Engine Masters - Steve's Corner

The Crunch
As the blistering hot days of summer roll into fall, we are getting ever closer to the next AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge. While most of our regular readers are already familiar with the event, we are sure there are those who are new to our publication who might wonder what it's all about. Our annual Challenge seeks to find the ultimate engine builder in the country through an open dyno competition pitting engine against engine. Think of it as pro racing, stripped of everything except for engines and horsepower. We start with an open application process from which we select a field of 40 competitive entries-a record number of competitors this year. It is up to the engine builder and his team to put together the best engine combination under the prescribed rules, and on competition week, the action begins. Our competitors converge upon the dyno facilities at the University of Northwestern Ohio, and following a strict protocol, each engine is tested in a battle royal of horsepower. Scored on the basis of average horsepower and torque over the entire test rpm range, the dyno sorts 'em out. One engine builder will walk away with the substantial cash prize, the championship trophy, and the title of Engine Master.

While a competitor's dyno day at the event is where the numbers rule and all the talk ends, really the event is just the final verdict on many months of serious wrench turning. You don't just waltz into the AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge with a spare engine or a thrown-together piece. Serious competitors start developing a strategy as soon as the rules are announced, contemplating what it will take to get the most power within the competition's restrictions. Here, every builder seems to have their own theories and ideas, and even those on the sidelines can bench race the rules format with thoughts on what it would take to win. Now, to be in the hunt, you'll not only need to have good ideas and outstanding theory on what it takes to make power, a builder will also need to take those ideas to practice, with the right combination of parts and specifications, and ample quantities of custom massaging to make those ideas a reality.

As of this writing (though we are many weeks away from the competition), we are actually right in the thick of what I refer to as "crunch time." This is that period in the process where some guys are scrambling to get their engines' assembled, while others are well past the initial assembly point and are hard at work trying to extract the last horsepower from their combination. This is where the ideas and theory that started the process get put into practice. Don't get the impression that serious competitors come to the AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge cold with a green and untested engine. Part of the process for most of our builders is to put their ideas to the test in the weeks leading up to the event. Usually, this comes down to dyno testing, parts swapping, and refinement. It is a long and tough process, but one that can separate the winners from the also-rans.