MARK KIDD
KIDD PERFORMANCE INC.
448 Eastland Dr., Box 42
Twin Falls, ID 83301
(208) 733-1128
ENGINE: Chevy
BORE: 4.50-inches
STROKE: 3.677-inches
PEAK HP: 695 @ 6,500
PEAK TQ: 599.1 @ 5,400 rpm
AVG HP: 523
AVG TQ: 567.5 ft.-lbs.
SCORE: 1090.5

Mark said he tried 5 cams during his research before settling on the grind he ran from Kenny Heard at Oregon Cams. Mark feels the performance figures on the AFR heads made them his best choice. He left them as-manufactured, save for kissing the valves and seats on his own equipment. Like most competitors, Kidd's motor ran a bit lean on the test pulls, so he and partner Terry went up a few jet numbers and then tried a little more ignition timing. But, the timing change ended up hurting power and with no time left to set it back, Kidd had to settle for a little less than optimal power for his qualifying pulls. We'll see how much more he can find at the Finals.

 

DAN CROWER
CROWER MOTORSPORTS
15737 Lyons Valley Rd., Dept. PHR
Jamul, CA 91935
(619) 669-7261
ENGINE: Chevy
BORE: 4.270-inches
STROKE: 4.100-inches
PEAK HP: 621 @ 6,500 rpm
PEAK TQ: 570.5 @ 5,200 rpm
AVG HP: 496
AVG TQ: 543.4 ft.-lbs.
SCORE: 1039.4

Crower's Brodix-headed Chevy was one we were interested in seeing. A good combination of parts and Crower's proven design talents kept our attention piqued from the moment it was strapped to the dyno. Unfortunately, a steady stream of oil smoke began flowing from one side of Crower's exhaust soon after the engine came up to temperature, and as the runs began (at Crower's insistence), the smoke began to thicken. By the time the entire test cell was full of smoke, we had to shut it down.

A post-mortem inspection by Crower showed a crack in an intake port caused the oil leak, and Dan blamed himself for over-aggressive porting. The material simply got too thin, and it's a shame too. The preliminary numbers were promising, even on seven cylinders. Had Crower's entry been running on all 8, he'd have certainly made the Finals once again. It's obvious he likes to push limits, and sometimes that means getting a bit too close to the edge. We're already looking forward to what Daniel will craft next year. The power figures shown are for the single smoky pull that was completed prior to retiring the engine.

 

BRUCE KENT
1228 Paseo Gracia, Dept. PHR
San Dimas, CA 91773
(909) 592-1897
ENGINE: Buick
BORE: 4.350-inches
STROKE: 3.942-inches
PEAK HP: 604 @ 5,900 rpm
PEAK TQ: 552.1 @ 4,800 rpm
AVG HP: 482
AVG TQ: 528.5 ft.-lbs.
SCORE: 1010.5

Bruce's TA Performance-backed Buick was documented on our pages, and we were hoping the dark horse Tri-Shield entry would be a player. Bruce chose to run lightweight oil at a different grade than he'd been testing with, and the 455-based thumper didn't like it one bit. The watery oil could not maintain adequate pressure, and the big Buick began to self-destruct. While the first competition pass was a good one, the engine was losing power and oil pressure on each consecutive pass. It did survive the testing (although Bruce later told us it cost him bearings), but the score was not high enough to make the Finals cut. Still, the potential of the stock crank/stock block Buick was obvious, and with the correct viscosity pumping through its veins, the Stage III masterpiece is a contender. Oil is such a sensitive issue in the big Buick; it simply doesn't pay to experiment once you've got a system that has proven reliable. The clearances are simply too sensitive to change in these engines, and Bruce's regrets were immediate. He promised to get this thumper back in running order, and says it'll hit the streets in a g-Machine Skylark. We can't wait to see it.

 

JOHN BECK
PRO MACHINE
809 Lakeview Dr., Dept. PHR
Placentia, CA 92870
(714) 777-1324
ENGINE: Chevy
BORE: 4.187-inches
STROKE: 4.250-inches
PEAK HP: 616 @ 6,500 rpm
PEAK TQ: 579.9 @ 4,300 rpm
AVG HP: 497
AVG TQ: 546.7 ft.-lbs.
SCORE: 1043.7

John Beck made readers swoon last year with his innovative, effective, and attainable 307-based killer. This year, he'd hoped basing his research on the big-block Chevy would return similar results. Unfortunately for Beck and his many fans across the country, it was not so. He stuck with what worked for him last year: a small bore and a long stroke.

