Shop Tour: Rage Fuel Systems

More Than Meets the Eye

Words and photos by Tom McCarthy

Editor’s Note: When the sport of drag racing and drag racing journalism was young, a majority of the speed parts were being sold from racers building parts for racers. In those days before the internet and social media the only way for racers to find out about those speed parts and the manufacturers was by reading what were called “Shop Tours” printed in drag racing magazines like National Dragster, Drag News and others.


Today there are few speed parts manufacturers who race and more and more automotive performance companies are owned by venture capital firms run by accountants and isolated from their customers and the sport.


There are, however, still some drag racing companies owned and controlled by racers who not only sell parts but they promote the racers and series. DRO believes we should support and introduce these racer/manufacturers to racers and builders that might not know them and we are starting a series of Shop Tours.


Rage Fuel Systems owned by Mike Kopchick is a classic example the kind of shop we are looking for. He not only builds and sells great speed parts (His nitro fuel pumps have powered multiple NHRA World champions) he also races, loves the sport, spends his own money to race and for those reasons deserves the recognition.


This will be a regular feature and we are looking for deserving candidates. For consideration contact editor Jeff Burk jeffburk@dragracingonline.com.

Rage Fuel Systems has a state-of-the-art 5,000 hp engine dyno for engine and engine components on site. Jeff Prock (left) joins Mike Kopchick as he dyno’s an alky burning big block Chevy.


Rage Fuel Systems sits just over the border when traveling southbound on US 52 from North Carolina. As soon as you cross the South Carolina border, you are there. It’s a nondescript sizeable building, without markings to attract unwanted visitors. The building is easy to miss, but their products and services are not. You’ll find them in many pit areas of the top professional teams racing in all racing venues.


With a customer list that includes Jimmy Prock, Dickie Venables, Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon, Phil Shuler, “Stevie Fast” Jackson, Todd Tutterow and past clients like Don Prudhomme, Don Garlits and the late Dale Armstrong, rest assured owner Mike Kopchick, the heartbeat of Rage Fuel Systems, has an advanced grasp for what works and why, when it comes to fuel delivery systems for racing machines.


His client list past and present is not a name dropping who’s who of stars in the racing community; it’s a diverse collection of the highest horsepower producers in motor sport. Without revealing his current clients in detail, let’s just say record-setting racers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Mod, Sprint Cars, Sled Pull, Land Speed Record racing and other genres have all come knocking on Rage Fuel System’s door. And they do so with good reason: Mike Kopchick produces measurable, quantifiable results.

One of the most important pieces of equipment for teams and customers using superchargers is Rage’s in-house custom-built supercharger dynamometer.


For example, there are various dynamometers throughout Rage Fuel Systems for not only the fuel pumps, but for superchargers as well. There are four flow benches. There is a precision clutch dyno, a blower dyno, measurement of camshafts and, of course, an inertia engine dyno that is attached right to the crank for exacting measurements of every aspect of the engine in actual operation. Including sensors in the combustion chamber to measure combustion process.

The screen doesn’t lie. Mike and his technicians can see instant data on the big screen during and after a “pull” on the dyno.


As well as high-speed port pressure sensors on intake and exhaust so we can see when the camshaft events actually happen while the engine is running at 10000 rpm.

In a shop that made its original reputation from its unique fuel pumps, a flow bench is mandatory.


It’s not just about the measurement of power output, it’s about knowing exactly what all the primary systems are doing so the tuner can understand why the motor is producing what is seen on the dyno data collection sheets. Mike has a saying that explains this explicitly: “Without data, it’s just an opinion.”


Having interviewed some of the greatest crew chiefs in NHRA drag racing over the years I can tell you, Mike Kopchick and Austin Coil have a lot in common. They both believe only in empirical data – show them the actual measurable proof or else.

Recently Kopchick has added several CNC machining centers to his operation. With these machines Rage can make virtually any part needed in house.


Mike is a precision-based machinist of the highest order himself; he knows no other way to be. His dad was a tool and die maker, so Mike grew up in the precision machine shop world. As a teen, he entered the trade in earnest first with Ed Pink and then moved on to work at Keith Black Racing where he was mentored by Wes Cerny. Mike then had the skills and good fortune to work for Ed Donovan for over five years before moving back to the east coast and eventually opening his own business as a partnership which eventually spawned Rage Fuel Systems.


“Of the great engine builders I’ve worked with over the years, I’d have to say Ed Donovan and Ed Pink had the greatest impact on me,” Mike said. “In Pink’s shop if a part, any component, was not right, it was junk. Throw it away and start over. Donovan being a manufacturer and a true genius on metallurgy – showed me how to make engines work and live. I still operate that way today; it must be right, or it is not acceptable.”

The entire fuel injection system hat, injector and nozzle area can be checked on this test station.


Rage Fuel Systems does a lot more than just produce fuel systems and sell fuel pumps with all the related components. Rage will tailor engineer a system from the drawing board to completion, then install it, dyno test the motor and install it in the car. A race car can be turn-key completed at Rage Fuel Systems, ready to go directly to the track for testing.


Darlington is only 35 minutes from the shop. If a customer wants to work one-on-one with Rage, they will get the car to its potential and provide daily over-the-phone tuning advice on race day. They love completion, they thrive on it.


There are signs in the shop here and there alerting people to standard basic shop practice. Not just your usual collection of MSDS manuals, Safety Glasses required or Hearing Protection Area signage, but real-world norms are adhered to like “No Stupid People.”

Here’s a saying that’s near and dear to Mike Kopchick’s heart. When asked why this is important to him, Mike grinned and replied, “That’s what keeps ‘em coming back, that’s why we do this.”


He’s referring to the fire in the furnace that makes real competitors take their A-game and step it up a notch. It’s one thing to lose, it’s a whole other ball game to embarrass a racer. This incites ire and any racer worth their burnt rubber will respond with the results being improved performance even they didn’t know they could achieve.


Rage Fuel Systems of course does have a solid line up of fuel pumps from two gallons per minute up to 120 GPM!  The big pumps are found on the Top Fuel and Funny Car team’s engines. They typically run at about 110 to 112 GPM and that pump at full tilt and can fill a one-gallon jug in two seconds. All parts and components are custom built to customers needs. Rage produces everything in house except bearings, seals and hardware.

Rage pumps are on some of the quickest and fastest nitro burning cars in the world. Each one gets a thorough bench check before leaving the shop.


Aside from the obvious fuel system work and giving the customers what they need to get up and running with the big dogs, the best value of working with Rage Fuel Systems is not readily visible and you won’t see it anywhere on a price sheet. The greatest value of being a customer with Rage is the vast encyclopedic knowledge shared by Mike Kopchick and his inner circle of consultants. It’s a myopic view of Rage Fuel Systems if anyone thinks the just sell and service fuel pumps.


For example, Jeff Prock is a frequent visitor at Rage and a good friend of Mike’s and he’s often in-house for dyno runs and gives input as to what he sees and hears happening with a motor. Mike has been around these engines for decades and when it comes to understanding what motors are doing and why: there is simply no substitute for experience. Mr. Kopchick and his inner circle have been there and done that at every level before. Therefore, some of the best minds and the biggest teams in drag racing work with or consult with Rage Fuel Systems on a regular basis.



Rage Fuel Systems


Email Mike Kopchick – mike@ragefuelsystems.us  



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