SEMA News—June 2012
By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy of the Petersen Archives
More Air=More Horsepower
Framed by those tall velocity stacks is Bruce Crower, photographed late in 1966 for a Car Craft magazine article about his then-new fuel-injection systems for big-block Chevy engines. The air/horsepower equation in our title was the story’s title as well, referring to Crower’s “deep breathing” injectors. Unlike other injection systems on the market at the time, Crower’s injection manifold featured gaping intake ports that were nearly 3 inches wide. Those injector stacks could be mammoth, too—as tall as 14 inches, depending on the application.
Crower got into the fuel-injection business on a tip from “certain automotive engineers” who felt that current systems were too restricted at the ports and around the butterflies, said the story. “Since Bruce is primarily in the cam grinding business, it follows that he felt he had just cause to widen his endeavors and go into the injector game as well.”
Actually, Crower’s endeavors had already been pretty wide. He had been a hot rodder since he was a teenager and had long experimented with making cars go faster. Even in high school, his self-made speed parts were in enough demand that he would make several—one for himself and a few to sell. Following a stint in the Air National Guard during the Korean War, Crower went to work at Schiefer Clutches and honed his engine-building expertise, first on Ford flatheads and later on Chrysler’s early Hemis. He raced at Bonneville, is credited with being the first to mount a GMC blower on top of an engine, and started Crower Equipment Company in 1955 to produce intake manifolds. Crower also had a hand in building several Indianapolis 500-winning engines for Jim Rathmann, Graham Hill and A.J. Foyt.
Really, the air-gulping injection systems weren’t that much of a stretch for the innovative Crower, who continued to push the performance envelope into the 21st century. As recently as 2007, he won an Invention Award from Popular Science magazine for his six-stroke internal combustion engine, which uses the heat generated by combustion and an injection of water to create a second, steam-driven power stroke.