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For over 60 years, racers and performance enthusiasts around the world have relied on Klotz to grab the checkered flag. Developing products for the motorsports industry is our passion. The tradition of race-testing Klotz products continues to this day. In fact, by the time a Klotz product reaches your engine, it’s spent countless hours on the dyno and proven on the race track.
Mastering the Science of Synthetic Lubrication is our top priority.
Our Pure Estorlin® Innovations Technology, created from the Esterfication process, and TechniPlate® Lubricity Systems™ each produce a complete synthetic lubricant with an intricate chemically integrated bonding process.
We take pride in adapting to the constantly evolving needs of your sport; whether it’s automotive, motorcycle, snowmobile, marine, kart and RC scale model markets-manufactured with integrity, providing the highest quality sport products to enhance your good times.
John Klotz started his racing career with one of the first Go-Karts
manufactured in Southern California by Go-Kart Manufacturing
Company in 1958. As a competitive racer, he had a passion to
go faster. “In racing, you get the bug and you just try to win
everything; that’s where it all began,” said John Klotz.
“The need for a quality lubricant is how the Special Formula
[original product name] full synthetic was created in 1959. The
Special Formula name was later changed and trademarked as
Klotz TechniPlate. I recall testing the TechniPlate formula in a local
insurance company’s parking lot. While I was there, city police
officers pulled in to watch me. I stopped to check the engine by
disassembling it to see how the parts looked. I was checking it for
wear, heat spots and fuel lubrication efficiency. As I was working on
the engine, the officers walked over to me and we started to shoot
the breeze. It was quite comical because I thought they were sent
there to have me removed!
"After testing, I tweaked the formula to create the still-standing
Original Klotz TechniPlate formula with a unique smell. I used my
formula on Sunday afternoons at the go-kart track and would win
every race! I started beating everyone and they all wanted to know
my speed secret. I decided to start selling it to a few fellow racers
and they ended up coming back for more, week after week, so I
thought to myself, this can pay for my racing.”
That’s how Klotz Synthetic Lubricants began, from a desire to win.
John Klotz continued to sell his special formula and became a
local Indiana champion; he then went on to race semi-pro in the
USAC Series. He has raced alongside many legends such as Mario
Andretti, Tiny Lund, AJ Foyt, Jim Hurtubise, Parnelli Jones, Richard
Petty and David Pearson.
John Klotz and Daughters, left to right: Michelle, Patsy and Sherri.
Times were simpler. Snowmobile racing was new and sexy. The smell and sound of two-stroke engines, singing at high RPMs hung thick in the air of Eagle River, Rhinelander and Wausau, Wisconsin. Ironwood, Michigan, Grand Forks, North Dakota, and other small, snow-covered hamlets across the upper Midwest, upstate New York, and Canada dotted the schedules where factory teams and spectators gathered en masse to brave the cold and squeeze the throttle. It was the 1970s and snowmobiles were proven not to be just a passing fancy.
As one of the early pioneers of snowmobile lubrication and fuel technology innovation, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants was intimately involved with competitors and factory teams, alike. Led by Chairman Emeritus John C. Klotz Jr., the Fort Wayne, Ind., organization began formulating and manufacturing a specialty fuel and two-stroke lubricant that not only made power, but offered a significant durability advantage, too.
Since then, Klotz has built a loyal following amongst snowmobile enthusiasts who won’t settle for anything other than Klotz Synthetics when it’s time for the skis and tracks to hit the trails. To this day, there’s no mistaking that racy Klotz smell when the sleds get busy following that first heavy snow of the year.
We sat down with Mr. Klotz for a trip down memory lane and to get some insight into Klotz’s rapid ascent in popularity during the “glory days.”
Klotz was on the leading edge of two-stroke lubrication and blended fuel technology as early as the 1970s. Can you talk a little bit how that all got started?
“We were, actually. I hate to brag, but I’ll turn it on here.
“Charlie (Chuck) Rencurrel, who ran Kalamazoo Engineering – he was a pioneer. A real engineer type of guy. He was an innovative guy. He engineered the studs that they installed into the tracks of racing snowmobiles. He also engineered the runners that they used on the skis on the front of the snowmobile. Those innovations provided traction and better steering ability for snowmobile racers. Those were racing applications at the time. This was back, during the 1970s, right in the beginning of snowmobile racing and high-performance use.
“Snowmobiling was still pretty new and it was the ‘in’ thing to do in the upper Midwest and out west, too. The United States Snowmobile Association (USSA) was the prominent sanctioning body for snowmobile racing. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Upper Michigan is where it was really big. Kalamazoo Engineering was up near Grand Rapids so it was getting up into the snowbelt during the winter. It was snow country. The USSA created a special class for racing. It was something new and they wanted to make it for the pros only. They called it the SnowPro Class. All the major manufacturers were involved. Yamaha, Ski Doo, Arctic Cat, Polaris … they all got involved. They were full-fledged factory efforts.”
How did Klotz get involved with the factory teams?
