Next, we installed Flex-A-Lite's new aluminum radiator that incorporates versatile fins or heat sinks on the outside of the tanks. This revolutionary design not only helps the efficiency of the radiator, but the design of the heat sink fins gives infinite locations for mounting the radiator and accessories like cooling fans and transmission coolers that are normally located on or near the radiator. Remember, this is a bracket car, and we want consistent performance. Being the quickest car in a bracket race does give you a couple of advantages, but being consistent wins races. A quality radiator helps cool the car quicker between rounds, allowing for a consistent engine temperature even in the late rounds when there is not much cool-down time available. Consistent engine temperature is important for consistent elapsed times, a necessity in bracket racing.
Once everything was installed and double checked, we filled the fluids and fired the engine up for break-in. Since this is a roller cam motor we don't need to perform the normal twenty-minute cam break-in cycle, we just need to build some heat in the motor to seat the rings and check for leaks. Also, our Crane camshaft installation card specifies to set the valve lash when the engine is hot, so we'll accomplish that just after break-in. Our engine fired immediately, and we set the ignition timing to a baseline of 36-degrees total advance and set the idle mixture and idle speed on the carburetor. We still weren't sure how it would perform at the track, but this thing sure sounded healthy. Nothing gets our adrenalin pumping like the cackle of 500 inches of a 13-to-one compression big-block singing through open headers. Before we took it to the track, however, we had to finish our work at the shop. After tuning the carb, setting the timing, and allowing it to come to temperature, we gave the throttle a couple of whacks to make sure everything sounded ok and then shut it down to set valve lash and change the oil. We always drain the engine oil after break-in, taking a sample to look for any foreign material and cutting open the oil filter to check the element for excessive metal particles. All we found was a small amount of fine bronze dust, which is normal for a new bronze geared intermediate shaft breaking in on a billet roller camshaft, so we deemed the engine healthy and headed for the track.
Any professional racer will tell you the key to winning drag races is consistency. The same goes for tuning a car at the track. The data you collect by making passes down the drag strip means nothing unless the car is staged consistently, shifted consistently, and driven down the same lane accounting for changes in the weather as you test. Also, if the car isn't hooking up properly each pass, your data will be skewed, so any traction issues should be resolved prior to making tuning changes.