RC Fuel Injection, the global leader in electronic fuel injectors for high- performance
automotive, motorcycle and marine applications, was started three decades ago by
motorcycle racer, Russ Collins. Like many figures in American hot rodding, Russ
has a colorful past, but how did someone even the sport of motorcycle racing saw
as a bit of a "wild man," end up operating a successful, high-technology business
like RC Fuel Injection?
Russ Collins began drag racing motorcycles in the late 1950s. By the mid-60s, he
was an authority on high performance motorcycle engines. In 1969, Russ began racing
Honda 750s and designed the first, four-into-one motorcycle exhaust header. He started
RC Engineering to manufacture that product.
Before the end of the year, he'd set the first ever National Hot Rod Association
track record for a Japanese motorcycle and was winning races on RC Engineering-built
Hondas at a time when Triumph and Harley-Davidson dominated the sport. Not only
was Collins, himself, setting records and winning but so were his customers. Russ
Collins became a drag racing legend and RC Engineering became the place to
go for high performance parts for Japanese bikes. Its motto was and remains today:
"We prove our products in the face of our competitors."
The Revolution in Motorcycle Drag Racing
RC Engineering's reputation for pushing the limits of technology led to the first,
successful, blown-injected-on-fuel drag bike. Built in 1971, "The Assassin" weighed
a mere 360 pounds and was powered by a 400 horsepower Honda four-cylinder. On The
Assassin, Collins set drag race records all over the country. Innovations abounded
on that famous bike. It had the first dual- Weber carburetor set-up for a motorcycle
and later it was the first motorcycle to use fuel injection and a supercharger together.
It was the first Japanese motorcycle to use magneto ignition. It was the first Japanese
bike to run on alcohol and nitromethane fuels. By 1973, to beat The Assassin, other
racers were forced to use double-engine Nortons, Triumphs and Harley-Davidsons.
Responding to the double-engine "trend", RC Engineering raised the bar another notch.
Russ Collins built the "Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe", a thundering, three-engine,
nitromethane-burning, Honda. This frightening machine became the first, seven-second
motorcycle in drag racing and the
first Top Fuel bike with a Japanese engine to hold a NHRA National Record. The "AT&SF,"
also, became the first motorcycle to win NHRA's coveted "Best Engineered Car" award
at the Springnationals in 1973.
Russ Collins' three-motor monster eventually ran a best of 7.80 sec./179.5 mph but,
in the end, proved a death-defying ride. In 1976, it was destroyed in a horrendous
crash at Akron, Ohio that nearly killed Russ, put him in the hospital for several
weeks and kept him in a wheelchair for several more. You can't keep a wild man down,
While recuperating from the accident, Collins designed the "Sorcerer", his final
Top Fuel bike creation. Built in early-1977 and later billed as the World's Greatest
Drag Bike, Sorcerer was powered by a pair of 1000cc. Honda fours. This bike won
a second NHRA Best Engineered Award for RC Engineering. Blown, injected and running
on 90% nitro, this two-wheeled, twin-engined rocket set a world motorcycle acceleration
record for the quarter- mile of 7.30 sec./199.55 mph. That mark stood for 12 years,
a truly astonishing feat in a sport where records are broken monthly.
In 1980, Russ Collins passed the 200mph drag bike torch to younger competitors.
Two were his own employees, Terry Vance and Byron Hines, who raced a RC Engineering-built
,Top Fuel Suzuki. In addition to several event wins, their bike won the company's
third NHRA Best Engineered Award. Those two racers went on to success with their
own motorcycle business, Vance&Hines.
Russ Collins' ultimate achievement in the motorcycle world
came on July 9, 1999 when he was inducted into the American Motorcycle Heritage
Foundation's Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Six committees of experts in all areas of
motorcycling started with a list of 500 people. Three rounds of balloting reduced
that to 72 inductees for 1999 and Collins was one of them. He joins Steve McQueen,
J.C. Agajanian, Willie G. Davidson, Evel Knievel, Don Vesco, Malcom Forbes, Bob
Hannah, Roger DeCoster and other motorcycling greats as a Motorcycle Hall of Famer.
