2011 AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge - Balance Of Power
Stacking up street and race power at the 2011 AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge
From the February, 2012 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
By Steve Dulcich
Photography by The PHR Staff
The 2011 AMSOIL Engine Masters...
The 2011 AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge was once again hosted by the University of Northwestern Ohio. The engine staging area was a hub of activity with student teams uncrating engines and mounting them on the DTS/SuperFlow dyno docking carts for testing.
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 www.EngineMasters.com
, 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.
One of the first engines to...
One of the first engines to really raise the bar in the Xtreme Street category was this 344-cube Ford fielded by Elan Power Products. The Yates C3-headed engine was built using cast-off road racing components, and the low-buck effort made use of old parts, right down to the engine bearings. It made as much as 676 peak horsepower in qualifying.
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.
Stine Automotive brought a...
Stine Automotive brought a powerhouse Chevy big-block to the first day of qualifying in Street: a 483-cube Rat with a peak of 695 hp. The engine did not qualify for final eliminations, but gained honors as the Horsepower King and Torque Monster in the Street division.
The AMSOIL Engine Masters...
The AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge always attracts a wide variety of engine types. We had the typical Fords, Chevys, and Mopars, along with niche brands such as Oldsmobile, AMC, and this stout 404-cube Buick from Automotive Machine and Performance.
The Hot Heads/Gene Adams early...
The Hot Heads/Gene Adams early Chrysler Hemi was notable both for its outstanding technological accomplishments, and for the fact that the entry was completed as a tribute to recently deceased EMC competitor Dan Miller. Bob Holmes and the team put forth an exceptional display of Miller’s vision.
Actual mechanical failure...
Actual mechanical failure was at the lowest level we have ever seen at the Challenge, but electrical gremlins affected several competitors. Cory Short and the Triple S team encountered ignition hang-ups on both their Street and Xtreme Street engines. The big Hemi failed to start in its allotted position, but was able to run later as an alternate.
The McKeown Motorsports Ford...
The McKeown Motorsports Ford featured a small-block SC1 combination that shook up the field early on, producing over 2 hp per cube and a mind-blowing torque curve. This engine was able to hang on in the Xtreme class to finish in Third Place.
Backstage, EMC Competition...
Backstage, EMC Competition Director Wesley Roberson and Publisher Ed Zinke worked the spreadsheets to catalog the scores. Scoring is based upon average power and torque divided by the competitor’s claimed cubic-inch displacement.
Dave Storlien of Porting Dynamics...
Dave Storlien of Porting Dynamics stunned the field with his innovative LS Chevy combination. Interestingly, the unconventional 369-cube engine featured a flat-tappet cam—one of the few in the event—and it went on to finish with the leaders in the Street division.
The School of Automotive Machinists...
The School of Automotive Machinists (SAM) was definitely in session, with entries in both the Street and Xtreme classes. Tuning skill helped a flawless performance, including such details as taking air readings right at the carb throat.
The SAM’s 402-cube SB2 small-block...
The SAM’s 402-cube SB2 small-block Chevy turned a peak of 813 hp, making over 2 hp per cubic inch to finish Second in the Xtreme Street finals.
Bret Bowers and the RED team...
Bret Bowers and the RED team brought a 446-cube iron-block Chevy LS to the Challenge, and put down a score of 2,756.5 to make the final eliminations. Bowers’ ability to work the tune via computer is the team’s major ace card.
Jon Kaase brought a monster...
Jon Kaase brought a monster of a Ford Shotgun Hemi. The larger-than-life 602-cube engine was a visual spectacle, and the power output didn’t disappoint, with an insane 1,182 hp showing at peak.
One of the most striking aspects...
One of the most striking aspects of the 2011 Challenge was the low rate of mechanical failure. While in past events we routinely experienced mechanical attrition—primarily due to detonation—carnage was not to be a factor this year, even with the unlimited compression ratio allowed in the Xtreme category. The high quality of the VP Racing fuel undoubtedly played a part here.
All eyes were on returning...
All eyes were on returning champion Tony Bischoff and the BES Racing Team. This year’s entry was an SC1-headed 441-cube brute that tortured the dyno with 913 peak horsepower. With substantially over 2 hp per cube, Bischoff covered the field in Xtreme.
Cooperation and sportsmanship...
Cooperation and sportsmanship prevailed at the 2011 EMC. Storlien and the Porting Dynamics team failed to start due to an ignition glitch in qualifying, but Kustom Kemps gave up their alternate position to form a new team and allow them to run. The engine proved to be outstanding, and achieved a Second Place performance in the Street category.
Mark McKeown is truly an EMC...
Mark McKeown is truly an EMC hero, always in contention with the top competitors. In final eliminations, McKeown showed his grit with a Third Place finish in Xtreme Street.
In final elimination for the...
In final elimination for the Street division, the SAM team performed flawlessly in the test cell, working their 434-cube, CHI-headed Ford to maximum power. The injected Ford outpowered the competition by a substantial margin of over 56 points for a convincing First Place finish.
Our third day of qualifying brought out some of the strongest showings in street, with the lineup including D&A Machine and Storlien with LS Chevy engines, SKMFX with an iron EQ-headed Mopar small-block, the FE Ford of Survival Motorsports, and the School of Automotive Machinists with a CHI-headed Ford. The SAM team broke out with a score of 2,471, easily grabbing First position, while Porting Dynamics’ Storlien grabbed the Second position occupying an alternate position given up by Kustom Kemps. In Xtreme, the exotic engines came to the fray, with the Triple S Chrysler Hemi, LTR’s Arias-conversion Hemi Ford, Zepp’s wicked CHI-headed Cleveland, and Dan Miller’s early Hemi fielded by Bob Holmes and crew. As it turned out, none were enough to challenge the lead set by Elan the previous day, though these engines each put on a spectacular show. Worth particular note was the magnificent tuning performance of Scott Clark working Miller’s early Hemi through eight oxygen sensors while dialing in the engine’s MegaSquirt EFI system.
