Former IHRA Pro Rookie of the Year (2004) Doug Foley is making his return to NHRA Top Fuel Racing in 2020. Joining him will be Chip Lofton and Strutmasters, as the company has signed on to sponsor Foley Lewis Racing for the upcoming year.
Foley announced in October that he was renewing his NHRA Top Fuel license. After finalizing the racing team’s schedule of eight races in 2020, Strutmasters was the first major sponsor to jump on board.
“It feels good to have companies like Strutmasters.com support a team that literally hasn’t competed yet,” said Foley.
Foley getting back to racing form
The Mooresville, NC-based driver last raced in NHRA Top Fuel in 2011. Foley and partner Tim Lewis returned to the NHRA in 2019. The team earned two No. 1 qualifying awards and a runner-up finish competing in the Top Alcohol division.
As a tandem, Foley and Lewis had a successful run in the IHRA in the mid-to-late 2000’s. During that time they won several national events. Foley also competed part-time in the NHRA over this stretch, making the semifinal rounds on several occasions.
Strutmasters a natural fit for Foley Lewis Racing
Foley expressed his excitement of working with Lofton, who founded Strutmasters in 1999. Lofton has become a regular figure in the pits over the last few seasons. He and his company sponsor several drivers in various classes.
“There’s a lot of teams they could go to,” said Foley. “For Chip to have the confidence in us, it means a lot. I think a lot of it had to do with our past competition. I think he felt confident that in a little bit of time we will be competitive.”
According to Foley, the partnership is a natural fit.
“I’ve gotten the opportunity on two occasions to spend some time with Chip,” said Foley “You really couldn’t find a more down-to-earth guy. Especially for someone who’s so successful. I think those are qualities that we have also, which excites me about growing the relationship in the future.”
The future of Foley Lewis Racing
Foley Lewis Racing is far from done. They are currently working on locking down more sponsorship heading into next season. However, the team hasn’t lost sight of the big boost from the Suspension Experts, who have helped jump start their 2020 bid.
“The hope is that this is the beginning of several announcements over the winter,” said Foley. “But we’re excited that somebody had the faith in us to get the ball rolling. We’ll do everything we can to represent Chip and Strutmasters.com well.”
The air suspension in your GL450 gave the German luxury vehicle a smooth, cloud-like ride when it was new. However, after some years on the road, it has started to show signs of aging.
Owners may notice these problems in different ways. Some might see evidence of suspension failure from the outside. One common example is the car sagging low in the rear. You might also find your GL450 leaning to one side.
Sometimes owners can hear the evidence. If the compressor is running too loud or too long, it’s a sign that it’s working too hard. This would indicate a suspension fault somewhere in the system.
You might also feel that difference. A car driving on bad struts will take much longer to stop. When it does, it often dips forward with the back popping up, looking like it is crouching. This is referred to as a “nose dive.”
Mercedes also included a suspension warning light that will illuminate when there is a problem. However, this might come later than some of the physical symptoms.
If you are noticing any of these symptoms in your Mercedes-Benz GL450, it is time to have your suspension serviced. However, there is a lot to consider before making any big financial decisions about these repairs.
Repairing your Mercedes-Benz GL450 air suspension
If your suspension problems took you to the dealership, they likely recommended replacing the busted components with new air suspension components. A repair quote that made you do a double take probably accompanied that recommendation.
The reality is that air suspensions are highly complex and therefore expensive systems. They rely on a web of interconnected parts working together in order to function properly.
Your Mercedes-Benz GL450 has ride height sensors at each wheel. These sensors send a signal to the control module, letting it know how much the air bags need to be inflated or deflated.
Then, the control module sends this information to the compressor. The compressor pushes air into the airbags. These rubber sacks are what suspends your car off of its wheels.
Each one of these components is highly specialized. As you may have noticed, many of them are moving parts, electronic parts, or parts made with flexible materials. These are all prone to failure.
As you can guess, these are all expensive parts to replace. Not only that, they are very labor-intensive and complicated to install.
