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Crash-box Crash Course – A look at the history and technology of the G-Force G101A transmission

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Written By Greg Acosta | Photos By Michael Galimi

If you’ve followed the NMRA closely for the past few seasons, you undoubtedly know about the wildly-popular G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock class. If you pay attention to the class, you also know that early on, racers were destroying transmissions left and right. It wasn’t uncommon to see racers under the car between rounds or overnight, putting their second- and third-line backup transmissions in the car to make the next lane call. After much debate – both online and in-person – the G-Force G101A was allowed in the class, and seems to have cured what was ailing the class. Since most people who are focused on the NMRA hadn’t heard much about the G101A before its allowance in the former Pure Street class and now Coyote Stock, we decided it would be a good idea to talk to G-Force Transmissions, and give you a rundown on the transmission, from its inception and implementation to its technical details.

Humble Roots

Surprisingly, the G101A was not born as a straight-line product. Rather, its life started in the circle track world. “Way back when we got involved with NASCAR, the Jericho was really the only dog ring transmission that was available for circle track guys. We felt it was time to develop our own box,” explained Leonard Long, owner of G-Force Racing Transmissions. “We were working with a guy by the name of Tex Powell from Tex Racing—a company which we now own—to make an upgraded circle track transmission. It worked really, really well in that application.” Never a one-trick pony, or an “all-your-eggs-in-one-basket” kind of guy, Long started looking for other places the G101A could be successful. “We’ve always serviced a lot of the stick-shift-only drag racing series across the country. So we saw the need for a good, reliable, affordable manual transmission,” Long explained of the genesis of the G101A in the drag racing market. “I’ve been accused of making stick shift racing affordable and reliable. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of money to be spent in higher-end manual transmissions, but the affordable side was lacking. The Jericho was a good part, but was getting dated. So we took our circle track transmission, adapted it for drag racing and it has worked out wonderfully.”

The adaptation of the G101A from a roundy-round box to straight-line gear-slammer was surprisingly simple—or at least that’s the way Long makes it sound. “We made some different gearing for it and made a couple heavier-duty pieces, and it worked,” Long recalled. “It takes about a year to develop a new gearbox from a blank sheet of paper. However, once we have a design, an adaptation can be made in about 8-12 weeks, depending on what all needs to be redesigned. Generally, given about 2-3 months we can adapt anything to anything.”

Into the Coyote’s Den

While the G101A existed for quite a while before it became a regular part of Mustang racers’ vocabulary, its foray into our corner of the motorsports world really came about through Coyote Stock. “When Coyote Stock came out, everyone came to us for T-5s. We really didn’t want to sell T-5s to them, because we knew the box wasn’t strong enough for what they were doing,” Long recalled. “The rules made racers run them, or a Tremec TKO. We had made T-5 stuff for a number of years before that for street stuff and light-duty road racing, so we adapted the T-5 with the dog rings and whatnot for the class. Unfortunately, I knew the transmissions weren’t going to last.” Sadly, Long’s predictions became a reality as Coyote Stock racers began destroying an obscene amount of transmissions. Much debate was had over how to fix the problem, and many people had different opinions. Long’s feeling was to allow the G101A, which would alleviate the breakage currently plaguing the class, and would be more affordable in the long run, as racers wouldn’t need to carry more than one transmission, and repair them multiple times per season. “Finally, after lengthy discussions, they allowed [the G101A] into Coyote Stock, and I genuinely believe that was the best thing to happen to the class. Look at it today. It’s the best class on the property,” says Long, who is an unashamed fan of the class. “We made transmissions reliable and affordable for Coyote Stock.”

An Inside Look

So now that we know how the transmission came to exist and be allowed in Coyote Stock, let’s take a look at what is so special, technically speaking, about the G101A. For that, we spoke with Paul Long (no relation to Leonard), Manager of G-Force’s 4-speed division. “The only real comparable transmission to the 101 is the Jericho in a 4-speed dog box,” Long said when we asked him of the similarities between the G101A and the more traditional (to Mustang racing) T-5 and TKO. “We utilize a handcuff between the main shaft and the cluster shaft to prevent them from spreading apart under load, which is part of why the G101A stands up to more than either of the previously allowed transmissions. We also surface grind all of our gears for 100-percent tooth contact, which adds strength and makes for quieter operation.” Besides being stronger and quieter, the G101A’s internal design makes for a more efficient transfer of power. “In a traditional clutch assisted transmission you slightly cross neutral when you shift gears,” Long explained to us. “In a true clutchless transmission (ed note—like a G5R), when you leave off the clutch, you’re actually in first gear and second gear at the same time. When second gear speeds up faster than first, the back ramp on the dog ring knocks it out of gear and you just go down the line like that – boom, boom, boom – through the gears, and none of the gears ever cross neutral. The G101A has a similar setup (ed note—crossing neutral), but with clutch-assisted-gear changes, since the Coyote Stock guys are required to use the clutch between shifts.”

