Although the Engine Masters Challenge has been going on since 2002 as an open invitational competition, the character of the event has evolved in a seemingly exponential way since then. A major turning point in this engine-building contest was factoring the scoring system to allow engines of widely varying displacements to compete fairly, rather than the rigid spec engine size of the early days. Then, we turned another major corner going into the 2011 event, dividing the competition into two distinct classes: Street and Xtreme. Skipping over the fine points that you can find in the rules on, the specs that make the Xtreme category include unlimited cast cylinder heads, valve lift, induction, and compression ratio, as well as a higher engine operating rpm for scoring. As always, the EMC scores the engines based upon average horsepower, but the Xtreme category ups the ante from the 2,500-6,500 range run in Street, to 3,500-7,500. With more liberal parts specifications and a higher rpm range, the stage was set for the wildest Engine Masters show ever.

As if the more radical specifications weren’t enough, the 2011 Challenge upped the number of competitive entries by a substantial margin, pitting 40 invited entries into fray, versus the 30 places in previous events. With the greatly expanded roster, the running of the competition was also significantly altered. The old testing regime was tossed for an all-new procedure. Rather than the old routine of a series of three warm-up pulls, followed by 20 minutes of tuning and three back-to-back scored pulls, the new procedure gives the competitor 18 minutes to use as they see fit to complete three scored pulls, after completing a single required warm-up pull. Yes, the stage was set, and when the curtain was raised on the 2011 Challenge, the action didn’t disappoint.

On the Dyno

At the University of Northwestern Ohio host facility, two dyno cells are on call for the running of the Challenge. With two classes of competition, the logical choice was to run all the engines in a given category in the same test cell. On the first day of qualifying, we had scheduled 10 engines to run: five in the Street category in cell one, and five in Xtreme running in cell two. The Street roster included Ray’s Dyno and Machine’s Pontiac, Stine’s Chevy big-block, and Robert Peters, Randy Ferbert, and Rick’s Custom Engines all with Chevy small-blocks. Stine’s big-block shined in terms of brute power, enough to eventually take the crown for the highest peak power and torque in the Street category, while the Ferbert Chevy earned the highest score, all the more impressive considering the engine featured OEM iron Vortec cylinder heads. In Xtreme, only two engines progressed into qualifying, the Miller small-block Mopar, and Race Car Services of America’s Glidden-headed Windsor. The W8-equipped Mopar handily outscored the competition and finished the day in the top spot for Xtreme.

Day two saw the Hinkle Chevy big-block, Porting Dynamics and Racing Engine Design with LS Chevys, Raceheads running a Windsor Ford, and Robinson Analytical sporting a small-cube Olds in Street. When the smoke cleared, Bret Bowers and the RED team pushed its way into the lead position with a smoking score of 2,411.3, Dave Storlien and the Porting Dynamics team did not run due to an ignition problem, and were eligible to come back in an alternate position, if they could find one. In Xtreme, Elan Power Products kicked off the day with a radical, road-race–derived Ford sporting Yates C3 heads. The engine smashed all previous competitors in the category, and more than eclipsed the Dove FE and Hinkle SB2 that followed. The Triple S team was eligible for an open alternate spot due to a did-not-start.