-triple wired to capture over 60 distinct channels of data, including what the chassis and tires are doing when something to the North of 1,200 horsepower and a like amount of torque is applied to the surface of your everyday drag strip.  “In fact,” said one of the engineers working on the project,  “We’re monitoring and collecting many more channels of information than we do when we test the engine on the stand.  This race machine is effectively a rolling dyno.”

Banks is very proud of its competition record and how all that hard work that’s done translates into top-rated consumer products as well as advancing the depth of its highly-specialized knowledge base on the subject of advanced engine dynamics.

*On Saturday March 7, 2009 the dark red pickup truck with a brand new Sidewinder snake supergraphic on the side charged into the record books once again with a  7.77-second run setting a new NHRDA record and topping the 180 mile per hour barrier for the first time.  The record was set at the NHRDA Desert Diesel Nationals at the Speedworld Dragstrip in Wittman, Arizona in front of a packed house of some very serious diesel drag racing fans.

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