The story of AJPE begins in Santa Maria California, a small farm town in Central California.
Alan Johnson and his brother Blaine grew up on their Johnson Family dairy farm. Their days were spent tending to dairy cattle, moving irrigation pipe, and doing their daily chores before and after school. Both boys learned early on they could fix or build things that they didn’t have access to or couldn’t afford. Influenced by their Dad’s involvement in the local Drag Racing scene in and around the Santa Maria valley during 1950’s they both discovered the thrill of speeding around the farm on just about anything they could conjure up that had wheels and would burn gas.
Alan and Blaine began their racing efforts competing in area Sand Drags with their home built Dragster powered by a Blown Alcohol Big Block Chevy. They proved themselves to be fierce competitors throughout the Central California region during the early to mid-eighties while honing their engine design talents, driving, and fabrication skills.
In 1985, the Johnson Family started Johnson Racing which has since evolved into AJPE. Alan designed the 1st solid Billet cylinder head for the DRCE Oldsmobile engine platform which required the purchase of their first CNC machine. With Alan’s ability to design supercharged engines and his capacity to tune a racecar along with Blaine’s driving ability they began their dominance of the NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster category winning 26 National Events and 4 consecutive National Championships from 1990 thru 1993. Their on track performance and race wins spurred interest in their engine program and resulted in many engine and parts sales for AJPE.
1994 brought several changes to Johnson Racing and AJPE. Alan and Blaine moved up to NHRA’s professional class of Top Fuel and AJPE purchased their first 5-Axis CNC machine, which allowed them to eliminate the inconsistencies of hand porting while keeping up with the volume of hemi heads needed to campaign a competitive Top Fuel Dragster. By now AJPE was supplying several teams with Stage 1 Top Fuel heads along with a full scale repair department to service damaged cylinder heads.
On August 31st, 1996 we lost Blaine Johnson in a tragic racing accident that changed us all on many levels. Some lost a Son, some a brother, a friend, a competitor, or a co-worker. Regardless, the loss of Blaine was by far the biggest test to the Johnson family’s determination and desire to continue racing in honor of Blaine and what he believed in. Never a quitter and always pushing to improve helped both the racing program and AJPE shift to another level.
1997 brought in Winston as a primary sponsor for the family dragster and a new Top Fuel head design from AJPE. With Alan’s refined tune up and Gary Scelzi behind the wheel, Johnson Racing began an era of dominance winning 3 World Championships between 1997 and 2001 all while developing and testing new products from AJPE. During this time Alan created the AJPE 481X engine platform. The 481X was the final evolution of Alan and Blaine’s famed Oldsmobile power plant. It started with a clean slate and was designed around three basic fundamentals: The ability to produce power, maintain its durability, and ease of maintenance. These primary features propelled the 481X to the top of the Chevrolet wedge style engine package.
During 1999 AJPE added two new CNC machines to their manufacturing facility and broke ground on an additional 15,000 sq. ft. shop for future expansion. By the end of 2004, Alan and his AJPE team designed, tested, and christened nine different types of high level racing cylinder heads. Our cylinder heads and blocks were sought after worldwide with new customers throughout the US, South America, and Europe ordering engine parts on a regular basis.
1998 – AJPE 12°, 18°, & 21° water jacket Sprint Car heads and IHRA Pro-Stock heads.
2000 – NHRA Pro-Stock head, Billet Small Block head.
2002 – AJPE Nostalgia 392 Billet head
2003 – AJPE Stage 5 Top Fuel head
2004 – AJPE Billet Big Block Chevy heads
AJPE introduced three versions of the Stage 1 Muscle Head line of Alcohol Hemi cylinder heads early in 2005. These heads were designed for Blown Alcohol Dragster & Funny Car, NHRA and IHRA Pro-Modified, and a unique concept to the naturally aspirated injected Nitro combination. The AJPE A-Fuel head used a port design that was very unorthodox at the time but set the stage for some very impressive ET slips for our early customers. This same design is used by many NHRA A-Fuel race teams and to this day is the cylinder head of choice of NHRA Top Alcohol Champion Tom Conway.
June 2005 brought the acquisition of Rodeck Aluminum Blocks and four more CNC machines to the fleet. AJPE and Johnson Racing had been using and selling Rodeck blocks for many years so with the announcement of John Rodeck’s retirement, it was a perfect match to bring the Rodeck manufacturing facility here to Santa Maria.
2006 was the year of the Stage 6 Top Fuel Cylinder head. It was Alan’s partial re-design focusing on durability and safety of the Nitro Hemi Head. The valve cover rail was raised to allow for an internal fuel rail to eliminate oil leaks, and a new exhaust flange angle and bolt pattern to improve header life and seal to the head.
The AJPE Stage 2 Muscle Head debuted in early 2007. An improved port design, raised valve cover rail, and weight reduction were its strong points. These were available with 2.400/2.450 x 1.900 valve sizes. Primary designs are for Blown alcohol Dragster and Funny Car or Pro-Modified.
The AJPE 5.300 bore space Hemi Engine and the Stage 3 Muscle Head all came to life in 2010 and 2011. The 5.3 Hemi spent a year on the design screen and ran the full 2011 season in ADRL’s Pro-Extreme Pro-Modified class. While it didn’t light the world on fire it did prove that AJPE had the ability to create, manufacture, and test, an entirely new engine package within a 12 month period without any major setbacks. Mid 2010 saw the first results of the Stage 3 Muscle Head running on a customer’s engine being tested on Fred Mandolini’s dyno cell in Villa Park, Illinois. As designed…the Stage 3 Muscle Head worked well with screw superchargers.
In 2012 Alan and AJPE created, built, and tested the Stage 7 Top Fuel Cylinder head for both NHRA Top Fuel classes. A late 2011 NHRA rule change allowed for a larger intake valve which brought with it a substantial increase in power noted by several teams after initial testing. AJPE purchased a second Mazak 5-Axis Machining center for the block department to increase production capacity and versatility.
During 2013 AJPE designed and introduced the Stage 3 481X cylinder head with Eric Dillard & Steve Petty at Proline Racing Engines. The guys at Proline are Leaders in the Turbo Pro-Modified classes, setting track records in all corners of the country and abroad. 2013 also brought the addition of the new AJPE Lightweight Hemi block for the alcohol classes. With a total re-design and utilizing the new Mazak 5-Axis machine center, AJPE was able to reduce the block weight by 15 pounds over previous versions.
2015 has brought another Mazak CNC machine to the AJPE block department and is beginning to show its potential. AJPE is in its second year of sponsoring Mike and Doug Gordon’s Morro Bay Cabinets Alcohol Funny Car in NHRA. They are running the new AJPE developed lightweight hemi block and Stage 3 Muscle Head engine combination. Currently AJPE is in the design stage of two more cylinder head packages that will be like no other…