The Power To WIn
Leading off our second day of qualifying, the husband and wife team of Lennart and Birgitta Bergquist of Autoshop Racing Engines rolled their big-block Chevy entry into dyno cell one. The native Swedes are based in Orlando, Florida, and if anything was notable about their entry, it was the clean but conventional look of their innocuous-appearing Chevrolet. This big-block certainly did not carry with it a threatening aura, with a 4150-series 850 Holley in a field of Dominators, and none of the custom one-off external plumbing distinguishing some of its competitors. In fact, externally it had the appearance of a typical big-block Chevrolet, the kind that looks at home sitting in the engine bay of a street-bound Chevelle. Even though it was only the third engine to run in qualifying, it was clear to anyone who really understood the numbers that the 1,285 composite score put down by the quiet Swede would be hard to beat. The engine literally came down like Thor's hammer, thumping the dyno with 844 hp and 740 lb-ft of torque in qualifying. (You can expect a complete feature story on this mighty Chevy in our March `06 issue.)
Following the theory of a relatively small-bore/large-stroke combination, the Autoshop entry achieved its 509 ci with a bore size of 4.250 inches and a stroke of 4.480 inches. Lennart unassumingly cited the successful under-square combinations in previous Engine Masters events in selecting this configuration. A 6.350-inch rod length was used, primarily because Lennart wanted to drop the ring pack down on the custom CP pistons, and have pistons built with thick crowns for strength. As Lennart put it, "That was the longest rod that I could put in it with the other parts." We inquired about the compression ratio and Lennart informed us that the ratio was set at an unusually conservative 11.5:1. Relating his experience in last year's event, Lennart explained, "Last year I had 12.5:1, and I got here with a 30.3 barometer, and the motor just detonated itself to death. That scared me quite a bit, so this year I was not going to do that again, so I limited it to 11.5." Lennart continued, "I may be backed-off a little too much for the weather we have now, but I did not know that when I designed the motor. I just had to figure that we would have similar conditions to what we had last year."
Things were a little trickier inside, with a billet Sonny Bryant crank featuring undersized 1.88-inch rod journals and small-block-sized 9.270-inch piston pins. The idea here is to lighten the assembly and give the engine less weight to accelerate, with a bobweight of only 1,640 grams. Lennart elaborated on the crankshaft: "I had Bryant cut the counterweights down really small, so small he almost didn't want to do it, and then I put heavy metal in there to balance it." Lennart didn't really admit much else in terms of windage control, "I didn't do anything other than bolt on that (Steffs) oil pan, and it has that screen in it." Besides the light internal weight, Lennart was able to build the engine with dramatically reduced rotational friction. Part of the credit goes to the ring pack, consisting of SpeedPro 0.043-inch rings, aided in sealing by gas ports in the piston tops. Lennart disclosed that the complete assembled engine, with just the plugs removed, required only 24 lb-ft to rotate, complete with valvetrain, while the short-block required only 12 lb-ft--that's slick!As with may of the entrants, Lennart's engine took advantage of modern coating technology for an edge in friction reduction and thermal management. The rod and main bearings are coated with a friction coating, while the pistons received a friction coating on the skirts and the crowns received a thermal barrier. Up top, the combustion chambers, exhaust ports, the face of the intake valves, and the face and back of the exhaust valves all were treated to thermal-barrier coatings. The Brodix oval-port manifold received a thermal dispersant.
Some of the key components to putting down healthy power numbers are the choices in heads and the cam. From the results, it was clear that Lennart was right on target with his component selection. For cylinder heads, Lennart selected Brodix raised oval-port castings, which were fully ported by Mike Horney, who also ported the intake manifold. The intake valves measure 2.300 inches, while the exhaust valves spec out to 1.880 inch. The resultant flow as measured by Lennart was 380 cfm on the intake ports and 280-plus cfm on the exhaust side. The cam, a roller follower grind which rides in needle-roller cam bearings, was speced by Lennart and ground by Competition Cams. The cam features 258/260-degree duration at 0.050-inch tappet rise, and was ground on a 108-degree lobe separation angle, installed at a 106-degree intake centerline. Lobe lift is 0.460 inch on both the intake and exhaust; however, the intake rockers are 1.8:1, while 1.7:1 is used on the exhaust. Figuring the rocker ratio, the valve lift works out to a theoretical 0.828 inch on the intake and 0.782-inch on the exhaust--serious numbers in the pursuit of serious power. Exhaust flow was enhanced by the use of Stahl 2 to 2 1/8-inch stepped headers.The Autoshop team's hard work and expertise certainly paid off with an impressive win in this year's Engine Masters Challenge. While some of the key components that made this impressive engine perform have been highlighted here, as might be expected the details go much deeper. We'll be revisiting this engine in greater detail to reveal just what it took to build this champion.
