Up until about 1998, if you were a Mopar racer and wanted to run a big port cylinder head like a Max Wedge or Indy piece, there really wasn't a good intake manifold available unless you used the '62-'64 cross-ram intake. There were some tunnel-rams and big, single, four-barrel intakes, but nothing was available that could be used for the Nostalgia Super Stock racer or the NHRA Super Stock racer. However, in the spring of 1998, Indy Cylinder Head brought out its Max Ram intake manifold and solved that problem instantly. The manifold was good for two- to three-tenths and as much as 7 mph in the quarter-mile. It was a fairly inexpensive and quality built piece that went together without any grief. I believe that manifold is now recognized as the manifold of choice for almost every class racer required to run a big-block engine with two four-barrels. how quickly this trick manifold evolved makes for an interesting story.
We had been running a 572 Indy-headed engine with a highly modified Weiand Six-Pack manifold that was converted to a two four-barrel configuration to comply with the rules of Nostalgia Super Stock. This manifold had the runners and plenum enlarged, and I thought it worked pretty well.
At the Mopar Nationals in August 1997, Russ Flagle of Indy Cylinder Head walked over, looked at the engine in my wagon, and after a few minutes, simply said, "I bet we could help that with a good intake," and then walked away. My original reaction was, "Wait a minute, where are you going?" When we arrived back home, I started calling Russ to ask what he meant and what kind of ideas he had. I called mornings, afternoons, and left messages without any success. I was told he was involved in a project and wasn't available.
The last week of August 1997, Russ called and asked if I was going to attend the Monster Mopar event in St. Louis. If I was, he would ship me an intake manifold he wanted to try. He said he had been working on this manifold for the past two weeks and was sure it would help. Indy Cylinder Head first came on the Mopar scene with their original performance head, the 440 CH. When I first read about that head, I was quite skeptical because the power gains they were talking about seemed unrealistic. When I finally tried a set, the improvement was phenomenal. They knew what they were doing, so I figured if Russ made a manifold, it should be worth at least a tenth of a second.
A few days later, the manifold arrived at the shop, and it was completely different than what I had anticipated. Russ had said he made it out of sheet aluminum, but I guess I thought it would look more like a low-level tunnel-ram. Instead, it looked nothing like that. It was really neat. We installed it, made the necessary throttle cable brackets and linkage, and waited for St. Louis. I called Gateway International before the event and found out the track runs a test-and-tune session on Friday. I called Russ and told him to plan to be there early because we could get some runs in on Friday. We both arrived about noon, only to be told we could make no runs until that evening at 7:00.