By Lauren Duensing, Contributing Editor
Top fuel
Dragsters enhance performance with a variety of brush and abrasive solutions for specialized applications
Image of Doug Kalitta's Car
Doug Kalitta debuted his car’s new Osborn branding at the NHRA Summernationals.
Image of Loose burr in a cylinder head component
At high speeds, a single loose burr in a cylinder head component, like the one pictured, can destroy the engine.

rag racing started out on dry lake beds in the 1930s and moved to commercial drag strips in the 1950s. Today at NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events, there are more than 200 classes of vehicles in 15 categories—and the Top Fuel dragsters are some of the fastest-accelerating machines in the world. They can roar down the dragstrip from start to finish in less than 3.7 seconds.

These 11,000-horsepower “kings of the sport” are powered by supercharged, fuel-injected adaptations of Chrysler Hemi engines, and, at 330 mph, there’s no room for component error. Chad Head, general manager of Kalitta Motorsports, Ypsilanti, Michigan, says that “as an example, any loose burr in a cylinder head could break away and catastrophically destroy the engine.”

Image of Doug Kalitta's car top view
For deburring applications, especially in applications like drag racing, dimensional integrity is paramount.
Joe Sigal, Osborn
Prime-time performance
Head and his team turn to Osborn’s surface treatment and finishing products to ensure their car is ready to perform at the high level necessary to compete in Top Fuel. “We use Osborn’s Uni-Lok Quick Change disc brush to deburr cylinder heads in our CNC machines, which reduces production time and removes burrs with a dimensionally changing part. In general, tight tolerances are critical for top performance, and that’s what we are able to achieve with Osborn product solutions.”

“For deburring applications, especially in applications like drag racing, dimensional integrity is paramount. We are able to deburr surfaces, both internal and external, while maintaining dimensional control,” adds Joe Sigal, project manager and technical sales associate with Osborn.

Image of Cylinder valve cleaning
Photo of The Kalitta team uses Osborn tools
Top: Cylinder valve cleaning. Above: The Kalitta team uses Osborn tools to ensure that engine components are perfectly finished.
For race teams, foundational Osborn solutions include the TufWire stringer bead brush line, Novoflex flexible honing tools, Advanced Technology Brushing (ATB) filament brushes, cut-off wheels, grinding wheels and flap discs.

With ATB brushes, parts that have visible burrs on the edge and grooves on the surface are transformed into smooth, edge-rounded parts with a brushed surface. The brushes can be used on machined sheet metal, stamped and fine-blanked parts; precision, ground and lapped parts; contour-rich components; and drawn, laser-cut or milled parts in applications like cylinder heads, engine blocks, turbine blades, and hydraulic and pneumatic components.

Brushes are available in different varieties and geometries in diameters ranging from as small as 0.03 in. to as large as 16 in. They can be outfitted with different abrasive grains, fill diameters, trim lengths and fill densities.

“Our power brushes, abrasive nylon brushes and abrasives are all well suited to high-performance applications,” says Sigal. “These products last longer and complete the job faster.”

The Kalitta team is able to ensure that engine components like block internal passages and cylinder heads are perfectly finished through the use of Osborn tools. The Osborn products save operators time on the CNC machines, too, allowing them to run other machines or set up for the next job while equipment is running.

Finish first
Osborn team members work with customers to “identify the best solution for the application,” says Tim Ebner, vice president marketing and product management. “These trained professionals have years of experience, which they couple with the broad array of products we offer to solve the toughest challenges.”

The Kalitta team had noticed Osborn’s “participation in high-performance NHRA racing and the use of our products in the sport. They were interested in learning more about the products for use by their team,” Ebner says. “As we had further discussions with them about product selection, we realized that they would be a perfect fit for our marketing activities around the performance of the products,” and the talks involved into a sponsorship discussion.

Image of Osborn brushes and abrasives
Osborn brushes and abrasives have helped Kalitta to speed ahead.
Doug Kalitta debuted his car’s new Osborn look at the NHRA Summernationals in Indianapolis, July 18-19. In 2020, Osborn will also be the primary sponsor of Kalitta’s dragster at the NHRA SpringNationals in Houston and will provide associate branding at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis; the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee; and the NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas. “Partnering with Osborn has been a major part of our 2020 season, and we were thrilled to unveil the new Osborn-branded livery in Indy,” says Head. “Osborn is more than just a sponsor of Kalitta Motorsports; we are using a variety of Osborn brushes and abrasives in our race shop as well as at Kalitta Air.”

Not only are Kalitta’s cars fast but the behind-the-scenes team must run quickly, rebuilding engines and getting cars back on the track in less than 45 minutes. Osborn brushes and abrasives have helped Kalitta accelerate the preparation of cylinder heads for welding, all the way to finishing.

“We are race fans,” Ebner says. “Meeting the high-performance demands of drag racing is the proving ground for our products, and we are excited to be partnering with Kalitta, helping to give them a competitive edge.”

Kalitta Motorsports,
Ypsilanti, Michigan,
Richmond, Indiana, 765/965-5333,