We all expected stout power numbers from the 500ci wedges in this year's engine challenge, and we certainly weren't disappointed. We relaxed the rules a bit for this year's competition by allowing roller camshafts and smaller rod-journal sizes, but aside from that, the rules of our challenge didn't change from last year. The engines were dyno'd between 3,000 and 7,000 rpm, and the peak horsepower and torque were added together for a combined score. This score was then divided into the retail cost of the parts in the engine for a power-per-dollar factor. Manifold vacuum at idle was used as a bonus tie-breaker in case the competition was close. It turns out this year's competition was a close contest, with decimal points separating the top finishers. As it turned out, the winning engine wasn't the most powerful or the most economical of the eight entries. It was actually a combination of the two. David Bruns of Washington, Iowa's Mid America Racing Engines built a very powerful 500ci wedge using a cost-effective combination of parts to win this year's competition.
Most of these big-blocks easily out powered last year's Hemis as more than half the entries produced horsepower numbers in the mid- to high-700s. This was a function of both the relaxed rules of this year's contest and an rpm range for the dyno pulls that favored the wedge cylinder head design. Mopar Engines West holds the honor for the most power in this year's contest as their 500-inch wedge made more than 761 peak horsepower. Knowing the cost of the engine is factored into the combined peak power and torque the engine makes on the dyno, several builders chose not to go for peak power numbers, instead trying to win the contest by building their engines economically. In the end, however, it took a combination of big power and economical parts for engine builder David Bruns to win this year's engine challenge.
When a power outage caused this year's challenge to start a little behind schedule, Rich Smith and the dyno crew at Comp worked late to make up for the lost time. We had four days to dyno eight engines, and thanks to Comp we met our schedule. Overall the contest ran smoothly, and everyone in attendance had a good time. Only two of the eight engines failed to qualify-one couldn't make the required rpm, missing by only 200 rpm, and the other suffered a mechanical failure that was repaired, just not in the allotted time.
In this issue we'll give you an overview of the engine challenge wedges in the order they placed. Look for in-depth articles on each engine in future issues. If you're considering a mean street wedge for one of your projects, this will be a great chance to look at what's inside some of the most potent big-blocks on the planet.