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Daox 08-13-2008 07:21 PM

Good take on things (long)
I found this over on and thought I'd share. Its a racing site and they recently opened up a "Economy & Green Forum". This is David Vizards introduction post. For those of you who don't know, David Vizard is a well known racer and engine builder who has written numerous books on those subjects.

#1 Power, Economy, Green - The US 'Economy" is near none existant!! - - All Racing News All the Time!


#1 The US Economy

The Truth is - it’s Nearly Non-Existent!

David Vizard

The US Economy’ - a term that just rolls off the tongue but the reality looks more like ‘The US Consumption’!

Although it may not look that way right now this is the first of what will be an ongoing series of a tech articles related to the heading subjects.There are no pictures in this first feature – that’s because it is not so much entertainment as a reality check!

You would think that this, being the first article in the GFN Power - Economy - Green section, would be an easy one to write after all I have not used up any of my material so far. That should leave me with the maximum amount of remaining material to choose from. But that is not really the problem. In a site like GFN most readers are expecting to read mostly fun stuff to do with their cars. Yes that is the goal but here I believe we have some problems in area’s that would not conventionally be considered for a forum like this. (but there may people who consider I am far from ‘conventional’). There are subjects to be looked at that need to be brought to light as they impact us far more than just discussing how we can save a few gallons of fuel and a tree or two while finding a few more HP. I really want to get to the heart of the matter here and what I have to say will be both controversial and I am sure- possibly offensive to some. However I believe there is no place for political correctness when the ship is sinking. So I may have some idea’s you don’t agree with – and that’s OK , so long as you can convince me your idea to save the planet is better than mine. But until I am convinced to the contrary I will stick with my arguments. OK let’s make the first step on this adventure. Although it may seem somewhat unconnected with finding more fuel efficiency and power let me start with a quick run down on our species i.e. the human being.

First let’s establish how logical we, as a species, may or may not be. Here are a few examples of things that stopped and made me think on this.

When I lived in California I walked to work 99% of the time, come rain, hail, wind, sleet or snow – all the way from my bedroom across the patio (under cover) and into my office some twelve feet away. The reason I had an office at home is that I do not wish to spend my life sitting in a car driving and consequently being unconstructive in any way shape or form. (Do you own a car to get to work or do you work to own a car?) My workshop/dyno was about a 4 minute drive away at normal speeds so even then I spent little time being a gas consumer. Once in a while (and, thank God, it was only once in a while) I had to do the 60 mile drive from Riverside to LA. The only way to achieve this without booking a hotel as a half way house was to start out early – real early. By about 6.30 and half way there I would be in a jam and crawling at about 10-15 mph into LA. On the other side of the freeway there was an equivalent crawl going about the same speed. I often wondered how many lawyers were traveling from LA to Riverside on the other side of the freeway to me and how many lawyers there were going the same way as me into LA. I also wondered this about doctors, dealership mechanics, store managers, machinists, etc etc. Just think how much gas would be saved if they just swapped jobs with their equivalents! Not only that there would be a lot less of a traffic jam, a lot less need for traffic cops etc. Oh and talking of cops I always wondered why it took 4-5 cars at a traffic incident in the US compared with one in Europe. And on that subject just hark back to the OJ Simpson ‘chase’. Did it really need a procession of police cars – surly one and a chopper was all that was required. But we had to pay for all the others in line behind that first car.

I am sure there will be a ton of objections to the job swapping suggestion but before you become one of those objectors just ask yourself if your objection is based on the most logical way to get the job done or on emotional issues, foibles and likes and dislike. Right now the focus here is on logic so let’s stick with that for a while. When I was a young man I made a trip to the US and was all very excited about what I saw (gotta love the USA in spite of being less than perfect). Needless to say I brought back from this trip thousands of photo’s and 16 mm movie film. A question I was asked several times, and I am going to paraphrase this, is ‘how come it takes a 2 ˝ ton car with a 5 liter (litre if you are in the rest of the world) to move a little old lady from house to store. The answer is – it doesn’t - but they drive a car that big BECAUSE THEY CAN! In Europe at the time you would have to be the next best thing to a millionaire to afford a car that did 10 mpg. The USA came out of WWII looking financially good compared to the rest of the world and as a result people could afford big cars and gas was cheap. Try selling a small car and you had big trouble staying in business as a car producer – and I want you to bear that point in mind in a while.

