Photos Courtesy of Vortech and NMRA/Fastest Street Car
Over thirty years ago a great number of bands rocked the clubs on Sunset Boulevard in downtown LA. They brought a brash new style that would change the music industry. Meanwhile, during that same period roughly 50 miles north, Jim Middlebrook, a young engineer at Paxton, was working hard to change the centrifugal supercharging world—just as the rock groups brought change, so did Middlebrook. In 1990, Middlebrook formed Vortech Superchargers and developed an internally gear-driven supercharger that was called the V-1 A-trim. It was the flagship product and it became an instrumental component in the booming Fox-body Mustang movement through the 1990s.
Middlebrook didn’t just stop with the V-1 A-trim, as he led his engineering group to continually refine compressor technology, and quickly released the B-trim and R-trim models to help feed a roaring marketplace that continually demanded more each passing year. The relentless pursuit to chase efficiency led Vortech to develop the S-trim unit, which would stand for 12 years as the most efficient supercharger on the market, only to be unseated by a revised version of itself, dubbed the Si. Year-after-year, the company would revamp and refocus its product line to offer an assortment of superchargers that could be matched to the proper application from street to race engines. One look at NMCA, NMRA, and Outlaw-style drag racing will show its successes over the years in those markets.
To say the company learned a few things since its inception would be an understatement, as each model has built on the foundation set by the one before it. Through racing, Vortech recently created the V-30 series, a line-up that can be tailor-built to support power levels from 1,200 hp up to 3,000 hp. It is a modular style configuration that offers racers the ability to send the supercharger back for an upgrade to a larger compressor, or reconstruct it for a specific racing category.
The race series starts with the V-30 94A—the V-30 denotes the highest level racing transmission, the “94” represents the impeller’s inducer diameter in millimeters, and the “A” is the compressor cover style. The largest size in the V-30 series is the V-30 128A. The V-30 series supersedes some of the previous model names like the X-trim, YSi-BX, etc., in order to bring consistency across all of Vortech’s racing superchargers.
All V-30 units are equipped with a bell-mouth air inlet system made from either billet or spun aluminum. The bell mouth inlet “promotes uniform airflow, resulting in improved compressor performance and increased horsepower output,” according to Jimmy Martz, sales manager at Vortech. Another telltale sign of the V-30 superchargers is the distinct black powder-coated finish.
The impeller is made from a proprietary billet forging with a lot of focused on efficiency to keep drive power loss to a minimum. The Vortech engineering staff uses advanced aerodynamic computer modeling programs to create a design before it is tested in-house on a supercharger dyno and results are validated to SAE J1723 engineering standards. Once the group is comfortable with the initial testing, their attention turns to on-track validation. Over the past few years, several racers have put V-30 supercharger units through their paces, ensuring the performance and durability were up to Vortech’s high standards. The results have been championships, record-setting performances, and many trips to the winner’s circle from coast to coast.
There are three major areas of the V-30 that Lance Keck, an engineer at Vortech superchargers, wanted to highlight for us. The first is Nano-Tolerance Technology (NTT), which was covered in the July 2017 issue of Race Pages (Centrifugal Supercharger Technology, page 28). For those who didn’t catch the previous story, NTT is a patent-pending material and process that allows Vortech to tighten the volute’s internal tolerances and clearances to increase efficiency, further maximizing potential power. Normally, tightening clearances comes at a risk, but the NTT material removes those possibilities, so the gains do not impact longevity or durability. According to Keck, the NTT feature typically results in a 2-3psi gain, depending on the compressor and engine combination.
The second new technology is Diverging Diffusion Technology (DDT), which allows Vortech engineers to specifically tailor a supercharger’s operating range based on the combination or application. Using vanes to control airflow direction coming off the exducer, a high-efficient impeller with a narrow peak-efficiency range can be adjusted to increase lower rpm efficiency to build boost quicker or shift the curve higher. The peak power output isn’t changed, just the curve on the compressor map.
Think of DDT like raising or lowering the powerband. This can be particularly helpful in small-tire classes when the tracks are slicker; one can take advantage of the DDT to shift the powerband higher to help prevent tire spin. Or, on the other side, if the track is really tight, then the power can be moved down low to get the vehicle to sixty-foot harder. The same with weather conditions, hot and nasty summer weather will dictate a more aggressive low-end curve to get the air moving to help build power quicker. A V-30 series is designed for racing and Vortech engineers wanted to provide options so racers have the best opportunity to chase after class wins and championships.
The final new piece to the puzzle that Keck was willing to reveal is something no one ever sees because it’s inside the transmission—bearing components and a brand-new internal lubrication system. A proprietary ceramic bearing is exclusive to the V-30 series superchargers. The bearings’ longevity is ensured through a unique method of an air/oil misting system. Vortech says the V-30 series can be run with a traditional cog-belt drive system, but recommends a gear-drive unit like the ones offered by Component Drive Systems (CDS by Chris Alston’s Chassisworks), The Supercharger Store, and ATF Speed. Those units allow air to be sourced from the front bumper, while reducing stresses on the crankshaft’s snout by eliminating the side load seen from most cog drive systems.
While the hairbands from LA stopped making records long ago, Vortech still is and the V-30 race series is sure to be a chart topper.