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The Jim Jones - TRACO Tradition Continues


Culver City, California, 1986 - Jim Jones, Head Engine Builder of TRACO Engineering, buys the company from founders and famous engine builders Jim Travers and Frank Coon (TRAvers & COon). First Travers and then Coon retire after 3 decades of building TRACO, founded in 1957, into one of the foremost engine firms in the world. Jim Jones, hired in 1979, who helped build that reputation, continued to uphold "The TRACO Tradition" with the many projects that followed.

At that time about half the business was directed towards current race engine technology and engine rebuilds of race cars that were originally TRACO powered. That current technology was integrated into those earlier engine rebuilds and updates. Notable projects included Roger Penske's 1968 Trans-Am Camaro driven by Mark Donohue/Craig Fisher, Roy Woods Trans-Am AMC Javelin and Carl Haas's one of a kind Lola Can-Am car nicknamed Aircraft Carrier. One memorable race in 1992 was at Road America. It was the 20th reunion of Can-Am cars and Bob Lee's Jim Jones/TRACO powered McLaren M20, driven by Denny Hulme, started in the back of the pack. After 4 laps Denny took the lead and went on to win the race. Jim also built the engine for Charlie Hayes McLaren Group 7 sports car now owned by Bill Fraley and rebuilt the engines of the originally TRACO powered Lance Reventlow Scarab sports cars. So it seems that in addition to the current TRACO racing engine program, Jim had solidly established TRACO in the vintage race car engine market.

One of Jim's current racing programs at that time was with SCCA Showroom Stock Corvette racing which helped develop ideas to improve the performance of street-driven automobiles. Consequently, the remainder of the business became devoted to high end street engines. Dick Guldstrand relied on Jim to provide the power plants for all of his Guldstrand GS 80 Corvettes. TRACO supplied parts to Boyd Coddington and TRACO engines were installed in some of Coddington's cars. Movie, TV and rock stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nicolas Cage, Alex Van Halen, Steve Bond, Tristan Rogers and Charlie Sheen had engines built by Jim Jones.

In 1996, Jim sold his interest in TRACO Engineering, Inc. and joined that company in North Carolina to apply his years of experience and craftsmanship to bring the latest in engine building technology to NASCAR competition. As Head Engine Builder, Jim assembled and maintained NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series engines for Ron Hornaday when Ron won the Championship in 1996. He assembled Winston Cup and Busch Grand National restrictor plate and open race engines for other teams and was also involved in testing unleaded racing fuel for Winston Cup engines.

After a stint at A.J. Foyt Racing as Head Engine Builder, again assembling Winston Cup restrictor plate and open race engines, a desire to increase his knowledge of engine management systems led him to Callaway Cars in Old Lyme, Connecticut in 2000. There, as Engine Development Manager, he oversaw all engine development projects that Callaway Cars was involved in. Among them the 6.8L LS6 530HP 49 state emissions compliant C5 Corvette engine program, building and maintaining the Callaway C12-R engines used for American Le Mans Series and the 2001 24 Hours of Le Mans and developing street legal high performance turbocharged engine packages for The Mazda Corporation.

Now, Jim has returned to North Carolina opening Total Racing Automotive Co. (TRA-CO). "The Tradition that his clients have come to expect, building the finest racing and high end street engines his years of experience can provide . . . Continues."

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