All of the engines are delivered to the Mopar Nationals in Columbus Ohio, where they remai
There's no question that working for a car magazine offers the Mopar Muscle staff all kinds of cool opportunities to attend car shows and races, but one of our favorite annual events is the AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge. Each year our contest features a different Mopar V-8 engine, and gives engine builders from both large and small shops the opportunity to highlight their engine building technique in a dyno shootout. Each December at the PRI show we announce the featured engine and rules for the contest, then the engine builders have just over eight months to deliver their engines to the Mopar Nationals where our readers can check them out and ask the builders questions. After the Nats, the engines go to Comp Cams' dyno facility in Memphis, Tennessee, where their power is measured on Comp's Superflow engine dynamometer.
We just returned from Comp Cams where we dyno'd the big-blocks in this year's Amsoil/Mopar
Each year of the Engine Challenge we vary the rules of our contest slightly to keep things interesting, and every year our competition features a different variation of a Mopar V-8. In 2009, for the first time since the inception of our contest, we featured the low-deck Chrysler big-block with Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads. We didn't limit displacement this year, and had engines from 451 to 512 cubic inches. By limiting the cylinder head to the street-style Performer RPM, we effectively limited the air that would flow through these engines, or so we thought. We also restricted the competitors to Rockett Brand 93 octane fuel, since 93 octane is about as much as you can find at the pump these days. In effect, by restricting the octane of the fuel, we restricted the compression of these engines, though some of the competitors did push the limits with ratios as high as 12:1. Induction was restricted to 1,350 cfm, leading most competitors to use single four-barrels, but we did have two engines with tunnel-rams and dual quads this year. Additionally, we will factor the cost of all the major parts in each engine, and then divide the cost into the combined peak horsepower and torque for the power per dollar rating that will decide the winner.
Amsoil was again the title sponsor of our contest, providing oil for all of the engines in
With the engines at Comp, we randomly drew the order in which they would be dyno'd, running one engine in the morning and another in the afternoon. During their dyno session, each builder or team had a 45-minute qualifying period in which to make a minimum of three pulls from 3,000 to 7,000 rpm. Then after a 10-minute cool-down period, the team had another 45 minutes to make a minimum of three scored pulls over the same rpm range. The combined peak horsepower and torque from each competitor's best scored pull is the number we will divide into the cost of the engine for a final power per dollar rating.
Rockett Brand supplied the 93 octane specially blended gasoline for our contest, and Rocke
We haven't yet had time to factor the prices of all the parts that went into these engines so you'll have to wait until next month to find out who won the AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge, but we thought you'd like to know how the dyno sessions went and what kind of power these big-blocks made. The engine builders used a variety of techniques to try to gain an advantage in this year's contest, and this month we'll show you how they tuned their engines for maximum performance on Comp's dyno. Remember that the run order for our contest was random and doesn't reflect who will actually win the competition, so you'll have to read next month's issue to find that out!
|Indy Cylinder Head||Chenoweth Speed and Machine|
|Indianapolis, IN 46239||Morton, IL, 61550|
|Schurbon Engine and Machine||Cederstrand Racing Engines|
|Maquoketa, IA, 52060||Brea, CA, 92821|
|JMS Racing Engines||Promax|
|El Monte, CA, 91732||Indianapolis, IN 46222|
|JD Engine and Machine|
|Columbia, MO, 65203|
Schurbon Engine and Machine combined efforts with Mo-par City this year to build a stout e
Schurbon Engine and Machine
Mo-par City Maquoketa, Iowa/Oregon, Illinois
Schurbon Engine and Machine teamed up with Mo-par City, using a 400 block and factory 440 crank to build a 452 cubic inch big-block for our contest. After studying our rules, engine builder Scott Schurbon decided that keeping costs down was key, and built this big-block with mostly "seasoned" stock parts provided by Larry and Michael Pontnack from Mo-par City.
Drawing the first dyno slot on Monday morning, engine builder Scott Schurbon and his team were eager to fire this engine and show what kind of power it had, making their first three dyno pulls quickly, utilizing a single four-barrel Holley. After qualifying with those three pulls, Scott and his team decided to swap intake manifolds from the single-plane to a used Weiand tunnel-ram with a pair of second-hand 650 Quadrajet carbs, using the remainder of the qualifying period to tune their engine for more power and torque with each pull. Before the hate mail begins, Q-jets were available on some Mopars. Scott and his team then made their scored pulls, adding ignition timing and leaning the carbs to net additional power with each pull. As the first engine on the dyno and perhaps the lowest cost engine in the contest, the Schurbon/Mo-par City entry set a fairly high standard for this year's competition.
