Official Montana 500 Website

Winners' Speed Secrets Revealed

by Tom Carnegie

I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with ideas for articles for the Montana 500 newsletter. Since there are several winning drivers in Spokane, I decided to ask them to list for me the top five "secrets" to a winning car, (that they would be willing to divulge). Some of the drivers declined to do so, but of those that did I have compiled a list with a bit of explanation. I have ranked and listed the top ten responses. What I indicated was that I wanted specific things, not general things like "make your engine breathe better", or "reduce rolling resistance".

1. Well broken in (minimum 500 miles) and test driven (at speed and distance) car. It seems that too many folks show up with an ill prepared car. The number one most important thing is to make sure that you have time to break in your car and work out the bugs.

2. Good coils and timer. A Montana 500 RS timer is recommended. Coils set up by amateurs or even professionals that are used to doing the job for "touring" T's are probably not going to make it. High speed operation demands incredible precision in the ignition system.

3. A good fuel system. One that is free of debris and flows well. That includes the use of a non-restrictive needle and seat, preferably an original Ford.

4. Top. Apparently the drivers feel a top reduces wind resistance. The results seem to reflect this. No one has won without a top since 2006.

5. A speedometer that reads in 1/10's. The thought is that as adjustments are made to the carburetor and such, results are indicated sooner.

6. Reground high-lift cam. The driver did not list which cam he recommended!

7. Bands not over-tightened. Presumably a no-brainer, yet people show up with their bands too tight.

8. Front-end alignment correctly set. As above, a no-brainer, but often overlooked.

9. Good cooling system. There are few things as miserable as fighting a bad radiator. Also it is potentially damaging.

10. Free-running rear end. Make sure that the gears mesh nicely and that the brakes are not dragging. Also, housings can be bent.

Our local group was discussing this subject and someone made the comment that an article could be written on practically every one of these items. At the very least, this is a pretty good start on a checklist of sorts when preparing your car.

The Montana 500 is Sanctioned by The Montana Cross Country T Association.