Total Flow Products race engine cylinder head porting
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Total flow Products
The History of Total Flow Products...
STEVE SANCHEZ STARTED TOTAL FLOW PRODUCTS when he was eleven years old-only he didn't know it at the time. Watching his Uncle Gil Sunde race hobby stocks in the dirt at Auto City Speedway, www.autocityspeedway.com set the hook hard and motorsports began to insidiously reel Steve in. Later, at one of the legendary funny car match races at Tri City Dragway, he was transfixed by the pheromones of Nitro Methane, burning rubber and earthshaking noise. Steve was in the net...
It was when he was in high school at the Genesee Area Skill Center attending Auto Mechanic Program that he first met instructors Jim Gray and Don Koeppen. Their philosophy of doing ALL work properly molded Steve's work ethic, both instructors have remained advisers to this day. In the Skill Centers' high school program, Steve was the instructors' Student Aid and heavily involved in the class project: a 1962 Chevy II D/Gas drag car.
After completing high school it was off to Ferris State College in the Auto Machining Program. After college, Steve joined Diamond Racing Engines, where he met the mentor who would teach Steve the art of cylinder head grinding. Butch Elkins put a grinder into Steve's hand, sat him down in front of a pile of heads and said: "Grind here." By emphasizing the art of shaping metal, instead of just removing metal, Elkins set Steve's course to becoming a human CNC machine.
When Richard Maskin hired Elkins to work on his AMC Pro Stock heads, Elkins called on Steve and his grinder. Elkins' tutoring turned Steve's basic grinding into the craft of simple porting and polishing. But, Steve went beyond that by carefully observing Elkins' systematic problem solving in locating valves, matching cylinder bores and combustion chambers, determining valve face and seat angles, resolving intake manifold fit and other processes. Although, as wizards often do, Elkins didn't reveal EVERYTHING. It was the secrets of the science of air flow that Steve would have to discover himself.
During this period, hundreds of sets of Diamonds iron NASCAR heads passed through Steve's porting station for massaging, on their way to the top NASCAR teams. Neil Bonnett took a liking to Steve's work ethic and asked him to join in on his and Coo Coo Marlins' pit crew as the Jack Man - Steve's dream job!
Elkins had plenty in store for Steve. The legendary Smokey Yunick called and it was off to Smokey's shop for a mysterious flow bench project. After 3 years of intensive observing, listening, practicing and doing, Steve was ready to move on.
Landing at Roush Racing, Steve ported Roush's own Pro Stock heads and production race heads and that lasted until Total Engineering called. After that, Andy and Tony Mannarino, Richard Maskin, Gary St. Denis and Leonard Gianuzzi suggested Steve start a business of his own, within their new operation. Total Flow Products was finally in the frying pan and Steve Sanchez was tending the fire.
Steve applied his ideas and honed his skills and understanding of ports on Total Engineering's Pro Stock Firebird. Aftermarket race heads were bought for Steve to analyze on his new Super Flow 300 bench. He meticulously measured and shaped the heads, benchmarked them and shaped them again putting all his experience in and taking knowledge out. Dyno testing, integral to Steve's process, proved or disproved his work and quickly identified which flow bench numbers were important, and which were not. The first set of Chevy heads outperformed the purchased heads and powered the Firebird to 9th nationally in an abbreviated season. Repeating the process with Oldsmobile heads put the Firebird in 6th the following year-again, just running a partial schedule.
When Dart Cylinder Heads opened, Steve was asked to design ports for their first Top Fuel Hemi head. in 1984, all but five of the US Nationals Nitro category qualifiers were using Total Flow Products-prepared Dart heads. The 1984 Indy 500 Pole winning Buick V6 also wore Total Flow Products-prepared Dart heads. In 1985, Don Garlits won the NHRA National Championship with Total Flow Products-prepared Dart heads. His winning car is now in the Smithsonian Institute, along with a Total Flow Products/Dart cylinder head display. From 1981 to 1988, all but a couple of the Dart Hemi Heads were hand ported by Steve or one the crew personally trained by Steve.
As Nitro cars began using bigger cams, fuel pumps and blowers, Total Flow Products responded with bigger intake ports and four different port combinations. Eventually, Dart introduced a forged Hemi head with ports only "roughed in". Total Flow Products ported these heads by hand, building Steve's ability to mimic CNC machines. At the end of 1988, Steve struck out on his own.
Working alone, he mastered in metal preparation and welding to specialize in head repair. CNC machines were increasingly taking over basic port work. After seeing-and correcting- CNC head repairs by other shops, Steve soon understood the difference, as he did with flow numbers, between important CNC operations and unimportant, cosmetic ones.
In 1991, Steve manually ported a set of BAE heads made of 7075 Aluminum belonging to Roland Leong. At the U.S. Nationals, Roland's car ran 5.14, at over 290 MPH, and qualified number one in Funny Car, (the 5.14 would have been good enough to qualify #2 in Top Fuel Dragster), set both ends of the National Record, won the Big Bud Shootout, and won the race. Orders started coming in.
Kenny Bernstein used Total Flow Products-prepared cylinder heads in 1992 to break 300 MPH - 3 times- when no one else did it even once! Orders poured. Dart Machinery and Brad Anderson can rightfully claim they manufactured the cylinder heads, but race preparation by Total Flow Products made the difference. By 1999, approximately 75% of all Nitro cars were using Total Flow Products services.
Steve designed and produced his first Total Flow Products cylinder head, the Hemi 99. It received full and proper attention after it came alive with a new camshaft design that was previously unavailable. Next, Total Flow Products manufactured a version of the Oldsmobile billet (DRCE) head, incorporating exhaust port and valve train advantages over previously available Olds heads.
In 2001, rumors circulated that Total Flow Products head repairs were "too expensive". Steve's refusal to weld on extra aluminum, solely to enable "cosmetic" CNC machining, possibly sparked the rumors. Steve believed, and STILL does, this process compromises the aluminum heads' integrity and the finished products quality. He ignored the rumors and turned to the alcohol drag racer and tractor pulling markets.
Frank and Dan Parker, long-time Total Flow Products customers, were first to use Steve's new alcohol Hemi heads in a serious TAFC program. Their success opened the alcohol racers eyes and Total Flow Products shipping dock was once again piled high with orders and shipments. Similar successes in the pulling classes added to the traffic. When news of Total Flow Products quality, and affordability, reached the Nitro pits, former customers returned in droves.
Today, Total Flow Products manufactures, prepares, services and repairs cylinder heads for record holders in Top Fuel, Top Alcohol, Stock, Super Stock, truck and tractor pulling, short track, sports car, offshore boat, street rod, muscle car restoration, and motorcycle applications. Racers, enthusiasts and engine builders throughout the United States depend on Total Flow Products to provide, improve or resurrect their aluminum or cast iron treasures.
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