Other options for your Mercedes-Benz GL450
This might sound pretty intimidating. However, you do have other choices for your Mercedes.
This kit from Strutmasters allows you to do away with that troubled air suspension forever. You can ditch it and kiss all those recurring suspension problems goodbye.
Instead of a mess of electronics and tiny moving components, these traditional coilover suspensions use mechanical resistance to hold your car up.
Made of high-grade stainless steel, these durable coilover struts are a fantastic alternative to those unreliable air suspensions. At just under $950, you will save literally thousands of dollars versus replacing your suspension with OEM or third-party air suspension parts.
Strutmasters suspension conversion kits are designed to be very simple. So simple, in fact, that the average DIYer can do the installation at home with common tools. No computers, no sensors, no airbags–just stainless steel and a few high-grade rubber bump stops.
Even if you don’t install them at home, the ease of installation translates directly to a lower shop bill at your mechanic.
But the financial benefits don’t stop there. Each Strutmasters air-to-spring conversion kit for your Mercedes-Benz GL450 comes with a Limited Lifetime Guarantee. That means as long as your Mercedes is on the road, Strutmasters guarantees your new struts.
Ready to make the switch?
If your Mercedes-Benz GL450 is experiencing suspension failure, converting to a coilover system is the logical choice. Not only will you save money, you’ll never have to deal with the endless repairs of an air suspension again.
Check out the suspension kit in action in this ride-along video!
When it comes to replacing the shocks on your vehicle, you have a number of different choices. Even when you break it down to only passive struts, you have two primary options: Mono-tube and twin-tube shocks.
There are major differences between the two technologies. But first, let’s identify what mono-tube and twin-tube shocks are.
What are mono-tube shocks?
In a mono-tube (also spelled monotube) shock absorber, all of the components are contained within one cylinder.
This cylinder contains oil, pressurized gas, and a piston valve. It utilizes a free piston to separate the oil chamber from the gas chamber within the case.
What are twin-tube shocks?
A twin-tube shock absorber, as the name suggests, features two cylinders. One cylinder sits inside the shell case. The second cylinder holds the piston valve which moves vertically. It is known as the “inner cylinder.”
In this twin-tube setup, there is no actual barrier between the gas and oil chambers.
How do monotube and twin-tube shocks compare?
First, let’s establish some similarities. Both of these shocks can be very high-quality products made by reputable manufacturers. On the flipside, both of these can also be produced by fly-by-night companies looking to make a quick buck.
Both mono-tube and twin-tube shocks perform the job of dampening your ride. They are also a vital part of your handling and braking systems. In short, they are extremely important to the safe functioning of your vehicle.
But where do they differ?
Ride quality differences
For most people, the primary concern when looking at new shocks is ride quality. This is a factor of how well the shocks dampen the ride as it travels over bumps and dips in road surfaces.
In the twin-tube design, fluid flows from the inner chamber to the outer chamber through valves which also do the dampening.
Unfortunately, in very intense shock situations such as a pothole, the fluid in the chamber can start foaming. This will lead to a dramatic decrease in ride quality.
However, in a single chamber design, the gas and fluid never mix. This is due to the free-floating piston.
This means that there will be no foaming and as a result, much more reliable ride quality.
Differences in responsiveness: Monotube vs. twin tube shock absorbers
The importance of your shocks can not be overstated. Your suspension system is what connects your car to its wheels. That means it is an indispensable part of your braking and handling systems.
This is where responsiveness comes into play.
Ideally, your shocks will adjust quickly to whatever terrain you are traveling over without losing efficiency. They should stiffen when encountering rough terrain or a racing situation. The shocks should be much smoother when traveling on even road surfaces.
Twin tube setups feature several independently-working valves. In contrast, monotube shocks function as one unit due to their single-valve assembly. This design distributes pressure over the entire circumference of the shock evenly.
In addition, the single-tube design also allows for a larger piston. This provides extra strength to the shock absorber.
