The following story was written by ex-Popular Hot Rodding Tech Editor Scott Parkhurst, who was instrumental in the conception and development of the AMSOIL Engine Masters Competition almost 10 year ago. Scott has since moved on from PHR, and now works as a consultant and freelancer in the performance industry. Nevertheless, Scott's affinity for the EMC is so great that he just couldn't stay away from his first love. For the 2009 competition, Scott collaborated with Tuned Port Injection Specialties (Chaska, Minnesota) to bring one of the first-ever fuel-injected engines to the fray. As seen here, the 383ci LSX scored 2,411.8 points (18th out of a field of 30 engines). After this story was written, this same engine made an appearance at the 2010 event. With a change to a smaller cam, a bigger oil pan, and a different intake-brought on by a reduction in the rpm range of the competition-the TPIS LSX scored 2,314-good enough for Sixth Place out of 35 entries. Scott's experience as PHR's tech editor, EMC creator, and finally as an active partner on an EMC team gave him a unique 360-degree perspective of the AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge that is not likely be repeated. This is his story! -Johnny Hunkins
The LSX block was designed...
The LSX block was designed for extreme performance and racing applications. When compared to production line LS blocks, the LSX boasts a thicker deck surface where the heads bolt up, and more mass surrounding the critical bottom end main bearings. More than 2,000 hp has been made with an LSX block, so the design has been proven beyond what we'll ever see in a Challenge engine.
When TPIS and this author decided to combine forces to enter the Engine Masters Challenge competition in 2009, we wanted to develop the best possible LS-based EFI-fed engine we could. Certainly we were anxious to compete against many of the world's best engine experts, but there was also the desire to use this development mule as a blueprint for future crate-type offerings. While TPIS specializes in custom-designed engines of all types for street, strip, circle track, and road course competition, the GM LS V-8 is quickly becoming the powerplant of choice for many enthusiasts. Realizing this, TPIS wanted to offer a line of well-designed and engineered LS-based engines at several different power levels and prices to accommodate the needs of enthusiasts everywhere. For the Engine Masters Challenge, this would be their first year competing, and while they had no fantasies of walking in as rookies and walking out with the big trophy and that big check, TPIS did want to learn how this game is played. TPIS has every intention of becoming a regular competitor in this event, and this particular engine will continue to undergo development and evolution to become a serious contender for the top spot. In 2009, the effort was a chance to begin this quest, and fire a warning shot over the bow of the competition.
Engine builder Clay Witt has...
Engine builder Clay Witt has been working at TPIS almost as long as the shop has been open. He's assembled countless performance engines from mild vintage engines for cool hot rods to full-race Chevy V-8s for IMSA Trans-Am competition. He's been working with the LS family of GM V-8s as long as they have been available, and knows all the tricks to make them both powerful and durable for the long haul. Witt is seen here holding TPIS's own single-plane EFI intake for the LS, which TPIS intends to use on their Challenge engine.
The final results were sobering, as TPIS finished about mid pack and learned many valuable lessons, which will contribute greatly toward placing higher in the future. Nevertheless, the engine was one of the first to run electronic fuel injection in Engine Masters Challenge competition; it ran well and experienced zero issues throughout. Nothing failed, nothing was damaged, and the TPIS crew developed as a team.
TPIS began the development of the Engine Masters Challenge entry with a clean sheet, and discussed all of the relevant points and variables as a team. We agreed on just about everything, from the critical cylinder head choice to some loose camshaft and intake basics. Surely we'd have some variables to figure out and fine-tuning to accomplish, but the major hardware choices were narrowed down almost immediately.
Beginning with a GM LSX block, we knew the foundation of our Challenge entry would be a solid one. The LSX block is designed to support big power, and the additional strength in critical areas would ensure we didn't have any issues here. We know LSX blocks have shown the capability to withstand 2,000 hp, and our target peaks would be less than half of that. We simply wanted an absolutely rock-solid foundation to build upon, and we got it with the LSX.