Podcasts

From No Brakes to the 200 MPH Club: Mike LeFevers

THE GEARHEADS TALK ENGINES WITH MIKE LEFEVERS.

The Gearheads sit down and talk engines, Bonneville records and more with famed racing engine builder and machinist Mike Lefevers of Mitech Racing Engines. He’s  soft-spoken guy with some serious history. LeFevers was the Engine Development Director at Carroll Shelby Enterprises, spent five years in Gale Banks Engineering engine department, and was involved in the Buick Indianapolis program. He’s not only the Treasurer of Save the Salt and Secretary of the Bonneville 200 MPH Club, he’s also a life member of the latter.

He is the LeFevers part of the Kugel/LeFevers 1992 Firebird, which was the first production-bodied automobile to exceed and set a record over 300 mph in 1999. And it has power windows. Just like Mike, it’s full of surprises.

 

THINGS COVERED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Recreating the ’79 Kugel engine to reset the record
  • Mechanical injection and twin turbos on alcohol
  • Early beginnings with a ’56 Crown Vic… and no brakes
  • Losing eyebrows while tuning cars
  • On learning in the driveway
  • The value of reading what is pertinent to your interests
  • A foot in the door at Gale Banks Engineering
  • Being mentored by Wally Cartwright
  • Heading to Bonneville with Geisler
  • A very special Hanky-Panky
  • First runnings at Bonneville with Bruce Geisler
  • The Sundowner Corvette
    – 255 MPH in a stock-bodied ’68!
  • The first stock-bodied car to go 300MPH – The Kugel/LeFevers Firebird
  • Getting family involved
    – Working to get his sons into the 200 MPH Club
  • A record-breaking year at Bonneville Speed Week
  • SCCA and Trans Am involvement
  • Putting his own shop on hold
  • The Shelby years
    – Investigating the Chrysler V6 engine failures in the Shelby Can Am racing program
    – Started as an engine builder on the Cobra Continuation Series
    – Development of new heads (the aluminum VS iron head argument)
    – Developing, casting and building new 427’s
    – Working with Carroll Shelby
    – Shelby was more of a businessman than a tech guy
    – Lee Iacocca killed the Shelby DOHC 4V 427 Ford cylinder head program
  • Mike’s thoughts on the great engineering of the Ford 427 SOHC
  • On building small and big-block Chevy engines
  • The “idiot-proof” nature of the LS engine
  • Vipers and the recession
    – Development of dry-sump systems and intake manifolds
    – What is it with this guy and snakes?!
  • On gauging the health of the industry via your customer base
  • Modern tech VS old-school know-how
  • The importance of knowing the source of your research materials
  • Building the engine to the car

Spotify

Previous post

Chip and the Lamborghini Miura Meltdown

Next post

How Roger Laid His Dad to Rest at Bonneville

The Author

Brian Stupski

Brian Stupski

2 Comments

  1. Tom
    September 14, 2018 at 6:18 pm — Reply

    It was great to hear Mike. I go back to the days cruising/hanging out in front of the Starlight furniture store on Valley Blvd (Alhambra), – his garage on Dewey Ave. You should have him back for a Part II because there are a lot of “stories” from the early days yet to be told.
    Speaking as a fellow (but extremely less accomplished) “Gearhead” Mike has carried the banner for us “Shop Kids” from high school. Often looked down on because we weren’t “college material” Mike’s career and success excelled far beyond what our educators would have predicted. In addition to the sound technical advice he gave there was a lot of wisdom in what he had to say regarding life in general. And I think some of that was obvious when we befriended each other 45 years ago. Enjoyed the show. Proud of your accomplishments Mike. Tom

    • September 15, 2018 at 6:39 pm — Reply

      Thank you Tom! It was great having Mike on the show telling a bit about himself. It’s definitely tough trying to cover someone’s life in only 90 minutes time but if he’s game, we’d love to have him on again to share more of his great stories and wealth of knowledge!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *