Pacenotes, February 2012 - SBD Motorsport Profiled
Based from their premises in Surbiton, Surrey, SBD Motorsport specialise in designing and manufacturing engine components and management system for Vauxhall, Ford Duratec and Suzuki Hayabusa engines for motorsport use.
A wealth of knowledge is an understatement when it comes to the knowledge possessed by company director, Steve Broughton , and indeed his staff. SBD was Steve's brainchild, although he almost stumbled upon motorsport by accident during the early 80s. "I used to work at British Aerospace," Steve told Pacenotes. "A friend of mine who also worked there decided to take up rallying. At the time, I wasn't interested in motorsport but I started giving him a hand."
The rally bug was planted and later, Steve took up rallying with a Chevette. It was then that his expertise as an engineer shone through, and the beginnings of SBD Motorsport were formed. "The Chevette has a 2.3 engine at the time but then I decided to get someone else to build a Lotus Sunbeam engine for me," Steve told Pacenotes. "Later, I decided to get a dry sump system so I pulled the engine apart and rebuilt it, making the dry sump system fit my car."
Steve started to do fairly well in the rally scene, sealing top two finishes in his class on a regular basis. But with the highs come the lows, and after a big accident at Longcross where he hit a drum filled with concrete and then a tree, he decided to give up the sport for six months. Around late 1987, he decided to make a comback and put a two litre eight valve engine into his mount, for which he designed a belt driven distributor.
Around the same time, Steve's day to day work was beginnings to fade so he started eyeing up other ventures. With his knowledge, motorsport was a natural progression, so the early days of SBD were formed.
"At first, I started selling road going parts but it was an almost impossible task," Steve admitted. "I was buying a few parts at a time to sell on, but I needed to buy about £10k worth of product to be able to make a profit." It was only when he built an engine for another competitor that Steve had finally found his niche. "The first engine that I bolted together was for a guy who did hillclimbs," Steve recalled. "Afterwards, he went to a well known event and started to win. Roy Lane looked after his car, and he saw how well it went, so he told everybody else in the hillclimb market.
"The same thing happened with rallying," Steve continued. " I built an engine for an Astra and the competitor started to beat works cars. After that, I received calls from General Motors, MSD and Tim Ashton. I got a bit of work from that but I was still from the shed at home."
Steve eventually decided to get a workshop of his own. At first, he was going to rent the workshop together with a friend, splitting the cost between them, but unfortunately his friend had to pull out. "I ended up with a massive workshop on my own," Steve explained. "So I was feeling a bit poor but a few friends helped out, sales picked up and engine building picked up. We started doing work for Opel Turkey on their rally and race cars. Things took off from there."
Business was booming and Steve went on to work with many well known names, including Sydney Meeke, father of Kris. Every Astra that was rallying at that time had been through Steve's workshop. Then he was on the verge of sealing a big contract from Gerneal Motors when the new boss of the company decided to pull out of rallying. "Working with GM was good but I was flying out weeks at a time," Steve admitted. "When it came down to it, we weren't actually getting any return from it. So we slowly steered away from the contracts and moved to club rallying."
"We built a lot of rally engines but it was quite hard work. Most clubman didn't have vast sums of money so we were making more by selling parts. Around the same time, I was programming for John Read Racing Engines, and was better off doing design and testing." Then Steve started to sell components to companies including the likes of Camillus Bradley and John Read. In fact, he admits that he has sold to most of the dealers in Ireland, as well as many of the UK's extremely well known names.
The Vauxhall XE engine is one of Steve's specialities. He designed a new cam, piston and con rod for the XE, which was fitted to Adrian Hetherington's car and built by Ivan Orr of Cormeen Motorsport. "The power went to 292bhp but it also pulled from idle," Steve proudly explained. "Adrian Hetherington went out for a drive, came back and told me it coughed a bit when he went around a roundabout. I wondered what was going on.....but then he said he was in sixth gear at 1000rpm!"
SBD Motorsport has also designed new traction control systems, launch control systems, fly by wire system plus much more.
The business has taken Steve to many places around the world, including the likes of Moscow. An ice racing champion asked him to build two engines before flying him out to Russia where he spent four days. That led him to work with Lada - yes, Lada! But these were no ordinary Ladas - in fact, they spent £25K on parts alone after a day in Sweet Lamb with Steve and Jimmy McRae! That was at the same time as ordering £12 million worth of bits, including engines, suspension and sub-frames, which were all shipped to Russia for rallying!
Steve and the rest of the staff at SBD Motorsport, certainly know their business inside out. They design and test all of their components in house, and they are perfectly positioned to cater for all competitors, as all staff members compete in various motorsport disciplines.
"I always like to come up with something new which is affordable for clubman competitors," Steve said. "Usually we come up with something, take a bit of time to get it going, then our competitors realise its pretty good and try to copy it, by which time I've already improved it!"
Where other engine builders have failed, Steve has always worked his way around problems. He has advised many of the leading names out there, so if you are looking to do some work to your engine, or need advice on who to do the work for you, make sure you contact SBD Motorsport.