Scorpion Racing Products has produced the ultimate piece of engine candy, the seemingly everlasting Racing Lifter. We were invited behind the walls of the Scorpion Performance Factory which looks and operates more like a watch factory than an engine components manufacturer. Given the precision of the manufacturing equipment and products, Scorpion has integrated high-end manufacturing into the United States and into their high performance engine components. Our goal was to see the Scorpion Racing Lifters and find out what makes them one of the coveted prize pieces in the Scorpion Racing Products Line.

A good timepiece has a distinctive sound. You can simply hear the quality, much like that of a well prepared and tuned engine. The distinct sound is obvious to any mechanic listening to the eight cylinders making music. Quality engine components make the difference, and this starts with the engine’s lifters. In one of our past engine build projects, we took a small block Chevy that originally sounded warbly like Sanjaya Malakar’s rendition of “Some Kind of Wonderful”, and we cranked it up and transformed it into Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Up Around the Bend” with the addition of Scorpion Racing Products’ Flat Tappet Lifters.

About Scorpion Performance and Scorpion Racing Products

Scorpion Performance was started in 1999 by Rob Stopanio. According to the company’s history that can be found on their website, “Stopanio (thanks to his obsession with automation) achieved breathtaking efficiencies at Scorpion. The company’s robotic-controlled machining tools immediately resulted in a 200 percent increase in productivity.” In 2008, Stopanio created Scorpion Racing Products as the marketing and distribution company for the products that Scorpion Performance manufactures. Despite all the economic changes world-wide in the past couple of years, Scorpion Racing Products has used efficiency to increase production while still manufacturing in the USA. Stopanio is highly committed to ensuring that Scorpion Racing Products are proudly stamped “Made in America”.

Scorpion’s Line of Lifters

We talked with Luke Whalen, General Manager & COO at Scorpion Performance, about their incredible line of lifters. Currently, Scorpion Racing Products offers Hydraulic Roller, Hydraulic Flat Tappet, Mechanical Roller, and Mechanical Flat Tappet Lifters for a wide variety of domestic automobile engines. Whalen explained, “Attention to detail is critical throughout the entire manufacturing process. We design and build these lifters from the perspective of an engine builder. By using the most technologically advanced machining tools in the industry, we are able to achieve very tight tolerances.” Whalen went on to describe the various types of Scorpion lifters and their properties.

Hydraulic Roller Lifters

Whalen explained that the Hydraulic Roller Lifters are constructed with a billet steel blank that undergoes a machining operation, a heat treatment, and a grinding operation before being put onto the assembly line where it is eventually followed by a final grind for a perfect part. Whalen states, “These are some of the reasons that our lifters perform so well. The Hydraulic Roller Lifters use a piston inside the lifter body to control lash. The hydraulic plungers are made from billet steel and are sorted on a very precise laser measuring device. After being matched, the lifters pass through an inspection device that measures the distance over time and weight that the hydraulic plunger moves to ensure every lifter produced will never stick or bleed down too fast. After the lifters pass the inspection process, all lifters go through a final centerless grind operation at the end of the assembly line which guarantees the lifters won’t have scratches and marks on them before you insert them into your lifter bores. We believe new products should look like new products when they arrive at your door.”

Features of Scorpion Hydraulic Roller Lifters:

  • Billet steel body heat treated for exceptional wear resistance
  • Precision ground needle roller bearing with tool steel axle for long life and minimal friction
  • Billet extra long piston, precision ground and fitted for controlled leak down and pump up
  • High-flow disc style quick reacting check valve for better reaction at higher rpm
  • Precision oil metering assuring proper lubrication to the rocker arms without sacrificing oil pressure
  • Proprietary tie bar system
  • Lightweight design for less resistance

Mechanical Roller Lifters

According to Whalen, the Scorpion Mechanical Roller Lifters are manufactured in almost the same process as the Hydraulic Roller Lifters with the exception of the hydraulic plunger internals. The same billet steel and heat treatment is used in the construction of this lifter body, and precise machining and grinding is focused on during the construction which helps give the lifters their long lasting quality.