Still on the subject of logic let’s see if you relate to this. You get on an airliner and the first official procedure is a pep talk on the safety regulations. Don’t ignore these it may save your life but also don’t be fooled into thinking that you have the best safety situation the plane manufactures have to offer – not even close. When the stewardess goes through the seat belt procedures consider this: you have one lap restraint to retain you in the event of a high G stop. With few exceptions all plane crashes are high G events. If you think these belts are up to much ask yourself the next time you strap on a race car if you would mind doing so with just a lap belt? And as for those over water flights where they tell you where all the floatation equipment is and how to use it – rest assured that when a jet liner hits the water the stop is unbelievably fast and the moment an under wing mounted engine catches water the wing gets torn off and the fuselage breaks just in front of, or just behind the wing. The open end of the fuselage scoops water at such a rate the stop is near instant. In addition to this you are hit with about 500 tons of water going God knows how fast relative to you. Ah now lets see - where did I have to blow up this life vest?

But there is an irony here. The aircraft already contains a device that could improve your chances of survival by a huge amount – but it’s utilization as such is near zero even though it could save hundreds of lives in a single airline crash event. What’s this device – it’s no less than the seat they give you to sit in.

Consider the fact that planes rarely back into a mountain. If all the seats were installed facing the back of the plane then a front end impact would be cushioned and spread over a large area of our bodies. Why don’t they put seats in backwards – probably because some little old lady said I don’t like to travel backwards – so we all go forwards – at greater risk to our lives. Also in the same logic lane there is the issue of pilots of big airliners having a problem taxing. Take a look at a 747 and you will see the pilot is sat some 30 feet above the ground. The result is a greatly reduced ability to judge ground speed. Also in the position the pilot and co-pilot occupy they have a very poor view of the runway when landing. Wouldn’t you think that at such a time they would need the very best view? As big as a 747 is Boeing could have just as easily positioned the flight crew below the fuselage instead of on the top so now they could taxi easier and land much smoother than some of those landings I have experienced. Why is the cockpit on top - er um well ----- we have always done it that way!

Now a little education for the little old lady who does not want to fly backwards on impact dynamics might have been a good thing so we all had safer seats but I contend that we are not taught what we need to learn most in schools. Here is how a discussion with a teacher at one of my daughter’s schools went when I commented on not being taught the right things. I asked if history was taught in class – answer – yes. I asked how many students graduated to become historians – answer - non to the teachers knowledge, I ask the same question of geography – same answer - non. What about maths – well one or two had become mathematicians. After a few more subjects I asked how many students had eventually become parents – wow - almost all (who would have thought) - but did they ever get any schooling on parenting – NO. The answer I got was that it was up to the parents to teach them that – well we know how qualified the average parent is – if Judge Judy’s TV program is anything to go by (and I hope it isn’t) then we have to ask just how many screwed up people there are out there. Did the school teach the kids people related social skills – the school massacre in Colorado a few years back could well have been averted if that subject had been dealt with.

Ok you did bear in mind the ‘Try selling a small car and you had big trouble staying in business as a car producer’ comment I hope – because I am getting a little closer to the point here. Whether you intended to or not I am sure if you live in the US you will have caught Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton talking of high gas prices and how they are going put pressure on auto manufactures to build more efficient cars. The truth is that was nothing more than a politically correct speech to placate voters – here is my politically incorrect ‘don’t give a hoot so here is the real world’ response. The manufactures already know how to build 50 mpg cars but the public won’t buy them just as long as they can afford to put fuel into their 20 mpg (or less) gas hogs. It’s not the car manufactures that need to be reprogrammed - it’s the car buyer. All those folk in the market for a new car need to be told what their options are and how that affects mileage. Things like adding 200 lbs of sound deadening that you have to repeatedly stop and start at each light cost fuel – but that’s the tip of the iceberg – I’m sure you get the point. To be honest I believe that possibly 90% of the cars on the road have not only the wrong engine in them but also one far more expensive than needs be and I believe I can – with cold logic - adequately prove that to be so - as you will see in the near future.

