Talking Titanium with NHRA Crew Chief Dean Antonelli

  • April 21, 2020

NHRA crew chief Dean “Guido” Antonelli took some time away from the Infinite Hero Dodge Funny Car to talk titanium as well as part development. Antonelli has grown up in the sport of NHRA drag racing working for some of the biggest names (John Force, Ashley Force Hood, Jack Beckman) and teams (John Force Racing and Don Schumacher Racing) in the sport. We appreciate him sharing his thoughts and insight. As always if you have a project or part that could be enhanced by titanium you can order at any time from TMS Online.

Now let’s here from Guido…

TMS: Can you talk about how titanium has changed the game in race car parts?

DA: Titanium created a way to lighten your hot rod in many areas without sacrificing strength and in many ways also giving the ability of making parts stronger. Incorporating titanium also enhances performance with engine part design because of new titanium grades made available and advances in heat treating processes and advances in coating techniques for titanium.   

TMS: How do you balance cost of parts with weight management?

DA: Titanium generally has a significantly higher price tag then the items you are looking to replace. Some teams or crew chiefs have a formula for weight to dollar ratio. They might spend anywhere from $100/lb to $1000/lb more for titanium than steel because it leads to performance. It all depends on the team’s budget.  

Antonelli and co-crew chief John Medlen tuned Jack Beckman to 2020 Winternationals win

TMS: What parts are best for titanium?

DA: Titanium is used in many areas of the car. On the chassis and engine, many of the high grade steel fasteners are replaced with titanium fasteners as weight reduction. There are some components on and in the engines that are titanium, such as rocker arm shafts and valve train parts. We use a lot of titanium in the clutch area, flywheels, pressure plate and bell housing. We also have safety equipment companies that have systems that use titanium plates and pins, such as supercharger restraints. Titanium valve covers are a staple in many NHRA classes. We also have titanium sheet metal in some of the chassis tin and the support structure under the body is mostly titanium tubing. 

TMS: Does working with titanium give you some creative leeway when you are looking at race car parts and weight balance?

DA: We have the ability to use titanium in many areas because of DSR and TMS partnerships and relationships. Between the engineers at TMS and the crew chiefs here we are continually looking at ways to improve our performance or part life using the many grades of titanium available. 

TMS: How much titanium do you use on the Infinite Hero Funny Car?

DA: We use titanium in all the areas mentioned above and a few other proprietary areas. 

TMS: If you could make anything out of Titanium what would it be?  

DA: Proprietary development is something that we and other teams work on but don’t publicly share.  However, TMS has and continues to assist us in identifying those opportunities.