Promax Performance built an economical, powerful, and smooth running 451 cubic-inch engine
Engine builder Ben Gorman from Promax Performance also utilized a stock 400 block combined with a factory steel 440 crank as the foundation for his entry. This combination requires either line-boring the block and main caps to 440 journal size, or grinding the main journals of the crankshaft down to the smaller 400 size. Either way, this is a potent and inexpensive combination, making great power and torque throughout the 3,000 to 7,000 rpm range of our contest.
The Promax entry was second on the dyno, and fired immediately, sounding crisp and strong. After warming the engine up and verifying ignition timing, Ben told dyno operator Rich Smith to throw the handle, and made his first pull with 36 degrees of timing. For the second pull, Ben and his crew bumped the ignition timing to 38 degrees, gaining a little power and torque. Allowing the engine to cool between pulls, Promax made only minor ignition timing adjustments, netting more power with each pull until a best of 568.9 horsepower and 518.1 lb/ft of torque. This entry likely had the most reasonable compression of the contest, and was tuned very well prior to making pulls on Comp's dyno. Using a combination of factory and aftermarket parts, Promax built a solid street motor for the 2009 challenge.
Mid America Racing Engines is also a repeat competitor in our Engine Challenge, and won th
Mid America Racing Engines
Mid America Racing Engines is no newcomer to the AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge, having competed in all except last year's contest. This year engine builder David Bruns decided that making power with cost effective parts would give him an advantage, so he put together an economical 500 stroker using a factory 400 block and porting the Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads in-house.
From the first dyno pull, everyone could tell that the Mid America entry meant business. Engine builder David Bruns quickly got busy tuning his engine, making an impressive 695 horsepower during the qualifying session. David paid close attention to the air/fuel ratios, making multiple jet changes and staggering the jets in his Dominator carb for optimal power. Bruns even employed his wife Dianne between pulls to refill an icepack used to cool the intake manifold. After multiple jet and ignition timing changes, Mid America entered the scored session, making their best pull of 697.4 horsepower and 619.3 lb/ft of torque for an impressive showing. Though not the least expensive engine in the contest, the Mid America entry may have enough power to offset its cost once the final results are tallied.
Through a series of timing, carburetor, and valve lash adjustments, the Schurbon/Mo-par Ci
Making minor ignition timing changes, Promax made more power with each pull netting a best
Through a series of jet and ignition timing changes, Mid America was the first competitor
R.M. Competition built the largest engine of the contest at 512 cubic inches. Making 628 h
R.M. Competition Engines
R.M. Competition Engines decided that size does matter as they brought the largest displacement engine to this year's contest. Engine builder Randy Malik assembled his short-block with a combination of economical factory and aftermarket parts, and had his Edelbrock cylinder heads ported by Modern Cylinder Head in Michigan. At 512 cubic inches, this is about as far as you want to go with a stock 400 block, and other than a minor distributor issue the R.M. Competition entry performed very well.
Though initially a little hard to start, the 512 inch wedge built by R.M. Competition sounded good once it fired up. After a brief warm up, engine builder Randy Malik checked ignition timing and made his first pull. Experimenting with air-bleeds, Randy tuned his engine during the qualifying session but it just wasn't responding so he went back to the original tune up for his judged pulls. For his first judged pull, Randy installed new spark plugs and advanced the timing to 37 degrees, but noticed the timing seemed to be unstable. Subsequent tuning gained R.M. Competition additional power, and a final timing adjustment to 35 degrees of advance netted the best pull of 628.8 horsepower and 596.5 lb/ft of torque.
LaRoy Engines was a newcomer to our contest in 2009, but the father and son team of Jim an
Entering the contest for the first time, LaRoy Engines built their low-deck big-block using a '74 vintage Chrysler 400 block and a factory forged 440 crankshaft. Like the other engine builders, Jim LaRoy used economical factory parts where he could, and durable aftermarket parts where needed. Jim's son Cody ported the Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads utilizing the same flow bench that his grandfather had used to port Mopar cylinder heads, achieving an impressive intake flow of more than 340 cfm at .700 inch lift.
