Our latest interview brings us face-to-face with Bruce Hendel and Johnny Wong with an insight into the racing world.
First, a short introduction! Bruce Hendel has been with VP Racing Fuels for 18 years and is the current Western Regional Manager. He is responsible for the western United States along with Baja Mexico, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, South-East Asia and Japan. Johnny Wong is the general manager for Best Chemical, the company which distributes VP Racing Fuels in the South-East Asia region.
Have the rising oil prices affected VP Racing Fuels? Bruce had this to say: “The racing fuel market is affected. But its affected in different ways. Sometimes oil prices could come down and racing fuel prices go up because there are a lot of things we use. Some of the fuels come from the chemical side of the market and that industry certainly doesn't follow the oil market. They are two different markets. But generally speaking...”
“...if the oil prices are going up then race fuel prices are probably going up as well. They just don't go up as big as a percentage. The other thing is that pump fuel prices are changing everyday. Race fuels don't. We have that challenge because its basically being extolled as a performance part which you can't change your prices everyday. Fortunately, it doesn't fluctuate as rapidly as what you see at the pumps.” He also added “I don't believe that Best Chemical has had a price increase since they started distributing our products.”
When it comes to expanding in the region, Bruce mentioned that sponsorships are made where they make sense. “We look at the opportunities when they present themselves. Johnny from Best Chemical has done some sponsorships with trade shows and several events to get the name and brand out in the market.” Johnny further highlighted Best Chemical's expansion by appointing dealers in respective countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. Singapore is operating as the distribution headquarters, in order to achieve a short waiting time for dealers when ordering stock replenishments.
Now with regards to a local saying that one should switch to a higher-grade fuel to “clean” the car, Bruce had this to say: “If you don't need higher octane, you are just wasting money. There is no benefit to spending more money on more octane if you don't need it. Generally speaking, for your everyday car, you don't need to buy the highest octane that it needs. In the States, most of the pump gas has the same additives. If you buy from major brands, they have their cleaning additives in all of their fuels, so you're not really getting a benefit from buying the highest octane. Maybe you do if it's a cheap brand, where they sell low-end fuels.”
He added, “on the racing side of it, the same holds true. You don't really need to spend more money on octane unless you want to do things to take advantage of it, such as running more turbo boost, advanced timings, or a a larger nitrous system. But octane is only part of the equation, you will still need to the pick the right fuel to give you the best performance. Octane isn't a horsepower rating, a lot of people don't realize that. We have 5 different fuels that have relatively same octane numbers that give different results on the dyno. It really depends on the budget and what you want to achieve in performance.”
Are there new products in the works at VP Racing Fuels? “We're always coming out with new products, based on what's happening in the world globally, not necessarily just what's happening in SEA. It's hard to tell, but we have some new rally fuels Called RallyMax and VP Export, that could apply to the Asia, for FIA competition. There's also a number of new products like motorcross and motorcycle fuels,” said Bruce.
“It totally depends on the market. If the fuel changes, then we will change with it. If the sanctioning body comes out with a new fuel, then we'll make a new fuel that makes the best power for that particular sanction body. For example, we know the FIM is probably going to change the rules for 2012 for the GP motorcross. We are just waiting for the final ruling to be released before we start making a fuel to fit whatever those changes. We know what’s going to change, but not the rules yet,” he added.
By now, you're probably wondering if you can simply use VP Racing Fuels in your current ride on the next track day. According to Bruce, with most of the modern cars running unleaded fuel, it is safe to use VP Racing Fuels' Motorsport 109 in your car without fear of damaging the catalytic converters or oxygen sensors. “Even if you had a vehicle that has been running on pump gas, it will make more power with Motorsport 109, because the formula itself. Most of the time, you can get the benefits even if you just pour it in, with more if you are able to tune the engine to take advantage of the fuel.”
Johnny also added that the engine also burns cooler with the racing fuel with more consistent power output, which is important when you are racing against the clock. To wrap things up, Johnny left us with a cool tip. You can purchase your own race fuel in drums to bring out of Singapore in your own car, but the catch is you will have to finish it all up before your return due to the rules set by Singapore Customs.