POTTSBORO, TX-- Kevin Self has been drag racing since he was 17, but even before he got behind the wheel, he knew how to build an engine that wins those races.
"I just kind of grew up in this. My dad was a racer and engine builder and has been ever since I came along, so I just grew up in this business. Actually, I've been doing this, I've been working on silver heads and intake manifolds since I was 13 years old."
Now, Self runs a specialty shop in Durant. For decades he has been making average engines into something special.
"We build a lot of performance engines. Doesn't have to be strictly race motors, but we do a lot of drag race, circle track, marine stuff, a lot of boat stuff. Manifolds and cylinder heads. One of our niches that we have, because a lot of the power comes from that end of it. We have a lot of customers that we do complete motors and a lot of customers that we do just the head and intake packages for," said Self.
He even has a patent on a unique cylinder head modification. But, Self's shop isn't the only engine modification business in Texoma.
31 miles away, in Pottsboro, Derebery Performance has been making specialty engines as well.
Leon Derebery's niche is boat engines, he makes them bigger and better.
"We have customers from all over the United States. We build engines and have customers bring boats to us from Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, California, just all over," said Derebery.
Since the 1970's, Derebery has been drag racing and eventually got into off-shore racing. That's when his business boomed.
"From 100 horse power to 3,000 horse power. We have all the equipment. Something that we are really good at is fuel injection stuff. We have one of the only fuel injection testing equipment, where we can actually flow test injectors. We can do a lot of programming, you know, mainly marine stuff. We do a lot of the drag racing stuff, but mainly marine."
What do both men have in common? These men not only build engines for customers, they build engines for themselves.
Derebery and his crew have been working on a carbon fiber catamaran. After it's finished, Derebery said it will be the fastest boat in the United States.
This boat, a first of its kind, will reach speeds of over 200 miles per hour with NASCAR safety technology.
"All the seats are tied to a frame. We are actually putting a chrome moly tubing, just like a race car has, in it. We felt like, you know, we've got oxygen. We have a safety trap door in the floor. We just decided if a NASCAR can hit a wall at 200 miles per hour, that we should be able to survive a crash at over 200."
Self also uses NASCAR technology, he currently holds the record for the fastest NHRA Dragster, Competition Division. Pretty much, his car goes really fast and reaches the finish line quick.
"In an 8th of a mile, I can go 140 mph," Self explained.
Both men's bread and butter, is making engines better for their customers. Whether it be watercraft or street cars, these two businesses help make the Texoma area's economy stayed revved up.