Ease of installation
When considering which shocks to buy, cost certainly becomes a factor. However, it is not only the cost of the product you must consider, but the cost of installing it as well.
As you can probably guess from the name, twin-tube shocks are more complex than their monotube counterparts. With more components in the mix, twin-tube shocks are much more difficult to install.
The single valve design of monotube shocks means that they are “simple on the inside, simple on the outside.”
Their relative simplicity means an easier installation. In fact, most of these monotube shocks are designed with the DIYer in mind. If engineered properly, they should be very simple to install at home.
Even if you choose to take that job to your mechanic, they will spend considerably less time under the hood with monotubes than they would with twin tubes. The result is more savings.
Monotube shocks: clearly the better choice
The factors listed above aren’t even the whole story. There are issues like aeration, ride stability and fading that also differ between the two. Click here to read a more in-depth look at these issues.
When you consider all of the advantages, it becomes clear that monotube shocks are clearly the better solution. This is why Strutmasters has chosen to outfit each kit with mono-tube shock absorbers.
It is true that they are slightly more expensive than twin-tube shocks. However, once you consider the lower cost of installation, less maintenance, and a lower rate of failure, the long-term cost is much lower.
It is important to be able to trust the quality of the shocks you buy and install. That’s why Strutmasters offers a Limited Lifetime Guarantee on the build quality of its shock absorbers. As long as your vehicle is on the road, your shocks are guaranteed.
Once you are ready to replace your suspension with durable, high-quality monotube shocks, search for your model on our website. Better yet, give one of our Suspension Experts a call at (866) 715-6013 and let them sort it out for you.
Say goodbye to faulty suspensions and hello to peace-of-mind.
The Kawasaki Vulcan is one heck of a touring machine. Celebrated for its handling and performance, the Vulcan has become a favorite among Japanese V-Twin cruisers.
However, one area in which many agree the bike can be improved is rider comfort. As Overdrive noted in its review, “The handlebar-seat-footpeg combination…makes opening the throttle fully a little awkward. Footpegs are adjustable and can be moved forward or backward by an inch though you will need to buy linkage rods for the gear shifter separately. The stepped seat supports the tailbone well but cushioning could have been slightly softer”.
Many Vulcan owners are left with no choice but to either put up with some discomfort, or make permanent hard changes to the motorcycle. Neither of these are great options.
Therefore, the Kawasaki Vulcan community had much to celebrate when Strutmasters released an EZ Rider Motorcycle Air Suspension for the Japanese cruiser.
Extra comfort for your Kawasaki Vulcan
A slightly uncomfortable ride isn’t the biggest problem when you’re going from point A to point B in a limited amount of time. However, as you stay on the bike for longer rides, a slight discomfort can turn into a major pain.
Therefore, everything the Kawasaki Vulcan has to offer as a touring bike is slightly diminished as a result of this discomfort.
That’s one of several reasons why this kit is such a relief to Vulcan owners. Air suspensions are noted primarily for their ride comfort.
Air suspensions are active suspensions. That means they respond to changes in the road by increasing or reducing the air pressure in the air strut. The result is a smoother ride than you ever thought possible for your Vulcan.
The extra comfort means you can spend more time enjoying your bike and less time recovering from road hours.
Adjustable height to accommodate all riders
The Vulcan, like most cruisers, has been designed to be comfortable and easy to mount. However, it’s designed for the “average” rider and Vulcan riders come in all shapes and sizes.
Many riders who are taller than average find the foot peg placing to be uncomfortable. Shorter riders might find the bike difficult to mount and dismount.
The adjustability of the EZ Rider Motorcycle Air Suspension allows you to put the height at whatever is easiest and most comfortable to you.
Taller riders can gain more leg room for extra comfort on long rides. Shorter riders can drop the bike down to make it easier to get on and off.
This feature also applies to your passengers. While your Vulcan may sit at the right height for you to mount or dismount easily, your passenger is likely not the exact same height as you. You can adjust easily to accommodate them as well.