Autoshop Racing Engines
PHR's 2006 Feature Engines
We went away from this year's Engine Masters Challenge determined to bring the innovative technology in these powerplants home to the readers. The simple specs belie the true level of execution and know-how that goes into these monsters of power. How did the builders do it? It's the details and execution that make the difference, and these builders didn't get to the top of their field by just opening boxes and bolting parts together. The thought process involves visualizing how each part interacts in the system that makes up the finished engine and taking steps to optimize the package along the way. You might not want to follow each of their moves to the full extent, but understanding what was done and why goes a long way to improving anyone's power-making game.
To really dig into the nuts and bolts, we were far busier at this year's Challenge than just running the show. Ace lensman Hunkins busted hump for the duration of the week, capturing images detailing these stout powerplants, both before the competition and during teardown. While traditionally only the three winning engines are torn down in the normal course of the post-competition tech inspection, this year we requested that some of the other competitors subject their engines to teardowns, just so we could have a look and record what we found inside. Fortunately, the builders were willing to comply, giving us an unprecedented level of detail in documenting these mills. Here's a brief on the Second-Place BES and Third-Place Livernois entries, as well as a rundown onfour other engines we will be featuring in upcoming issues of PHR.
AUTOMOTIVE MACHINE AND PERFORMANCE
Philpot, KY * (270) 729-5556
Mike Phillips' Buick was another engine built for a street customer, rather than as a specific dyno-race star, to show the credibility of the Buick design. The production-based entry features a square 4.325x4.325-inch bore and stroke, with the stroke provided by a Moldex crank, and the bores filled with JE pistons and rings. The displacement calculates to 508 ci, making this engine perfect for the Challenge format. Power parts are the T/A Stage 2 castings, well-known in the Buick world, and T/A also cast the SD-2 intake manifold. In contrast to virtually all the other competitors, Mike did not take advantage of the allowable roller cam, but ran a Lazer flat-tappet solid. With the flat-tappet and a relatively conservative 11.4:1 compression ratio, the 713hp Buick is ready to ship to its new owner, Steve Bachorski of Chicago.
West Harrison, IN * (812) 637-5933
Tony Bischoff showed the cool hand of experience and racing savvy in taking home Second Place with his big-block Chevrolet entry. The engine showed as much as 838 hp at 6,200 rpm, a truly remarkable power level for a powerplant swilling ordinary pump gas. The 508ci combination went against the small-bore convention in this competition with an over-square combination of a 4.421-inch bore and a 4.140-inch stroke. Bottom-end hard parts highlights include Ross pistons giving a 12.5:1 compression ratio, a 256/268-duration at 0.050-inch Competition Cam's camshaft, and an Eagle crank and rods. Up top, reworked Brodix-4 Extra heads and an Edelbrock manifold direct the airflow, while a Pro Systems Holley Dominator suppliesthe mix.
Dearborn Heights, MI
John Lohone and his Dearborn crew brought the strongest Ford entry to this year's event and walked away in the money with a Third Place finish. Producing as much as 817 hp right at 6,500 rpm, the Livernois entry showed serious force. The slightly under-square combination of a 4.300-inch bore and 0.375-inch-stroke Moldex crank proved again the power of the 385-series Ford big-block. Filled with Leutz Rods, Total Seal rings, and BMR pistons, the 12.9:1 compression big-block survived with the highest compression ratio of the top three finishers. A COMP cam with 253/263-degree duration at 0.050-inch lift moved the valves in a hurry, achieving a 0.775-inch lift. Feeding the beast was a pair of Ford Super Cobra Jet heads and an Edelbrock Victor manifold, drawing from a 1250 Holley Dominator.
