Collin Anderson
Kim Lee at work in his shop. His race car air regulator, the E.T. Genie, is selling well.

“Drag racing looks like a simple sport,” Kim Lee declared as he rustled through tools, assembling a metal object with the tender care of a man handling his firstborn, “when you’re looking at it from the fences. But you gotta account for everything; altitude, how much moisture is in the air, things like that.”

With a wolfish grin, Lee held up a partially assembled E.T. Genie and said, “This is how you fix that.”

A native of Panaca, Lee serves on the board for the Farmstead. For the last few years, he has been assembling and distributing a simple yet extremely effective way of regulating the performance of race cars.

According to Lee, in the 1970s, the richer a racer, the more assets he or she could put into a car. As a result, Lee said, “Money won.” To combat the imbalance that this economic disparity produced, racers were split into different classes based off their elapsed time when covering the quarter mile, similar to how wrestlers are divided into weight classes. Racers too fast for their class were disqualified, leading to a new challenge of how to limit a vehicle’s performance in a consistent and safe manner. The answer was amazingly simple yet effective: limit the amount of air entering an engine by adding a restrictor plate.

Enter Kim Lee’s E.T. Genie.

A restrictor plate uses adjustable plates inside of a housing to limit airflow into the vehicle’s carburetor, thereby limiting performance. However, most restrictor plates are imprecise and require extensive adjustments due to the different racing conditions on any given day. The E.T. Genie’s unique, patented feature is the addition of a port through which a mechanic can measure the position of the plates and determine through trial and error how much the Genie needs to be adjusted.

According to Lee, the longer a racer has a Genie, the more he or she begins to develop a detailed database of how a vehicle runs at certain points and how much the Genie needs to be adjusted to obtain optimum performance.

The proof is in the sales. Three years ago, Lee had sold just over two dozen air restrictors. In the first two months of 2019, he’s already surpassed that number.

Another key feature of the E.T. Genie is the relatively low price point that Lee maintains, despite all but one of the pieces being manufactured in the United States.

Little do the people of Panaca know that a native to the small farming town is revolutionizing the racing world with a simple air restrictor and a dream.