BME Aluminum Rods: Unparalleled Success
Over the last 36
years, the success of the Bill Miller Engineering Forged Aluminum Connecting
Rod in drag racing is unparalleled. The BME Rod is unquestionably the
number one choice of professional drag racers.
In 2010, using the
BME Rod's performance and reliability, John Force drove his Castrol High
Mileage Ford Mustang to six event wins and the NHRA Funny Car title. Force,
at 61, is the oldest person to win an NHRA Championship and the most
successful driver in NHRA history. Oh yeah–he used BME Rods to win the other
fourteen of his F/C titles, too. Force has always used Bill Miller Forged
Aluminum Connecting Rods in his own car and in the other two he fields in
NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing, the Castrol GTX Mustang his
daughter, Ashley Force-Hood drove to third in the 2010 F/C championship and the Auto Club Mustang
Robert Hight drove to the 2009 F/C title.
final round at the 2010 NHRA Finals at Pomona pitted Jeff Arend
in the DHL Toyota Solara against John Force in the AutoClub Ford
Mustang. Arend left on Force by two thousandths but Force's
Mustang was the better car and by the 330 mark, was ahead by
.005 and never looked back John Force won the round, the event
and Championship for the unprecidented 15th time. Force has
dominated nitro funny car racing for 25 years and has used BME
Forged Aluminum Connecting Rods the whole time. Image:
and fastest drag racing car in the world, the U.S. Army/Don Schumacher
Racing, Top Fuel Dragster, uses BME Rods. The Army Car's driver, Tony
Schumacher, won six events in 2010 and placed second in the Top Fuel
points. If that’s not enough, he’s a seven-time NHRA Top Fuel Champion
and holds not one, but both Top Fuel National Records–elapsed
time and top speed.
Perennial NHRA Top Fuel Champ, Tony Schumacher, won the Championship in
2009. Driving the U.S. Army Dragster, Schumacher won five events and the
title, his sixth consecutive and seventh total. Tony, also, holds both ends
of the T/F National Record: 3.771-sec. at 324.98- mph. BME Rods helped him
do all that.
Image: Auto Imagery.
Cruz Pedregon, the 2008 NHRA Funny Car Champion, raced
the Bill Miller Engineering equipped, Advance Auto Parts
Toyota Solara to three National Event wins and the title
that year. The Funny car veteran is also the 1992 FC
title-holder and a long-time BME customer.
Image: Auto Imagery
The BME Rod
dominated NHRA's nitro classes in 2010 with 90% of the top 10 in Top Fuel
and Funny Car using them. In T/F, besides Tony Schumacher; Antron Brown,
Cory McClenathan, Brandon Bernstein, Morgan Lucas, Shawn Langdon, Doug
Torrence and Dave Grubnic all use BME Rods.
In F/C, Matt Hagan (2010 runner-up), Ron Capps, Ashley Force-Hood (top
speed National Record holder, third in points for ’10 and second for ‘09),
Jack Beckman, Del Worsham, Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson all had them in
Pedregon brothers used BME Rods to win Funny Car championships, too–Cruz
in '92 and '08 and Tony in '03 and '07. In fact, every NHRA Funny Car
Champion since 1990, has had a set of BME Aluminum Rods in his engine
It's one thing to
win some races and a season title or two, but it's a far greater achievement
to sustain a win streak over decades. BME's famed aluminum connecting rod
has been a performance and reliability benchmark in drag racing for 36
years. Since 1974, 45 NHRA and IHRA fuel dragster and funny car Champions
have used them. For the last five years, at least 70% of the NHRA Top Fuel
and Funny Car points finalists have used BME Rods. John Force Racing has
been a Bill Miller Engineering Rod customer for 25 years and has won 17
Funny Car Championships with them. Tony Schumacher has won most of his NHRA
T/F titles with BME Rods. Clay Millican won all six of his IHRA Top Fuel
titles with them. The '05 NHRA Funny Car Champion, Gary Scelzi, is one of
only four drivers in 21 years to beat John Force for the F/C title and, in
his long career, is the only NHRA drag racer to have won all four blown-fuel
and blown-alcohol championships. BME Rods helped him do it.
the more successful drivers in Top Fuel is Cory
MacClenethan. One reason he does well in the Fram
Dragster is the BME Rods in its engine. Cory Mac
used BME to finish fourth in Top Fuel for 2009.
