Not long after the headers had cooled from last year's event, the stage was set for this year's ninth running of the Engine Masters Challenge. We had run fuel-injected engines for the first timae at the 2009 Challenge, with few competitors electing to go the high-tech route. In that event, the all-out race-style carburetor inductions seemed the predominant choice, with dual quads on tunnel-ram intakes being the favored setup. Popular Hot Rodding Editor Johnny Hunkins and I had been contemplating the basic configuration of that competition, weighing the pros and cons for the format of the 2010 event. Although the multicarbs on tunnel-ram intakes provided an impressive display, we sensed a disconnect from the types of engines the vast majority of our readers would build.
With 40 engines on the 2010...
With 40 engines on the 2010 AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge schedule, running at a rate of 10 dyno sessions per day during qualifying, the pace was intense. Engines were received in a designated staging area where they were uncrated and loaded onto the dyno docking carts by the builders, assisted by UNOH student teams.
Naming the Game
Playing out the potential scenarios in typical gearhead bench-racing fashion, we concluded that for 2010 we'd take the competition back to its roots, and came up with the "Takin' It To The Streets" format. A few simple tweaks of the rules were designed to do just that, specifying hydraulic roller cams, a lift limit of .650 inch, dual-plane intake manifolds, and single four-barrel, 4150-style carbs. If that sounds like regular street-machine equipment, it's just what we were after.
That left the question of what rules to apply to EFI engines. Obviously, a dual-plane manifold rule wouldn't be appropriate. Looking to take our cues from the equipment we commonly see on street machines featured in these pages, it was clear that EFI builders run a wide range of manifold configurations. A look at the EFI section of the rulebook from the previous year brought Hunkins and I to the same conclusion-let the EFI engines run any commercially available EFI manifold, as long as it uses a single throttle body and the cast-in injector location. When the rules format for 2010 was announced, there were the expected howls of protest from the carb guys, given the limited restrictions on EFI manifold configuration compared to those for carbureted engines. As it turned out, once the calendar rolled over another year with the running of the 2010 AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge, we were in for some surprises.
What It's All About
Working the DTS dyno controls...
Working the DTS dyno controls throughout the course of the competition was Sidney Bonnecarrere. With the sheer number of engines to test, and the pressure of the competition, the dyno operator is a key part of the event. We were grateful for Sidney's skill and experience.
When it comes to engine building there is always plenty of pride on the line. When it comes to bragging rights, we've see it all. Everyone wants to lay claim to being a "Master" at the engine building game. There are the established professionals who have made their names and reputations, with the big-time race wins to back up their claim to fame. We see the cocky Internet board heroes with their virtual buddies cheering them on, who are sure their junk is better than that of those big-time builders, if only they had a chance to prove it. Others are small shop operators, just looking to make a name. Then there are the independents. Some are enthusiasts for a particular engine type, eager to compete and show what their favored engine will do. Let's not forget the mad-scientist engine-theory types. These guys are convinced that the mainstream is clueless and doing everything wrong-and they are chomping at the bit to show the world how it's done.
There are definitely all kinds in the game of engine building, but talk is cheap and real power output is the rule. The AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge is a competition that strips away everything but engine building results. Here, reputations and posturing count for nothing-the power numbers do all the talking. Engine builders have a chance to show their stuff, putting it all on the line in a heads-up dyno competition. We consider all applicants on an equal footing, whether the builder is a recognized professional, a privateer, hobbyist, or enthusiast looking to prove his worth. We select 40 competitors to build to our rules and duke it out on the dyno for the fattest power curve, and the title of "Engine Master."