All posts by Steve O

Steve Obertanec has been racing since 1989 and has the championships you’d expect from that kind of experience. His highlights include capping off a championship 1995 season by winning the IHRA Bracket World Finals Midwest Modified ET World Championship and taking home the 2005 Halloween Classic Grand Championship. Steve is a founding member of Stevand Racing and is a driving force behind Steve drives a 1972 AMC Gremlin.

Project Update 11/4

In between the longest race of the year & a non stop work schedule I managed to make a little more progress on the Car Craft engine build. In the last update I had disassembled the motor & did some checking of critical dimensions. With that complete I was ready to move on.


The next step in the build was the modifications to the block to improve the marginal internal oil system. The oil system was sufficient for stock applications but lack luster for high performance applications so we have to modify it. The oil goes from the pump to the block & up to the lifter galleys through 1/2″ passages.  There is also a 90* corner in there to complicate things. We drill the 1/2″ passages out to 9/16″. it does not sound like much but add up the gained diameter by the length of the passage & it does make a flow difference. We then contour the nasty 90* corner with a die grinder then smooth with a small sandpaper barrel.


The next oil modification is to get more oil to the #4 main bearing. This is done by taking oil from the front of the motor closer to the oil pump & diverting it through the lifter galley above the main journal. We drill & tap the block in these 2 areas to 1/4″ npt & join the two together with a #6 0r #8 braided hose.


Another thing we do to divert oil to the crank is to put a restrictor in that restricts oil to the drivers side lifters. A 3/8 pipe tap run through the journal @ the front of the block (no drilling required) is a perfect spot to use a steel pipe plug with about a .060″ hole in the center. @ 70psi that will still provide plenty of oil to the lifters & valve train.


The final oil mod will be for future use on this budget minded motor. There is a sort of hole in the block on the passenger side bottom of the block. It looks like a locator hole for a machining process but it lines up with the oil pickup. the diameter of the hole does not need opened up but a thin amount of steel needs drilled to break through to the oil pickup passage, The hole is then contoured then tapped for a 1/2″ pipe fitting. There is an oil pan set up that uses an internal oil line that connects to this spot of the block for more direct oiling to the inlet of the oil pump,


That is the end of the oil mods & now the block gets thoroughly. All that drilling & grinding will get metal everywhere. A clean block is a happy block. The water passages on a block often hide a ton of sediment from years of water minerals & rust. A good set of engine brushes make block cleaning a lot easier. This motor had a lot of sediment. It took many times of scrubbing & rinsing to get things clean enough for the next step.


I decided to fill this block more for future use than for the budget build. Filling the block uses a material called “Hard Block”, There are other brands of this material on the market but Hard Block is the most popular. Hard Block is a concrete like material that contains metal filings. The composition of Hard Block is designed to expand & contract with the heating & cooling of the block to hold its strength. Filling the block strengthens the cylinders keeping them rounder for better ring seal & providing lower end block stability for longer bearing life.


The fill is done in 2 steps. One day one bank, the next day the other bank. The filler is mixed with a specific amount of water into a pourable slurry. Like a milk shake. The block deck should be level to prevent a un even fill. There are pretty specific instructions provided with the filler. Follow them closely. Once we are done filling the one side of the block we then bolt a torque plate to the deck surface. A torque plate is used when boring the cylinders to duplicate the cylinder shape when a head is bolted on. Most people do not have AMC torque plates, also known as boring plates. If none are available just bolting a head on will work just fine. Make sure to torque the head to specs.

The next day repeat the process to the other side of the motor. Machine shops will do this for you for a fee of course.


The block is now ready to head to the machine shop & while it awaits its spot in line I will be getting the timing cover/oil pump ready to re install. More to come……

Halloween Classic Update!!

