Racing has always been a part of the K&N family. And now we are starting to see family of family competing with K&N Filters. Specifically, eight-year-old Jake Hodges, son of K&N Race Team Manager, Travis Hodges, who competes with the Southern California Drag Racing Association (SCEDA) in Junior Dragster.
Jake Hodges, son of K&N's Travis Hodges, took a class win in March at Irwindale in SECDA Jr Dragster
To those of you unfamiliar with Junior Dragster, think of it as a miniature Top Fuel dragster with no wings and powered by a lawnmower engine (wait, there’s more). The cars first appeared in 1998 in New Zealand, with the NHRA taking on the class in 1991.
SCEDA divides drivers into three classes: 6-9, 10-12, and 13 and up. All races are conducted on an 1/8th mile course. Jake is running in the first group.
Young drivers starting out must use a factory-sealed Briggs & Stratton 206 crate engine with a slide valve to reduce power. Then things open up. Drivers age 8-9 cannot exceed an ET of 11.90, drivers 10-12 years old are limited to a 8.90 ET, and 13-17 year-olds can clock up to a 7.90 pass, which sets a trap speed of about 85 mph. Both male and female drivers compete on equal terms, and drivers can share a car to reduce costs.
The design of the cars is tightly specified by the rules, both for equality and safety. Every tube in the frame is set by the rules as to the location and diameter. At each event, every Junior Dragster and the driver’s personal equipment undergo a technical inspection. Five-point harnesses and arm restraints are required. And the driver must wear an approved full-face helmet with shield, neck collar, and an SFI-rated fire suit.
Jake Hodges working on his staging skills, especially important as Jr Dragsters run only 1/8th mile
Once you move out of the starter class is when things get interesting. The cast-iron Briggs & Stratton is sold off and a highly-tuned aluminum replica of the B&S motor is installed at the cost of anywhere from about $1800 to $6500. Put one of those in your mower and see how fast you can finish up the yard.
Just like in the big cars, it’s all about tuning, though, as neither supercharging or turbocharging are allowed (although some cars are converting to electric motors under the rules). Jake is running one of these trick aluminum motors with an RX-4020-1 X-Stream K&N filter. According to his father, he’s seen competitors run much larger filters, but he’s conducted an analysis and the RX-4020-1 exceeds the airflow required by the engine even beyond what's needed at full throttle.
The K&N RX-4020-1 X-Stream Filter provide extra surface area and better direct airflow
But despite that fact that Travis’s day job is looking after Steve Williams’ (K&N Chief Engineering Officer) Super Comp dragster, he didn’t push son Jake into the sport. Jake initiated going out to watch some races and then wanted to take some single car test passes to see if he liked it or not.
And Jake seems to like it okay. In fact, at the SCEDA race this March at the Irwindale Speedway 1/8 mile dragstrip, Jake took home the first place trophy in his 11.90 class. We’re all rooting for Jake as he takes on the rest of the SCEDA season and hopefully brings a second-generation championship home to the K&N Filter family.