BICKLELEAD

A complete racecar is comprised of, if we’re taking a shot in the dark, somewhere between a million and a million-and-one individual parts and pieces (alright, so that may be a slight exaggeration), and nary a single one of them is any less important than the next. It’s why building a car virtually from the ground-up can be a long and arduous process to combine all the puzzle pieces into one, but it also illustrates the value that companies like Jerry Bickel Race Cars (JBRC) afford the do-it-yourself’ers in accelerating the build process of their new machine.

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An array of the components from Jerry Bickel Race Cars we’ll be outfitting our Evil 8.5 with.

Traditionally, if you needed things fabricated for your project, you had to turn to a local chassis shop, who may have a waiting list of several weeks for all but the smallest of jobs. If you were the chassis man, you had to invest in potentially tens of thousands of dollars worth of machinery and equipment in order to handle the bending, welding, and other machining needed to complete even a single part. But much has changed in the last couple of decades, as world-renowned chassis builders have made their parts — the very parts found on their professional-grade race cars — available to anyone and everyone, making it possible to build a racecar almost entirely from mail-order components.

Early on we saw the need that a lot of customers had in replacement fasteners, brake pads, bolts, a parachute, or whatever it might be, and at the same time, we were seeing more builders doing their own cars that wanted a Bickel component on it. – Steve Klosterhoff, JBRC

JBRC was one of the early pioneers in the mail order chassis parts market, launching its first catalog a quarter century ago and evolving its offerings every year since. Between its own products — with everything from complete welded chassis to tabs, brackets, and hardware to make it complete — and its distributor-side product catalog, from brands like Weld Racing, JRi Shocks, Simpson, and Mark Williams, JBRC has, quite literally, everything you could need but a driver.

“Early on we saw the need that a lot of customers had in replacement fasteners, brake pads, bolts, a parachute, or whatever it might be, and at the same time, we were seeing more builders doing their own cars that wanted a Bickel component on it. A couple of our first products were a door window frame and an on/off switch. We did a catalog that first year and advertised it a little and each year it just kept growing and growing,” explained JBRC’s Steve Klosterhoff.

With a goal of getting on the race track by the end of spring and potentially still contending for an Outlaw 8.5 title this season, we could certainly appreciate skipping the chassis shop stage on our journey to completing our Project Evil 8.5 build. And so we called upon the folks at JBRC and sourced a host of items to speed the process along. Below, we’ve taken a brief look at each of those items, which are but a small fraction of the full catalog of components that JBRC markets.

Front End To Chassis Mount Kit (JBRC2016)

The front end to chassis mount kit is the most involved of those we sourced, requiring cutting, notching, and welding of the tubing and, finally, fiberglassing it to the composite front end.

Aftermarket composite front ends are a godsend for reducing weight in a vehicle and ease-of-maintenance, but there’s certainly some work involved in soundly mounting them to the chassis. Fortunately, JBRC has greatly simplified this with the following two kits. Their front end to chassis mount kit includes all of the tubing and plates necessary to fabricate the “tree” that comprises the inner side of the front end, but with all the variables in not only body makes and models but also fuel cells, power adders, and other items present forward of the front axle, this is the most hands-on item in our lineup. Required of the user is cutting, welding, and, once the tree is finished, fiberglassing it to the carbon or fiberglass nose in several key structural areas.

“Years ago the cars all had rear-mounted fuel cells so the tree assembly didn’t become any kind of issue forward of the front crossmember, but as racers started moving them up front, you had to fabricate the front end mounting kit in a different manner to accommodate the fuel cell. There are a lot of variables to work around, but like all of our products, we try to take the parts as far as we can for the customer — we bend them, fabricate them, we leave the bars a little long to let them trim, cut, fit, and finish.”

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The kit includes the notched brackets that connect the front end to the chassis.

The kit also includes the notched plates that weld to the forward-most position of the lower framerails, which connect the chassis to the tree.

Front End to Body Mount Kit (JBRC2015)

The second product is a kit for physically securing the front end to the chassis; this is typically done at the firewall/cowl, at the lower fender forward of the wheel opening, and at the rocker behind the front wheel. JBRC has pre-bent the 4130 chrome-moly tubing for each point and also machined the brackets that weld directly to said tubing. Included are the Dzus plates and springs that rivet to the brackets, and the Dzus fasteners themselves.

As is traditional, we've positioned the mounting points near the firewall, at the top of the strut tower, along the door hinge area, and at the rocker panel.

To install them, you’ll want to sit the front end in its intended position on the car and carefully measure each of your points in relation to the pre-drilled holes in the front end for the dzus buttons. Where you weld the bars and dzus tabs to is up to your discretion based on the room you have available, however, mounting points are typically at the firewall, along the A-pillar where the factory hinges would’ve been, and down at the rocker panel just forward of the door.

1/2-Inch Rubber Window Installation Kit (JBRC5020)

JBRC's window install kit includes the window rubber in various depths and all of the hardware and adhesive necessary for flush-mount installation.

We highlighted this particular kit in a recent update when we installed the Optic Armor Windows in the car. Saving you from having to source the items individually, JBRC provides you with 15-feet of rubber in 1/4-, 3/8-, 1/2-, or 3/4-inch thicknesses, that serves as the “platform” atop the body lip for your windows so that they can be flush-mounted to the body for a professional appearance. In addition, JBRC, includes 50 8-32 by 1-inch stainless steel flat head countersunk machine screws and 50 8-32 lock nuts, along with a tube of rubber strip adhesive. All you have to supply are the windows.

Upper Door & Window Latches (JBRC2112-2)

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The upper door latch kit involves only minor fabrication on the chassis side, as you’ll need to position the U-shaped hook on the upper roll cage bar in the proper position to sync with the latch.