It all came down to the final day of qualifying, with some of the competition’s noted heavy hitters yet to come to bat. In Street, the lineup included RM Competition and Weingartner with Chevy small-blocks, Automotive Machine and Performance with a Buick, TPIS running an LS, and Power Shop with a Clevor Ford. One by one they ran, but none could bust the numbers set previously to qualify for the finals. The story proved different in Xtreme however, with McKeown and BES running SC1 Fords, Race Engine Design and SAM’s both fielding SB2 Chevrolets, and finally multiyear champion Jon Kaase with an incredible Shotgun Ford. When the numbers were tallied, McKeown, BES, and SAM all made the qualifying field, dropping the previous leaders out of contention. Kaase’s monster Ford produced a spectacular 1,182 hp from its 604 ci, but fell short of the mark. McKeown, BES, and SAM were all solidly over the 2 hp per cubic-inch level, leaving little doubt that these Xtreme engines lived up to their name.
All hands were on deck when...
All hands were on deck when Racing Engine Design entered the cell for final eliminations. The engine suffered a computer problem and barely made the dyno pulls to finish, however, finish it did, and the team held onto Third Place in the Street division.
Leading up to the finals, it was anyone’s guess how things would shake out. In Street, we had Storlien with his Porting Dynamics LS pitted against the SAM Ford and RED’s LS. Of the three it seemed Storlien had the most left in his tune, but the SAM was solidly ahead in qualifying, while Bret Bowers and RED are never ones to underestimate. Disaster struck the RED team, however, when the engine would not communicate with the EFI management system. The engine was barely capable of running during final eliminations, but it did complete the required pulls to lock in the Third Place position. Storlien wisely decided not to risk it, and ran the engine in a conservative tune for Second Place. SAM entered the finals with a substantial lead in qualifying for the Street division, and methodically ran through the final elimination pulls, finishing with almost exactly the same score earned in qualifying for a compelling victory.
In the Xtreme category, Bischoff...
In the Xtreme category, Bischoff and crew dialed in their wicked Ford through the 18-minute test period and came up golden, making power with every move. With a final score of 3,124.5, BES Racing owned it.
In Xtreme we had the former Champion and top qualifier Bischoff and his BES Racing team fighting off McKeown and SAM. Both Bischoff and McKeown were running brutal SC1 Ford combos, and showing unbelievable torque and power. SAM was taking them on with an SB2 Chevrolet, a pure-race arrangement proven in NASCAR competition. In the Ford-versus-Chevy final, we had a virtual dead heat between these engine types for Second and Third Place, with McKeown falling to SAM by just a single point with 3,098.6 to the SAM 3,099.8. Bischoff and crew, however, set a new high water mark with their SC1 Ford, resoundingly taking the win with a score of 3,124.5, and a back-to-back Championship.
We enjoyed seeing these builders show their stuff with two different categories of competition. The Street engines reinforced what we already believe—outrageous power can be made with moderate specifications and components. The Xtreme class breaks new ground on the type of engines in the game at Engine Masters, and it illustrates the kind of insane power these guys are capable of when they are set loose. At over 2 hp per cube for the leaders, there is no denying the engine-building talent. We will soon be featuring some of these engines in-depth throughout the year to give you the full scoop on where that power and torque is coming from.
Returning Champion Bischoff...
Returning Champion Bischoff and the BES Racing team can count themselves as among the very best in the engine-building business. Reading the dyno sheets and using the data to make the right moves is a big part of success in the AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge.
As a special tribute to Dan...
As a special tribute to Dan Miller, a commemorative banner signed by the attendees was presented to Miller’s widow, Elaine, and the Hot Heads/Gene Adams team during the awards presentation. Godspeed to you, Brother Dan.
Judson Massingill and the...
Judson Massingill and the SAM team had plenty to celebrate at the conclusion of the 2011 AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge, with a First Place showing in the Street division, and a Second Place in Xtreme.
Bischoff and the BES Racing...
Bischoff and the BES Racing team have plenty to be proud of, taking back-to-back Engine Masters titles with their win in the Xtreme category.
At the conclusion of final...
At the conclusion of final elimination, Tech Inspector Adger Smith and a group of student assistants�give the top engines a tech inspection for compliance. All of the 2011 AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge finalists passed.
Besides the recognition and...
Besides the recognition and trophy, the winners of the AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge are rewarded with generous contingency payments from the many event sponsors. Bischoff and crew walked away with nearly $20,000 in cash.
At the annual AMSOIL Engine...
At the annual AMSOIL Engine Masters Banquet at the end of qualifying, special recognition is given to the top horsepower and torque producing engines from qualifying. Jon Kaase accepts the award as Horsepower King and Torque Monster in Xtreme, while Stine Automotive took the prize for the Street division with 727 hp and 644 lb-ft of torque.
|2011 AMSOIL EMC Final Results
|1. School of Automotive Machinists
|2. Porting Dynamics
|3. Racing Engine Design
|Xtreme Street Division
|1. BES Racing
|2. School of Automotive Machinists
|3. McKeown Motorsports