His business has always been in the drag strips, salt flats and gearhead garages of Southern California. But for the past 25 years, Gale Banks, CEO of Gale Banks Engineering, also has been a prophet in the wilderness for the fuel efficiency of diesel engines.
"I taught a graduate course in engine design in Detroit back in 1981," Banks recalls. "I laid out a design for a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that would power a half-ton truck. They thought it was crazy."
He pauses for a gleeful breath of victory.
"I can't reveal who it is, but a certain OEM recently called to ask me if I thought they could make that design work today. I knew they'd come around."
Banks recently talked with Lindsay Chappell, mid-South bureau chief.
Name: Gale Banks
Title: CEO, Gale Banks Engineering, Azusa, Calif.
Family: Married, four children
Lives: Bradbury, Calif.
Education: Attended California Polytechnic University in Pomona, Calif., majoring in engineering
Big break: "Selling my first engine at 16."