Whatever the need, an adjustable air suspension will make your Kawasaki Vulcan exponentially more rider-friendly. Because no one is truly “average.”
Achieve that lowrider look without sacrificing function
There are a lot of practical reasons, including those listed above, to outfit your Vulcan with an EZ Rider Motorcycle Air Suspension. However, the fun reasons also deserve a mention.
Most cruiser owners have at least daydreamed about pushing a lowrider around town. It’s easy to see why. They look incredibly cool.
However, these owners have had the same set of less-than-ideal options to achieve that look. Most involving permanent modifications to the bike.
In addition, when a bike is permanently lowered, you sacrifice a lot of function. Lowrider bikes often need additional routine maintenance. They lose a great deal of cornering capability. In general, they are more difficult to handle and require much more care and concern when driving.
The EZ Rider Motorcycle Air Suspension is fully adjustable. It allows you to drop your Vulcan down when it’s time to skate by and show off the bike. When you’re ready to do some more serious riding, all you need to do is inflate it up to a more practical ride height.
While both kits are adjustable, the Ultimate kit for your Kawasaki Vulcan allows you to adjust with just the push of a button.
These motorcycle air suspension kits are relatively simple and easy to install. That means you can probably do it yourself at home if you’re handy with a wrench. If not, it should be a quick and inexpensive job for your mechanic.
Once you’re ready to convert, purchase your desired kit online. You can also call one of our Suspension Experts at (866) 239-4896 to get more information about the kits and make sure you have the right kit for your needs.
First of all, know that you are not alone. Suspension problems with the Mercedes-Benz SL 500 are quite common and well-documented.
Second, you may have heard from your dealership or mechanic that repairing or replacing the hydraulic suspension on your SL 500 is a difficult and expensive fix.
While that is certainly true, it’s not the entire story. There is another, better solution for your Mercedes-Benz SL 500.
Before that, however, it’s important to understand where the SL 500 hydraulic suspension problems come from.
Why your Mercedes-Benz SL 500 hydraulic suspension fails
Mercedes-Benz’s brand name for the hydraulic suspension system in your SL 500 is the Active Body Control. As the name suggests, it is an active suspension.
As opposed to traditional coilover suspensions which use mechanical resistance to dampen the vehicle, active suspensions use computers to “read” the road and actively dampen the ride. This results in a smooth, steady ride.
In order to work properly, active suspensions feature a number of components that must function in unison. This complex web of moving parts, computer-controlled components, and flexible pieces is highly sensitive.
Compared to a passive suspension like a coilover suspension, they are also quite fragile. In fact, your SL 500 hydraulic suspension wearing out is pretty much a matter of when, rather than if.
So, it should come as no surprise to you that these suspensions giving out is a very common problem.
Why fixing your SL 500 hydraulic suspension problems is so expensive
Here’s the good news; your mechanic isn’t lying.
Fixing the suspension issues on your Mercedes-Benz SL 500 is expensive. That quote your mechanic handed you might seem extreme, but that’s what fixing an active suspension costs.
The reason they are so expensive to fix or replace is the same reason they break: they are made up of highly-specialized components which must be delicate and/or sensitive to work properly.
The complexity of the system also means it’s more difficult to service. As a result, you’re going to have to spend a lot on labor fees in addition to the already expensive components.
What does this mean for you? It means that if you want to keep your SL 500 hydraulic suspension running properly, you’re going to have to part with some serious cash.
However, there is relief for SL 500 owners like you.
An alternative for your Mercedes
Here’s something they probably won’t tell you: you don’t need an active suspension for your Mercedes-Benz SL 500.
Sure, it was lovely when it was new. It’s hard to argue with the smooth ride and handling offered up by active suspensions. However, once that dies out, no matter how much you spend it will never be the same.
Thankfully, you do have a choice.
Strutmasters now carries a full conversion kit that allows you to ditch that troubled hydraulic suspension. Instead, you can install a brand-new coilover suspension.
