The battle for the Engine Masters Challenge begins long before the first engine is uncrated at World Products for a shot against the DTS dyno. Fielding an entry begins with long and thoughtful planning, using the best of a builder's knowledge, and experience in coming up with a combination. To have a shot at the money, it takes having the very best ideas, and more importantly, taking the theory and making it real in metal. Parts need to be ordered, made, and pipelined-in, often only to be heavily massaged and modified to be ready for a Challenge contender. The process can take months and untold hours, with crunch time being qualifying day. For some, it proves to be too much, with competitors falling to attrition, their race is over before even making the show. The toll was heavy this year. To the competitors who passed the test and made it to qualifying, we have to bow in congratulations for making it to that difficult point. Here's a full rundown of the field.

 

Pump Gas Performance
Big-Block Chevrolet
Donald Williams * Newport News, VA
(757) 660-5500 * www.pumpgas.com

Donald's engine is a familiar piece to those who follow Engine Masters, since this is the same engine run as a 470 by Donald's father in the 2003 Challenge to earn a Second Place finish. That foundation presented a head start, but it took serious reworking to refine the engine for the 2005 rules. The engine was bored and filled with custom Wiseco pistons to meet the new displacement allowance, while the camshaft was changed from a flat-tappet to a serious roller grind. The resulting engine is a relatively large-bore combo. Detonation in qualifying created problems for Donald.

Basic Engine Specs
Size: 506.3 ci
Bore: .420-inch, GM block
Stroke: 4.125-inch, Callies crank
Rods: 6.800-inch, Oliver
Compression ratio: 12.5:1 compression, Wiseco pistons
Heads: Brodix/Weld Tech
Intake: Brodix
Carb: 1050 Demon
Camshaft: COMP, 245/251-duration, 0.770-inch lift
Score: 1,209.33
Top horsepower: 793 at 6,300 rpm

 

Blair Racing
385-Series Ford
Gary Blair
Pylesville, MD * (410) 879-4056

Gary Blair's big-block Ford had all the makings of a competitor to be reckoned with, but all hopes for a strong showing were dashed when the distributor seized, snuffing out the big-bore Ford combination before it could show its mettle. Says Gary, "Since I was five years old I've been a Ford guy, and I've been building these for about 20 years. I favor a longer rod combination for less friction on the cylinder walls, and this one has offset wrist pins." Blair's combo was not short on valve size, with huge 2.400-inch intakes and 1.88-inch exhausts.

Basic Engine Specs
Size: 509 ci
Bore: 4.500-inch, Eliminator Products block
Stroke: 4.000-inch, SCAT crank
Rods: 6.800-inch, SCAT
Compression ratio: 12.3:1 compression, JE pistons
Heads: 1DT Eliminator 900 CJ
Intake: Edelbrock Victor 460
Carb: 1190 Holley
Camshaft: Bullet, 298/312-degree gross duration, 0.776/0.720-inch lift
Score: DNF

 

Autoshop Racing Engines
Big-Block Chevrolet
Lennart and Birgitta Bergquist * Orlando, FL
(407) 678-7705
www.autoshopracingengines.com

Judging by appearances, the big-block Chevy entry of Lennart and Birgitta Bergquist seemed sedate considering the monster hidden within. The Autoshop entry proved to be this year's champion, with the highest point count, while making the most outright power seen this year. Lennart experienced detonation last year, so for this entry, he dropped the compression ratio, added extensively to the use of thermal coatings, and ran a timing curve that takes 4 degrees out of the timing at the bottom.

Basic Engine Specs:
Size: 509 ci
Bore: 4.250-inch
Stroke: 4.480-inch, Sonny Bryant crank
Rods: 6.350-inch, Carrillo
Compression ratio: 11.5:1 compression, CP pistons
Heads: Brodix
Intake: Brodix
Carb: 850 Holley
Camshaft: COMP, 258/260-degree duration, 0.828/0.782-inch lift, 108 LSA
Score: 1,285.33
Top horsepower: 844 at 6,500 rpm

 

Torque Inc.
Cadillac
Donovan Harrison & John Walker * Ashland, OH
(419) 651-1802
www.cadillachighperformance.com

Donovan believes the Cadillac is one of the best choices for a shootout like this. Donovan points out, "The Cadillac has the most production cubic inches; it's an excellent design. In the mid-'60s when it was designed, they had the best engineers GM ever had. It's a tall-deck block, 10.81 inches, with high-nickel content in the block and crankshaft. It's not a 45-degree bank angle; it's more like a 37 1/2-degree bank angle, tall and broad-shouldered." There was around 700 hp showing in warm-up, but a bearing problem leading to oil pressure loss led to a DNF.

Basic Engine Specs
Size: 508 ci
Bore: 4.320-inch, Cadillac block
Stroke: 4.335-inch, Cadillac crank
Rods: 6.800-inch, Oliver
Compression ratio: 12.0:1 compression, CP pistons
Heads: Bulldog
Intake: Bulldog
Carb: 1050 Holley Dominator
Camshaft: 262-duration, 0.781/0.740-inch lift
Score: DNF

 

Automotive Machine and Performance
Big-Block Buick
Mike Phillips and David Wink
Philpot, KY
(270) 729-5556
www.automachperf.com

Automotive Machine and Performance primarily do Buick crate motors. The Buick is physically smaller than a lot of other makes. According to Mike, "These engines were primarily made for cars like the Electra 225, but the Gran Sports are such popular cars that there are a lot of them left. There needs to be someone out there to build these motors the way customers want them--and that's what we do." Mike points out that for really high output, the block girdle in the bottom end is a key to longevity.

Basic Engine Specs
Size: 508 ci
Bore: 4.325-inch, Buick block
Stroke: 4.325-inch, Moldex crank
Rods: Eagle
Compression ratio: 11.4:1 compression, CP pistons
Heads: T/A Stage II
Intake: T/A SD2
Carb: 1095 Demon
Camshaft: Lazer, flat-tappet
Score: 1,138
Top horsepower: 713 at 6,200 rpm