by Rob Mullner Chief Enthusiast
Photos by the Author
For over three decades an innovator in the aftermarket performance sector has been designing, engineering, manufacturing and repairing aftermarket ignition systems and components in El Paso, Texas. The company is MSD/Mallory, and if you are a circle track or drag racing enthusiast you already know and respect the brand; after our tour I was even more impressed with the ingenuity, teamwork and enthusiasm we witnessed in the offices and production facilities at MSD.
We were very fortunate to be assigned Russell Stephens as our tour guide; he’s the President of the MSD Performance and has been a member of the MSD family for over 30 years. As we visited the various departments and met some of the department heads it became very clear that MSD treats its employees like family members and with an average tenure of over 20 years on the job its clear employees feel the same.
As we started our tour Russell pointed out that one of the biggest advantages that MSD offers is that they do so many processes in house including engineering, mold making, hardware and software design, circuit boarding production, finished product testing and customer service. With over 250 employees and so many different disciplines under one roof it was even more impressive that Russell greeted each employee we met by name and knew their exact job function and how it fit into the overall production process.
We started our tour in one of the many test labs where Rick Bennett showed us custom built fixtures that MSD uses to test distributors and coils for functionality across its complete range of operation.
From there we stopped at a CAD station where Kayla was working on the latest revision of a throttle body fuel injection system. Russell told us that Kayla started as a summer intern at MSD and was recently hired as a permanent employee after completing her engineering degree.
Next we moved over to the Electrical Engineering department where Eitan and his team design all of the sophisticated controls that make MSD and Mallory products compact and strong enough to stand up to the abuse that professional racers and enthusiasts will subject them to. Since MSD became a unit of Holley in 2015 the open exchange of ideas between the divisions has accelerated the development of new products as well as the enhancement of existing products like the electronic throttle body injection system that Kayla and Eitan were working.
In addition MSD uses InDesign CAD so changes and modifications of products in the design process will cascade across the product BOM (bill of materials) and update all of the departments working on that product in real time. Since MSD has introduced over 160 new SKUS in the last year, it’s clear that the MSD/Holley relationship is going to benefit customers of the company with new products coming to market faster than ever.
Next up was a personal favorite-the dyno rooms! MSD has three different engine dynos to accommodate a wide range of engine configurations and horsepower outputs. Their chassis dyno can handle up to 1500 horsepower and allows MSD to test across a broad range of operating parameters. After the dyno rooms Russell showed us their “company car” where they can do real world testing and tweaking before finalizing a new part and releasing it to production.
We also met Bobby, who for 29 years has been the go-to guy to build motors to meet any request for in-house testing, special projects, etc. Bobby is a racer at heart and has competed in boats, motorcycles and cars during his career.
From the design, engineering, testing and customer service departments we stepped onto the production floor where MSD and Mallory parts are produced. Russell introduced John Benore, the plant manager who manages all of the departments, components and people who create MSD ignition boxes, distributors, magnetos and Mallory ignition coils and all of the related services that keep the plant floor humming.
We made our way over to the assembly area where numerous components come together with the skill of staff that has been on the job for decades. All of the ignition components produced in El Paso are rigorously tested and burned in for 2 hours, a cool off period and another 2 hour test prior to shipping to customers worldwide.
Russell was very proud of the “Focus Factory” with in the El Paso operation that builds high end magnetos for top fuel and funny car racers in the NHRA series. One of their tests demonstrates how far the spark will travel! Take a look at the video here:
As we wrapped up the MSD tour we stopped by the service center where MSD tests and repairs control boxes that circle track racers count on to keep their engines running properly and protects from over-revs. Joe has been the Lead in the testing department for over 25 years and has analyzed thousands of 6-AL ignition boxes. MSD offers an impressive level of service before and long after the sale.
To see a complete listing of MSD product on JC Whitney please visit: