Friday, May 30, 2008

Getting to know us: Bryan Robinson

On a regular interval, I will post information about members of our team. I like knowing a bit more about who I interact with in customer/vendor as well as partner/partner relationships. As a business, we feel it is very important that our customers and partners know not just about our prices, products, and services, but also about our credentials and character. - Brandon

Bryan Robinson is a true racing specialist and valued member of the BTE/Memphis Performance team. Bryan's father Johnny Robinson is a 30+ year veteran of bracket racing. Bryan grew up working with his father in their family commercial fishing business on the Tennessee river. Mr. Robinson had been a friend of my family for years, but I didn't meet Bryan until I myself was doing some driving of the first BTE test car at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Bryan, who had likely been driving a race car before he could legally drive a passenger car on the public road system, was a formidable racer on the local tracks and regional bracket races. In 2002 and 2003, Bryan and his father stepped up their racing program and competed nationally for the NHRA Super Gas and Super Comp championships, and in 2003 Bryan was crowned winner of the NHRA Super Gas title. Both Bryan and I had recently completed our undergraduate college degrees, and I felt he would be a tremendous addition to our team at BTE / Memphis Performance when the racing season concluded. I was graciously invited to Pomona, CA that year for the final NHRA event and awards ceremony at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Bryan and I departed from Memphis early in the week to begin race qualifications at Pomona, and his parents and wife Cassie arrived later in the week.

Traveling is a highly effective setting for really getting to know someone: how do they handle stress or fatigue, how to they interact with people from other areas of the country or world, what are their food allergies (don't feed Bryan shrimp), or how do they have fun (that poor rental car...)?

Bryan gave a great winner's speech, and shortly after our return, Bryan joined us here at BTE / Memphis Performance.

Since then, Bryan has continued to race locally, regionally, and nationally in many classes. He has expertise in throttlestop, bracket, and recently, class racing. When not racing his own dragster, Bryan is currently partnered with contemporary and mutual friend Luke Bogacki on a A/SA and B/SA car competing on the NHRA and IHRA circuit. Bryan also leads much of our internal and external testing for new products and new torque converter combinations.

After a long week at the office, Bryan is usually bound for a race on the weekend. He is truly a racing enthusiast.

Bryan may be contacted at our via our phone at 1-800-626-1828.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New High Gear Powerglide Piston (And how it was born)

Unlike some performance industries, the drag racing drive train industry has been supplied for nearly thirty years by junkyards. Using often modified OEM parts from the economy two speed Powerglide transmission of the 1960s and 1970s, drag racers, transmission builders, and parts suppliers championed the simplicity, durability, and for many years, availability of core, junkyard parts.

During the course of the last several decades, these qualities have been affected by consumption of available parts, junkyard scrap recycling, the elements, and the ever increasing demands put on the transmissions by higher quality racing surfaces and increased engine output levels.

Even before the depletion of available OEM core parts, several components of the Powerglide transmission have proven to be clearly unsuitable for racing, such as the OEM iron clutch hub and the input shaft. These were quickly redesigned and manufactured.

As time passes, the two curves of availability and durability change and more parts are fashioned from new material because of these changes, such as the case, gearsets, and pumps. Parts manufacturers like BTE must meet the demand of higher output engines from their customers and also combat the dwindling supply of OEM parts.

Recently, the industry has reached a point of no-return. Core prices for junkyard cores have risen so high in price that it is now more economical to manufacture new parts than buying old oem parts and re-manufacturing. (And a new, designed specifically for racing component is much more desirable than a 40 year old reworked piece from a junkyard, right?)

The pictured high gear piston is one of the last holdouts of the OEM days. This new piston replaces the factory design primarily due to low availability and not performance limitations. We've changed the design to use a spring pocket for spring retention. These billet aluminum pieces are strong and suitable for all applications.

Thanks for reading. I'll be adding a variety of posts and videos here at the blog covering what's going on inside our operations or anything interesting from the racing community. If you have any questions or suggestions for a topic, please leave a comment or email me at

Friday, May 16, 2008

BTE/Memphis Performance

Welcome to the BTE Racing/Memphis Performance blog! Let's stay connected through this blog, or on our Facebook page. We will also be updating our YouTube Channel soon with videos taken around the shop. We hope you learn a little more about BTE Racing/Memphis Performance. Hope to hear from you soon!