John Kaase Racing
Winder, GA * (770)307-0241
Kaase may not have repeated to take the win this year, but right until the final moments, this Pontiac was within striking distance to take it all. What does it take to get this kind of output from a Pontiac mill? Kaase knows, and you will too, because Jon has agreed to tell all. The basics include the awesome new block and head castings from All Pontiac, which allows serious cubic inches to be built into the Pontiac's architecture. To reach the 508 cubes for this year's competition, Kaase opened the bores to 4.310 inch to give the inline valves some room to breath, and packed in the cubes with a longish 4.360-inch stroke. A COMP 261/268-degree at 0.050-inch cam ground on 107-degree centers provides a Herculean 0.886-inch lift. Jon related that this engine saw a huge number of dyno pulls in development before the competition, so he went with premium components inside, including a Bryant crank, CP pistons, and Carrillo rods. An Edelbrock intake directs the mix provided by a 1,100-cfm King Demon carb. Jon doesn't hold back with the subtle and custom mods, and there is plenty to see when we dig deep into this incredibly torquey 811hp Poncho.
T&B Performance and Machine
Monroe, WI * (608) 329-6800
There was only one Mopar entry in this year's big-block competition, the wedge effort of T&B, which stands for Tom and Brenda Foley. This husband and wife team really worked together, both in building the big wedge and tending to it in competition. The Mopar was built on a vintage factory 383 block that was bored 0.040-over for a final bore size of 4.290 inches. A 4.375-inch-stroke Eagle crank brings the cubes up to 506. Custom JE pistons bring a stout compression ratio of 12:1, but the team managed to keep entirely out of detonation. Brodix B1 heads and a Brodix intake, both ported by Brenda Foley, handle the airflow into the engine, while TTI stepped 2 to 2 1/8-inch headers handle the outflow. The Mopar showed us consistent 730-plus peak power numbers, and sounded remarkably clean and happy while delivering it. This engine was built for a T&B customer, and is truly destined for the street.
West Bloomfield, MI * (248) 931-0358
Rabotnick loves the big FE Ford and has been building these engines as a hobby for years. While a super Engine Masters Special was planned for the event, Rabotnick had to shift gears when some of the key parts didn't arrive in time. Instead, Barry just put together a combination based on regularly available parts, many of which he just pulled from stock from the leftover FE parts in his garage. With a 4.350-inch bore and a 4.25-inch-stroke Scat crank, the FE displaced a cool 505 cubes. The Speed-Pro pistons and rings are shelf parts,as are the Scat rods. A pair of Blue Thunder Heads prepped by ET Performance ensured the power, as did a COMP roller with 257-degree duration at 0.050-inch and 0.747-inch lift. Rabotnick's 11.8:1 engine ran just beautifully through all of its dyno pulls, making the most output on the last pull of qualifying at a mighty 752 hp. Here's an engine that a Ford FE fan can take notes on.
Cadillac Performance Parts
Soddy Daisy, TN * (423) 332-7636
Richard Potter came as a serious competitor into the Engine Masters Challenge, and the wild Caddy he was packing looked set to kill. It was obvious Potter had pushed the envelope in development, with many one-off parts and systems of his own creation. Reportedly capable of over 800 hp in pre-event testing, the entire audience at World was at attention to see what this unconventional engine combination would do. This was Potter's intent, to draw attention to the power capabilities of this neglected marque, and help spotlight his business specializing in these engines. Unfortunately, a failed damper preventedtuning the engine on the dyno. The engine featured a 4.250-inch bore fitted with Mahle pistons and Speed-Pro rings, while a Moldex crank, extensively reworked by Potter, provided the 4.470-inch stroke. A 53mm custom roller worked the valves, built on a core Potter machined from billet, and given to COMP to grind the lobes. Potter also extensively reworked the Bulldog head castings, and essentially molded his own runners into a Boogie Man intake. There are endless things to see when this one is featured.