By Drew Hardin
While he’s best known for the camshafts and valvetrain products bearing his name, Bruce Crower has applied his innovative thinking to address performance issues of all kinds.
His pioneering efforts in mating a GMC diesel engine supercharger with a gasoline V8 resulted in a class win at Bonneville in 1954: An early Chrysler Hemi topped with a 6-71 huffer pushed Crower’s street-driven Hudson to a record 157 mph.
He also developed a customizable intake manifold, called the U-Fab, that allowed drag racers to run a variety of carburetor combinations on a Hemi. He helped address dragster traction issues with the invention of a centrifugal clutch called the Crowerglide. He ground camshafts for a number of Indy car teams and, as recently as 2006, he made headlines with the design of a six-stroke gas engine, with a second power stroke courtesy of steam generated by water injection at the top of the exhaust stroke.
In January 1966, Car Craft’s Dick Scritchfield photographed Crower at his shop in Chula Vista, California, for a story on Crower’s drag-race fuel-injection system. The story in the magazine’s June 1966 issue, “Injection Perfection,” described how Crower improved fuel distribution in the engine by mounting injector nozzles not just in the scoop on top of the supercharger, as was common practice at the time, but also sandwiched in the intake manifold between the blower and the cylinder heads.
“Crower summarized that if the injector nozzles were installed in the intake manifold directly over the ports as well as in the bug catcher, an almost perfect distribution ratio could be reached,” Scritch wrote. “This would distribute approximately 70% of the fuel at the port nozzles and 30% at the upper nozzles.”
Crower’s idea got results almost immediately. Don Garlits, running the new injector system at the 1965 Winternationals, “turned 206 mph for top speed of the meet,” Scritch said. “Normally running a load of 85%–90% nitro, he turned this on 75%. Quite an improvement!”
Still, Crower was “unhappy with the results” and dove further into the fuel system. He switched from spring-loaded check valves in the fuel block to mechanically operated dual-barrel valves, but then he had to find a fuel pump “that could produce the necessary amount of fuel while still maintaining correct pressure. This, you can bet, wasn’t easy!” But after flow-bench testing “every pump they could obtain,” Crower determined that a rotary-vane-type of fuel pump was “the most efficient pump design,” Scritch said, and could be “tailored to any volume, whether it be a blown fueler or injected gas dragster.
“The entire system obviously has its merits, as it’s proven itself on some of the fastest cars in the country,” Scritch concluded. “As the speeds continue to increase, watch for the Crower ‘system’ to dominate the ‘hairy ones!’”