Image: Don Schumacher Racing.
Miller runs his own parts in the BME/Okuma/Red Line Oil Top Fuel car he
fields for Troy Buff. In three of the last four seasons, the BME Team scored
the most Championship points of any NHRA Top Fuel team running a partial
There's even a BME
revolution in the NHRA A/Fuel Dragster class. A/FDs are unblown on nitro but
allowed to run the Full Throttle series as Top Alcohol Dragsters. Five-time
TAD Champion (2006-2010) and A/FD National Record Holder, Bill Reichert,
uses BME Rods.
rod makers may brag about a few racers who run their stuff, but look at the
facts...there's little question that BME Forged Aluminum Connecting Rods
totally dominate drag racing.
The Bill Miller
Engineering Rods available for nitro-burning, supercharged engines inspired
BME to design and price rods for use in other drag race applications, such
as: Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Mod and Comp
Eliminator. There are even BME Rods for very high performance street
Six reasons drag racers choose BME Rods:
1) Bill Miller Engineering
Forged Aluminum Connecting Rods are made from a unique variety
of aluminum and are the only rods forged from aluminum
extrusions rather than cut out of ordinary flat stock.
2) BME Rods outperform and outlast all other
aluminum connecting rods.
3) In 36 years of manufacturing
aluminum connecting rods, Bill Miller Engineering has earned for
a reputation for innovative technology, high quality, continuous
improvement and outstanding service.
4) BME puts overriding emphasis on
quality through testing, inspection and manufacturing process
5) Bill Miller has raced a Top Fuel
car since the early 1980s. There is no better way to find out what
it takes to make the best drag race connecting rod in the world than
to regularly test it in your own Top Fueler.
6) BME Rods are MADE IN AMERICA with the finest materials and the
best workmanship of any racing connecting rod available today
Bill Miller Engineering is the
only manufacturer of aluminum connecting rods which develops and
tests its products in its own Top Fuel Dragster. Shown is the
BME/Okuma/Red Line Oil fueler, with Troy Buff at the controls,
at Las Vegas in October of 2010. Image: Autoimagery.com
CLICK HERE for Rod Overstock Sale
HERE To Download Connecting Rod Order Form
From 1975 to 1995,
BME Forged Aluminum Connecting Rods were made of 7075 aluminum, heat-treated
to the T6 specification. In 1996, after a comprehensive research and
development program, Bill Miller Engineering introduced rods made of a new,
advanced, aluminum alloy. Alcoa originally developed this revolutionary
material for the Boeing Company to use for wing spars and other
high-strength, lightweight structures in military and commercial aircraft.
For a given part, compared to
7075-T6, this newer type of aluminum provides an average, 15% increase in
tensile and yield strength along with equal or better elongation and other
mechanical qualities with, most importantly–no increase in weight. In short,
with Bill Miller Engineering rods, racers get longer fatigue life for their
money, but no extra weight.
The Truth about Billets
Association, a trade organization of primary aluminum producers which sets
industry standards, defines a “billet” as a "hot-worked, semifinished
product suitable for subsequent working." Other manufacturers sell “billet”
aluminum connecting rods. Unfortunately, BME’s competitors don't disclose
that the billets they use in making their rods are cut out of thick pieces
of flat stock–ordinary aluminum plates.
In this era of
lightweight engine components, exceptional fatigue life comes only from
superior materials, outstanding design and high-tech manufacturing. Bill
Miller Engineering has combined the outstanding metallurgy in its advanced
aluminum alloy with the advantages of the die-forging process to produce a
forged aluminum connecting rod which beats the rods cut out of plates under
real world racing conditions. Proof of that is vast majority of NHRA and
IHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car racers who use BME Rods and their 44 NHRA and
IHRA championships. No other aluminum connecting rod even comes close to
The first step in making a BME Forged Aluminum Rod, forging the
Rod's basic structure from a chunk of aerospace-quality
A half-a-dozen raw BME forgings. They'll sit for a while then
get moved to the machining facility. Don't touch! They're still
aluminum BME uses is not available in the lesser-quality, flat-stock used to
manufacture other aluminum rods. BME's raw material is aluminum bar stock
which is, first, subjected to a minimum, 6:1 extrusion ratio. In fact, this
extruded raw material is, indeed, a billet, because it’s "a semifinished,
hot-worked aluminum product" but, while a billet is the final form of the
competition’s rods; it’s only the start of a Bill Miller Engineering Rod.
