Fixing Fuel Starvation with the Holley Hydramat

Fixing Fuel Starvation with the Holley Hydramat

by Mike Kojma

Fuel Starvation is almost always an issue when a high performance car is driven on the track, especially on production cars modified for racing.  Factory type fuel pickups are woefully inadequate for a car with modified suspension and sticky tires when driven on the track.  Just about all of us have been victims of a sudden loss of power due to fuel starvation when cornering hard.  A lot of us have had close calls because of this.

In the world of Pro Drifting, things are even less forgiving.  As drift car suspension and tire technology advances, the cars can hit over 2 lateral g's of cornering force on some tracks.  If a drift car suffers a sudden loss of power the results can be more catastrophic.  If power is lost mid drift, a pro car set up for maximum grip will typically straighten up and head into the wall. 

To ensure a steady supply of fuel under hard cornering, braking and acceleration, Many race cars have elaborate fuel systems with multiple pickups, scavenge pumps and surge tanks feeding the engine's main high pressure pump.

Complex fuel systems have more failure points, weigh more and take up a lot of space in an already cramped race car. To make matters worse, most competition sanctioning bodies require metal enclosures for fuel systems which can take up even more room when you have multiple pumps and a surge tank.

Holley has come up with a very unique product that can really help ensure a steady supply of fuel passively without complication.  This product has gotten us very excited since we first saw it at the PRI show 2 years ago.  This product is the Hydramat fuel reservoir system.

The Hydramat is a huge fuel pick up screen that covers a large portion of a fuel tank or fuel cell floor.  The Hydramat screen material is a very unique one way permeable fabric with a surface that consists of millions of tiny pores that only allow fluid to flow into the material.  Fluid cannot flow out of the material and air cannot pass through it.

The Hydramat is the ultimate fuel pick up screen.  Imagine a huge one way pickup that sits flat across the floor of your fuel cell or gas tank that will pick up fuel no matter where it sloshes while rejecting air!

In demonstrations we have seen at PRI, one corner of the Hydramat was placed in a cup of fluid and the pump rapidly sucked it up even though just a corner of the Hydramat was touching liquid!  In addition the tiny one way pores of the Hydramat act like a 15 micron pre filter allowing you to ditch your pre filter and its restriction if you are running one!  It seems like the Hydramat is godsend to improve fuel pick up reliability with a simple fuel system.  Even if you run multiple pumps and a surge tank, the Hydramat will help it all work better!


Our test subject is a turbocharged pro drift car that puts out more than 1100 hp on ethanol fuel. The car is very thirsty.  Recently the engine has been run at higher boost which has increased fuel demand.  This added demand is causing the small anti slosh fuel sump in the Fuel Safe fuel cell to be evacuated faster than the fuel can flow in through its check valves.  We will be eliminating the sump, replacing it with a Hydramat as well as eliminating the pre filter to get more flow.

After draining the fuel cell, the first step is to unbolt the top cover of the fuel cell so you can take out the foam and the stock fuel sump. Be careful not to damage the crash resistant bladder when removing and replacing the top cover.

This Fuel Safe fuel cell is has a bladder and foam for exotic fuels. If you run E85 or other alcohol blends it is imperative that your fuel system including the cell and hoses be compatible with it. This is a real racing fuel cell which has a tough and flexible reinforced fabric bladder which stops fuel spills even if the outside of the cell is smashed.  

A foam filler reduces sloshing and if the bladder ruptures, prevents the fuel from spewing outward. In the case of a severe crash, the foam slows the spill of fuel and reduce the chances of bigger fires and explosions.

Next, the foam cell filler is carefully removed through the top. Set the foam in a clean place.
Once the foam has been removed, the anti slosh fuel sump can simply be lifted out of the cell. 
The Hydramat we used is a huge 15×15″.  It has a lot of surface area and can suck up a ton of fuel.  Hydramats are available in many shapes and sizes and can work in nearly any fuel cell or OEM fuel tank.  


The stock sump on the right has a pump pickup and three rolling ball type one way check valves feeding it.  The sump probably needs at lest 2-3″ of fuel in the bottom of the cell to keep the sump filled but the Hydramat will feed until no liquid is left in the tank!  The Fuel Safe sump was fine for up to 1000 hp on ethanol but as boost and power increased, fuel starvation became an issue. 

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