Pro-Systems hooked us up with an incredible set of modified Holley Dominators that were amazingly responsive and gave a great fuel curve throughout the 3,000-7,000 rpm range that the impending Challenge ran through. When initially talking with Patrick from Pro-Systems, he had us try a pair of 1050s that were built for a smaller engine but finally sent us a set of 1150s that picked up an average 10 horses across the board. His stuff consistently shows up within just a couple jet and air bleed sizes of absolutely perfect for the combination. He attributes this to keeping good records of customers' engines and confidential copies of their dyno sheets.

Getting this whole combo together, it was imperative that, like a band, we practice before the big show. So it was off to Shacklett Automotive and their engine dyno to get this thing in tune. We started off with the short-duration/big-lift cam, but as mentioned above, it didn't last long. Thank goodness we had spare Smith Brothers heavy-duty pushrods to take the place of the early sacrifice. Not wanting to see anymore carnage, I made the executive decision to yank that cam without making a full pull and stick in number two. It performed well with significantly less lift, but with a little more duration. Then we stuck in number three. Third time's the charm they say. It certainly was with this baby. It responded by picking up power across the board and after some fiddling around with cam timing, we knew we had it right.

Naturally every time we moved the cam, the distributor phasing changed some, but thanks to big spark from the ICE Ignition, firing the Champion plugs was a nonissue. ICE's inductive ignition systems are different from normal capacitive discharge systems in that the electrical energy is stored in the coil rather than a capacitor in the ignition box. "So what does that mean for me?" you ask. OK, here it is: With the ICE inductive coil setup, instead of having a short 2-4 degrees of spark duration in which distributor timing and phasing is super critical and very touchy, the ignition box is able to deliver 24-36 degrees of high-energy spark duration. That means that instead of a little short "beep" of spark, like a horn from some ricer driving by, you get a long "honk" of spark, like a big rig. That's what we like, and that's what the engine likes.

Once the engine seemed happy, we were happy. Then the engine started to act not so happy, and we weren't so happy. We had dropped 40 horses between pulls and that is not good, especially when we had to load up the next morning to head to Ohio if we were to remain in the good graces of the Engine Masters staff. A quick leakdown showed several cylinders with 60-80 percent leakage. Not good. We yanked the heads and immediately saw the problem. The massive 2.400-inch intake valves were running into the sides of the 1.850-inch exhaust valves. Argh! That was the kind of sour note we didn't want to hear.

A late night and early morning later, we had installed a set of new 2.350-inch intake valves, scrounged up enough replacement exhaust valves, and recut the valve job so that it would hopefully hold together. We bolted the heads on and immediately loaded the engine in the truck for the seven-hour haul to the University of Northwestern Ohio.