Turning his driving and engine tuning talents to dragsters, Russ Collins made a
deal in 1984 with piston and rod manufacturer, Bill Miller, to drive the Bill Miller
Engineering Top Fuel Dragster in NHRA competition. In the late-'80s and early-'90s,
driving this 6000 hp. Arias/Chevrolet-powered top fueler, Collins ran a best of
5.03/287. Russ drove the BME car until 1993 when he retired from competition.
Injectors - A New Frontier
By 1986, the middle classes of showroom
stock road racing had become a hot bed of competition favoring small, imported sports
coupes-particularly the new, Honda CRX. RC Engineering put its vast experience with
Japanese, four-cylinder, race engines to good use setting up a deal with American
Honda to become engine supplier to factory-supported Honda teams in the popular
SCCA/ESCORT Endurance series, the IMSA Firehawk series and, later, the SCCA World
Challenge. Starting in 1986, for eleven straight-years, RC Engineering-powered cars
won championships and, in some years, multiple championships culminating with T.C.
Kline's North American Touring Car titles in a Honda Accord in 1996 and a BMW in
During that eleven-year period, RC Engineering built or tuned Honda engines as well
as BMWs, Chevrolets, Fords, Toyotas, Volkswagens, Mazdas, Mitsubishis and even Kias.
They had more wins in road racing (amateur and professional) and in pro rallying
than any other engine builder. T.C. Kline, Parker Johnstone, Peter Cunningham, Scott
Gaylord, Randy Pobst, Doug Peterson, Lance Stewart and a host of others enhanced
their racing careers using RC motors.
A challenging aspect of building modern race engines, foreign or
domestic, is modification of electronic fuel injection systems. The more race engines
RC Engineering built, the more Russ Collins learned about electronic fuel injection
and, specifically, injectors. In an August 1998 interview for an automotive magazine,
Collins told his interviewer, "As I was building motors for Camaros, Mustangs, Hondas
and other cars in showroom stock, I found the injectors themselves were an area
no one knew anything about. When I was doing Mitsubishi motors for (Dave) Wolin;
we were making so much more horsepower than stock, that the injectors became the
"We did all we could with pulse width and fuel pressure. I started calling around,
asking for information on injectors and nobody knew anything. Obviously, that was
the 'black area' of fuel management. As an engine builder, we needed to know more
of what we could do with them, how they really worked, how much they would flow
and how we could test them.
"We built engines for IMSA and ESCORT guys and, at the race track one day, some
guy says, 'I'm gonna put Accord injectors in my Civic. They must be bigger because
the Accord motor is bigger.' Well, he tried it and there was no change-the motor
didn't run any different. We couldn't call Honda and ask, 'How much do these injectors
flow?' Nobody at Honda seemed to know and, if they did, they weren't gonna tell
us. After we started flow testing injectors, I found out Honda injectors were virtually
all the same. Honda uses different pulse widths and pressures to provide different
"At that point, I built my first injector flow bench, which we still use every day,
here at RC Fuel Injection. Once we understood how injectors worked and how much they
could flow, I realized we could adapt 'larger' ones from other sources to engines
that needed more fuel flow.
"That started to open my eyes and we started to think, 'Well, what about these Toyota
injectors?' We started testing Toyota, Mitsubishi and Mazda injectors and pretty
soon we had a good reference of what the injectors really flowed.
"Now, we can take a higher-capacity, Toyota injector and make it fit a Honda. Same
thing with American stuff. We can take a 19 lb (fuel per hour) injector out of a
five-liter Mustang, replace it with a 24-lb. injector out of a 350 Chevrolet and
have more fuel flow. There are many other, similar upgrade situations like that.
