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Times have changed, and so has Clinton Township-based Katech Inc., which was founded in 1977 to do high-performance engine design and building as well as prototyping and testing. Racing was the primary focus.

Katech engines empowered champions including the likes of A.J. Foyt, Dale Earnhardt (Sr. and Jr.), Jimmy Johnson, Johnny O’Connell and Ron Fellows to victories on circuits as diverse as NASCAR ovals and the road-and-track layout of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

But as client automakers realigned their racing programs, Katech had to shift gears.

Jason Harding manages Katech’s automotive aftermarket division, which in little more than a decade has expanded from less than 5 percent of the company’s business to more than 60 percent, he said.

The company still does extensive racing engine work for private sports car teams, and it helped to develop the new 16-cylinder marine engine for locally based XVI Power. But there’s also a waiting list of car owners eager to have the Katech workshop soup up their cars, especially the latest-model Chevrolet Corvettes, as well new Chevrolet Camaros and V-series Cadillacs.

Even the basic new Corvette comes with 450 horsepower, and you can get as much as 650 horsepower in a Z06 version with a supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V-8 beneath its hood.

But for many Corvette buyers, especially those who like to do racing-style track-day driving events, even 650 horses isn’t enough. So a growing number of them are turning to Katech for tuning and equipment that can boost their cars to as much as 800 horsepower, and with 735 pound-feet of torque delivered to the rear wheels.

By the way, that extra 150 horsepower costs $10,000.

Of course you can spend more, like the owner of a new Corvette who had Katech install its new 427-cubic-inch V8, upgrade magnetically controlled suspension, and add carbon-fiber body trim and racing seats with safety harnesses.

Katech specializes in GM vehicles, but it recently did a project for a Dodge Challenger owner who wanted a supercharged Viper V-10 engine installed.

Katech’s facilities house everything from design engineering and engine building to parts prototyping and production. The company evaluates and validates products — its own and in behalf of automakers — in six specialized testing cells. The installation shop is housed in a large garage structure just across the company parking lot from office/engineering/manufacturing/inventory building.

On a recent tour, Harding turned a corner in a workshop building to reveal a couple of prototype racing cars Katech is restoring for an owner. Race car restoration for vintage events is another new but growing business for the company’s talented staff of some two dozen engineers and mechanical experts.

In addition to installing high-performance equipment, Katech has an online sales shop that offers everything from belt tensioners and crate engines, to oil pumps and valve covers.

The company also remains active in motorsports. Nineteen-year-old budding superstar Ernie Francis Jr. won the recent TransAm race on Belle Isle in a car powered by a Katech engine.

For information, visit the company’s website, http://katechengines.com.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at ledsall@cox.net.

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