While the G101A’s efficiency and durability alone would be enough to cause most racers to embrace it, there are more advantages to the racer, like the design’s easy servicing. “The G101A’s simplicity is amazing. Each gear slides on and off the shaft, and is held in place with snap rings. I’ve worked on 101s in the pits at Coyote Stock races, and I can get one apart and back together in about half an hour,” Long said. Another of the transmissions endearing qualities is its versatility. “The sky is the limit on the available ratios,” Long explained. “We make pretty much every ratio you can imagine under the sun. Really, no one else can compare to the ratio choices. If you mix and match, there are a huge number of possibilities. It took me two years to fully understand the gear chart with all the options that we have available.”

In Coyote Stock, there are four ratios that are approved for use, and they happen to be what would be recommended even if the rulebook wasn’t in place. “When we came up with the ratios for Coyote Stock, we tried to get close to the ratios already being used in the class-legal boxes,” Long relayed. “With the Coyote Stock transmission and the four legal ratios that we sell, they all run the same second gear. That’s nice, because if you want to re-ratio your transmission, you can change your first gear or your head-set it’ll change your entire ratios to where you want. Instead of having to buy four new sets of gears at $450 a set, you can buy one set to change the whole deal.” Long also mentioned that what’s being used is not unique to Coyote Stock. “The 3.17 ratio that most everyone in the class has run, we’ve been building for years. For a medium horsepower car around 3,000 pounds, you’re not going to get a better ratio. I build more 3.17 boxes for drag racing than any other ratio. It was 10-years battle proven combination before it came to Coyote Stock.”

Beyond Coyote Stock

The G101A may be starring in Coyote Stock, but it has many other applications as well, like the new Limited Street class. With such a variety of options, it can be tailored to, and optimized for, your specific combination. Now, before you have a panic attack thinking about how on earth you’d begin to match the G101A’s multitude of ratios to your combination, Long explained how simple the process actually is. “You give us the tire size, the weight of the car, the flywheel horsepower and torque and we can put that into a mathematical equation we have here at the shop. That will generate the best ratios for what you are trying to do. Since it’s math, not guessing, it works really well.”

The G101A is an affordable performance transmission, but can also be decked out in bells and whistles if that’s your thing. “You can sink as much money as you want into these transmissions. Some guys are running things like R.E.M. gears, ceramic bearings, and rollerized bearing tails. There’s plenty of stuff available to spend money on. There’s stuff you don’t even see in the Coyote Stock class because it doesn’t apply to them and isn’t legal or warranted.”

As you will read in upcoming issues, the G101A will be part of the Race Pages project car dubbed Pure Evil. It is a naturally aspirated 5.2L Coyote that was built to chase after the Naturally Aspirated Coyote record, which currently stands at 9.36. We teamed up with Mike Washington to put our project engine and G101A transmission in a lightweight notchback. The car is legal for use in Limited Street and should be ready for testing by the time you read this issue.

However, for all it benefits, it does have one potential drawback for some folks. “We try to steer guys away from using the 101 in a street car application, just because it’s a dog box, and that can be a bit of a bear on the street,” Long candidly explained. “It’s not a smooth-shifting synchronized transmission. People do drive them on the street, but we really don’t recommend it. It’s pretty easy to tear up the dog rings driving them on the street. These are meant to be used and abused. Every time I sell one to a new customer, I tell them, ‘Shift it like you’re mad at it. Try to rip the handle off of it.’ That’s what the transmission likes and where it’s happy.”

Looking to the Future

When we asked Leonard Long what was on the horizon for G-Force Transmissions, he replied with an expected answer. “I’d like to see the 101A allowed in more classes,” he laughed. “It’s legal in Limited Street now, and I honestly believe it will be the faster choice there. They are ridiculously durable, so why not? Those Coyote guys put 200 passes on a box without ever taking them apart.” However he also mentioned a project we weren’t expecting. “We’ve got some of the new Getrag Mustang transmissions in the shop, and we’re working on new gear sets for them. No one makes parts for them right now, so they are almost disposable – break them and throw it away. So we’re looking at doing what we did with T-5s and T-56s for the MT82,” revealed Long. “You’ve always got to be on the move. Markets get saturated or stale and die. Then another one pops up. So we’re always looking for new markets to be in and items to build.” If the G101A—along with the rest of G-Force’s lineup—is any indication, wherever they head, they will be successful—much like the G101A in Coyote Stock.

G-Force Racing Transmissions | www.GForceTransmissions.com | (717) 202-8367

 


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