Racer Profile
Robert Hemphill
Reliable turbo VW power!

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This driver profile is on Robert Hemphill, street car/bracket racer extraordinare. In addition to doing the VW Pro Racing Association circuit, Robert also runs against the import drag racing crowd. He was seen regularly at the Goodtimes import races at Pomona, back in 1998 or so, along with Las Vegas resident Richard Laitinen. These guys have a lot of seat time; at one point Richard raced his VW something like 50 weekends a year! What was known as the import drag racing scene in those days, has evolved into several national sport compact drag racing circuits today, with lots of prize money at stake.

The engine Robert was running back in 1998 was a 2165 that he also drove to work every day over the Cajon pass, which is a main artery into Los Angeles. It was built on 11/94, it had a k8 cam with 45 dells on it, and when he added the C.B. Performance spray bar kit he cut another tenth or so off his previous quarter-mile runs.

Racing in the PRA Pro Eliminator class, his best pass was a 12.80@102.4 mph, with a car and driver weighing 1830 lbs. If you have seen the Renn Kafer Cup 2000 videotape, there is engine footage and an audio interview of Robert with his car. In those days, he would run the quarter-mile with only three gears, on a set of 24.5" Caldwell bias-ply recaps. That low profile tire, along with a 3.88r&p, 3.78 first/2.06 second/1.26 third gear, was all he needed for drag racing. His first solid passes on the car were in the 13.70 e.t. range, but with a bigger fuel line, electric fuel pump, jetting, better wheels and tires, reduction in car weight, driver technique improvements, etc., he was able to make the Pro Eliminator 12.90 e.t. cut on a regular basis.

At the end of 2000, Robert retired the engine with 117k miles on it. He had given it three valve jobs, and changed out a couple of bearings during it's well-abused life. But the 94mm piston/cylinder set had never been honed, or even re-ringed! The car, a 1969 bug, still looks presentable, but the front of it betrays it's street-driven heritage; it's covered with dozens of rock chips.

Despite the fact that Robert's 2165 was still running great, he was looking to get into the quicker 11.90 super gas class. That would require a substantial boost in power, so a new turbocharged type 1 engine was decided upon. Robert built the motor himself, and he worked out some of the details with Jim, who runs The Dyno Shop in El Monte. They came up with an unusual combination of parts that not only delivered mega power, but did it at a reasonable cost.

All of the long block parts are new, except for a used set of 5.5" Carillo rods. The motor is a speed density EFI, blow-thru turbocharged 2276, built around a wedgemated Berg crank(Porsche rod bearings) and CB Performance 044 heads with 40x37 s/s valves. The cam runs with 4.5 degrees advance, and it's an Engle V-26(ground with 112 degree LDA, 254@.050, 295 advertised, .343 X 1.49 Berg ratio rockers=.513 total lift at the valve) that uses dual valve springs. The static compression ratio is 7.9:1, with .060 copper head gaskets.

The turbo sits under the rear apron, but the exhaust system is a one-off, custom built, fully stainless steel unit that Robert designed and constructed himself. The turbo is a T3 Super 60, which is rated at 325 h.p. max. Robert ended up installing a fuel-injected apron to cover up things up.

Control for both the fuel injection and timing is handled by SDS. The ignition system is crank-triggered, via a Berg pulley that has an aluminum ring screwed into the back of it. Magnets are attached to the ring, and they trigger a Hall sensor mounted on a bracket. The computer gradually takes out timing a degree at a time under boost, from 33 degrees total advance down to 22 degrees advance at 8 pounds of boost.

The intake system uses CB Performance end castings(47 lbs/hour injectors), with an old German 45mm throttle body from the '75-'79 factory fuel injected Beetles. The throttle body was reworked by Robert for blow-thru use, which required the installation of precision throttle shaft bearings and rubber seals. The center section itself is also a VW factory fuel injection item. Robert indicated that he is currently working on a blow-thru turbo project for a customer that will use one of the current factory VW throttle bodies from Mexico, because they do not need to be altered for blow-thru turbo use.

The formula Robert used for calculating the injector size was: 47x4=188x2=376-20%=300 h.p.

The SDS EFI computer gets it's data from an cylinder temp sensor in the head, an air temp sensor in the intake manifold, and a 3-bar MAP sensor. The compressed air is 80 degrees above ambient. There is no oxygen sensor in the exhaust system, and the SDS throttle position sensor is used for the typical accelerator enrichment function. The VW throttle body had to be modified to fit the TPS.

Robert ran the turbo motor during the 2001 PRA season, where he captured second place in the Pro Eliminator standings. He was also driving the car back and forth to work during part of that year. With 25 psi of boost, Jim dyno'ed the engine at 314 h.p.@5500 rpm, with an extremely flat torque curve of 299 ft/lbs.; 20 psi of boost was good for 297 h.p. and 284 ft/lbs., while 11 psi of boost made 220 h.p. with 210 ft/lbs. of torque.

He used Unocal 110 race gas at the dyno, and any time the engine ran above 12Lbs. of boost on the street or track. 100 octane aviation gas is run for 12Lbs. or less boost. Also it might be interesting to note the gear ratios and tire combo for the current turbo set up. 26" dia. by 6" wide M&H slicks, 3.88 ring & pinon, 3.75 1st., 2.00 2nd., 1.30 3rd., and a .93 4th.

Using 20 lbs. of boost, Robert ran an 11.80@113mph at the 2001 PRA Denver race, when the air was the equivalent of 8900 feet, with the current car and driver weight of 1970 lbs.

This is cutting-edge street car performance! Many thanks to Robert Hemphill for sharing all this technical data with us, and also Steve Arndt for the killer high-resolution picture.

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If you want to see more sport compact drag racing on the web, check out sportcompactdragracing.com. For the best in import and sport compact drag racing! If you'd like to see Robert's car at the dragstrip, he's on a number of videotapes at Ocean Street Video.

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