While hot rodding was growing up in the Western United States, starting out on the dusty dry lakes in California and evolving onto quarter-mile dragstrips, a parallel hot rodding movement was growing up in the South, fueled initially by the practicalities of moonshine profits and developing onto the circle tracks of stock car racing. While there were similarities, the Southern boys were building engines and parts to go the distance, with endurance as much a part of the formula as explosive power. The round track racers were developing their own breed of performance parts. NASCAR today remains among the most popular of racing venues, with mega-teams putting vast resources into race car development. Engine programs have always been a big part of looking for the winning edge, and these competitors chew through high-end engine components like nobody’s business.

Needless to say, much of that NASCAR pro racing hardware eventually filters out of those secretive racing engine shops and into the secondhand market. With the state of the art constantly changing, yesterday’s parts are of little use to these guys. In NASCAR country, the volume of parts going into those engine programs is essentially matched by the amount of stuff shoved out the back door to make way for the latest hardware. Buck Hinkle, who runs Hinkle Performance Engines with his son, Clark, may never have been involved with the shine-running roots of NASCAR’s early days, but the man can build an engine, and he can drive. Of Buck’s many racing accomplishments, he held the record at his local track, Illiana Motor Speedway in Crown Point, Indiana, in the 100-lap Tony Bettenhausen Memorial Race. Set back at the 1968 race, the record stood for an astonishing 40 years, with Hinkle running a big-block ’64 Chevelle convertible on a ’57 Chevy “Black Widow” chassis.

The Build

Hinkle is now a regular competitor at the AMSOIL Engine Masters challenge, fielding engines built in their shop in London, Kentucky. For the 2011 event, Hinkle Performance Engines looked to NASCAR hardware to field an entry in the new Xtreme Division of competition. Hinkle had accumulated a vast stock of ex-NASCAR components, and set out to build an SB2.2 Chevy combination based mainly on parts he had on hand. The build started with a GM Bow Tie block, which was required to meet the production base and internal oil pump requirements of the EMC rules. These are dedicated racing blocks, but faithfully follow the original small-block Chevrolet architecture, while the SB2 blocks are made for external dry-sump oiling systems and have an altered lifter bore position. The block was a used race piece, and as such was already beefed for endurance applications, with massive billet four-bolt splayed main caps in all five bearing locations.

The plan for filling the block centered upon coming up with a combination that would take advantage of some of the high-end NASCAR components Hinkle already had in stock at his shop. Among these were a set of Carrillo connecting rods, and a set of new, in-the-box JE billet pistons. The pistons were built for a small .750-inch piston pin, while the 6.2-inch rods were .866 inch at the small end. This gave Buck the opportunity to adjust the rod length slightly while bushing the rods by offsetting the location. Taking into account the desired crank stroke, the compression height of the pistons and the deck height of the block, the bushings were offset to a finished rod length of 6.175 inches. An Eagle forged crank completed the rotating assembly. To match the rods, the crank was cut down on the rod journals to the 1.88-inch Honda journal diameter of the connecting rods. The crank was finished with a stroke of 3.510 inches, which along with the 4.175-inch bore resulted in the final engine displacement of 385 ci.