"I just plain missed the combination necessary to be competitive. I was satisfied with the power the engine made, and I really thought I'd make enough power to finish well. I was off, and it's my own fault. I feel like a brought a stick to a gunfight."

Like any racer, you just know Beck is itching for redemption. Expect his return in the 2004 Challenge, and if we know John, he'll bring a nuclear bazooka to the gunfight next time.

 

BOB WAGENHALS and BRETT BOWERS
TEN POINT RACING/BOWERS RACING ENGINES
P.O. Box 604, Dept. PHR
Conifer, CO 80433
(303) 233-3883
ENGINE: Chevy
BORE: 4.320-inches
STROKE: 4.0-inches
PEAK HP: 625 @ 6,500 rpm
PEAK TQ: 553 @ 5,400 rpm
AVG HP: 487
AVG TQ: 531.9 ft.-lbs.
SCORE: 1018.9

After an excellent finish with a super-high compression engine last year, we half expected to hear Wagenhals was bringing another 16:1 powerplant to the Challenge. Not so, as Bob learned that while high compression could help you make the show, it was only one part of the equation necessary to be the Engine Master.

Seeing 625 peak horsepower from his 12:1 combination was certainly nothing to sneeze at, but the level of competition proved you had to break 700 to make it to the top ten this time. It was great to see the lighthearted Mr. Wagenhals again, but he was wishing for a tougher combination and a better finish. We're expecting his return.

 

CHUCK LaGIASSE/STEVE GILGER
HI-FLOW PERFORMANCE
3640 30th St. East, Dept. PHR
Palmdale, CA 93550
(661) 317-2003
ENGINE: Mopar Wedge
BORE: 4.395-inches
STROKE: 3.857-inches
PEAK HP: DNF
PEAK TQ: DNF
AVG HP: DNF
AVG TQ: DNF
SCORE: DNF

Chuck contacted us with many inquiries prior to the Challenge, and our expectations were high. Like many other competitors, he encountered some last-minute bugs that required almost a complete teardown just prior to the Regional runoffs. After scrambling to get the Mopar 440-based engine in one piece, it was obviously less than perfect and High Flow's entry could not complete testing or post a score.

The obvious dejection on Chuck's face told the tale, and he assured us he was capable of much better work. We believe him, and we promised him he'd have a chance for redemption in next year's Challenge.

 

IAN HORVATH
H & H AUTOMOTIVE MACHINE
1533 W. 6th St., Dept. PHR
Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 557-6481
ENGINE: Chevy
BORE: 4.310-inches
STROKE: 4.0-inches
PEAK HP: DNF
PEAK TQ: DNF
AVG HP: DNF
AVG TQ: DNF
SCORE: DNF

The H&H Auto Machine entry was not all it could have been. The H&H team was determined to show up, so they grabbed a bunch of stock parts (heads, intake, exhaust manifolds, etc.), piled into a rented minivan, and headed toward Westech with every intention of building the engine in the back of the minivan on the way to the Regionals.

If this sounds like a recipe for disaster, you're right. Nothing went together as the crew hoped, and once the engine was fired, it became apparent things were not proper.

The engine could not even rev past 5,000 rpm, and was subsequently retired.

 

NORM GRIMES
GSM
10900 Randall St., Dept. PHR
Sun Valley, CA 91352
(818) 504-9181
ENGINE: Chevy
BORE: 4.5-inches
STROKE: 3.69-inches
PEAK HP: 721 @ 6,500 rpm
PEAK TQ: 615.6 @ 5,900 rpm
AVG HP: 548
AVG TQ: 598.8 ft.-lbs.
SCORE: 1146.8

Astute NHRA tuner Norm Grimes brought a well-engineered Chevy engine with a beautifully executed cooling system. The reverse-flow package looked ready to bring to market, and we hope it ends up as a regular part number soon. It proved to be more than just looks, as Grimes laid down a serious score and was poised to show well in the Finals. However...