As we mentioned earlier, the classic coilover suspension uses mechanical resistance to dampen the ride. Simple physics, rather than a complicated web of computers, pumps and sensors, do the important job of keeping your car at the proper ride height.
Advantages of converting to coils
Right away the biggest difference you’ll notice is the price. If you’ve already gotten a quote back from your mechanic, you know how expensive replacement hydraulic struts are.
So you may be surprised to learn that this entire conversion kit for all four wheels, including a module to fix your suspension warning light, costs less than just one hydraulic strut. If you replaced the entire suspension, this kit saves you over $7,000 just on the pump and struts alone!
Even better, these kits are simple enough that most people choose to do the installation at home. If you have a sturdy jack and basic hand tools, it should take you less than one hour per wheel to do the installation. Each package comes with detailed instructions and there are corresponding videos available for free online to help guide you.
The scintillating 2019 NHRA racing season came to a close in Pomona last weekend. With several drivers competing in the final race of the season, founder and owner Chip Lofton was in California with other Strutmasters representatives.
Strutmasters’ sponsored drivers Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Scotty Pollacheck (Pro Motorcycle), Terry Haddock (Funny Car), Steve Graham (Pro Stock) were all part of the field in Pomona.
Here’s to the conclusion of a huge 2019 for Strutmasters racing and the NHRA overall, and an even bigger, more exciting 2020.
It’s finally here! The final race of the 2019 NHRA season, the NHRA Auto Club Finals, is coming to Pomona, California this weekend. Fortunately for those of you who can’t make it to the west coast, it’s also coming live into your living room.
The races and the promotional lead-ins will all be broadcast live on FS1. The re-airings will be broadcast between FS1 and FS2.
There is drama in the air this year as the number one overall spot in the Top Fuel division is still up for grabs.
Last year’s Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence has a respectable lead. However, Brittany Force is right at his heels in the overall points standings after her victory in Las Vegas. Billy Torrence and Doug Kalitta are also within striking distance in theory.
The Funny Car division will also feature some real drama as Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan and John Force try to topple points leader Robert Hight. Sunday is sure to be filled with non-stop tension.
Be sure to tune in to the NHRA Auto Club Finals this weekend for all the action!
Motorcycle air suspensions allow you a greater deal of control when it comes to the ride height of your Harley. They also do so much more than that.
Lowering your bike is definitely part of the appeal
Before we go any further, let’s get this out of the way: a good motorcycle air suspension does a fantastic job of lowering your bike. If that’s the only reason you’re considering installing one, that’s a good enough reason as any.
A well-built motorcycle air suspension like the EZ Rider system will allow you to drop your bike down on command. They also allow you to control how much you want to lower your motorcycle.
For anyone that’s ever driven a lowrider bike, you can probably imagine some situations where that would come in handy.
If you haven’t, understand that a lowrider bike is going to scrape. As fun as it can be to cruise around dropped down, you put some of your components at risk doing so.
Other lowering solutions, like removing a seat linkage, permanently alter your bike. An air suspension gives you the flexibility to decide when and where to lower your bike.
Many of you have experience with an air suspension in a car. These active suspensions do an excellent job of dampening dips and bumps in the road.
The result is a smooth, easy ride that doesn’t wear you out over long distances.
Motorcycle air suspensions are the same. Compressed air allows for greater dampening control versus metal springs.
EZ Rider motorcycle air suspensions also allow you to adjust the firmness of your ride. Different riders have different preferences. This adjustable air suspension allows you to adjust the ride to your own personal comfort preferences.
If you’re the type to put a lot of miles on your Harley-Davidson, you know that road conditions are forever changing. Wouldn’t it be useful to be able to adapt to those changes?
The EZ Rider motorcycle air suspension allows you to do just that. As mentioned earlier, you can adjust both the ride height and the stiffness of the suspension.
Whereas a lowering kit leaves you unprepared for some kinds of riding, this kit allows you to prepare your bike for changes in the road.
