Neither Dave Kawell nor  Kawell Racing Engines are affiliated or associated with Volkswagen or Volkswagen of America, Inc., General Motors, Inc. or DaimlerChrysler.
Any references to VW, GMC, Chevrolet or DaimlerChrysler and their vehicles or products are for descriptive or reference purposes only and do not imply any association.    So there !

Kawell Racing Engines
787 Miller Loop,  Friendship, TN  38034     (731) 677-2160

All photos on this site are the property of  Dave Kawell dba Kawell Racing Engines
~ Critters Negotiable ~

Turbo Stuff, In The Beginning or Why....

Mid '70s, got moved into our new shop on St Andrews in Santa Ana, CA.  Next door neighbor was Dennis McIntyre, owner of Magnum Manufacturing  who's primary business was turbocharging motorcycles.  Well you can guess where Dave spent most of his time being an "ex" drag bike racer.  When and if I could get Dave back over to our shop, that's about all he talked about, turbocharging.  Something like  "but just look at what Dennis is doing with those factory bikes...."  The clincher came one Monday morning when Dave rolled up our shop back door and there, sitting on his 1100cc Yamaha driveshaft cruiser bike that Dennis McIntyre had just finished installing a  Magnum Manufacturing  turbo kit on the Friday before,  with a freakin timeslip in his hand from OCIR: a 9.60 e.t. in the 1/4 mile. This was NOT a crotch rocket, this was a factory, off the show room floor freakin CRUISER BIKE !

May not sound impressive by today's standards, but ya gotta remember this was in the mid/late '70s.  With Dennis's gracious help, the first engine Dave turbocharged was a 78.4 x 90.5 Hilborn Methanol Injected Midget engine.  Seemed like the logical place to start, turbocharging a VW with Hilborn injection as we had been building alot of Hilborn alcohol injected midget engines and with Dennis McIntyre's motorcycle turbo experience, didn't seem there would be that much of a problem.  Hot VWs' Dean Kirsten was at the shop to shoot the engine's dyno session for an upcoming article about the car and it's unique engine and VW bragging rights at the upcoming SEMA show.  It was the first documented uncorrected 300 bhp ever seen out of a VW engine.  Deano was up on a stool to get the shot, almost fell off the stool when he saw the torque meter wrap around but being the pro he is, he got the shot.

Give the engine to the customer, wouldn't run, back to the shop and back on the dyno, runs fine, back to the customer, wouldn't run. By this time a "competitor" in the VW midget engine building business had convinced the customer that Dave was not qualified, incompetent, didn't know what he was doing and was a dope smoking hippy ?  hmmm, I must have missed out on that ? I know I had trouble getting him in to get a hair cut but damn ! he didn't look that bad ?  So that project came to a screeching halt, found out several weeks later from the customer's car mechanic that the main rubber fuel line from the fuel bladder that went up and over the axle tube on the car was kinked in fuel delivery, no run, end of story, life goes on....

Sullivan's Turbo Midget Engine

300+ uncorrected bhp Hilborn Alcohol Injected Turbocharged Midget Engine

Being spiteful I gotta tell you that this customer enjoyed great success and many victories, including two back to back Championships in the USAC Midget Western Division as well as Turkey Night at Ascot with the engines Dave built for him. When he jumped ship and moved in with the "competition", he never won another Midget race and eventually quit racing Midgets and we quit building Midget engines.

For existing customer Cliff Roberts of Seattle, WA we did build one more Hilborn alcohol injected turbocharged Midget engine.  Cliff ran the W.M.R.A. circut with John Wood, Jr driving. New rules to accomodate turbocharging required that the engine be no larger than 1600cc. That little 1600cc turbocharged VW engine kicked butt up there until the engine and turbocharging were outlawed.

Cliff Robert's Turbo VW MidgetCliff Robert's Turbo NW Midget

Cliff Roberts Turbo VW Midget

Before being outlawed, Cliff Roberts and driver John Wood, Jr finished second in the 1980 W.M.R.A. points Championship with the car and engine pictured above. Dennis Kitts got stuck with me as Dave was twittling off with the turbo thing so Dennis made a giant trophy with this placque on it and sent it down to rag on Dave.  Not being one to normally brag on myself, this was a hoot and about time some credit was given to the one that got to clean up all the oops's and do most of the work around the shop while Dave was delving into the unknown and helping shape the future of the turbocharged VW performance world which was literally non existant at that time with the exception of Bob McClure of BAE and his Little Leroy turbocharged 1776 drag car that he was developing.

Dennis KittsMuh Placque

Suck on this Dave !    ha ha ha ha

So to hell with the Midgeteers if they couldn't take a joke...  Sorry Tony Merjano, truly don't mean you...

Drainin the swamp

We moved on to camshaft and carburetor development, turbo sizing as well as turbocharging sand rails and street cars for anyone that would listen to us.

Turbo Cars