A look at the mufflers he chose to run raised many eyebrows, and we were forced to research the Dynomax Bullets ourselves to see if they met our rules criteria. Every piece of Dynomax literature we could find with reference to the Bullet design was clearly labeled "FOR RACE USE ONLY", and our rules clearly stated the mufflers must be street-style units. Norm told us he'd asked an exhaust professional if the mufflers were street parts, and he'd been told they were. He also shared that he'd seen them advertised by distributors (not the manufacturer) as being for "street cars".

Regardless, we had to enforce our own rules, and Norm was disqualified from the competition for running illegal mufflers. We want to state clearly that we do not feel Norm Grimes or GSM was trying to cheat in any way, shape, or form. We simply feel Grimes was misinformed, and did not check directly with the manufacturer with regards to the parts. It's truly unfortunate, and we felt horrible about it. As a consolation, and out of respect to both the builder and the awesome engine he crafted, we will be running Grimes' entry at Westech again, with Challenge-legal mufflers. The results of these tests will be published here in a future issue, and we're looking forward to seeing how well the GSM entry will do.

 

RON SHAVER and TOM MASEK
SHAVER SPECIALTY CO.
20608 Earl St., Dept. PHR
Torrance, CA 90503
(310) 370-6941
ENGINE: Chevy
BORE: 4.315-inches
STROKE: 4.0-inches
PEAK HP: 711 @ 6,400 rpm
PEAK TQ: 615.6 @ 5,100 rpm
AVG HP: 538
AVG TQ: 586.1 ft.-lbs.
SCORE: 1124.1

After a broken spark plug killed Shaver's chances last year, many were looking forward to Ron's results this time around, including us. The Pro Topline-headed big-block we detailed in last month's issue was certainly a player, and posted a solid score Shaver was hoping to improve upon in the Finals.

Unfortunately, he'd discussed muffler options with Norm Grimes, and brought a pair of Dynomax Bullets for the test. As stated, our post-test research showed these to be race-specific designs, and like Grimes, the Shaver Specialties entry had to be disqualified in accordance with our rules structure. Again, we feel the need to state that Ron was not trying to cheat, he was simply misinformed and did not consult with the manufacturer with regard to the intended purpose of the parts.

Like Grimes, we will be re-running Shaver's entry at a later date. This engine is simply too good to ignore, and regardless of the DQ, we know our readers can benefit from the research done by the Shaver/Masek team. Know also this lesson will have an impact on future Engine Masters Challenges, as we're contemplating a muffler rule change to specify contingency mufflers only. This way, the only mufflers allowed will have been pre-approved by our rules committee, and this unfortunate twist of fate will never befall another competitor.

 

TOM NELSON
NELSON RACING ENGINES
9318 Oso Ave., Dept. PHR
Chatsworth, CA 91311
(818) 998-5593
ENGINE: Mopar Wedge
BORE: 4.375-inches
STROKE: 3.90-inches
PEAK HP: 686 @ 6,500 rpm
PEAK TQ: 613 @ 4,900 rpm
AVG HP: 522
AVG TQ: 566.3 ft.-lbs.
SCORE: 1088.3

We profiled the buildup of Nelson's Mopar on our pages, and for his first-ever Chrysler engine build, we'd have to say Tom did very well. His score of 1088.3 with 686 peak horsepower is certainly a respectable number to any diehard Mopar fan, and the potential within the "low-deck 400 block with a stroker crank" combo should be obvious. Topped with Indy Cylinder Heads, Nelson's Mopar pulled hard and cranked out nearly 700 horses. He was pleased with the results of his first Mopar effort, but not happy about his chances in the Finals.

This is a good engine, and I know there's more potential in it. I wish I'd have had more time to test, but the deadline came up on me pretty quickly. I'm really busy at my shop, and I could not invest the time this level of engineering needs. Still, this is a good motor, and while it may have been my first Mopar, it will certainly not be my last."

 

COURTNEY HINES
CAD COMPANY
8333 Jefferson St. NE, Dept. PHR
Albuquerque, NM 87113
(505) 823-9340
ENGINE: Cadillac
BORE: 4.350-inches
STROKE: 3.940-inches
PEAK HP: 607 @ 6,500 rpm
PEAK TQ: 564.5 @ 4,700 rpm
AVG HP: 485
AVG TQ: 531.3 ft.-lbs.
SCORE: 1016.3

We were pleasantly surprised to see the return of the Cadillac V-8 this year. A plethora of new parts and some aggressive builders are all contributing to the resurgence in Caddy popularity, and posting over 600 horses at peak in our Challenge is certainly not going to hurt the cause of Cad Company's owner Courtney Hines.

