Since the beginning of the Engine Masters Challenge, the idea has been to find out who can build the baddest 91-octane pump-gas engine in the land-the operative concept being that PHR readers are far more interested in muscle that runs on the street and at sane rpm levels on standard fuel. This has brought out all kinds of combinations over the years, but nothing like we saw in 2009. With this most recent competition format, we allowed fuel injection, multiple carbs, solid roller cams, and an increase in max engine speed to 7,000 rpm.

Over a four-day period, our 30 chosen competitors battled it out on a pair of DTS dynos located at the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima, Ohio. Each competitor got a series of warm-up pulls, a brief 20-minute tuning period, and three qualifying pulls to determine their score. The score was derived from the average torque and horsepower number from three consecutive runs in the range of 3,000 to 7,000 rpm (up from 2,500 - 6,500 as in previous years). These two averages were added together, multiplied by a factor of one thousand, then divided by the declared cubic inches. This somewhat esoteric formula is designed to level the playing field so that larger engines don't have a performance advantage over smaller ones. The top six qualifiers then go to the finals on Friday for a crack at the title of Engine Master.

In formulating the rules for this year's Challenge, we made a deliberate effort to allow our competitors to stretch their wings. And while things were a bit more on the racy side than in prior years, we felt it was time for some new power combinations that would really peg the dyno needle. Nevertheless, we felt it was imperative that all engines be built with commonly available blocks, cylinder heads, and cast intake manifolds, and run on 91-octante pump gas (provided by Shell). In the end, these muscle car powerplants use hardware you can (for the most part) buy right out of the Jegs catalog. With the exception of some trick port work, a secret cam recipe, and some expert tuning, these are engines that can largely be duplicated by the average enthusiast.

Here for your perusal are the engine specifications and dyno-verified performance of our 30 competitors, along with their qualifying scores. Irrespective of whether you follow the JEMC, you'll appreciate that the qualifying score does a really good job of leveling out the difference between engine sizes, and provides a great way to rank the different engine types and the skill levels of the various builders!

John Kaase Racing
Small-Block Ford

Claimed displacement: 403 ci
Qualifying score: 2,646
Team leader: John Kaase
Team members: Ron Baker, Cliff Moore, Bob Bertsch, Greg Brown, John Kaase
Hometown: Winder, GA
Bore: 4.002-inch
Stroke: 4.000-inch
Compression ratio:11.3:1
Carburetor: Holley 1,250-cfm Dominator (2)
Intake: Weiand
Carb spacer: Kaase
Cylinder heads: CHI
Intake valve: 2.190-inch
Exhaust valve: 1.600-inch
Block: Ford
Camshaft specs: COMP solid roller, 246/246 degrees at .050,.750-/.750-inch lift
Rocker arms: Crane, 2.2:1
Lifters: Crane
Pushrods: Trend
Crankshaft: Scat
Rods: Scat
Pistons: CP
Rings: Speed Pro, .043-inch/.043-inch/3mm
Coatings: none
Ignition: MSD Water pump: Moroso, electric Damper: PRW Oil: Mobil 1, 15W-50 Headers: Hedman Headers, 2-inch primary Mufflers: MagnaFlow

DYNO DATA
BEST QUALIFYING PULL
RPM TQ HP
3,000 501 286
3,100 504 298
3,200 499 304
3,300 491 309
3,400 483 313
3,500 476 317
3,600 472 323
3,700 468 329
3,800 473 342
3,900 488 363
4,000 507 386
4,100 523 408
4,200 536 429
4,300 549 450
4,400 561 470
4,500 570 489
4,600 578 506
4,700 584 523
4,800 591 538
4,900 591 551
5,000 593 563
5,100 594 576
5,200 595 588
5,300 596 601
5,400 597 613
5,500 597 623
5,600 596 623
5,700 593 647
5,800 593 655
5,900 589 661
6,000 583 666
6,100 577 670
6,200 570 673
6,300 563 675
6,400 555 677
6,500 546 676
6,600 535 672
6,700 523 667
6,800 507 657
6,900 493 647
7,000 474 632

