The Southwest: October 2019 — Day 9


Corona, CA – 11 October 2019: The first part of the day was focused on learning about some of the elements of high performance in serious desert racing. We started the day at Gibson Performance Exhaust, learning about how their exhaust systems are manufactured, and in the process learning how the system works. A vehicle’s exhaust system is comprised mainly of a series of pipes that have four main functions: control noise, carry away gases, improve engine performance and improve fuel consumption. The longer it takes for exhaust gases to leave your vehicle, the longer it takes to take in oxygen and generate more power. A performance exhaust system allows a vehicle to breathe better and faster – which means more power and better performance. Gibson Performance is the leading manufacturer of street legal, high performance exhaust systems for trucks, SUV’s, diesel, and offroad. Getting to see the way they perfect a system of louvered tubes within tubes to maximize performance and provide a desirable sound was something of a lesson in physics and audiology combined. The exhaust has to perform its function, allowing the engine to “breathe” as quickly as possible in order to get that little bit of extra horse power required at the top end for racers, and that is achieved by changing up the system of holes within the interior tube, within the limits of space and weight to be practical. Then there is the look of the finished product as well as the sound of power — both of these are in some ways more important to the “average” consumer than the incremental performance boost that top racers are looking for. The Gibson exhaust systems deliver performance and increase torque improving acceleration, hill climbing and passing power with a typical performance gain of 10-25 horsepower on a V-8 and 10-15 horsepower on a V-6. We got to tour the manufacturing operation to see how production is organized and were invited to try our hand at operating some of the machinery, learning exactly how the metal is stretched, cut and combined from simple steel tubes into precise functional components of a performance exhaust system…

Colton, CA – 11 October 2019: After learning about exhausts, we made our way to CBM Motorsports, where the custom engines are built. The CBM product line includes custom grind camshafts, CNC cylinder heads, LS racing engine blocks, throttle bodies, connecting rods plus billet parts and accessories and custom wiring harnesses. Our visit began in the front showroom, where shiny engines were on display behind velvet ropes like museum sculptures in front of a line of brightly colored sand cars in all shapes and sizes. Behind the shiny sparkle of the showroom floor, the heart of CBM was the shop facility where each engine is designed and built by hand to individual specifications depending on the vehicle and the performance goals of the racer. We were walked through the process of a build, seeing how every piece is chosen, measured and adjusted for maximum perfomance — each engine its own work of art. We got to see the rest of the operations too — where custom wiring harnesses are designed and assembled, engines tuned and checked and everything else that was necessary to create and maintain some of the most impressive sand cars and trophy trucks in desert racing. There were also some amazing old classic cars on the lifts, being outfitted with new high-performance engines or waiting for other customized service. As we left the shop floor and headed outside, we stopped to take a few photos with the vehicle that Jessi Combs raced, as if somehow that could give us a connection with her spirit, so recently departed and still a presence here …