Video: Tilton Engineering’s Line Of Racing Clutches

From autocross to Formula 1, Tilton Engineering has covered every avenue of motorsports and have the sense and experience to accommodate every type of racer. Longevity, ease of operation, and packaging are all major considerations made in the design of its clutches—but those are only a few. Depending on budget and application, there are three main styles the avid enthusiast or the dedicated racer can choose from.

Cost-effective, compact, and robust, Tilton’s Metallic clutches are some of the most popular in American racing categories like NASCAR, Champ Car, ALMS, Grand Am, and SCCA. The pressure plates and floater plates are machined from high-strength steel, and yet, they’re designed to be quite light. The open, one-piece clutch cover vents heat, and also reduces deflection; improving shift times. Low inertia, excellent wear-resistance, high-torque capacity, and reliability necessary for most demanding racing applications make these metallic clutches the most common clutch type used in road racing and circle track racing.

Blending some of the benefits of metallic and ceramic components, Tilton Engineering’s cerametallic range of clutches are designed for racing situations where some clutch modulation is still required. Because the cerametallic discs are thicker than sintered metallic discs, they provide higher heat capacity through their increased mass.

In addition, the engagement characteristics of cerametallic clutches are smoother than those of sintered metallic clutches, which makes them usable in extreme street situations and still capable of handling massive horsepower. These features make Tilton’s cerametallic racing clutches popular with highly-tuned road cars, but also in rallying, hillclimbing, and road racing.

As strong as purely metallic clutches are, there’s no denying the advantages carbon offers in terms of its coefficient of friction. When heat is introduced, the carbon clutch will double its capacity for torque; carbon matrix plates (driven and floater) do not warp from heat: providing consistent shifting and minimizing heat-related clutch failures. Carbon is also able to shed heat quite quickly. Additionally, carbon does give slightly in comparison to cerametallic, so it helps cushion the drivetrain during an abrupt application of power, as in a launch or during a brutal upshift.

Thanks to extremely low inertia, high-torque capacity, high-heat capacity, and smooth-engagement characteristics.

Tilton pioneered and developed the Carbon-Carbon clutch in the most demanding form of motorsport: Formula 1. In 1987, Team Lotus were searching desperately for a clutch that could both handle the torque and minimize the vibration of their Honda Turbo V6 motors. After Ayrton Senna dominated that year’s Detroit Grand Prix in his Lotus-Honda, this new clutch-type demonstrated its potential. Since then, Tilton’s Carbon-Carbon clutches have been continually refined to be the best carbon racing clutches on the market.

Having seen multiple victories in races worldwide, from the 24 Hours of Le Mans to the Baja 1000, Tilton’s Carbon-Carbon clutches are some of the best. That said, there’s a slew of other, more modestly-priced items from Tilton which cater to the casual racer or the weekend warrior, but with the know-how gleaned from decades of experience at the top of the world of motorsport.

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About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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