For people who follow the King of the Street race series promoted by O'Malley Competition, Sheila Bowman is a familiar name. In existence since 1993, the K.O.S. series is a racing circuit for the quickest steel-bodied Chrysler products on the planet, and the Bowmans, who reside in Kernersville, North Carolina, have been a part of it since its inception. The rules are identical to those found in NMCA's Super Street and E-Z Street classes, and the cars come in a variety of potent configurations: nitrous oxide, supercharged, and big displacements. Broken down into competitive formats based on displacement and type of induction system, the cars are presently running below the 8.5-second bracket in the quarter-mile and are capable of serious 160-plus mph speeds.
Sheila began driving in 1994 and took home the championship for K.O.S. cars in 1995. She was also the first person to break through the eight-second barrier in the series. The black '73 'Cuda the Bowmans campaign is a familiar sight at these events, but in the last several years, serious performance advances by all the competitors began to separate the men and women from the boys and girls. With "put up or shut up" honors on the line, Sheila and Steve began looking at ways to make the 'Cuda even quicker.
The K.O.S. rules are fairly stringent in terms of body and appearance. Only the hood, bumpers, and decklid can be manufactured from lightweight materials; the rest of the car is covered with the Detroit sheetmetal that left the factory. The stock wheelbase must be retained, and the widest legal tire is 10.5 inches wide. The cars even use stock glass. Like real street cars, the normal curbside accessories like headlights and full exhaust must be on the car as well. Of course, eight-second street cars are rarely practical, even to make a quick run to the store, but it's the thought that counts, and this one is pretty mind-blowing!
In virtually any poll, the Hemi-powered E-Bodies were the stoutest cars from the supercar era, purpose-built for eyeball-popping acceleration. Decidedly, a Hemi would replace the wedge when the car was being upgraded. To this end, Steve and Sheila turned to Ken Lazzeri at Indy Cylinder Head for one of Indy's Legend Hemi engines. This aftermarket block was set up to displace a "mere" 389 inches to keep the overall factored weight of the car down (supercharged combinations run on a 3,000-pound minimum/8.0 pounds-per-cubic-inch rule). Fitted with 8.5:1 Wiseco pistons, BME rods, and a Sonny Bryant billet crankshaft, the engine is good for a screaming 10,000 rpm.
The bottom end is topped off by a set of worked Indy Hemi heads that feeds giant quantities of fuel into the cylinders via a .750-plus lift Cam Motion billet roller bumpstick, Comp Cams lifters, Manley valves, and Indy hardware. After looking at what had been done with the 5.0 Mustang contingent, a call was made to Vortech superchargers. A Hemi application was not something they had tried before, but Vortech was interested in seeing how it would work. Together with the crew from Indy, a system was custom-fabricated for the car. Chrome tubing was bent, custom pulleys created, a prototype ElectroMotive fuel and ignition control computer system installed, and a lot of sweat expended to couple the Vortech Z Trim centrifugal blower to the Indy engine for the first time. A group of 160-psi Bosch injectors sends the fuel into the custom plenum, while a set of custom-built R&D Race Car headers sends the exhaust to the Flowmasters. Once done, the blown beast made 1,100 hp-at the rear wheels! Serious stuff!