I started this update a week ago but a computer glitch lost half of it forever. I was pretty mad to say the least & deleted it all! Well, I have calmed down a little & ready to give it another try.
The Halloween Classic @ Summit Motorsports Park is a tradition that has been going on for 37 years. The once small gathering of racers to close out the race season has turned into the worlds largest sportsman event with entries totaling over 1300 in some years. The race has grown into a 7 day long super race with multiple races, contests, & give aways.
Sunday is known as move in day. Picture the race track having a black Friday sale offering half price cars. That is the sense of urgency getting into the track to get a good parking space for the week. Just picture 800 plus race rigs trying to get in the track first to get the best spots. Exciting & a truly awesome sight.
We weaseled our way in with the crowd & managed a decent parking spot for the week. With all this mayhem there is still a race to run. We parked then unloaded the 3 Stevand race cars. Yes 3 Stevand cars. We hired Matts girlfriend Amanda to wheel the company Javelin in the Sportsman class. We got the cars fueled, prepped & made it through our time trials without incident. On to eliminations! Both Matt & I exited the race in the 2nd round but Amanda powered on & made it to the 4th round. The first day of this massive race was in the books.
The rest of the week consisted of a huge Corn Hole tournament on Monday. Tuesday was the Mean Motorhome race (a real sight to see). Wednesday started the Gamblers races. Amanda was entered in a Wednesday Gamblers race. She was killer on the tree all week recording a perfect reaction time first round Sunday. Today was no exception. .014 on the tree but coming up short on the other end of the track by .0001. She was MAD! See Picture. LOL
I went out to the track to make some time runs on Thursday to get my head back in the game. Thursday was to be the last nice day of the event. The announcement was made that the schedule for Friday was to change in anticipation of rain. The original schedule had time trials all day with Mine & Matts Gamblers race to start around 6:00. The new schedule had us on track to start eliminations @ 8am Friday morning. No time run just straight to eliminations. Matt & I got to the track @ 8am sharp only to find they decided to start a few minutes early. YIKES! There were only 128 cars in the class. That’s 64 pair to go down in the round. We had to hurry. We both made it to the lanes, half prepared but won our rounds. Whew!!! We went back up shortly after 1st but were sent back due to a pesky mist. The mist subsided & we both won our 2nd round. That would be it for the day. The money was split between the survivors of 2nd round. We were just happy to be in the mix but frustrated on the other hand we were robbed of the chance to win.
Saturday is the big day of the Classic. If you have never experienced it you need to. Matt & I both won our first round. Amanda won her first round of Sportsman in the Javelin. Things were looking good. Racing continued till late in the evening when Mother Nature decided that was enough. The kids got their chance to trick or treat. Imagine going trick or treat from car to car on a busy day @ Cedar Point. This is like Christmas for a little kid. Then the famous Jaz Wheelie Contest. Watch it on You Tube & it explains itself. But regardless of the fun off track we were done for the night.
Bright & early we were back @ it. They finished up 1st round of Super Pro & made the Call for Pro. That’s our cue to head up for 2nd round. Both our cars were stuck on the dial. Better than most of the year & it showed on track with us both advancing to 3rd round. That’s where the fun ended. Hurricane Sandy had arrived. The rains came & would not leave till later in the week. There is a policy in place @ the Classic to make sure the event is completed that weekend. The dreaded Tent! All the remaining tech cards are put in a pile & 2 @ a time are chosen. The 2 cards are then shuffled, put behind the track owners back, the driver of the 1st card picked then chooses left or right.  The card that is picked advances on. Amanda lost 2nd round, I lost 3rd round & Matt lost down to 9 cars. Our Classic was over.
Most of us were not happy with going to the tent but with the massive car count & distance traveled by some racers it is the fairest way to go. Our season is done for the most part. Matt will be heading to the Fall Footbrake Frenzy @ Coastal Plains Dragway in Jacksonville, North Carolina to try & win his share of $30,000 in prize money. It is time for me to continue with the Car Craft engine build & work on my newest project for next years race season.

Let the build begin!

A while back I had talked about a project that I would be working on this past summer. As with most projects this one is running behind. I have started the process of building an AMC 360 engine that will be documented & have an article written about it in Car Craft Magazine. I plan on following the process on here for our dedicated followers. Check back often for the progress.