Hitting a long straightaway? Soften that suspension up and enjoy a smooth cruise. Approaching some hairpins on a mountain road? Tighten up for more responsive handling and braking.
The ability to adjust your Harley’s relationship to the road means you get to focus more on driving and taking in the scenery. It will also save some of your other components some wear and tear as it lightens the load.
So many benefits
If you want to lower your Harley-Davidson, you do have options. But as you can clearly see, some of those options are better than others.
An EZ Rider motorcycle air suspension gives you the ability to adjust both the ride height and the stiffness of your suspension.
With that ability comes the ability to greatly improve the style, performance and comfort of your Harley-Davidson. Compare that to other lowering solutions that leave your bike poorly suited for many riding situations.
The best part is that an air suspension doesn’t cost that much more than other lowering options.
Order online now or call one of our Suspension Experts at (866) 664-0252 to make sure you get the best possible solution for your Harley-Davidson.
Strutmasters offers air ride solutions for the Dyna Glide, Softail, V-Rod, Sportster and many other Harley-Davidson models. To learn about even more benefits of EZ Rider Motorcycle Air Suspension, click here.
Audrey Worm made it official last Thursday at SEMA: she is now just the second-ever female owner/driver of an NHRA Top Fuel team. The Grantville, Pennsylvania racer made history with her announcement at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Right from the start, she made her goal of wanting to own her own racing team very clear. This past Thursday, she was able to formally reach that goal with her announcement.
This announcement would be historic enough on its own merit. Worm is just the second female owner/driver of a Top Fuel team in NHRA history. She is the first since Shirley Muldowney in the 1970s.
“As some people may or may not know, I am the second female owner/driver of a Top Fuel team in NHRA history,” Worm said at SEMA. “The first was the legend Shirley Muldowney. I just purchased and brought home my first Top Fuel car.”
Even more history made
However, Worm wasn’t finished making history on Thursday. She followed her announcement with another monumental announcement.
“I’m also the first to do something else,” Worm told reporters. “The really, really, really big news that we wanted to announce this [week] at SEMA that I’ll be the first Top Fuel team as the owner/driver and three women – women of power and really strong women – Ashley Fye will be my crew chief and Jenna Drake, formerly Jenna Haddock, will be my car chief.”
Both Fye and Drake have quality NHRA Top Fuel resumes.
Fye served as crew chief to Scott Palmer in the early stages of his Top Fuel racing career. Drake is a former Top Fuel dragster racer and has competed in 15 national-level events. She notably upset Tony Schumacher in 2014 for a round win.
How it came together
Drake will be quite familiar with Worm’s dragster. It is the dragster she drove during her racing tenure, an ex-Anton Brown/Don Schumacher Racing chassis.
Worm credits the help of friends, family and supporters with helping her realize her ownership dream.
“I am so blessed to have the support not only friends and family, and my amazing husband Aaron Grant but also from great sponsors,” said Worm. “I would like to thank Chip Lofton at Strutmasters.com, William Francis and Kenny from Burromax, Cody from Sisson Engineering, Hap Whitlock from Hi-tech cam, Howie O’Neil, Leonard Long from G-Force Shifters, PennGrade, Duane A. Junker from Gates, Millerweld, Jim Novinger, Carrie Willhoff at Racechick, Jim Michaud, Heidi Jordan and Robert Jordan, all my RACEFAN members, and all the individuals who contributed money for making my dream come true!”
Looking ahead to 2020
With the excitement of Worm’s history-making announcement behind her, the Top Fuel owner and racer already has her sights set on making waves next season.
The team has penciled in a nine race schedule for the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour. They are also looking into adding even more dates to their calendar.
“We plan to run mostly on the East Coast, and have a commitment from our anchor sponsor Strutmasters.com,” said Worm. “I am so excited to own my own team, and can’t wait for the 2020 season, where we hope to show the boys what girl power looks like.”
Judging from the buzz that has surrounded her announcement, the racing world can’t wait either.