PSI Superchargers was founded in 1988 by a “mad-scientist” named Norm Drazy. Norm along with his wife Pat started the company in their 1000 sq/ft garage at home. Norm and Pat were both engineers working together at Allied Signal Aerospace in Phoenix, Arizona. Norm started developing the design and the manufacturing capabilities for the Screw Supercharger nearly a decade earlier (1979). Norm was “hooked” on drag racing at a young age and his Aerospace & Engineering background provided him the knowledge to develop and introduce the “Screw Supercharger” to NHRA drag racing.
Original testing videos:
By January 1988 PSI had built and tested the first PSI Screw Supercharger. Norm and his crew were fully aware they had developed a superior product. During the same time frame Kenny Bernstein and his race team led by Dale Armstrong were developing a two-speed supercharger drive. Upon entering the Winternationals in 1988, Norm was met with the alarming news. NHRA had announced a moratorium on Supercharger development and neither the PSI Screw Supercharger or Dale Armstrong’s two speed supercharger drive were allowed on the race track. After several “executive level” meetings within NHRA the decision was made to allow the PSI Screw supercharger after the product underwent and met specific testing requirements.
At the California Nationals in 1988, Mark Niver’s blown alcohol dragster qualified #1, set low E.T. and top speed of the meet. This represented a “nine year old” overnight success for Norm and PSI.
At the 1988 US Nationals , Gary Southern won the event (alcohol dragster) after qualifying #1, running low E.T. and top speed of the event. Within two weeks of Gary’s dominant performance at the US Nationals, PSI had received over seventy orders for the revolutionary “PSI screw supercharger”.
Shortly after the 1988 US Nationals, Joe Amato’s crew chief (Tim Richards) announced that Joe Amato was about to take delivery of a PSI to run on his Top Fuel car.
During the Maple grove NHRA race in 1988 a group of alcohol racers staged a “protest” against PSI claiming the PSI screw supercharger would drastically increase the “cost of racing” and they also claimed the added height of the supercharger (1 ¾ inches) was a safety concern. At the same time NHRA decided that speeds of 300 MPH were unsafe. The Top Fuel and Fuel Funnycar classes had to choose what they would “give up” in the light of safety. Joe Amato was already a threat to many of them and his newly ordered / soon to be acquired PSI screw supercharger was determined to be the piece of technology that would be “given up”.
October 1988, PSI developed an injector hat that reduced the overall height of the PSI Screw Supercharger / Injector combination and now this setup was the same height as a 14-71 and a conventional style birdcatcher injector.
At the 1989 NHRA Winternationals a discovery about increasing the rotor helix to increase airflow surfaced thus to create the “High-Helix” supercharger. At that time rotor flank strip life went from 6-8 runs with a standard Helix 14-71 to one run with the newly developed “High-Helix” supercharger. This was a non-issue for the racers, their solution “buy more blowers”, obtain spares to swap out on race day. The philosophy seemed contradictory to the argument pertaining to the “increased cost of racing”.
Sonoma Raceway (Sears Point) Divisional 1989, The first five-second alcohol dragster pass was run using a PSI screw supercharger. Although the PSI had been designed for 70% overdrive many racers were turning them up. This push was lead by the pulley manufactures and the racers alike. Norm and his crew campaigned to control the overdrive escalation that was taking place. PSI customers were enjoying their new freedom from engine and blower damage. Because of the concern for supercharger “overspinning” Norm developed the PSI rev limiter, designed specifically for magneto type ignitions.
Palmdale Raceway Divisional 1989, a TAD car shook hard, the driveline failed, the supercharger was overdriven to 100%, the engine had no “rev-limiter” and it zinged to 14000 RPM, destroyed itself and the PSI supercharger that was bolted on it. After this scenario NHRA mandated a “blower bag” and with limited time available the “bag manufactures” came up with a “blower bag” that they felt would be sufficient should another major supercharger failure occur.
Phoenix 1989, After Pat Austin and Blaine Johnson had run strong the week before in Dallas, Mike Troxel’s car failed a driveline with his PSI at 96% overdriven. Mike’s engine zinged to 14000 RPM and disintegrated the supercharger. This caused the NHRA officials to “Ban” the PSI screw supercharger on the spot and they sent all the PSI cars back to the pits. This was the first and only time in NHRA history that such an action has taken place.
December 1989, Down but not out, PSI’s CNC machine shop entered the aerospace subcontracting business. Meanwhile, PSI worked with NHRA and SFI to develop a screw supercharger spec. The test was challenging and rigorous but necessary to eliminate the possibility of future catastrophic events.
April 1992, PSI successfully passed the SFI spec 34:1. The design of the PSI supercharger survived 35,000 RPM with-out stretching, cracking, losing tolerances or damage to the bearings or shafts. The fundamentals of this design are still in place today. While the recertification process is costly and strenuous, PSI supports the rigorous testing required to adhere to the SFI 34:1 specification. Since the standard was initiated in 1992 PSI has not sustained another catastrophic failure of this magnitude.