The firs order of business with any engine build from scratch is to find a good core engine to start with. Any motor can look good on the outside & turn over but be junk once you dig in. It’s heart breaking when you spend a couple of hundred dollars on a core only to pull a head & find a badly rusted cylinder or a crack from freezing.Let the build begin!

So our first step with the build is to disassemble the engine slowly & look over each part carefully to see what kind of a life the engine had & if it is worth salvaging. I started to disassemble the old 360 to see what we had. It didn’t look too crusty on the outside which is a plus. I pulled the intake & the heads. There was not much sludge in the valley. The bores looked surprisingly good for a 40 year old motor. The head gaskets were factory originals showing that the heads were never off this motor. The less a motor has been messed with the better piece you have to work with. This motor appears to be a gem.

DisassembledThe next steps are cleaning & checking. We use a degreaser we get from a commercial cleaning supply company. One inch in a spray bottle & the rest filled with water is enough to make you choke from the fumes & peel the skin off your hands. Perfect! Spray it on all the parts scrub with brushes, rinse in scolding hot water & blow dry with compressed air. Sounds easy but it is a ton of work. Once all the parts are clean we can start the checking process. Close inspection & accurate measuring is one of the most important processes in my opinion. A flaw or an off measurement caught before the build starts can save thousands of dollars & endless hours wasted. We check all bore diameters & deck heights. The deck height seems to be an important measurement in AMC engines. We have seen some off as much as .015. That is huge in the engine world.

These first steps don’t seem real glorious but are extremely important to start thing off on the right foot. The next steps will be to modify the Ready for checkingblock for improved oiling & partially fill the block with Hard Block to strengthen the cylinder bores. Then off to the machine shop!

Weekend Update 9/20-9/23

Yeah it was a long weekend. Our own little racing marathon. 4 days of racing in a row. We are wore out to say the least.

Thursday @ the IHRA Division 3 Bracket finals was the opening day of the marathon. We pull in & get all our credentials then proceed to park the rigs. Due to some politics we found ourselves parked 3/4 of a mile from the starting line with no way to hear announcements due to a previous lightning strike taking out the radio station & the speakers on the pole that took the hit. As always we would adapt & find a way not to miss our calls to the lanes. Hats off to Pittsburgh Raceway Park for working their butts off & getting us speakers the first night & a radio station by Saturday. That would make our weekend much easier. Matt & I got to make our first time run of the weekend side by side. We were both almost perfect on the tree which had the announcer on his feet cheering for our dynamic duo. Eliminations for the nights early bird race started off a little rough for me loosing first round. Matt made it through without having to spend another $20 on a buy back. After I got that out of my way I marched on along side Matt making it down to just over 16 cars where we both took a hit the same round. 1 round before the money of course..


Friday was a huge pressure day for Matt due to the Summit Super Series run off. It was a 9 car run off for a chance to go to Memphis for the IHRA World Finals & yet another run off for a huge amount of cash, prizes, & a world title. Is that enough pressure for you? Just qualifying for this run off is a huge accomplishment. Matt missed 3 points races that I know of & still wound up on top. Determination! The eliminations were to be run on a ladder so there was no picking & choosing who ran who. First round went in Matts favor. Now for the round of 5. This was the dreaded round. The opponent Matt had to face was pretty much one of the best racers in the country but Matt was prepared. Matt did his job on the starting line posting identical reaction times. Everything went as planned except for the win light. It was a double break out win for the other lane. The weather was a challenge this weekend with huge barometer changes which you can’t see but can effect the cars performance greatly. With that heart breaking loos behind us we hit the track again later that day for yet another gamblers race. I’m thinking it just wasn’t our day both loosing our 1st round & the buy back round. A day better left forgotten.

Saturday was a new day & if we won 1st round of the main event it would be a short day because there is only one round run then a consolation race for anyone who had lost in the main event. We both made it past the high pressure 1st round. Whew! There was a huge weather front on it’s way in that they thought might limit the racing on Sunday so the decision was made to cancel the Gamblers race & continue as long as possible with the main event eliminations. They got about half way through the round when what we thought was the end of the world came & had us running for cover. That was it for the day.

Sunday! The big day. The remainder of the main event. We both made it past 2nd round which felt like 1st round all over again being a new day & all. Third round was where we took our beating. Not really a true beating. We both lost by .001. Nothing to be ashamed of but still heart breaking. There was still a chance. The last chance gamblers race. A $50 entry no buy back with 80% of the total entries paid to winner, runner up, & semis. Time to win & that’s exactly what I did. It took me 4 days to find my way to the winners circle but that means nothing when you get that last ET slip of the weekend that says you won.

Our team Dragway 42 finished 4th in the overall track points. Maybe a first place next year?

Labor Day Weekend Update!!!

With a 4 day Holiday weekend there is always a few options for some big money racing. This weekend we had 3 local options. The Ten Grand Nationals @ Summit Motorsports Park, Dragway 42’s “All No Box” weekend & Quaker City’s No Box Bash.

Matt decided to try his hand @ the big money up @ Summit. Three $10,000 to win races for a small $125 entry fee. The only problem with that race is Delay boxes were allowed which we don’t run. A delay box aids in reaction time but we are pretty competitive without one so it was worth the try.  Matt had to work Friday so a close friend Bubba Black took the reigns Friday & won a round even though it was his first time in the car. Matt took over Saturday loosing 2nd round then 3rd round on Sunday. It doesn’t sound like much but going any rounds @ this race is an accomplishment.

I decided to stay close to home & went to Dragway 42 for the weekend. I think it may have been a mistake. I only won 2 rounds the whole weekend @ a race I should have cleaned house. I was just in the wrong place @ the wrong time the whole weekend. I did have a lot of fun with the Tree People. I miss the old days.

I’m guessing Matt & I wish we would have went to Quaker. That race was middle of the road from Summit & 42. Oh well. Next week right?

This coming weekend is our last points race of the year @ Summit Motorsports Park. I am currently in 7th place fighting to stay in the top 9 to make the Bracket finals team & the trip to Indy. Matt is knocking on the door to make the top 16 which would qualify him for the Ultimate 64 run off @ the Halloween Classic for a chance @ a 20,000 prize. Nothing like pressure. This Sunday is another Summit Super Series points race @ Dragway 42. This will be the last for me if I make the team @ SMP going to Indy. There are 2 points races after that. They both fall on the weekend I will be in Indy. In a strange twist Matt has taken the points lead @ 42. There is a question of membership etc… with the 2 racers ahead of him & some others. As of right now Matt is in the lead. Stay tuned for the juicy details on that.

Wish us luck, were going to need it!!!!!



Week Update July 30th-Aug 5th

Lets change this up a little. This past week has been a challenge to say the least. I had phone issues, computer issues, and email issues. Matt has been sick since Thursday. They say food poisoning and I can only hope they are right. So with all that I’m doing the week review instead of a couple of blogs last week and a weekend review.

As I reported last week, Matt took a weekend off to support a friend tying the knot. They all had a blast! It was a wedding like no other. Just a few items off the beaten path; the wedding was in an old movie theatre and all the men in the bridal party – including the groom – wore Scottish Kilts. I’d say different but that’s whet you get from racers. Matt was also absent from this weekend’s race due to illness. I have not heard how he is this morning. I’m hoping well enough to return to work. Continue reading Week Update July 30th-Aug 5th

Weekend Update 7/28-7/29

Once again, Steve steal Josh’s thunder by writing his own Weekend Update. Josh spent the week basking in the Lake Erie Islands sun, though, so it’s not like he was paying any attention anyway.

All good things must come to an end I guess. I was able to take a nice vacation for the first time in a long time. I got to visit with family, go fishing, and hob nob a little with the rich and famous in the Hamptons. But all that is over now and I’m back to the old bump and grind. 