While it would never be a concern in your road-going vehicle, at speeds upward of 150 mph, the swiftly-moving air over a racecar can permeate between a vehicle’s A-pillar and the composite doors in a flush-mount configuration, thus pulling the upper part of the door away from the car and potentially cracking it and/or the window (or pulling the door clean off the car in some cases). For that reason, a second latch on each door is necessary to secure the upper portion of the doorframe to the chassis. This is accomplished with an item fittingly known as an upper door and window latch.

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You’ll need a hole saw to cut a pair of holes in your door windows for mounting and operation of the upper door latches. While the process is simple, you’ll want to be deadly accurate with your measurements before you do any welding or cutting.

JBRC has packaged all of the hardware needed to install the aircraft-style latches in their kit, but some fabrication work is necessary at home. The kit includes a pair of U-shaped chrome-moly loops, which are bent to the contours of the inner side of the door and welded to the upper hoop of the roll cage. A pair of holes must be cut into the windows for installation of the latches themselves, and JBRC has provided the mounting hardware to bolt the latches to the windows. Once complete, the latches are positive-locking and can be released from inside or outside the car.

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Round Carbon Side Window Bezels (JBRC2158)

JBRC’s carbon window bezels are a pretty simple and straightforward product void of any particular function, but they do give your racecar automatic style points. For racers that have aftermarket inner door latches in place of the OEM door handles (or in addition to), it’s necessary to cut a hole in the window in order to be accessed from outside of the car. Given you’re handy with a hole-saw and can make a nice circular cut, there’s nothing wrong with the appearance of the window as-is, but the carbon bezels not only look nice, but can cover any minor imperfections in the cut for a more professional appearance.

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JBRC’s carbon window bezels make for a nice, clean look to your side windows.

JBRC’s bezels are intended for a hole of 6-1/8-inch diameter, and measure 6-inches in inner diameter, with the 1-1/8-inch high mounting flange positioned on the inner side of the window.

120 And 180 Degree Weld-On D Rings (JBRC1043-120 and JBRC1043-180)

Like the bezels, JBRC’s weld-on D-rings are a fairly straightforward product, although you have some options with these, and as was the case with our build, you can combine them to create any method of tie-down or towing points.

The 1/2-inch, .058-inch wall 4230 chrome-moly bends are intended as a means to tie your racecar down in the trailer, but they can also serve as points for towing the car from the front or the back, perhaps in the event that you run off into the sand trap (we certainly hope that doesn’t happen, but you should always be prepared).

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The 120- and 180-degree rings allow for plenty of creativity in use and location in the car; in our case, we utilized three rings in all to make this hoop on the rear-side of the rearend housing for the event where the car needs to be towed in reverse.

We opted to focus on the latter, welding one of the 180-degree rings horizontal to the ground just below the axle tube support on our Team Z housing, and then welding one of the 120-degree bends vertically from that point down to the housing, creating a rearward tow hook. You could also place these at the front of the car for tying/towing, as well.

Weight Bar Kits (JB-088WB)

The weight bar tabs, likewise, can be placed anywhere in the car you choose to put the ballast.

The good news with our Evil 8.5 build is that we were able to finalize it a little under the minimum weight for the engine and power adder combination. The bad news, of course, is that we now have to add weight to make the car legal in Outlaw 8.5. JBRC makes doing so a bit simpler by manufacturing weight bar tabs with welded bungs for bolting the weight bar to the tab. Some fabrication and welding is necessary, but these save the time and hassle of making tabs from scratch.

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These can be welded to the chassis in the engine bay, inside the cockpit, or wherever you find the weight most suitable (and within the rules).

Clamp On Collector Tether System (JBRC112)

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Back in 2014, the NHRA mandated the use of a tethering device for all competitors with headers to secure the collector to the header primaries, across the entire spectrum of heads-up, bracket, and index competition. This rule was designed to stop instances of the collector falling off onto the race track, becoming a flying projectile, or perhaps cutting a tire or damaging the underside of racecars. While controversial for its added cost, it’s a necessary and wise decision in the name of safety, and only really affects those with slip-on collectors (if the collectors are welded-on or belted to the header tubes, it’s within the rules).

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Per NHRA guidelies, with slip-on collectors, we’re required to use an approved tether system, and JBRC’s is a simple and effective system to accomplish that.

JBRC’s kit comes with a pair of stainless steel clamps — one for the collector and one for the most in-line header primary — with a stainless steel, cabled tether tying them together and fastening the collector to the car. Once on the car, they’re relatively easy to remove in the event of vehicle maintenance.

The tether can be optioned at 12-, 16-, and 20-inch lengths, and the collector and primary tube size are specified upon purchase.

Owing to the quality of the above items — and all of the products that Jerry Bickel offers in its catalog — Klosterhoff is clear to point out that their mail order products are of the same fit, finish, and quality as what you’d find on their championship-winning, record-setting Pro Stock and Pro Modified cars that roll out of their ship.

“I tell people all of the time, you’re buying the same thing our fabricators use out in the shop,” says Klosterhoff. “They’re all very instrumental in the development of new products or changes to existing product. You’re getting the same thing, it’s just that you become the welder and the fabricator of what we provide you to complete the final installation. You just don’t have a fabricator to jump out of the box and stand alongside you, but as far as the hardware, it’s the same parts they use to fabricate our race cars.”

Jerry Bickel Race Cars’ quality is legendary, placing it among the small handful of elite chassis builder in the world, and the company has made high quality parts more accessible than ever to the budget-minded, do-it-yourself racer. If you fall into that category, JBRC has everything you could need and then some to get your project on track.