John Kyle likes to go fast. More to the point, he likes to build things that go fast.
Kyle, 39, who owns Advanced Product Design at 3025 N. Genoa-Clay Center Rd., has been building engines for all types of race cars, mostly dragsters, for 12 years.
“We build carburetors and engines for everything in the racing industry,” said Kyle, a Northwood native. “Primarily drag racing, late-model racing and a little bit of street hot rod. I drag race, and all my guys (employees) drag race. It just comes natural. We just got so big within the drag racing industry, we couldn’t keep up with the demand. We still have customers we do late models for.”
|At left, Jon Kyle, owner of Advanced Product Design engine design
firm in Clay Center and Chris Fleenor, check out a crankcase. At
right, checking the piston in block. (Press photo by Harold Hamilton
Advanced Product Design has five other employees - Joe Hessling, Randy Scheuer, Chris Fleenor, Casey Cozad and Jim Sankewicz.
Kyle raced dragsters and two-chassis trucks from 1995-2005 and won his share of races, including the World Super Pro Challenge in Michigan in 1997. He won an IHRA world bracket finals race in 1997, but the engine-building business was too much to pass up.
“I gave up racing mostly because of the business,” Kyle said. “I couldn’t keep up with everything. I don’t really miss driving, because I’m still so involved with it. I have hundreds of customers I’m involved with daily.”
Kyle’s business in Genoa covers 3,200 square feet and was originally used for building transmissions. When Kyle got married in 1997, he gave that business to his father.
“A friend of mine bought some carburetors that didn’t work very well,” Kyle said. “I was helping him, and next thing I knew I was building carburetors. I had a customer from Adrian, Mich., who had a lot of (car) problems. I helped him with his car and it worked out well for him. He approached me about building an engine for him, for a 1963 Corvette. I built an engine for him and he went on to win multiple championships. We won a lot of ‘heads-up’ races, where the first one to the finish line wins. His motor turned into another one, and then another one, and here we are.”
Kyle estimated that he sells about 75 engines a year, and 90 percent of those are for drag racing.
“We’ve had a lot of success,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a race around we haven’t won with our product. We sell about 1,000 carburetors a year. We do a lot to complement that, too. We build our own belt-driven fuel pumps off the front of the motor. We designed that in-house. We do our line of carburetor spacers, which sit underneath the carburetor and makes the motor have more power.”
Kyle said his products are sent all around the United States and to several countries, including Australia.
“I don’t know if there’s a Sportsman (drag) race that has not won, at one time or another, with our carburetor in it,” Kyle said. “We build engines anywhere from 700 horsepower up to 2,500 horsepower.”
Kyle said Advanced Product Design worked on the motor and chassis that set a record in a one-eighth mile race at Norwalk.
“We were the first to make a three-second run in a (pro modified) automatic door car, which is a car with an automatic transmission,” Kyle said. “That car, I did everything on it. I went with the guy, tuned the car at the track, worked on the chassis, the motor. I did that one start to finish.”