While the Caddy may not have proven its dominance over all other makes in the Challenge this year, it truly made a statement. Enthusiasts obviously have another choice when it comes to performance engines, and we're glad to have provided the forum to showcase these latest developments. Now we're looking forward to seeing where these engines show up, and how cars powered by them will ultimately perform.

 

DAVE BERTAGNOLE
ACE AUTOMOTIVE MACHINE
482 N. First Ave., Dept. PHR
Casper, WY 82604
(307) 235-6319
ENGINE: Chevy
BORE: 4.310-inches
STROKE: 4.0-inches
PEAK HP: DNS
PEAK TQ: DNS
AVG HP: DNS
AVG TQ: DNS
SCORE: DNS

Dave's trip to California from Wyoming was less than pleasant. His pickup truck, which he drove out to SoCal in with the Challenge engine in the back of (under a locked camper shell), was stolen from the hotel parking lot the night prior to his scheduled run. While local police recovered the truck, the Challenge-bound Chevy engine was long gone.

In addition to working closely with local authorities to describe and identify this unique powerplant, Westech Performance also distributed fliers to all the local shops they work with, should this thieving scumbag decide to try and sell it.

As of this writing, rumors have placed the engine in possession of amphetamine freaks hiding it until the heat is off. They probably have no real idea what they've got, and its uniqueness will certainly make it more difficult to sell. As for the slimeball who initially stole the truck, we've heard authorities gunned him down after he attempted to hit a police officer in yet another vehicle he'd stolen. Sometimes justice is served. We just want Dave to get his engine back. If we hear anything more, we'll print it.

 

SUMMARY

 

So, the field is set for the Engine Masters Challenge Finals for the 470-inch Big-Block competition. Jon Kaase leads the charge heading into the Finals, but there are many others looking to knock down Kaase's Ford with their Chevy, Mopar, and Pontiac entries. We're anxiously awaiting our trip to Westech to see how this all plays out, and we've been able to reach several conclusions heading into the home stretch.

Firstly, it's apparent to us our rules structure works. Seeing a broad range of engine makes gunning for the title means we've given enough freedom for builders to show their talents, yet the restrictions and limitations have made it possible for any make of engine to be competitive in this format. The 92-octane pump gas limit and various "out of the box" restrictions will surely result in a series of multi-marque powerplants our readers can use as blueprints for their own projects, and by defining combinations that are thoroughly tested with air filters and mufflers in place, readers can make purchases with confidence.

The Challenge has also provided a forum for builders to showcase their talents on lesser-known makes and show the potential in lesser-known designs. As we've stated, the continuing development of top-notch aftermarket factory-replacement parts for all makes is fueling the Engine Masters Challenge fires, and the fat cash up for grabs is pushing manufacturers to develop even better parts. We'll have a much crisper view of the current state of aftermarket affairs after the Finals are complete, but now that the Regional competition for 2003 is in the history books, we are satisfied with the results on many levels.

With engines at the top peaking around 750 horses, we know it's possible to comfortably craft a daily-driver reliable 650-700-horse mill with a bit less compression and a milder cam based on these well-researched combinations. The Challenge engines are pushed to the absolute design limits, as we'd hoped, and by using these examples as a foundation for your next build, power levels common in supercharged engines will now be possible from naturally-aspirated carbureted mills. This pushes the bar up even higher for those contemplating superchargers, and those with more cubic inches, roller cams, and EFI should expect even more.

Remember, these are 470-inch engines, so if you've got a 440 Mopar, 454 Chevy, 455 Buick, Olds, or Pontiac, 460 Ford, or 472-inch Caddy bottom end with a reasonable overbore, know there's a documented top-end/camshaft package on these pages ready to wake up your big-block. The builder's contact information is here, and you've seen what they can do. Don't hesitate to call your builder/competitor of choice when you decide to step up. These teams have all shown what they're capable of, and you can get similar results under your own hood by working with them. Let the Engine Masters Challenge work for you, and take advantage of all the homework our competitors have done with parts designed to fit your particular car. We developed this Challenge for you, our reader, so take the results to heart and get ready to tear up the streets in your Engine Masters-inspired big-block!

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