NASCAR technology for the street sounds counterintuitive, but in reality the realm of ultimate pushrod race engines holds the secret to rejuvenating one of the best head designs ever created for the small-block Ford: the Cleveland. That’s because prior to the release of Ford Racing’s magnificent clean-sheet FR9 race engine in 2009, Ford’s NASCAR program had overt muscle car roots. For the three decades preceding the FR9, the engines powering every Blue Oval racer were essentially 351 Windsor blocks topped with 351 Cleveland-derived heads.

Thirty-plus years is an extraordinarily long time to go between racing engine changes for a manufacturer, but you know what that gets ya? A lot of time sorting out and fine-tuning to create fully optimized engines. For example Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford for Roush Fenway, finished the 2008 season with a series-high nine victories. Not too bad for a platform considered archaic by NASCAR standards.

That extended life also brought forth dramatically revised and near perfected versions of the original Cleveland heads, thanks to the efforts of Ford Racing, Roush Racing, and Robert Yates. The A351, B351, C302, C302B, C3, C3H, SC1 (Sprint Car 1), and finally the most radical, the D3. That last head was worked so well that it was used right until the FR9 bowed. Even cooler is the fact that all of them will technically bolt right onto any Ford Windsor or Cleveland small-block.

When NASCAR banned the use of canted valves on cylinder heads (the Cleveland’s signature design) in 1990, Robert Yates stepped in to revise the C302 head. The intake valve cant was removed and the angle was altered, but the traditional stagger arrangement remained. The new heads colloquially became known as “Yates.” Notwithstanding, Ford used recycled part numbers on some of the intake manifolds so there are Yates and C302 intakes that carry the same part number. That did lead to a bit of an issue with identification among those seeking the ultimate heads for their small-block Fords, since the pre- and post-Yates heads were quite similar looking to the untrained eye.

Of course all of those iterations were very specific application race parts designed for ultrahigh rpm use and regular maintenance. What the Ford world really needed was a head that took all of those lessons learned from decades of NASCAR competition, and put them into a street-friendly head—one that makes massive power, of course.

That’s where Troy Bowen at Ford Performance Solutions (FPS) saw a gap. There were updated Cleveland-style heads on the market, and Cleveland-headed Windsors are nothing new, but he felt there was power left on the table. His first iteration, known as the Avenger XTC 351, worked well, but a newer version, dubbed the Avenger XTC-R, blends original Cleveland and the best bits of NASCAR design into a head. That brings everything full circle—street to race, and back to street. That’s perfect for a car like Max Effort that’s a little bit Pro Touring, a little bit road race, and touch of NASCAR thrown in for good measure.

The craziest part of this build isn’t the awesome power production; it’s that this combination we threw together is designed to run on premium 91-octane pump gas. Read on to see how FPS makes it happen.

By the Numbers
438ci Ford

Block: Dart 9.5 deck Race Series aluminum Windsor
Crank: RPM-International
Rods: RPM-International
Pistons: Ross Racing
Rings: Akerly and Childs
Bearings: Clevite 77 from Summit Racing
Balancer: ATI Super Damper
Timing Set: COMP Cams
Oil pan: Aviaid dry-sump
Oil pump: Aviaid two-stage dry-sump, Petersen pulley
Cylinder heads: Ford Performance Solutions XTC-R 351
Rocker arms: T&D Machine shaft rockers, modified by Ford Performance Solutions
Intake: Edelbrock 2863 C3 NASCAR, ported and EFI’d by Ford Performance Solutions
Gaskets: Fel-Pro throughout, Fel-Pro PermaTorque MLS head gaskets
Bolts/studs: ARP throughout, ARP stainless bolt kit from Summit Racing
Cam: COMP Cams solid roller
Lifters: COMP Cams solid roller
Pushrods: COMP Cams
Distributor: MSD Pro-Billet
Plug wires: MSD Super Conductor
Valve covers: Ford Performance Solutions polished aluminum

On the Dyno
438ci Ford Small-Block
Snow Performance Naturally Aspirated
RPM: TQ: HP: TQ: HP:
4,000 525 400 518 394
4,100 540 422 528 412
4.200 552 442 537 430
4,300 561 459 547 448
4,400 574 482 556 466
4,500 588 504 569 487
4,600 601 526 583 511
4,700 612 548 594 531
4,800 619 566 605 553
4,900 624 582 610 569
5,000 629 599 613 584
5,100 631 613 615 597
5,200 630 624 615 609
5,300 627 633 612 618
5,400 624 642 609 627
5,500 620 650 606 634
5,600 616 657 602 642
5,700 610 662 599 650
5,800 605 669 595 657
5,900 602 677 589 662
6,000 600 685 584 667
6,100 596 692 580 674
6,200 592 698 576 680
6,300 586 703 570 684
6,400 581 708 565 688
6,500 577 714 561 694
6,600 574 721 558 701
6,700 569 725 553 705
6,800 563 729 547 708
6,900 555 730 539 709
7,000 548 731 533 710

SOURCE
ATI Performance Products
6747 Whitestone Road
Baltimore
MD  21207
877-298-5039
http://www.atiracing.com
Ross Racing Pistons
625 S. Douglas Street
El Segundo
CA  90245
800-392-7677
www.rosspistons.com
Dyno Motive
809 South Lakeview Avenue
Placentia
CA  92870
714-693-1317
RPM International
16313 -16319 Arthur Street
Cerritos
CA  90703
562-926-9188
www.racingpartsmaximum.com
Ford Performance Solutions
714-870-7935
http://www.F-P-S.com
Aviaid
818-998-8991
www.aviaid.com
ARP
1863 Eastman Avenue
Ventura
CA  93003
800-826-3045
www.arp-bolts.com
T&D Machine Products
Carson City
NV
775-884-2292
www.tdmach.com
Edelbrock (Carbs)
800-416-8628
http://www.edelbrock.com
Dart Machinery
353 Oliver Street
Troy
MI  48084
248-362-1188
http://www.dartheads.com
Summit Racing
Akron
OH
800-230-3030
330-630-0240
www.summitracing.com/
Comp Cams
3406 Democrat Road
Memphis
TN  38118
800-999-0853
www.compcams.com
Snow Performance
1017-A East Highway 24
Woodland Park
CO  80863
866-365-2762
www.snowperformance.net
MSD Ignition (Autotronic Controls)
1490 Henry Brennan Drive
El Paso
TX  79936
915-857-5200
www.msdignition.com
FAST
3400 Democrat Road
Memphis
TN  38118
877-334-8355
www.fuelairspark.com
Meziere Enterprises
220 S. Hale Ave.
Escondido
CA  92029
800-208-1755
www.meziere.com
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