The wild card on Tuesday was the entry from first-time competitor John Mihovetz's Accufab. For the first time at the AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge competition, the rules were opened up to allow the Ford four-valve modular motors. Mihovetz is a recognized expert in these late-model Ford powerplants, in fact running a record-holding drag car propelled by one of these high-tech engines. Nevertheless, Mihovetz races with high-boost turbo engines displacing well under the 400ci minimum required at the Challenge. How would the turbo drag race experience translate to a big displacement naturally aspirated four-valve? We would soon see.

SKMFX broke the morning silence as the first engine up for eliminations, actually running a big-block Mopar engine borrowed from fellow competitor Randy Malik when a pre-event parts failure took the team's planned entry out of the running. The big Mopar posted 676 peak horsepower, but represented no threat to the Throttle's leading Pontiac. Likewise, the Philips Buick put down strong numbers, but scored well below the leader. Freelander's big Ford was probably just too large in displacement to score with the leaders, but the Kaase P-51 headed brute churned out huge output, topping 870 hp and 815 lb-ft of torque.

All eyes were on the action in the dyno cell as Mihovetz prepared to run the four-valve Ford. Getting over 400 ci from the small-bore 5.4 Cobra Mod motor is a challenge in itself, and although the team had invested considerable time in the build, the Accufab team had very little pre-event dyno time prior to the Challenge. In fact, after just one day of testing, the engine was loaded in a van and driven from Los Angeles to Lima, Ohio, just in time to meet the delivery deadline. Mihovetz's modular Ford powered against the dyno with the sound of a jet turbine, and the power recorded created a sensation, showing peak numbers of 736 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque from just 401 ci. Tallying the score, Accufab had blown the competition wide open, posting an unbelievable 2,938.5 points. Two other builders had selected the four-valve Ford as their competition engines, Tony Bischoff and Jon Kaase, both four-time event champions. This was going to get interesting.

Tuesday's action continued with the beautiful 433-cube FE Ford from Barry Rabotnick's Survival Motorsports. This engine served to debut an all-new set of aftermarket cylinder heads from Survival, noteworthy for the fact that they are a direct bolt-on replacement in the medium-riser format. With output reaching peaks of 711 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque, the combination was exceptional, but no threat to Accufab's four-valve. Weingartner's big-inch RHS-headed Chevrolet also delivered big numbers at 866 peak horsepower, but was well behind the leaders.

Eight engines were up for qualifying eliminations on Wednesday, all of them more traditional two-valve combinations. First up would be the 435-cube LS Chevy from Gregg Brown, out of the Jon Kaase Racing shop. Malik would compete with a 436-inch big-block Ford, while Jesse Robinson competing under the RRAM banner had yet another Mopar big-block, this time his development engine at 466 cubes. Cory Short brought the only traditional Mopar small-block, an Indy-headed 434. Semco Performance entered a 409 Pontiac, while the RCS crew was set to run with a deadly CHI-headed 432-inch Cleveland Ford. Rounding out the field was an Indy-headed 401 AMC from Kustom Kemps, and Adney Brown's Performance Crankshafts with a 433 big-block Chevy.

After the staggering performance of Mihovetz's Ford on Tuesday, Wednesday's eliminations would show if any two-valve engine could even get close. Brown's LS seemed to be a favorite, and was slated as first to run for the day. The modern Chevy was clearly a well-developed piece, and the output was outstanding throughout the curve, peaking at 741 hp and 670 lb-ft of torque. The 2,768.6 points was enough to bump the Throttle's Pontiac out as the leading two-valve engine, but the score was well behind the mark set by Mihovetz's four-valve Ford. As each engine ran in succession through the day, each delivered impressive output, but nothing came close to threatening Mihovetz's mighty four-valve. Brown's LS Chevy finished the day holding onto Second Place, but an astonishing 170 points behind.

The last day of qualifying eliminations would be one for the books. Two more four-valve Mod motors were on the list, a 409 fielded by Kaase, and Bischoff with a 401. Both of these guys came in as four-time EMC Champions, with three Second Place finishes and one Third Place in previous events. We had some experienced professionals stepping up with LS Chevy engines, including Ron Shaver at 427 cubes, Bret Bowers at 417, John Lahone from the BES Racing shop at 401 cid running variable cam timing, and last year's champions, the School of Automotive Machinists, at 436 ci. If the two-valve engines had anything for the Fords, today would be the day to see it.

The final day of qualifying eliminations began with Shaver's carbureted LS, a stout 738hp performer, but short of the leaders with 2,720 points. Bret Bowers and the Racing Engine Design team's LS followed with a score of 2,630.7. Lahone's LS was next, setting a new high mark for the two-valve contingent, delivering peak numbers of 748 hp and 621 lb-ft of torque for an impressive 2,837 points, closing the gap to the four-valve to just over 100 points. Chris Thomas from the Kaase shop broke the chain of LS Chevy engines with a 409-cube Kaase Boss '9 and an impressive 717 hp and 2,794.6 points, but it was still short of the top two-valve from Lahone and BES Racing. A pair of traditional small-block Chevys followed, with Joe Carroll's 401 posting 2,703.2 points, and Robert Peters finishing with a 2,521.8, neither posing a challenge to the LS engines.