Features of Scorpion Mechanical Roller Lifters:

  • Precision ground needle roller bearing with tool steel axle for long life and minimal friction
  • Large oil reservoir
  • Lightweight design for less resistance
  • Precision oil metering assuring proper lubrication to the rocker arms without sacrificing oil pressure
  • Proprietary tie bar system
  • Available with pressure-fed bearings

Hydraulic Flat Tappet Lifters

Hydraulic lifters are designed to run at no lash and have a movable pushrod seat controlled by engine oil to accomplish this. They are normally adjusted to a ‘preload’ (how far down from zero lash) setting and use a camshaft designed for a no lash situation. They are basically a ‘set and forget’ lifter because of the preload type adjustment and are normally used up to approximately 6,500 rpm. Because of the hydraulic unit inside the lifter, they can be prone to debris and leak down issues. Scorpion Racing Products’ Hydraulic Flat Tappet Lifters experience far less leak down issues “because of our precise measuring and grinding,” says Whalen.

Features of Scorpion Hydraulic Flat Tappet Lifters:

  • Proprietary formula hardenable cast iron body for extreme wear resistance
  • Mirror-finished cam face with the highest concentration of acicular carbides across the entire cam face in the industry
  • Billet extra long piston, precision ground and fitted for controlled leak down and pump up
  • High-flow disc style quick reacting check valve for better reaction at higher rpm
  • Precision oil metering assuring proper lubrication to the rocker arms without sacrificing oil pressure
  • Lightweight design for less resistance

Mechanical Flat Tappet Lifters

“We’re still one of the best kept secrets in circle track racing,” Luke Whalen admitted to us. “Racing teams that get an advantage by using our products don’t really share the information. They keep that under a rock so the other teams won’t catch on easily.” Scorpion is able to establish and maintain their quality control by “committing to updating and replacing our sophisticated tooling at least every three years,” states Whalen. “Every part is tested before it leaves the factory. Each component is treated like it’s an egg, so that when it arrives at the customer’s door, it’s flawless.”

A typical hydraulic cam and lifters will experience valve float at higher rpms, and they will restrict your top range to about 6,500 rpm. Scorpion’s products are different. “Our Mechanical Flat Tappet Lifters can take advantage of a wider range of usable rpm. Scorpion Lifters are a great choice overall, and they really shine in the Mechanical Flat Tappet Valve Trains.”

According to Mr. Whalen, “The key to our success is in the metallurgy and the acicular carbide content in the lifter face. Acicular carbides give a lifter its wear characteristics and make it last. To ensure the highest quality in every part, Scorpion built and developed a machine to test every lifter for the correct acicular carbide content. This is the only machine of its kind in existence, and it’s why we can guarantee our lifters for life.”

We wanted to check out the lifetime guarantee and how realistic that approach was, so we called Charlie High, a racer and engine builder out of Moyock, North Carolina. Charlie High Racing caters to a NASCAR sanctioned Late Model Stock Car Series that is very popular in the Southeast United States. Charlie told us that the current set of lifters in his racecar are Scorpion Mechanical Flat Tappet lifters. In his own words, Charlie told us, “I used to average a set of lifters or two every year. With the Scorpion lifters that I currently have, I have broken in three cams on the same set of lifters and they still are in great condition. I plan on using the same set of lifters this next season.” High went on to tell us, “I don’t know what makes these lifters wear so well…if it’s the material or hardness or what. All I know is that they are the most durable that I’ve ever used.”

Features of Scorpion Mechanical Flat Tappet Lifters:

  • Proprietary formula hardenable cast iron body for extreme wear resistance
  • Mirror-finished cam face with the highest concentration of acicular carbides across the entire cam face in the industry
  • Large oil reservoir
  • Lightweight design for less resistance
  • Precision oil metering assuring proper lubrication to the rocker arms without sacrificing oil pressure
  • Final Word on Scorpion Racing Products’ Lifters

We talked to the head man himself, Rob Stopanio, and he explained his company’s philosophy: “When you’ve got a good quality product like our lifters, you do a good job with automated manufacturing, and you stand behind your name, you’re going to be successful.” Somewhere in the background we could distinctly hear Creedence Clearwater Revival playing. It sounded great. Quality always sounds great.