Forged for Ultimate Strength
extrusion, BME’s die-forging process shapes the aluminum and compresses its
grain structure by heating it to 700°F then applying pressure of 2200 tons.
Compared to rods which are cut out of ordinary flat stock, Bill Miller
Engineering's forging process: 1) enhances grain flow and increases grain
density, 2) forces the grain of the extrusion into the connecting rod shape
and, more importantly, aligns that part of the grain which makes up the
rod's tapered beam with the direction of highest stress the rod will sustain
and, 3) forces the grain around the rod bearing bore, creating a "hoop
stress" phenomenon which provides maximum strength for the limited
cross-section available at the rod’s big end.
Today's demanding quality and productivity standards mean
there's a lot of automation in the making of a BME Aluminum
Rod. That said, to make the best aluminum rod in the world,
still requires some of the manufacturing process to be done
by hand by experienced craftsmen with sharp eyes and a fine
sense of touch. The big and small ends of each BME rod are
finished by hand on a Sunnen Rod Hone. Image: BME Ltd.
early-1990s research into the strength of connecting rod materials which
resulted in BME's switch to a different type of aluminum, fatigue life
studies proved failures are caused chiefly by stress resulting from severed
grains and improper gain direction. With a connecting rod machined from a
plate, any machining severs grain ends. If this machining is done to
critical sections of the rod, such as the beam or the big end, the severed
grain ends weaken the rod. If remaining uncut grains are not aligned in the
proper direction, the rod's strength will be further compromised.
A BME Rod’s taper,
because it comes from the forging process rather than machining, does not
expose grain ends. In a conventional aluminum rod cut from flat-stock, grain
length is cut by the rod bearing bore, again, exposing the grain ends. In
contrast, the forging process used by Bill Miller Engineering forces the
grain around that bore.
Better grain flow,
higher density, grain aligned with the direction of greatest stress,
tapering which does not cut the grain and big end grain formed around the
rod bearing bore are just a few reasons for a BME Rod’s exceptionally long
BME Rods are available in a variety of styles to fit the following engines:
Chrysler 426 Hemi, 440 Wedge and 340 A-Block, Small- and Big-Block
Chevrolets and Big-Block Pontiac. Also, some Ford rods are available by
special order. For more information,
rod prices page or call BME.
The Only Streetable Aluminum Rod
abound in the gearhead community. One is: aluminum connecting rods don't
work in street engines. Prior to the mid-'70s, that might have been true,
however, introduction of the Bill Miller Engineering Forged Aluminum
Connecting Rod in 1975 provided an exception to that myth.
The BME Rod has
great durability in high-end, high-power, street/strip or hot street engines
because it is die-forged, rather than cut out of a plate. Bill Miller
Engineering's unique, aluminum alloy further enhances fatigue strength such
that the durability of BME Rod rivals that of many forged steel rods and
exceeds that of a few.
About 20 years
ago, a few resourceful engine builders, led by H-O Racing's, Ken Crocie,
began using BME Rods in very-high-performance street engines. Crocie, a
racing and street/strip Pontiac V8 specialist, faced with a shortage of
acceptable steel rods for Pontiacs, began to use BME Aluminum Rods. While a
few other engine builders followed Crocie's lead, admittedly, use of the
Bill MIller Engineering Rod in street engines has not been widespread, but
that's only because of its higher cost and the stubborn belief that any
aluminum rod is unsuitable for street use.
"In a street
application, using the aluminum rod is a no brainer,"
BME President, Bill Miller, recently said in an interview with an automotive
magazine. "I don't know how the myth that aluminum rods can't be used on
the street got started, but I'll guess that, back in the 60s and early-70s,
they weren't making them using the process we're using, today. With the
material we've got and they way we manufacture the connecting rods, they'll
live a couple hundred thousand miles on the street because a street
application is, for the most part, low load. Our basic Aluminum Rod is made
for 10,000 rpm and 800-hp. The design criteria for the connecting rod is way
overkill for what it's going see on the street. We been running aluminum
rods on the street for 20 years."
