Closet Engine Masters! Show Us What You Got …
As you’re reading this, we’ve just wrapped up another AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge at the University of Northwestern Ohio. We’ve been doing the EMC for 10 years, and we’ve seen all kinds of great engines, large and small. Those competitors who participate every year have grown to love the sport, and make it a cornerstone of their yearly program, but we know there are many more engine builders out there—both pro and homegrown—who are silently watching from the sidelines.
What is it going to take to get some of the silent majority involved? We know you want to get in the game, but maybe you’re sitting on the fence. Here are a few interesting things about the EMC that might get you motivated.
You don’t have to be a well-known pro to be in the EMC. Many competitors are enthusiasts like you, building engines in their garage for themselves or friends. We chose a variety of engines every year, ranging from the exotic, to bread-and-butter small-blocks. If you are creating something special for your hot rod and want to show us (and everybody else) what you have before dropping it into your ride, the EMC is for you.
Anybody’s engine can be the subject of a full-blown PHR article. Yes, we do feature the winning engine, but we’re just as interested in the great efforts that are made by all competitors. No matter who you are, if you wrench together a good-running, solidly built engine that looks halfway decent, we will be asking you lots of questions and taking lots of pix.
The national exposure of competing in the EMC is always a plus. Winning isn’t everything, especially in this competition. Many competitors go into the EMC with the suspicion that their specialty niche engine might not end up on the podium—for them it’s about bragging rights in their brand universe. Early Hemi? Ford Y-block? Oldsmobile? Your fans will come out of the woodwork.
Just being at the EMC is an experience you will never forget. It’s difficult to describe the atmosphere when 40 engine builders converge on UNOH every October. Everybody, from the UNOH faculty and students, to the competitors and PHR staff, has a great time, sharing stories, helping each other, and doing photo shoots—there’s even bowling, pizza, and beer on Tuesday night. It’s like a family reunion—with twin turbos.
You don’t need to spend a lot to be a competitor—or to be an EMC hero. Many of our builders use what they’ve got on hand, choosing to massage vintage components or swap meet pieces. Others go with traditional mail-order staples, honing the art of the calculated combination. Readers aren’t just interested in the one-of-a-kind motor made from unobtainium, they want to check out the stuff they can duplicate in their garages. Many local engine builders compete in the EMC only to find there are lots of new customers near and far who identify with their approach.
Next year, we promise to make it worth your while to be involved. We don’t know exactly what form the 2013 AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge will take, but it will be affordable, fun, and simple. Highly streetable and easily reproducible mainstream small-blocks and big-blocks from GM, Ford, and Mopar will be the goal.
Naturally, we will announce the rules and provide the official entry forms on PopularHotRodding.com when the time comes, but I’d also like to personally invite any interested engine-building enthusiast to email me your questions, comments, or concerns about the AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line “2013 EMC.” I promise to respond to each and every inquiry. —Johnny Hunkins
“What is it going to take to get some of the silent majority involved? We know you want to get in the game…”
Track Update: Fontana Quarter-Mile To Reopen
The situation looked grim last year when the Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California, closed due to a lawsuit brought against it by the town’s few residents who live in the area, which is primarily populated by heavy industry. Fontana is largely given over to manufacturing and warehousing, and the Auto Club motorsports campus (which includes the two-mile banked NASCAR track) resides on the grounds of the old Kaiser steel plant, far away from homes. Nevertheless, environmental complaints accumulated, legal action was taken by an aggressive group of homeowners, and the only remaining quarter-mile track in the greater Los Angeles area was forced to close.
This August, however, the Auto Club Dragway released a statement saying they had agreed to terms that would address the environmental concerns of Fontana residents—the most significant being the construction of a sound barrier. Once those conditions are met, the track will resume operations.
Facebook Topic Of The Month: Chrysler Pulls Out Of NASCAR
On August 7, Chrysler made the surprise announcement that they were pulling out of NASCAR. As in “completely,” and “not even keeping the Challenger in the Nationwide series.” Despite a bright outlook after the rollout of the new ’13 Sprint Cup Dodge Charger in Las Vegas this past March, Penske—who runs most of the competitive Dodge teams—announced a switch to Ford, leaving the Mopar boys with egg on their face. Rather than bleed millions of dollars for little payback (NASCAR stopped being about win on Sunday, sell on Monday decades ago), Chrysler pulled the plug, saving the dough for more worthwhile endeavors. We posted the news, and you guys went on a feeding frenzy. Here are just some of the interesting comments left by readers on the Popular Hot Rodding Facebook page:
Brian Massie: Doesn’t really matter. Since the ability to be competitive disappeared long ago, competing doesn’t say anything about the quality of the product. It’s all about the drivers. And beer.
Steve Vesperman: Of course, it’s bad. NASCAR has been on a popularity decline for a few years now. They need all the corporate support then can get, and about 30,000 more fans at each race.