"To do this, you have to know the part numbers and you have to know
the flow rates of all these different injectors. This is what we do, here, at RC
Fuel Injection. Through years of exhaustive testing, we have an extensive computer
database that covers almost every injector made for every engine. The only injectors
we don't have complete flow data for, yet, are the 1998 and later stuff.
"Now we had a 'hot rod' injector which was really one designed for
some other use, but we didn't stop there. Once motors got bigger and bigger, people
started making more power than the biggest production injectors could support. We
needed to find out how to take them apart and modify them to flow more. When we
learned to do that, we also figured out how to make the spray patterns better, along
with a few other tricks."
The Quickest in the World Use RC Injectors
Much of the really exotic injector work RC
Fuel Injection does is for serious drag
race applications. An example? About the quickest and fastest imported car in the
sport is the Mazda R100 of Abel Ibarra. It runs in the low eights at over 170 mph
on RC injectors. Vinnie Ten, out of New York, runs the quickest Toyota
Supra Twin-Turbo in the country on RC injectors. The fastest Mitsubishi
Eclipses in the country all use RC Engineering injectors. Drag race injectors are
also available from RC for Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler and Ford engines.
While RC injectors dominate import drag racing and SCCA World Challenge
road racing, Russ Collins' handiwork is not limited to just the race track. The
most discriminating enthusiasts of high-performance street vehicles use RC injectors. Be it flow testing and calibrating a set of production injectors or replacing
the inadequate stock injectors in a highly modified streeter with a set of higher-flowing
and more consistent RC injectors, Russ Collins' shop is the place
the street high- performance car buff comes for help.
Vette Magazine, the top monthly publication read by Corvette enthusiasts,
built a 1995 ZR-1 project vehicle, billed as the ultimate street-legal,
touring car. Vette selected RC injectors. Other magazines, such as Sport
Compact Car, Turbo, Street Racer, Super Ford and Super Street have
used RC products or service in project cars. RC has done injectors for
Corvettes, Vipers, Mustang Cobras, Acura NSXs, RX7 Twin Turbos along with other
street-driven, high- performance cars of many different makes and models. RC expertise extends to the highest levels of exotic cars with its injector work on
Maseratis and Ferraris.
A Short Tour of RC Engineering
All of this injector magic takes place in RC's relatively modest-sized
combination test laboratory and machine shop. Assisted by a staff of three fuel
injection technicians and an office manager, Russ Collins turns out the most unique
injector work in the world.
RC has not just one but three injector flow testing and calibration systems. Two
of them are computer-controlled. One is used to test groups of four very-high-capacity
racing injectors simultaneously. The other tests single injectors and also has strobe
lights to view injector spray patterns and oscilloscope equipment to analyze injector
electrical characteristics. A third injector test bench is used to do basic flow-test
work on eight OE or moderate-capacity racing injectors at once.
While RC Fuel Injection has the usual compliment of lathes, mills, drill presses and
other machine tools used to manufacture all kinds of custom engine hardware, the
most interesting and unusual piece of equipment in Russ Collins' shop is a precision,
single-post tool grinder made by the German machine tool firm, Deckel. Deckel precision
grinders are rare outside the aerospace industry because of their high cost-
upwards from $25,000-but RC
Fuel Injection has one and Russ Collins uses it to work
on injector internals. A Deckel is capable of grinding small parts to tolerances
of five ten-thousandths of an inch (.0005). When working with parts as small as
injector pintels, the operator has to look through a ten- power viewing device,
called an optical comparator, while operating the machine.
Computers abound at RC Fuel
Injection. Not only are they used to run the office and
connect to the Internet, but RC maintains a comprehensive data base of the flow
capacity and other characteristics of the hundreds of different types of injectors
used world-wide. RC Fuel
Injection also maintains a large stock of different types
of injectors. With so many injectors on the shelf, computer inventory control is