Why build a street
engine with BME Rods? One reason is the "cool factor." Bill Miller
Engineering Rods are unique, high-end racing parts and there always will be
people who spend extra money to have the same rods in their engines as Tony
Schumacher or John Force puts in theirs. More importantly, there are
practical reasons for using BME Rods—the same reasons racers use them: less
reciprocating and rotating mass due to their comparative lightness. That
allows the engine to accelerate quicker and make more power as it does so.
Lighter rods also improve throttle response and allow the engine to run
reliably at a higher rpm than it could with steel rods.
You do a couple of
things differently when setting-up a street engine for BME Rods. Minimum
bearing clearance at room temperature should be .002-.0025-in. Wrist pin
clearance should be .0006-.0008-in. Rod side clearance should be .020-in.
The engine's oiling system needs to be appropriate for a racing application
which typically runs larger rod bearing clearances once the oil reaches
operating temperature. The oiling system must be configured to provide 10
psi, hot oil pressure for every 1000 rpm in the engine's rpm range. Under no
circumstances should 5W30 engine oil be used. The minimum acceptable oil is
a premium, 10W30 synthetic and Bill Miller Engineering recommends Red Line
Oil. If you insist on petroleum-based oil, minimum acceptable is a 20W50.
Engines with BME Aluminum Rods must not be run at high load or high rpm
until oil temperature reaches at least 125 deg. F. Lastly, while Red Line
oil lubricates reliably at oil temperatures up to 300 deg. F, the optimum
oil temperature range for an engine using BME Rods and Red Line Oil is
200-250 deg. F.
Forged Aluminum Connecting Rods for most production Chevrolet, Chrysler and
Pontiac V8s are reliable replacements for steel rods in engines of up to 800
horsepower. Aluminum Rods for some Ford V8s of similar power output are
available on special order. A Big-Block Chevrolet style, Pro Stock rod, good
to 1200-hp, is, also, available. If the application is a Chrysler 426 Hemi
or big-block "wedge", BME's blown-alcohol rods can be used at levels well
over 2000-hp and have outstanding reliability/durability.
And What About Bolts?
In keeping with
BME's pursuit of quality, Bill Miller installs nothing but the finest cap
screws in his Connecting Rods. These fasteners are manufactured to BME's
specifications by fastener manufacturer, Automotive Racing Products (ARP).
BME/ARP cap screws
come in two varieties. The fasteners in most BME Rods are made of 8740
chromium-molybdenum (chrome-moly) steel, a quenched and tempered steel with
a tensile strength of 180,000 to 210,000 psi. The cap screws used in rods
Bill Miller sells for supercharged drag race applications are made of a
special hybrid alloy called "ARP2000" which has a tensile strength of
215,000-220,000 psi. BME's fasteners made of this ARP-exclusive material
receive a special, proprietary heat-treating process designed by BME
specifically for cap screws used in blown-fuel drag race engines.
ARP 2000 steel, rolled threads and a special,
BME-designed heat-treating process makes the bolts in a BME Aluminum Rod
the strongest in the industry.
Both types of
BME/ARP fasteners are CNC-machined. They are heat-treated in vertical racks
which ensures complete, 360-deg. penetration. These cap screws have rolled
threads but the thread rolling is done after heat-treating which provides up
to 10-times more fatigue life than cap screws having threads rolled before
heat-treating. Needless to say, when you buy a BME Aluminum Rod, the last
thing you need to worry about are its fasteners.
BME Rods: The finest money can
Since 1975, Bill
Miller Engineering has been dedicated to designing, developing, and
manufacturing the finest aluminum connecting rods in the industry. Our
commitment to the racer is total. We conduct continuous research and
development to increase the performance of our Rods in racing applications.
We strive to produce the lightest and strongest aluminum rods on the market.
Rest assured, when you buy BME Forged Aluminum Connecting Rods; you get the
best rods modern technology can produce.
Bill Miller stands behind his company's rods, both literally and figuratively.
The BME Forged Aluminum Connecting Rod was
Bill Miller's first product and remains the core of his business.
One of the best things about BME products is the hands-on
involvement of Company President, Bill Miller, shown here at
left, talking with one of the BME Team members. In 1975, Bill
began BME with the Forged Aluminum Rod as its first product and
was the company's only employee. Today, 30 years later, Miller
is still closely involved with the manufacturing and quality
control processes and deals with many customers personally