Willy Tagliavini, founder/owner/managing director of Supertech Performance, San Jose, California, found his passion for racing at a very young age, growing up in Argentina. Today, he’s just as passionate about racing – and race engineering – as ever. And he’s the subject of this edition of EPARTRADE’s “Five Questions With Racing Industry Executives.”
Working with his son Martin (pictured with Willy above), whose title is chief marketing officer, Tagliavini not only runs his company like a well-tuned engine, but spends any downtime racing. It’s not at all unlikely that the father and son team will both be found racing when not working on aspects of Supertech’s business.
Supertech uses cutting-edge technology to create state-of-the-art high-performance valves and valve train components. The products are designed for every type of racing, from drag racing to rally to road racing.
The company also utilizes ultrasonic tests and x-rays, laser measurement equipment, and applications such as Finite Element Analysis, working together with top engine builders to update and improve products at all times. Tagliavini’s manufacturing process begins with one-piece forging, precisely achieved in several steps; next, comes heat treatment for the relief of stress and nitride hardening or coating, one more grinding, and the use of the company’s Superfinishing. The latter is a patented process that makes sure each valve is free of any imperfections and the dimensions are precise.
Superfinishing was introduced by Tagliavini in 2006 as a standard addition at no extra charge. The process reduces surface roughness of each valve to improve both performance and durability.
In Supertech’s valve manufacturing process, the valves are not finished from generic blanks. Instead, they’re designed for each application. And their durability is maximized, with valve tips hardened beyond 52 HRC.
Along with crafting these top-notch components, Supertech can produce parts for custom specs, if a customer is seeking something so unique it has yet to be made by the company. Tagliavani says he prides himself on being able to create an order manufactured to fit any customer specifications.
Tell us your story of how you got started in racing?
“Since I was very young, I was very passionate about cars and racing. Growing up and living in Argentina, racing was very difficult, but I always worked to get involved in cars and got a degree in mechanical engineering for that purpose. Then, I went to work for Ford as a vehicle development engineer.
“But a few years after I moved to the U.S., things got a little easier, so first I purchased a Honda S2000 for weekend track days, and that car little by little got transformed into a NASA race car. In the process, we also purchased a Miata race car and a BMW E36 that we also raced with NASA. So, we had a chance to have fun racing our cars and testing our parts at the same time.”
What is the most exciting thing to you about the motorsports industry today?
“I think that the motorsports industry has always been exciting. It has been continuously evolving like everything else, and today has reached a level of technology – with all the electronics available and level of understanding of combustion processes—that is amazing, with room still for evolution.”
What motivates you daily in your job?
“Being involved in engine components development. Interaction with customers’ experiences and other engineers with expertise in different areas is very enjoyable and interesting. You are always learning things that help in new development and product improvement. The increase in the efficiency and engine output is putting increasing demand on each component.”
What recent new technology or advancements in racing excite you most?
“As I mentioned, the increase in power output and efficiency of the engines is putting more stress into the engine components. These need to be technically reevaluated frequently in design, materials, and manufacturing processes, in order to keep strength and long term durability.”
What should everybody in the racing industry know about your company?
“We are here because we like what we do. Some of us at Supertech have been doing this for more than 30 years, and we have the experience to help in the solution of performance issues in valve-train components. So, anybody can feel free to contact us with any problem they may have, [and know] that we will take it seriously.”
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