Saturday was my first day back at the track. but I don’t think I was fully recovered from my vacation bliss. I found it hard to get back to my routine starting with getting things ready to go. Like I have said in the past, everything that leads up to the race day affects how you do that day. When your head’s not in it, you’re vulnerable and that led to my early exit Saturday at Summit Motorsports Park. My car was not running consistent time runs due to wind and weather which had me guessing for 1st round. I was slightly off on my dial, which would be competitive for most runs, but as luck would have it my opponent only gave me .018 to weasel my way into . With a .029 light I was done at the start.(insert sad face here*). Hero to Zero @ the drop of a hat. LOL

 Saturday was Matt’s turn to miss a race day. Unfortunately we have had to miss a couple this month due to race conflicts or social events. Matt had a wedding of a close friend and fellow racer. Even with Matt’s no show and my barely showing I believe we stayed pretty close in our points standings due to many of the racers around us having troubles of their own.Gassers @ 42


There was no points event on Sunday at Dragway 42, but there was a special event held this weekend. The Rock & Race. This is one of 42’s biggest events of the year. It is three days of old cars, racing, bands playing, and fun! As a last minute decision I decided to go to the Sunday race to try and redeem my Saturday disappointment. Matt was still in Toledo enjoying time with his wedding friends but would not be able to attend the Rock & Race anyway due to the 1976 and older restriction. (His Spirit is 1980.) He could have raced the back up car but we still need to do some suspension work to get it to be a reliable back up.

I went into Sunday’s race a little more prepared. I set everything up to my “42 Settings” and hit the track. The car picked up right where it left off; 7.25. It stayed glued to a 7.25 & 7.26 every pass. I wiggled my way through the field making it all the way to the finals against a stout competitor. He was in his street car but tough none the less. I was pretty confident I could take the race. Upon launch I had a .004 advantage. Small but still in my favor. I came on him pretty quick as I had a three second advantage over his dial. I was able to pass him then slow down not to break out but I must have been too hard on the brakes and let him back around me. I beg to differ but the computer is never wrong. It was a disappointing loss but still a runner up finish and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

This weekend will bring us to Quaker City Raceway in Salem, Ohio on Saturday for their Thunder & Lightning event, then back to Dragway 42 on Sunday for some more points racing. Come on out and spend some time at the track while we still have Summer to enjoy!

Rock & Race results @ Dragway 42



What a difference a day makes!!!!

This past week has been pretty fun filled & action packed to say the least. I’m a little late on a weekly blog only because I was having too much fun on vacation to set time aside. Can you blame me? LOL

I have to rewind to last Saturday @ Summit Motorsports Park. I had a feeling going into the weekend it was going to be a good one. I think it was because of how the “Test Session” went on the Wednesday before. When you feel hopeless going into a race it extremely diminishes you chances of winning anything. There is also a do or die point in the season if your not doing great where you have to make up some ground or you put yourself mathematically out of contention. That was this weekend!

It wasn’t looking great in time runs with a pair of .013 red lights. Not cool in the racing world. The car was reacting very quick due to another shock adjustment. I keep playing with the shocks to see what they will do in different situations so i know where to put them to overcome different track conditions. I try & go with something for the day rather than adjust as I go unless it is totally wrong. All season I was trying to get the car to react faster & now it was time to slow that down. That for me is a lot easier. I took some shims out of my button which puts more throw in it & in return it releases slower. It was just what I needed. It put me in the green but not too far that I would loose on a bad light. Of course unless I screwed it up. Which i tried a few times but my opponent tried to screw it up more than I did & that’s all it takes in Bracket Racing.

It seams surreal when it happens. You look around all of a sudden & there’s only a few race cars left around you, when you come back through the pits there’s no one walking around & the shades are pulled closed. You look @ the clock & wonder how it got to be midnight. Then you realize, you are in the finals!

Sometimes getting to a final round is harder than the final itself But when it’s your night, it’s your night. I was .011 on the tree & under my dial by .002. If my opponent was over his dial I was done but my luck continued & he broke out by more than I did handing me the win!!!!! The win @ SMP was not only well over due but it propelled me from 36th place in points all the way up to 6th place with only 4 more points meets left. I do believe that is the biggest jump I have ever made in points as a result of one race. That is exactly why you never give up!


