Pomona, Daytona, Englishtown, Indianapolis, Bristol, Talladega and scores of other race tracks Worldwide are the venues for the quintessential American motorsports: drag racing and stock car racing. Hardcore racers in cars carrying the distinctive, black-on-yellow, BME logo turn on win lights and take checkered flags using engine parts and superchargers made in the USA by Bill Miller Engineering of Carson City, Nevada.
Why do they choose BME?
For over a generation, Bill Miller Engineering Forged Aluminum Connecting Rods, Forged Aluminum Racing Pistons, Wrist Pins and the Gibson-Miller Mark II Supercharger–have been renowned for winning performance, cutting-edge technology, premium quality and bulletproof reliability.
A fixture in professional drag racing since 1975, Bill Miller Engineering’s flagship product, the Forged Aluminum Connecting Rod, has won over 50 championships in drag racing classes for supercharged, nitromethane-fueled engines. The latest was John Force’s 2013 NHRA Funny Car Championship.
BME Forged Aluminum Racing Pistons have won eight NASCAR Championships, the latest being Tony Stewart’s 2005 Sprint Cup, Kyle Busch’s 2009 Nationwide title and Ron Hornaday’s 2009 Camping World Truck Championship. BME Pistons have won the Daytona 500 five times, most recently, Jamie McMurray’s sensational victory in 2010 and, most famously, seven-time Sprint Cup Champion, the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., in 1998. During a single year, 2013, Bill Miller Engineering Forged Aluminum Racing Pistons won an unprecedented 25 Nationwide and Truck Series races for Joe Gibbs Racing. In 2013, BME was, also, successful Internationally. KRE Racing Engines used BME Pistons to finish one-two in the Australian V8 Supercar Championship.
BME Wrist Pins, new to the market in 2000, quickly established themselves as a benchmark product. Of late, they’ve won Championships in both NHRA nitro classes, Top Fuel and Funny Car, for three straight years, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Bill Miller Engineering is totally committed to racers. We do continuous research and development at race tracks all over the World, the results of which are constantly being applied to BME products. This nonstop improvement keeps us ahead of our competitors and gives racers using BME products a winning advantage.
At Bill Miller Engineering, our mission is two-fold: 1) design and manufacture the best-performing, highest-quality competition engine components bar none and 2) provide you with the best possible customer service.
Location: United States, Nevada
Bill Miller Engineering’s roots in the hard-core race engine parts business go back more than a generation. In 1970, fresh out of the Navy, Bill Miller worked as Warehouse Manager at National Speed and Marine in Los Angeles. This speed shop campaigned a Top Fuel Dragster. In his early years in the automotive aftermarket, not only did Bill Miller get to know the sales and distribution end of the business, but he learned about drag racing by crewing on a Top Fuel car.
A few years later, Miller worked at the old Ansen Automotive Engineering where he became familiar with Ansen’s aluminum connecting rod. The Ansen rod was a leading-edge design but had limited market success because the manufacturing was in Japan. In the early-’70s, this arrangement didn’t work well because lead times were months, sometimes even a year, and the company could not respond to market changes which occurred in shorter time-spans. Ansen eventually moved production back to the United States.
About 1974, Ansen changed hands and was renamed American Racing, but the new owner was interested mainly in the wheel business. Bill recognized the Ansen rod’s advanced design and that it outperformed other aluminum rods. More importantly, he was convinced of its potential for market success now that production was on American soil.
These ideas in mind, and influenced by his experiences with the National Speed and Marine Top Fuel car, Miller decided to go into business making aluminum connecting rods for drag racing. Bill went to his new employer with an offer to buy the connecting rod business and finance the purchase through a split of the profits.
In June, 1975, Bill Miller Engineering, Limited began business in a tiny, 1200 sq. ft. factory in Long Beach, California. BME’s first years were a grueling experience. Bill Miller spent days working at American Racing as Quality Control Manager and six-to-eight hours each night on his rod business. The initial tasks were to sell the inventory of Japanese-made rods on hand and set up the BME manufacturing operation. Miller soon found most of the Japanese tooling didn’t work very well. New machines had to be ordered and new tooling had to be built.
The learning curve was steep because, while understanding the sales and marketing end of the race engine parts business, Miller was new to the manufacturing side. Bill became a self-taught machinist, toolmaker and manufacturing engineer on a crash basis. Through determination, persistence, seven-day weeks and four hours of sleep a night, Bill Miller Engineering slowly got on its feet.
Through the mid-to-late-’70s, BME Forged Aluminum Connecting Rods became well-known in drag racing circles with racers like Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, Bob Glidden and Warren Johnson becoming quick converts and staunch supporters. By the end of the decade, Miller had paid off his debt to American Racing and, in the drag racing world, the BME brand had become synonymous with high performance, outstanding quality, great value and excellent service. Part of this success comes from the company’s mission statement: “Bill Miller Engineering is dedicated to designing, developing, and manufacturing the finest aluminum rods in the industry. Our commitment to the racer is total.”
By 1978, the tiny Long Beach facility had become too small. BME moved up the San Diego freeway a few miles to larger quarters in Torrance. The first half of the 1980s brought more success. The company thrived now that it had more room. BME Rods continued to take the sport of drag racing by storm.
In 1981, Bill Miller Engineering fielded the first of five of its own Top Fuel Dragsters, a 240-inch, Don Long chassis with a blown-fuel, Fontana/Chevrolet for power. Mike Woodard, Bill Miller’s racing associate from his prior drag race effort, a Top Gas Dragster, was the driver of the new, BME Top Fuel car. Since then, a succession of Bill Miller Engineering Top Fuel Dragsters have been used to develop and validate BME products. In 2010, the BME Top Fuel Team debuted the fifth in this line of race cars. For more information on BME’s NHRA Top Fuel drag racing effort, see the Top Fuel race team page on this web site.
I n 1982, in a major expansion of its racing engine parts business, Bill Miller Engineering purchased the old ForgedTrue Piston company. ForgedTrue was started by hot rodding pioneer, Art Sparks, at the end of World War II. Sparks was the inventor of the manufacturing process used to make a forged aluminum piston. When war production ceased in 1945, all of a sudden, Sparks’ friend, aircraft manufacturer Donald Douglas, had a lot of unused forging presses in his aircraft plant at Santa Monica, California. Art Sparks made a deal with Douglas to use those presses to make forged pistons for the Offenhauser, four-cylinder, race engine.
ForgedTrue went on to become a major brand in the premium racing piston field during the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. Not only did Sparks have his own successful business, but TRW paid him a lucrative royalty to use his forging process in its volume-market, forged pistons which were both used by O.E manufacturers and widely sold in the aftermarket. Art Sparks retired a very wealthy man.
During the 1970s, ForgedTrue Pistons changed hands several times. Successive corporate owners, more interested in quick profits than good products and service, ran the once famous and respected name into the ground.