Custom tuning continues to evolve by leaps and bounds. From simple tinkering with a screwdriver on a carburetor; to the first generations of fuel injection where everybody freaked out; to computer systems that with just a few parameters can learn by themselves; to dialing in sophisticated software and still managing to keep things legal as the EPA cracks down on emissions. Jay Payson of SCT Bullydog joins the guys to explore the innumerable ways in which the world of tuning is quite literally at our fingertips more and more each day.
TGGP Season 4
Blake Fuller is an automotive racer, builder, inventor, and founder of Braille Battery and Electric Performance. So, it was a natural for Kevin and Willie to turn to him for prognostications on the future of EV performance. “Those same deficiencies of the original American muscle cars in the 1960s are the same deficiencies that are having to be overcome today,” he tells the guys, “and that’s the fun part.” Despite this, EV acceleration and performance capabilities have already achieved “mind-bending” status.
Jim Horne and his wife/co-driver Barb are off-road racing professionals based out of Moab, Utah. “Racing for me, it’s not something I wanna do,” Jim tells Kevin and Willie, “it’s something I have to do, it’s inside me.” Securely tucked inside their Jeep Mojave Gladiator, the couple has put an astounding 5,000 hard-driving miles on a single set of Hercules Tires TT1s riding King of the Hammers, the Mint 400, and Best in the Desert… with plans to start the next season on the same set of tires! “And we can’t say that with any other tire we’ve raced on this truck.”
There are three key components effecting engine oil performance: viscosity, cleanliness, and additives. As Kevin points out, “It’s crazy how much science is going on in all these fluids that are in our vehicles and what those fluids are doing,” like dramatically increasing intervals between oil changes. Frequent guest Kyle Fischer of Hot Shot’s Secret adds that technology’s evolved over time, allowing oil to last longer before it falls out of grade. But that’s not all. Enter the bypass filter, “a second oil filter added to the vehicle’s oil system allowing you to keep it clean as the day you poured it in until the day you change it,” says Kyle, “and that is just priceless for the longevity of an engine over the long haul.”
Willie describes his buddy Brendan Schaub as “a mountain of all things: size, character, and energy,” not to mention an MMA fighter, standup comedian, podcaster, and crazy car/truck guy. His daily driver is a RAM TRX Sandblast Edition that packs a 700 hp Hellcat engine and supercharger, one of only a thousand made in 2022 and among the last to be delivered before Dodge shuts it all down in 2024. Today he joins the guys to wax ecstatic about the truck as all three bemoan the end of the ICE era and ponder a gasoline-free future.
Pilot Transport performs a crucial behind-the-scenes function in the automotive world, moving 350,000 vehicles all around the country each year, with 110-120 trucks on the road at any given time, including 30-40 runs to Fairbanks, Alaska in the winter! Joe Parks is the GM overseeing this massive operation for a roster of major clients including the Detroit OEs, Hot Rod Power Tour, Roadkill Nights, and SEMA. “I bet this man has been responsible for more million-dollar rides than we’ve ever seen in our life!” exclaims Willie, uniquely positioning Joe as the man with the inside scoop on some of the biggest mistakes folks make when hauling their own vehicles.
REVan Evan Smith is plugged into everything related to cool cars, cool projects, and wild builds. He’s constantly up to something new in the exciting world of motorsports, from testing prototypes and creating machines and equipment most of us only ever dream about, to snapping exclusive behind-the-scenes photos of the industry’s latest and greatest. Kevin and Willie have a long history with Evan dating back 20+ years, and to this very day his MO remains unchanged: “I’m always just trying to have some fun and playing with cars!” Right now, that includes everything from a ’68 Cyclone with Godzilla engine, to the 2024 Mustang Dark Horse with Gen 4 Coyote, and 2025 Mustang GTD.
Much like anything else, it is true that not all oils are created equal. And with engines and metallurgy changing, producing higher pressures and temperatures in smaller engine compartments, there is a growing need for so-called miracle oils. This mixing of metal and lubrication is known as tribology, and it’s something that Darren Lesinski, Technical Director at Total Energies, understands better than most. Driven largely by major advances in chemistry and processing, these oils are getting much thinner and can last much longer, with many more exciting developments now in the pipeline.
Intellitronix is an employee-owned Ohio company best-known for its sleek and sexy LED gauges. The wide range of available colors and color selectable tech offers a state-of-the-art way to bring extra pop to many classic vehicles. And by using original bezels, Shawn Slenski and Mel Schneider can keep prices surprisingly affordable. “We’ve always been the bigger and brighter type guys; everything we build, it’s always more bold, more bright,” Shawn tells Willie and Kevin. “That’s kind of our niche down the digital dash lane.”
Not to be outdone by Kevin’s Mustang project, Willie brought his 1978 Firebird onto the TV show. Distinct from its “Smokey and the Bandit” counterpart, this Trans Am is white with a silver bird, has no T-tops, and is incapable of replicating anything from the movie. And while it hasn’t been fired up in 25+ years, it’s about to get a ton of go-power and a whole lot of handling. We’re talking LS swap making 600-700 hp, major suspension upgrade, dry sump setup, belt drive, fuel injection, C5 brake package, and 18”-19” wheels. “For smiles per miles,” coos Willie, “that is the formula for a happy driver on a daily basis.”
The guys just wrapped work on Kevin’s Pro Touring daily driver project – a 1970 Fastback with Coyote swap – with a solid assist from Tom Peters of Mustangs to Fear. Having first staked a claim to fame with its “Gone in 60 Seconds” Eleanor-style fiberglass panels, MTF now offers a complete list of original products and straight up car builds. “Let’s face it, building a car is hard, and we don’t want to make it any harder than we have to,” says Tom. “We don’t develop anything in just a vacuum, we develop the whole system front to back.”
“Diesels are the bomb,” raves Kevin, “but there’s some things that go along with owning a diesel that you’ve got to be aware of, and some days you can get bit.” To illustrate this point, Kyle Fischer of Hot Shot’s Secret joins the guys to drop some science and offer some solutions for avoiding common pitfalls such as fuel gelling. “Diesel fuel in America sucks,” opines Fischer, adding that “we look at the problems that are caused by the fuel and how to protect these fuel systems.” Chief ingredients among these: lubricity additive, cetane booster, injector cleaner, water dispersant, rust and corrosion inhibitor, and fuel stabilizer.