What I have just said does not exactly absolve the manufactures from making decisions that may line their pockets better and at the same time produce a more complex/expensive vehicle than necessary for the job. Way back I was doing a vehicle development program as an outside contractor for Chrysler UK (does not exist as such any more but not from anything I may have done). They asked me to develop a turbocharged version of the 1600 cc twin Weber carbed Avenger Tiger. At the time I was also developing the normally aspirated (N/A) Tiger engine with a view to entering the British Touring Car Championship the following year. I was asked to produce a tailpipe clean 150 hp so the Tiger could once and for all blast a Ford Lotus Cortina off the face of the planet. I delivered a car with 155 hp and Chrysler’s then managing director (forgotten his name for the moment) and the competition manager Des O’Dell took the car out for a test drive. In an almost unbelievable quirk of fate they pulled up at a set of traffic lights along side Birmingham airport beside a BL development Triumph Dolomite (a high perf 2 liter four valve version of the regular Dolly). This car was occupied by non-the-less boss of BL and his #1 side kick. They saw and recognized who was in the Tiger and a drag race was on. They of course had had no idea what was about to hit them because the Tiger looked and sounded for all the world just like a stocker yet left them for dead in the water.

So I get this tale related to me back in the board room after the test drive is over. ‘So fella’s you like the car’? Answer ‘Yes but we can’t use it. Too much motor for the brakes. We want you to back the power down about 25 horses’. Sure I could do this but I had a much better and cheaper non-turboed version that made exactly 130 hp with an unbelievably wide power band and literally awesome drivability (road tester’s words not mine) so I said ‘sure can do - we don’t need a turbo for this so it will be showroom cheaper and I will bring the car up next week’. At this point the marketing director leaps out of his chair with a near panic expression on his face. ‘You can’t do that. We want to call this new model a ‘Turbo Tiger’ and that cannot be done without it having a turbo’. So simplicity, reduced cost and mileage were to be victimized by name tag. I question the overall logic here when a name tag takes preference over engineering finesse.

Back on the political theme ask yourself how many votes do you think Obama or Hillary would have got if they had said ‘vote for me and if I get into office I will outlaw the purchase of a vehicle that does not return better than 50 to the gallon’ (or 12.5 miles per gallon per seat). How popular would that have been but the truth of the matter is that such legislation would have cut our oil consumption in half overnight. Sure that example is somewhat extreme but it does illustrate the fact that we, as the buying public, are more responsible for gas consumption than the car manufactures – the responsibility for the economy, not just of gas, but of everything, in a large part, rests on our shoulders.

Let’s talk about responsibility for a moment or two longer. Some years ago I was asked to design a high flow catalytic converter for performance vehicles that had to also pass California smog. I went to an EPA meeting intended to inform manufactures of converters of the new standards and test parameters that had to be met. Part of the deal was that the converter had to be up to scratch at 100,000 miles. Every vehicle that the part # could be fitted on had to rack up 100,000 test miles and show that it still could pass smog. Bear in mind the many cars in a manufactures line differ only in terms of sheet metal and cosmetics. I could see a really really huge product test bill being run up here not just by one manufacture but by all who intended to produce for this market. Well let me remind you that the company passes on the cost of this testing to the customer so you get to pay for it with higher product prices.

But, as ever, I had a fix. I stick up my hand and get called upon to make my comment. Here is the gist of what I said ‘All of us here know how to make a converter that will go 100,000 miles – all we have to do is over-engineer it somewhat. It will be more expensive to produce but will not carry the need for exorbitantly expensive life testing. Members of the EPA’s engineering group on this product also know what it takes to achieve this. Why don’t we just skip the test procedure and, based on experience, make a converter that is a little too good for the job. It will not only save millions of dollars but also we will get cleaner air far sooner than making a converter just good enough to go 100,000 miles. To make sure there is no cheating here the EPA gets to inspect designs and issue production approval’.