BSE Racing Engines
GM LS7

Claimed displacement: 435 ci
Qualifying score: 2,632.2
Team leader: Tony Bischoff
Team members: John Lohone, Tony Bischoff, Brett Vonder Mowlen, Cameron Jackson, Rich Kolb, Brad Nagel
Hometown: Guilford, IN
Bore: 4.115-inch
Stroke: 4.004-inch
Compression ratio: 11.35:1
Carburetor: Holley 1,250-cfm Dominator
Intake: Performance Inductions
Carb spacer: HVH
Cylinder heads: Performance Inductions
Intake valve: 2.195-inch
Exhaust valve: 1.600-inch
Block: GM LS7
Camshaft specs: COMP solid roller, 248/252 degrees at .050, .850-/.840-inch lift
Rocker arms: T&D, 1.8/1.7:1
Lifters: PBH
Pushrods: Smith Bros
Crankshaft: Eagle
Rods: Eagle
Pistons: Ross
Rings: Total Seal, .043-inch/.043-inch/2mm
Coatings: none
Ignition: ICE
Water pump: Meziere, electric
Damper: ATI
Oil: Mobil 1, 0W-20
Headers: Schoenfeld, 1.75-/1.875-inch primary
Mufflers: MagnaFlow

DYNO DATA
BEST QUALIFYING PULL
RPM TQ HP
3,000 533 304
3,100 532 314
3,200 524 319
3,300 515 324
3,400 513 332
3,500 519 346
3,600 537 368
3,700 557 393
3,800 572 141
3,900 582 432
4,000 589 449
4,100 595 464
4,200 599 479
4,300 604 494
4,400 611 511
4,500 620 532
4,600 629 551
4,700 635 568
4,800 638 583
4,900 640 597
5,000 639 608
5,100 639 620
5,200 638 631
5,300 637 642
5,400 635 653
5,500 635 665
5,600 633 674
5,700 630 683
5,800 625 691
5,900 620 697
6,000 615 702
6,100 609 707
6,200 602 710
6,300 594 713
6,400 585 713
6,500 576 713
6,600 565 711
6,700 554 706
6,800 543 703
6,900 530 696
7,000 521 964

Gene Adams Performance & Hot Heads Research
Chrysler Hemi

Claimed displacement: 365 ci
Qualifying score: 2,598.6
Team leader: Dan Miller
Team members: Dan Miller, Bob Walker, Bill Mewhinney, Ron Pratt
Hometown: Henderson, CA
Bore: 4.012-inch
Stroke: 3.607-inch
Compression ratio: 10.5:1
Carburetor: IDA 48 Weber
Intake: Hot Heads
Carb spacer: homemade, 1-inch open
Cylinder heads: Hot Heads
Intake valve: 2.125-inch
Exhaust valve: 1.800-inch
Block: Chrysler
Camshaft specs: Engle solid roller, 266/266 degrees at .050, .750-/.650-inch lift
Rocker arms: Rocker Arm Specialties, 1.9/1.54:1
Lifters: Rocker Arm Specialties
Pushrods: Smith Bros
Crankshaft: Chrysler
Rods: Eagle
Pistons: Ross
Rings: Total Seal, .042-inch/.042-inch/3mm
Coatings: Jet Hot
Ignition: MSD
Water pump: Jegs, electric
Damper: PRW
Oil: Royal Purple, 0W10
Headers: Hot Heads
Mufflers: MagnaFlow

DYNO DATA
BEST QUALIFYING PULL
RPM TQ HP
3,000 440 251
3,100 448 265
3,200 452 276
3,300 452 285
3,400 447 289
3,500 437 291
3,600 430 295
3,700 435 306
3,800 449 325
3,900 467 347
4,000 488 368
4,100 504 388
4,200 505 403
4,300 501 414
4,400 496 420
4,500 498 426
4,600 496 434
4,700 501 448
4,800 510 466
4,900 525 490
5,000 535 509
5,100 539 523
5,200 538 532
5,300 530 535
5,400 517 531
5,500 509 533
5,600 506 539
5,700 505 548
5,800 505 559
5,900 506 569
6,000 510 582
6,100 513 595
6,200 512 605
6,300 509 610
6,400 503 613
6,500 494 612
6,600 483 607
6,700 471 600
6,800 458 593
6,900 445 584
7,000 531 575