As a side note, astute readers will realize that both valves are going to be a little bit open when the piston is at TDC in overlap, but the piston is halfway down the hole when at max valve lift. That is why lots of overlap (aka tight lobe separation) and not maximum valve lift is what causes piston-to-valve clearance problems.

Hughes Engines is a name known in the Pentastar circle, and that was who provided the hydraulic roller cam and lifter set here. “I really like the hydraulic rollers. I’ve been putting them in everything,” Robinson says. He pointed out some things he was really impressed with on the Hughes lifters: “They were a true drop in, they oil through the pushrod, and they have the oil band in the right spot.”

Once Robinson had decided where he wanted the valve timing events to occur, his next fight was trying to determine when to light the fire. The team had decided that though they typically run an MSD 7AL3 on their shop dyno, they would use MSD’s digital 6AL2 programmable ignition box. “What I did was mess around with the curve. I took timing out near peak torque and put it back in at the top and that was a solid 10 hp and 10 pounds of torque. Just with a little jag in the timing curve. I was really impressed with that.”

Once they had their tune-up perfected, they loaded up their creation in the back of the modern-day equivalent of the Little Red Wagon and headed to the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima for the AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge. Having tried several viscosities of oil in testing to see if one was better than another for a hydraulic roller cam, they selected six quarts of AMSOIL Synthetic 20W-50 oil to protect their baby, and strapped it to one of the university’s two DTS dynos. They fed the Holley carb a steady stream of Rocket Brand 91-octane pump gas and let her rip. As the rpm climbed, there was a sudden jump in the torque as the cam, intake, and headers all reached their happy spots and the horsepower gauge skyrocketed. The final number peaked at 519 horses. The torque was a stroker-motor-like 476 lb-ft. All from parts that were designed before man walked on the moon. Considering those ancient origins of their engine, Robinson, Joe Rutters, and Ron MacLean could not have been happier with their valiant effort.