Now all the forgoing seems so simple and so dreadfully logical that the response I got completely floored me. Are you ready for this? The answer from a top EPA guy was ‘We can’t be made responsible for design – it’s not our job’!!!! Just a minute – did an EPA guy just say, in so many words, that he, and his department, were not responsible for pursuing a route toward cleaner air in a more speedy fashion and at vastly reduced costs? If the EPA is not responsible for the responsibility of getting cleaner air faster in a socially reasonable manner then who the hell is responsible? On my return home I dropped in on my friend Roger ‘Dr. Air’ Helgesen and related just what had happened. Roger is one of the most logical people you could wish to meet – he also has a great sense of humor and a lightening fast wit. About a second after I finished my story he threw up his arms in mock jest and proclaimed ‘I don’t have to be responsible – I’m an American!’ Right away I thought sadly there is more than just a passing element of truth in that statement. The bottom line is that each of us needs to shoulder the responsibility of being a ‘economic’ and as such that starts right at home. We need to stop and think a little more about what we do instead of day dreaming or talking endlessly on a cell phone while driving down the road. We need to think and act ‘economy’. This has not been the traditional American way for so long – in other words we have become the most consumptive (and wasteful) country on the face of the planet. No-body forced us to do that – we did it all of our own accord. We need to greatly curb our addiction to oil and other excesses, we need to think first and think wisely and logically. I don’t often quote the bible but here is a quote that really sums it up - “Ye shall reap what ye shall sow”.

With that biblical quote you might have thought I was about done – heck no – I’m on a roll here. I still have a few misconceptions and silly quotes I want to complain about before I run out of steam. Here is one that I have heard more times than I care (and once was a time too many) ‘We need a war to stimulate the economy’. I remember driving through Coventry in England in 1953. Every third house was a pile if ruble and a bomb crater. So how does that scenario help a country’s economy?

What we need to do is look at the USA as a piece of real estate. A piece of land gets more valuable as it is improved. Put a cheap house on the land and the value goes up somewhat. Put a more expensive and solidly built house on it and it goes up even more and holds it’s value longer. To understand where I am going with this I need to hark back to 1976, the year I moved from Cheltenham in England, to Tucson, Arizona. My wife and I were looking for a house. We were working with a realtor and managed – in one day – to look at 22 houses. At the end of the day we had one truly frazzled realtor who was somewhat frustrated and commented ‘I can’t help feeling that you liked the look of many of the houses we have checked so far but have concerns over the building quality’. I answered that was the case. His reply ‘I can assure you all the houses we have seen will last a lifetime’ My response – ‘That is exactly my point’ Talk about a confused look on this guys face – so I explained. I had just moved out of a house in England that was about 550 years old and would be in much the same condition as in another 550 years. Why would anyone want to build a house to last just 70 years? Let me make my point here by example. Let’s say that the population stopped expanding (population – there’s a big problem!) and had done so about a hundred years ago. What this would mean is that if houses had been built to last 1000 years plus then we would (or could) have all inherited a house from our grand or great grand parents. This means none of us would have to have a mortgage. From this it follows that since the average mortgage is a little over 20% of the typical income that we could all have the same living standard but work only a 4 day week. I like that - gives me an extra day to work on my race car!

I expounded (there’s a word) this concept to one person who looked at me in a horrified fashion and blurted out ‘you will put all the builders out of work’. So building shoddy houses keeps people in work – and that is supposed to be good? On the face of it there seems to be some sort of desirable logic here but let’s investigate further. If building shoddy houses is good for the economy (there is that so miss-used word again) then why not build them so they only last say 35 years - now we could employ twice the number of builders? Better yet, why not set up a bull dozer factory there-by creating more jobs and build bull dozers that are explicitly used to bulldoze down houses after 35 years. If we adopt this philosophy we would have more work than we know what to do with. I’m sure you are beginning to see where this is going. Let me take a well used political phrase and turn it around. ‘If we get into power we will see that thousands of new jobs are created’. As good as that sounds it’s around the wrong way. If we finished jobs – and I mean once and for all, then we don’t have to do them all over again and the net wealth of the country will go up while the cost of living comes down. Let’s compare an America with all the houses built to last a 1000 years rather than 60 -70. As a piece of real estate which is worth more – a country that needs little in the way of housing (because it’s pretty much all done) or one that is perpetually in need of rebuilding. Which car is worth more to you one that lasts 100 years or one that lasts 5 years and needs continual maintenance from there on? Spend a little more time and do the job right now and it won’t need to be done again for a long time – that’s economy of labor. There are plenty of more exciting things to do than what most of us do simply to put the food on the table.

