Often overlooked, fuel pump upgrades are essential to make big, reliable horsepower. Sure, turbos and superchargers can add more air, and larger fuel injectors might be able to spit more fuel, but many fuel systems are taxed past their limits to meet the increased demand. With the rigors of road racing and lateral-g’s beyond what a car was designed for, fuel starvation is a real threat — and one that can be more costly than just coughing or stalling mid-corner. A race car that is tuned to the edge can lean out and blow the motor if the fuel flow skips a beat.
The risk of fuel delivery issues can be avoided with the FUELAB line of high-efficiency brushless fuel pumps and supporting surge tanks. Understanding that OEM (and even aftermarket) fuel pumps struggle to supply adequate fuel and often fail to deliver under demanding conditions, FUELAB saw a need in the performance market more than 10 years ago and changed fuel-delivery performance forever.
Real horsepower gains are made with high-compression motors or when more air is crammed into the combustion chamber through a turbo or supercharger under boost. The need to add fuel to the air mixture means the fuel pump must be up to the challenge. To keep from starving the engine, race cars might require two or even three in-line traditional pumps.
The high-current draw of multiple, conventional pumps — and the excess heat they produce — can cause problems. First, if one fuel pump has a failure under high engine power, this can cause a lean condition, leading to detonation when the fuel delivery is interrupted. Additionally, the heat buildup inside these pumps can essentially boil the fuel, creating a vapor-lock condition making the pump useless. Reducing the fuel pump speed and current draw, thus reducing the excessive heat generated, is essential.
Feed the Starving
“We have many fuel pump solutions available with surge tanks, from simple 250lph drop-ins to 500lph four-digit-horsepower applications,” says FUELAB President, Brian Paitz. “The aim of our products is to provide stable high-pressure fuel delivery without needing a second or third pump while cornering for long periods of time at sustained high power.”
Enter the next generation of FUELAB high-efficiency brushless, speed-controllable, twin-screw fuel pumps: the 474 and 484 Series. Why go brushless? Because brushless motors are proven to require less current, generate less heat, and make less noise to pump more fuel at higher pressures. The innovative FUELAB sensorless drive controllers can be used for speed input and control devices to run the pump(s) on-demand, reducing load and speed at idle to keep that heat out of fuel for reliability.
The FUELAB brushless technology, coupled with the twin-screw design, equates to better performance using far-less current draw. Available in 250, 350, and 500lph, FUELAB pumps can move enough fuel to support up to 1,250 horsepower while maintaining upwards of 125psi of stable internal line pressure. Using this design that features improved resistance to cavitation, the 474 series is a billet-aluminum external pump with an integrated controller. Meanwhile, the 484 series is the in-tank version to be combined with FUELAB’s 7200x series of external controllers that can work with existing vehicle outputs for speed control.
In the extreme cornering and braking of road racing, OEM fuel components are subjected to sustained high-heat and g-forces not considered for the factory tank and fuel system. Sure, factory sports cars can reach around 1g on the skidpad, but add sway bars, stiffer suspension, unyielding R-Comps for racing, autocross, time attack, or track days and there is a recipe for fuel to slosh around in the tank starving the pump.
Surge Tanks Help Cornering
Cornering, braking, and acceleration g-forces can cause lower-fuel levels to bypass baffles and the pickup, starving the motor, which is where the FUELAB 617 Series surge tank is necessary. Available in 2.1 and 2.7-liter sizes, FUELAB surge tanks hold fuel in the canister where it cannot slosh around, keeping the fuel pressure and delivery stable while cornering on-track.
Mounted in a cool spot away from sources of heat (like the trunk), the surge tank can be installed to work on any OEM fuel tank with minimal modifications. To ease installation, a customer can order the FST upgrade accessory kit to securely and safely mount the canister, which also comes with the hose assembly and 90-degree high-flow fitting.
The 617 Series surge tank is connected together using -8AN ports for maximum flow, a return line is also required for the install. Best of all, the FUELAB line of products works with all different grades of pump gas, race gas, E85 ethanol, race-only methanol, or even diesel!
Fuel Upgrade Path
We quizzed Paitz for advice on one of our own project cars running a no-name-brand external fuel pump that just dies after extended cruising speeds. We explained that after the pump cools off, the engine runs fine again, but Paitz says a properly sized and installed speed-controllable brushless fuel pump can mitigate many of the heat build-up issues we’ve been suffering through. We’re considering the FUELAB 474 Series 500lph twin-screw brushless external fuel pump to reduce the heat since the current pump can’t do the most basic of tasks — pump fuel!
“Add the 474 pump. But, before extreme cornering, adding a FUELAB surge tank might be a strong consideration to keep a reserve of fuel always ready for delivery,” Paitz added.
The reasonable cost of a simple in-tank FUELAB pump controlled by ECU (or standalone) inputs, or maybe a surge tank, equates to cheap insurance for any cornering g-forces coming our way at the track.