Dan Jesel was presented NHRA’s Lifetime Achievement Award on June 16, 2017 at Beach Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Dan started Jesel Valvetrain Innovation as an offshoot of his engine building business in 1980. Early on, Dan realized that the only way to truly improve Chevrolet vavletrains was to install shaft rockers. Dan found the solution was to relocate the rocker’s pivot point with a shaft rocker system, and a thriving business was created.
A pattern quickly developed – analyze the problem, innovate a solution and deliver a new Jesel product to market. Over the past 37 years Dan duplicated this process many times spawning innovative products such as camshaft belt drives, keyway-guided and wheel guided roller lifters, large diameter camshafts and modular split cam bearings and double roller OHC cam followers.
Jesel products have become the valvetrain component of choice. Today, many winning NHRA Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock car racers use Jesel valvetrain components, and building valvetrains for Pro Stock and Top Fuel cars offers little room for compromise. Dan decided early on that Jesel’s reputation would be built on quality. Good design is essential, but quality materials and state-of-the-art machining centers are critical components of Jesel’s quality and its success story.
Dan’s quest for better customer service never ceases. Due to the huge proliferation of new aftermarket cylinder heads and complexity of today’s valvetrains, Dan opened the Jesel Custom Shop to provide machining and setup services for its customers. Now Jesel’s customers can take advantage of the most sophisticated machinery available operated by the Jesel brain trust.
Dan’s brother Wayne also received the NHRA Lifetime Achievement Award at the same time. Wayne has worked hand-in-hand with Dan since their early days of NHRA Modified racing and as a liaison to the racing community.
Dan is far from finished making his mark on the racing community. There are many new products in the Jesel pipeline including one of Dan’s passions, a “clean sheet” race engine design that eliminates the compromises found in most production-based engines that were originally designed for non-race applications as well as a design that is not influenced by sanctioning body rule books.
Both Dan and Wayne are extremely honored to receive these awards from NHRA. Their mission has always been to serve the racer first.