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Rocking With Oliver Racing Parts

Posted By: Evan J. Smith
Oliver Racing Parts
 
Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Photography courtesy of the manufacturer
 
With roots that can be traced back to the 1800s, Oliver Racing Parts is newer than its parent company by comparison but built a brand based on producing tested, trusted and tough connecting rods for the high-performance industry over the last 40 years.
 
Founded by Joseph W. Oliver in 1980 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and still in business to this day, Oliver Machinery manufactures machinery for the woodworking industry. “In the 1920s, they had about 250 employees and a foundry and made all sorts of table saws, lathes, and other things,” noted Oliver Racing Parts’ owner, Joe Moch.
 
Generations later, Oliver Machinery branched off to establish Oliver Racing Parts in 1983 as a subset of the larger parent company. “Bruce Baldwin was one of the owners back then, and racing was a personal passion of his,” Moch explained of how the Oliver company switched gears to also manufacture connecting rods. “Our focus has always primarily been on the performance V8 market for dirt track, circle track, and drag racing.”
 
With craftsmanship, precision, strength, and durability at its core, the small operation grew and established itself as a leader in the industry. Foundries were added and the production location was eventually moved from Grand Rapids to a 10,000-square-foot space in Charlevoix when Moch purchased the business around 2013.
 
“The previous owner had been looking to retire,” shared Moch of what prompted the change of ownership. With a lifelong interest in cars and racing, Moch found the opportunity to be especially interesting and went forward with the acquisition.
 
Today, Oliver Racing Parts offers a wide variety of applications for Ford, Chevy, Chrysler, and even Mitsubishi – all proudly made in America by the finest craftsmen. All of Oliver’s I-beam connecting rods feature the company’s exclusive “Parabolic Beam” design that reduces beam stress and delivers the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any connecting rod currently made, and every rod is precision-machined using only premium mill-certified aircraft quality E4340 AQ chrome-moly alloy. 
 
“One of the things that makes Oliver’s rods stand out above other connecting rods is that we use a two-step heat treating process to produce a 100-percent martensite grain structure,” Moch added of the labor-intensive and lengthy process. After the rods are processed in-house, they are sent out for heat-treating before returning to Oliver for the final machining and finishing. “Others have gotten away from it because it takes time, but we take a lot of pride in standing by the process. The stress relief after the initial machining is crucial to the rods’ longevity and integrity.”
 
For the NMRA and NMCA, this means a high-quality, durable, and reliable connecting rod that can withstand tons of abuse. “We enjoy supporting our customers and like being involved on a more personal level. It’s great to see our racers out there using their engines and winning with Oliver,” said Moch. From the street to the strip, Oliver Racing Parts’ robust history and heritage is carrying racers forward into the future.
 

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