James Sanders: The COT killed the identity of the cars. Shame Dodge is leaving, because the new Charger looks great.
Ted Fox: Bring back the days of stock car racing when you could associate with the car and the driver.
TBone Jones: Who cares because it’s NASCAR, and it stopped being relevant in 1977.
Kevin Boatwright: I’m a Bow Tie fan myself, but do love them Mopars. Gonna be somewhat bittersweet. Love to see all three U.S. manufacturers in competition. It’s more fun.
Brett Behrens: Well, they’re somewhat relevant now that they’re using fuel-injection technology from the late ’80s
Ernie A. Zavala: I stopped following NASCAR once they let the Japanese in. The ricers should be leaving instead of Chrysler!
VP Fuel: Fuel Cubes Coming To Service Stations
We get buried in industry press releases daily, but this one caught our eye: The RE Powell Distributing Company—one of the largest wholesale fuel distributors in the Northwest United States—has signed on as a distributor for VP Fuels. The significance? Powell is in the business of bulk fuel delivery for regular service stations like Exxon, Texaco, Chevron, 76, Conoco, Mobil, and a lot of independent stations. Now imagine being able to pull up to your local service station, going up to the counter, and buying a 5-gallon can of your favorite VP Fuels racing fuel? Moreover, stations carrying VP Fuel will sport exciting VP Fuel branding, and a spiffy new point-of-sale display called a “Fuel Cube.” Yeah, that’s the ticket! Let’s just hope it catches on in the rest of the country!
Are you the reigning tech expert on your message forum? Tired of putting in long hours only to be flamed for your hard-earned knowledge? You may have what it takes to write part time for a real magazine, and actually get paid for it. If this is you, this may be your big chance to break into big-time technical journalism and earn tens of dollars! We’re looking for a few guys to contribute regular freelance tech content on subjects ranging from engine and drivetrain tech, to suspension and body/paintwork. If you know your tech stuff across a wide range of cars and have decent writing chops, this part-time work can pay for your muscle car addiction. Must be able to take direction well and work within short-term monthly and bimonthly deadlines. Interested parties should contact Johnny Hunkins at email@example.com.
I Tried It, I Liked It!
I would like to thank you very much for putting a picture of my Javelin in the magazine from the Goodguys Nashville show! It was great meeting and talking to you (even though I had no idea who you were) and showing interest in my car. That was only the second time I tried to autocross the car, and it’s a blast! Who knows, I might get into it more, but for now it’s fun to run a few laps and call it a day.
Keith, it was a pleasure meeting you as well. It’s good to see more guys with muscle cars trying the autocross. Who knows, maybe you’ll even try a road course and do a pro solo event one of these days.
Just got my September issue [Readers’ Projects] and, wow, out of 20 readers cars, most  were Chevys. Don’t get me wrong, I like all kinds of street rods, but I feel cheated that only one Ford was shown. I am building a ’62 Mercury Comet (with a SHO V-6), but I am not far enough along to send in pictures of it to you. I would like to see more diversity of cars (not all Chevelles). Please in the future go and try to find more cars and then choose a good cross-section across the board.
“Don’t get me wrong, I like all kinds of street rods, but I feel cheated that only one Ford was shown.” —Robert Scott
Robert, short of us outright building Ford projects for our readers, what would you have us do? OK, you force us to do this: Attention Ford guys: Send in your Ford projects, or we’ll kill you! Seriously, there is no excuse for you not sending in pics of your project, Robert. You’ve clearly got the car, the motor, and the plan. The whole point of the story was to show off your unfinished project—and yours sounds more interesting than most.
Homebuilt ≠ Low-Buck
Can you please tell me why advertised manufacturer prices are so high for suspension parts? I’d like to see you build a low-buck Pro Touring car. Why can’t you build a three-link for a Camaro at home? Let’s see you use a little ingenuity and build something, heaven forbid, instead of just bolting parts on. This is America, right? Hot rodding is about creativity and thinking out of the box.
We have such a project car. It’s a ’67 Cougar called Max Effort. Yes, it’s a Cougar instead of a Camaro, but when you’re fabricating components from scratch, it hardly matters what brand—the process is the same. Regardless, forget about it being low-buck (frugal, maybe). A completely homebuilt Pro Touring car requires a huge investment in the proper tools, time, training, and raw materials—just ask Bob Bertelsen. (See his homebuilt ’71 Camaro on page 30.) As far as suspension parts being too expensive, go out and buy a MIG welder, cold saw, tubing cutter, tubing bender, Heim joints, ball joints, bushings, and tubing, engineer the parts with a decent suspension program, construct jigs, build the parts, install them, scale the car, test it, break it, redesign, retest, then tell us how well your parts work without spending as much as stuff from a manufacturer who does this every day.