Let’s turn our great country around here. Let’s stop being consumers just because we can. Let’s stop complaining the moment we feel our supposed right to needlessly consume is taken away from us by high prices due to our negligent (if somewhat unintentional) actions as a nation some half century earlier. Let’s get downright responsible. Let’s turn our current social habit from that of‘consumption’ into a real ‘economy’ – and do it with the sense of real urgency it deserves.

Let’s start by looking at ways you and I can save fuel as well as enjoy a measure of fun from increased performance. That, armed with the worlds cheapest octane booster/fuel supplement, is what I intend to wade into real soon - or should I tackle the subject of the great 4 valve per cylinder rip-off the has been perpetrated on 95% of highway only drivers the world over????

David Vizard

Red 08-13-2008 07:49 PM

Never followed Vizard much at all. But he sure likes to talk. There wasn't anything substantial in that entire article. A bit on the usual "the government and businesses have no interest in doing things right" but nothing else.

RH77 08-14-2008 12:38 AM


Originally Posted by Red (Post 53186)
Never followed Vizard much at all. But he sure likes to talk.

Wow, this guy talks as much as I do! Be cautious :p


Frank Lee 08-14-2008 01:15 AM


Originally Posted by Red (Post 53186)
There wasn't anything substantial in that entire article. A bit on the usual "the government and businesses have no interest in doing things right" but nothing else.

Au contraire! That was a good summation of the American psyche, especially as it concerns quality of products and who has responsibility for choosing waste or efficiency. As mentioned, you will never see our "leaders" or potential leaders tell it like it is, because you must pander to voters to stay afloat in our system.

Daox 08-14-2008 08:37 AM

I agree with Frank. Plus, you have to consider the source. Vizard is a life long racer who has pretty much dedicated himself to getting around a track as fast as possible. He is incredibly knowledgable with respect to engine operation, and any work he does for fuel economy is worth looking into.

Red 08-14-2008 12:12 PM


Originally Posted by Frank Lee (Post 53270)
Au contraire! That was a good summation of the American psyche, especially as it concerns quality of products and who has responsibility for choosing waste or efficiency. As mentioned, you will never see our "leaders" or potential leaders tell it like it is, because you must pander to voters to stay afloat in our system.

True, I did pick up those points during the article. In the back of my mind I guess I was expecting something more to the point based on FE, not so much as the back story to why we are here.

PA32R 08-14-2008 09:33 PM


Originally Posted by Red (Post 53186)
Never followed Vizard much at all. But he sure likes to talk. There wasn't anything substantial in that entire article. A bit on the usual "the government and businesses have no interest in doing things right" but nothing else.

I agree that he likes to talk but remember, he's not talking to "us" (if there is an "us"), he's talking to racers. Many hobbyist racers, from what I've read, subscribe to the "it's the Arabs, the speculators, the government, big oil that's causing my pain at the pump." He's a voice that, presumably, they respect saying "no, it's us."

Lots of irrelevant carrying on and self-congratulation though.

whitevette 08-18-2008 12:13 AM

Who shall lead the attack on tax?

Originally Posted by PA32R (Post 53438)
"it's the Arabs, the speculators, the government, big oil that's causing my pain at the pump." He's a voice that, presumably, they respect saying "no, it's us."

Then there's taxes. Greedy governments all. After fees and permits there is tax, tax, tax.... Who do we believe? There is no truth, anymore. In the immortal words of "Pogo"..."We have met the enemy, and they is us." :cool:

God save us from bureaucrats and politicians.

Formula413 08-30-2008 04:11 PM

Cliff notes?

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