Sunday was my big experiment day. I’m happy to say it was a successful change for me. I was able to cut good lights & the car did not spin a lick! I was way impressed with it’s performance. out of 6 runs 5 of them were 7.23. Even the test pass @ SMP on Wednesday was a 7.23. WOW. I was pretty confident after my win the night before & thought I was on another roll edging out my opponents in some close races the first 2 rounds. Then the 6th run came along where the car slowed .020 to a 7.25. My opponents light was better by .010 & that was the amount of my loss @ the finish line. I maintained my position in points which is a good thing. I am currently 5th in the Dragway 42 points standings with 6 more points races remaining.


There is no racing for us today @ SMP but there is @ Dragway 42 tomorrow. Unfortunately I will miss this race due to my vacation with the family. Sometimes it is worth missing racing. Not often but…….

Link to the Dragway 42 points standings (Mod Class)

Link to SMP Pro points standings

Live from Bristol!!!!!

Here is a link to live video to watch Matt compete for his chance @ over $30,000 in prizes!

This link is to the Live Timing & Video feed for the weekend @ Bristol & the World Footbrake Challenge. If you type in 6X52 in the Race Alert box in the bottom left hand corner & it will alert you when Matt is on the line.

Check back often for some of Matts daily blogs from the weekend!!!!


Testing, Testing, Is this thing on?

I made a decision last points race @ Dragway 42 to change some things drastically to help my car hook when track conditions are sub par. 42 re paved earlier this year & though the track is wicked smooth there seems to be an issue that is not working in my favor. I have never had an issue this bad & I tried all the small things with high hopes.

Last night I went to Summit Motorsports Park for their $7 fun night. I went to this a few weeks ago to see if an earlier problem was cured. This is an awesome night for anyone who would like to try their hand @ some racing. Even just for the experience of driving down a track where just a week before the NHRA professionals were going over 300mph. Just bring the old family sedan or SUV or even your Prius, pay $7 @ the gate & make runs all night long. There are 5 trophy classes to choose from including High School to get the younger (future) crowd involved.

This trip to SMP was going to be rather interesting. Any time you try radical changes things get exciting. They may work great or horribly wrong. Exciting! What I was trying to accomplish was to slow the car down for the first 60′ or so of the track. Sounds easy? Slowing a car down is just as hard as making them faster. For consistency reasons you cant just ease into it. You have to leave full bore. To stay within class rules I had 2 options. One was to Retard the timing to make the launch slower. Advancing timing makes a car go faster to a certain point & retarding will do the opposite. My ignition box has a feature where when activated will pull a predetermined amount of timing. I went to the max 9.9 degrees. I’m thinking it should leave like a mutt. 1st hit it goes a 1.44 6o’. that’s pretty much where it left off. A little disappointed but sometimes the electronic retards don’t seem to activate.  It was time for option 2. This was more of a mechanical approach. I normally shift the car @ 6500 rpm for optimum speed & consistency. This time I would try to make the car shift just after the staging beams so it would not affect my reaction times. I checked to see how many rpm it would take to shift just off the line, not too soon & not too late. The converter flashed to about 5200 rpm so I pit a 5800 rpm shift chip. That was way too high. Another 1.44 60′. It shifted after the 60′. Not where my problem was. My next & final pass I dropped the shift rpm down to 5200. Right where the converter locks up. Perfect! it shifted just after the stage beams. .007 reaction. The 60′ slowed to 1.76. It was good off the line, shifted perfect & it turned into the mutt I was looking for.



This weekend brings Kids Night @ SMP. This is a huge event to bring all the kids to. It keeps the whole family involved. There are games, give aways, & even race car fun rides for the kids. If you want to introduce the family to racing this would be the night to do it. After a long night @ SMP I will be back @ Dragway 42 to test out my new secret weapon. LOL. As always you are more than welcome to come & see us.