NASCAR Cup Series
Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown Creates Competition, Camaraderie
Nov 8, 2023
While being fast helps, the true key to success in the Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder competition is communication and how teams utilize their tools.
The 22nd edition of the Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown presented by Valvoline could be the most intense competition yet. An annual engine-building competition with 12 Hendrick Certified Master Technicians and 12 Hendrick Motorsports engine builders squaring off to see who can construct a NASCAR Cup Series engine the quickest kicked kicked off Wednesday, Nov. 8 LIVE on RacingAmerica.tv and HendrickEBS.com.
Pride, comradery and a brand new, fully filled NAPA toolbox for each member of the winning team is on the line.
As with any competition, strategy is the key to success and the engine builder competition is no exception. Even though there are 243 parts to work with, nothing gets going without a key component setting the tone.
“There is (a lot of strategy), but the crankshaft has to go in first. It has to be quick as the other person comes in on the front (of the engine block). It all has to be choreographed,” said Hendrick Motorsports competition director & engine builder, Kevin Webber, talking to Hendrick Automotive Group vice president of variable operations and host of the Valvoline Engine Shop, Roger Mesiemore.
Choreographed moves by two builders, who may have only met for the first time after the random drawing from the night before. A tall task for anyone. However, with the talent and experience of the Hendrick Motorsports builders and the Hendrick Automotive Group’s willingness to learn, strategies usually come quickly for the newly formed team.
“Communication is vital, and so is tool management,” said Webber, who triumphed in 2008. “Once you get going, tools spread everywhere.”
Kelly Brandt, Hendrick Master Technician from Rick Hendrick Chevrolet in Charleston, South Carolina, also won this event in 2017. Returning for a third time in 2023, he was paired with five-time champ Danny Emerick back then, and felt the duo’s communication was among the many aspects to their victory. Brandt is the only Hendrick Automotive Group builder with a win under his belt in this year’s competition.
“Organization during building is important because if you are wasting time looking for your next tool, you have already lost,” said Brandt, who is also a General Motors World Class Technician.
“If you do not communicate with you partner, then it’s going to be a rough build,” said Hendrick Motorsports builder Sam Vernatter, who teamed with Jeffrey Yohn of Hendrick Lexus Northlake (Charlotte, North Carolina) for an overall runner-up finish in 2020.
Last year’s Showdown was a true test of champions, as Emerick and his partner Brad Huston of Hendrick Lexus Kansas City, defeated Stephen Moore (Hendrick Collision Center Kansas City) and six-time champ Scott Vester with a winning time of 22 minutes, 44 seconds. Only 13 seconds separated the two teams.
Pace was set right out of the gate, as Vester and Moore established the time to beat with an impressive 22 minute, 14 second build early in qualifying. However, the best was yet to come as Emerick and Huston blistered the field with a qualifying build of 21 minutes, 45 seconds, only five seconds off the competitions fuel-injected engine record build of 21 minutes, 40 seconds set back in 2014.
“We felt like we put a numCh (our teammates) out at Hendrick Lexus are cheering hard.”
What will this year’s Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown presented by Valvoline bring? Check out the leaderboard on HendrickEBS.com after today’s qualifying builds and tune in Thursday to find out who will be crowned this year’s champions.
Photo courtesy HendrickCars.com