Lexan scoops have gone from a rarely-seen accessory just a few short years ago to being one of the more common sights adorning the intakes of many cars these days. Where did they come from, and what are the benefits of this understated, but very cool scoop design? We reached out to a couple of leading lexan scoop manufacturers to find out the who, what, and why behind these clear bug catchers.
We can address most of the “who” right off the bat, as it seems that probably 9 out of 10 lexan scoops are on grudge, no-time and no-prep cars, the current outlaws of the sport, it seems. While there are some X275 cars beginning to adopt the see-through design, and Radial vs the World competitor Chad Henderson has utilized one on his big-inch nitrous Grand National for a few years, the vast majority of them are used in the grudge and N/T world. Lately, the explosion of no-prep events has opened a new market for the clear scoop as well.
Troy Pirez Jr., accomplished driver and owner of the Seffner, Florida-based fabrication shop Innovative Racecraft, was one of the first to manufacture lexan scoops. Troy jumped into the market with both feet around 2009 when the trend first started catching on, and his data agrees with what we’ve seen first hand. “Most of them do end up on grudge and no-time cars, yes. Lately, we’ve been shipping a lot of them to no-prep racers as well, as those events have really caught on over the past couple of years,” said Pirez of his customer base.
Pirez, who sells hundreds of scoops a year, ships lexan air grabbers all over the nation. Innovative Racecraft keeps the scoops on the shelf and offers same-day shipping on most designs, helping them remain the go-to source for this style of scoop.
A close-up look at one of Innovative Racecraft’s lexan scoops, installed and ready to hit the track. If your engine just barely fits under your hood, or doesn’t fit at all, a clear lexan scoop is definitely a great compromise to provide your engine fresh air without having to install a huge Pro Mod-style scoop on your more street-appearing hotrod.
Trinity Alabama’s Chris Terry Racing also builds clear scoops, though most of his are built for his customers’ cars as they’re being completed in his shop. Terry provides the scoops for Chad Henderson, who has been as quick as 4.19 with one of CTR’s scoops in action, likely the quickest car running a lexan scoop, at least among those who actually light up the scoreboards.
Lately, we’ve been shipping a lot of them to no-prep racers as well, as those events have really caught on over the past couple of years. – Troy Pirez, Jr.
Terry recounts first seeing lexan scoops back in the early 2000’s when ORSCA’s Limited Street racers were trying to keep a more stock-appearing profile for cars by not allowing a traditional forward-facing hood scoop. As Limited Street’s popularity faded, so did the need for lexan scoops — at least until the latter part of the decade. CTR decided to build a stronger design after looking at a few scoops that were destroyed by nitrous backfires and realizing there was room for improvement.
“I looked at a few that had been blown off the car by backfires and made some changes that made them much more durable. I believe our design is the strongest on the market today,” Terry says. “We only sell about 15 or 20 a year because it’s not something we focus on, but we offer a quality scoop that will survive a backfire or two without having to be replaced.”
The design of the scoop is fairly basic, though there are some options available, based mostly on aesthetic preferences and intake design. Nearly all lexan scoops are rectangular in shape with a taper that widens vertically toward the inlet. The opening is rectangular as well, though Innovative Racecraft has recently added a “bubble top” design with a rounded top panel that provides a very nice look, and the rounded top can really accent the lines of the car. Both Innovative and CTR offer their scoops in traditional clear lexan and tinted, or “smoked,” again with the main difference being the look of the scoop once installed on the car.
As far as fitting the scoop onto the intake, CTR builds each scoop to order based on the customer’s specifications, while Pirez has developed multiple designs and application-specific mounting hardware and scoop plugs – that means they’re able to stock scoops for any imaginable intake. “We keep single and dual [carburetor] designs on the shelf, ready to go. That’s how we are able to offer same-day shipping on express orders.”
“He picked up .14-seconds and three mph in the 1/8-mile in a 7.00 index car. And the 60-foot was a couple of thousandths slower on the pass with the scoop, so it wasn’t the track or the weather. – Troy Pirez, Jr.
Big-inch nitrous powerplants that push the intake higher and closer to even the tallest cowl hoods necessitated the clear scoop, as many classes either outright ban snorkel scoops or try to dissuade their use through “spirit of the class” rules. With the hood sitting right on top of the carburetor or throttle bodies, the engine can become starved for fresh air, especially at speed, when the hood can be pressed down even lower thanks to extreme pressure from the big speeds these cars experience. While a snorkel scoop would certainly solve the problem, they really don’t look very “street car” on a hotrod that otherwise fits that mold for the most part. So, the lexan scoop is an ideal compromise, maintaining a low-key appearance while allowing the engine to get a sufficient supply of fresh air. Plus, most racers and fans agree that they do look pretty cool, especially compared to a Pro Mod-style snorkel.
One Innovative customer did a back-to-back comparison on his car, making a pass with no scoop and one with a scoop, and the results were definitive. “He picked up .14-seconds and three mph in the 1/8-mile in a 7.00 index car. And the 60-foot was a couple of thousandths slower on the pass with the scoop, so it wasn’t the track or the weather,” said Pirez of his customer’s testing. His carburetor wasn’t having to deal with the hood clearance issue, meaning a racer who is dealing with that should expect even bigger gains by opening up the hood and adding a lexan scoop.
Street Outlaws: New Orleans star Kye Kelley is just one of many Innovative Racecraft customers utilizing a clear scoop to extract as much ET from his car as possible.
Another benefit of the clear design is visibility, which can certainly be an issue for numerous drivers. Many cars have the engine pushed as far back in the car as possible for better weight transfer, which puts the top of the engine directly in the line of sight between the driver and the Christmas Tree. This problem is farther expounded by races that are started by instant-green, where only the green lights are used, or by flashlight, as many no-prep races are. If the driver can’t see the light telling him to launch the car, he’s going to have be second off the line almost every time. Obviously, that’s less than ideal in a heads-up race, but these lexan scoops help tremendously with this issue, allowing the driver to look right through the scoop to the tree or the man with the flashlight in-hand, helping level the playing field on the line.
Clear scoops are becoming more and more common, and with grudge, no-time and no-prep events growing in popularity each year, they’re likely going to become even more commonplace. With legitimate e.t. gains shown compared to no scoop, and great looks that don’t ruin a vehicle’s street-car appearance, the lexan air grabbers definitely make a great compromise over trying to cram a huge powerplant under the hood or adding a Pro Mod-style scoop. If you find yourself needing an option to get air into your engine, this just might be the answer. Either Pirez and Innovative Racecraft or Chris Terry Racing would be glad to get one in your hands, so check them out when the time comes to place an order!