“Yamaha obviously comes from Japan and built their machine in Japan. It was purpose built for racing. Everything was special on it. Everything was heavy duty, and everything was built to go fast. The engine was very good. Yamaha was known for high performance. They built some good stuff during those years. Yamahas were very competitive. When they got over here for those first races, they were blowing everyone’s doors off for about eight laps, then they’d burn it down. That happened in every class they were in. So, they knew when they went home, they had a problem and needed to do something.
“Somehow or another, Charlie was always hooked up with the right people and he got connected to Yamaha. I’m not exactly sure how, but he was in tight with Yamaha and Kalamazoo Engineering handled our oil products and all our special snowmobile formulas. We were the first ones out there with a special product specific for snowmobile applications.
“So, Yamaha had this problem where the engine would only run for seven or eight laps and when they started looking into it, they realized they had developed this engine in Japan with premium leaded gasoline. We had already taken all the lead out of the gasoline in the United States and were running an unleaded blend in snowmobiles. The lead allowed for a more advanced ignition and eliminates, mostly, detonation. Yamaha realized they had to have a special gasoline. Charlie Rencurrel called me and asked what we could do. Unleaded gasoline was still new but we were already running it, so we were ahead of the curve in chemistry and formulation.”
How did that lead to Klotz’s involvement with Yamaha?
“Yamaha sent a guy over from Japan and he actually stayed with Charlie at his house but he could only say two phrases in English.
“So, Charlie called me up and asked me if Klotz could make a product that worked. I told him we could. By then, we were starting to get into the no-lead type fuel. He asked me if we could mix some fuel up with enough octane. That’s kind of a trick to get the octane up there without the lead. We put together a formula and I took it up to Kalamazoo Engineering, myself. One of the advantages Chuck had at Kalamazoo Engineering was the old drag strip that was behind his building. So, we would put together a series of tests and the gentleman from Yamaha would get on the snowmobile and run up and down the drag strip. It was a very long strip, so we were able to make good use of it. He would go out there and make a couple runs and then he’d come back and take the head off and look inside the engine. After that, he’d use the only two phrases in English he knew. He’d either say ‘no good’ or ‘that’s good.’
“We tested all day one day and I got the idea what the problem was after we tested and tore the engine down several times. I went back to Fort Wayne and mixed up some formulas with a special lubricant and special level of octane for that application I thought would work. I went back up there a couple days later. We did that for a couple-three days, going back and forth with different formulas. We’d make a formula, run it, look at the parts and do it all over again. Finally, after a few days going back and forth, he went out and he ran it, came back in and tore it apart and he looked at it and said ‘That’s good.’ “After that, obviously, Yamaha wanted some product, so we made up a bunch of cans – maybe it was 50 or 100 five-gallon cans and we called it Klotz Snowmobile Pre-Mix. After that, it spread like fire. Everybody had to have it right away. That’s how we got in the snowmobile pre-mix market.”
What was the marketplace like for Klotz after that revelation?
“There were times, early on, before there was a lot of competition, everyone was using our product. One hundred percent of the field was using Klotz Pre-Mix and that made a huge impact on the enthusiast. We developed a very loyal following and still have that following to this day.
“There was a race in Rhinelander (Wis.) one year and there were 100s of entries. Every one of those snowmobiles was running Klotz Snowmobile Pre-Mix. We couldn’t make it fast enough. That went one for quite some time. There were a lot of years where it was a must have. If you look at our brochures and sales materials, you’ll see a lot of five-gallon cans. That’s how that packaging got started.”
Talk about that customer loyalty.
“Over the years, the snowmobile lubricant has surpassed the popularity of the pre-mix gasoline. We can’t hardly make it fast enough. We’re already getting big orders for this coming winter.”
How has Klotz kept up with the technology since the early days?
“The technology is always changing and out of that, Klotz became a member of the National Marine Manufacturers Association and their lubrication division. I’m on that board and have been for many years. That relationship and association was born from the early days of our involvement in the snowmobile industry. My friend Bob Gorman, who owns Cometic Gasket, and I were talking about the old days and he reminded me of a time when we were in the pit area at a snowmobile race in Ironwood, Michigan. He went back to one of the team’s trucks where they kept their snowmobiles and on both sides of that truck were stacks of five-gallon cans of Klotz Snowmobile Pre-Mix. That was a big part of our company that really grew and helped us make it what it is today.”
Is Klotz still running the same formula from the early days or is the technology a moving target that constantly evolves?
“We’ve evolved with the technology. The technology is a moving target because the power in the engines is increasing all the time. The manufacturers keep making more power and that puts more stress and pressure on the moving parts. Those are the types of technology evolution that it’s important to keep up with.”
How has the Snowmobile market helped Klotz become the company it is today?
“Klotz was the first one out there with a synthetic lubricant. Our first synthetic lubricant was formulated for snowmobiles. The evolution of our synthetic lubricant that Klotz formulates and packages today grew out of those early days in the snowmobile industry.”