Though a little nervous about their first engine dyno competition, the LaRoy's were eager to get their engine running and start making pulls. After placing an oil heater on the pan to keep oil temperature up, Jim LaRoy fired the engine and allowed it to warm up before verifying ignition timing and beginning his qualifying pulls. As a neophyte to our contest, there was speculation as to how the LaRoy entry would perform. All questions were answered when their big block ripped off over 700 horsepower on its first pull, with power still climbing through the contest limit of 7,000 rpm. During their dyno session, Jim and Cody efficiently and professionally tuned their engine to more power each pull by making air bleed, jet, and ignition timing changes. Nailing the tune up on their third judged pull, the 452 inch LaRoy big-block screamed to 723.4 horsepower and 568.8 lb/ft of torque for their best pull of the session. After these impressive numbers, the LaRoys asked to pull the engine to 7,600 rpm for fun since the power curve was still climbing at 7,000 rpm. Although it didn't count for the competition, the LaRoy 452 made an impressive 726.3 horsepower at 7,600 and was still trending higher. While we haven't factored the cost of these engines yet, we do know that LaRoy Engines impressed everyone in attendance by making an impressive 1.6 horsepower per cubic inch on Rockett Brand 93 octane pump fuel.
J D Engine and Machine made all their dyno pulls without incident, tuning their 499 cubic
J D Engine and Machine
J D Engine and Machine is known for making power, and they have placed well in previous Engine Challenges by producing big horsepower and torque numbers. This year engine builders Jeff Dickey and Daniel Crane utilized a factory 400 block with a 4.15 inch stroke crankshaft to build a 499 cubic inch Mopar, installing economical parts wherever possible to save money. By making contest leading power, it will be up to the other competitors to beat J D Engine and Machine on cost to win the 2009 Amsoil/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge.
Tuned by engine builder Randy Malik, the R.M. Competition big-block made a strong showing
Bringing one of the smallest engines in the contest, the LaRoys share a congratulatory han
As a previous Engine Challenge competitor known for making power, it was no surprise when
After studying our rules, Chenoweth Speed and Machine decided to build a real budget engin
As expected, the 499 inch entry built by Jeff Dickey fired immediately and sounded crisp having been dyno tuned prior to our contest. Known for power, it was a surprise when the J D Engine and Machine entry seemed a little lame on its first qualifying pull. Jeff, along with Don Driskill and Daniel Crane, quickly entered the dyno cell, finding a switched plug wire causing the problem. The difference was evident as the engine made well over 700 horsepower and more than 600 lb/ft of torque on its next dyno pull. Only missing the top horsepower number by a few points, Jeff and his team spent the remainder of their pulls efficiently gaining power through carb tuning and ignition timing changes. Making their best pull with 38 degrees of timing, J D Engine and Machine achieved their goal of the most horsepower making one more horsepower than the LaRoy entry. With 724.5 horsepower and 610.3 lb/ft of torque for a combined score of 1334.7, J D Engine and Machine leads the AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge in terms of power.
The Chenoweth entry ran best with a single-plane Edelbrock Victor intake and a Holley carb
Chenoweth Speed and Machine
Chenoweth Engine and Machine obviously decided that building a budget engine was the way to win our contest as they utilized primarily a mix of factory and used aftermarket parts in their motor. Starting with a very used 400 block, the Chenoweth's added a forged 440 crankshaft for a displacement of 452 cubic inches. We're not sure if they came up with it on their own or if they'd spied on Schurbon, but the Chenoweth's also utilized a second-hand tunnel-ram and carbs, though their success with this setup was limited.
As the last competitors to run their engine on Comp's dyno, Chenoweth Speed and Machine already knew what kind of power the other competitors made. Firing their engine, Dale and Mike Chenoweth allowed it to come up to temperature and set the ignition timing to 32 degrees for their first pull. After running the engine for a short time with a load on the dyno to set the rings, the Chenoweth's made their first pull to 5,500 rpm just to check things out. Everything looked good so they made their three qualifying pulls to 7,000 rpm back to back with only an ignition timing change. During the remainder of their qualifying time, the Chenoweth's removed their Holley and installed a used Weiand tunnel-ram intake with dual AFB carbs. Making their last qualifying pull with the tunnel-ram power was down, so Mike and Dale made a jet change in their carbs and went directly into their judged pulls. Noticing power was still down, the Chenoweth's made the logical choice to put the Edelbrock intake back on and make the remainder of their scored pulls with a single four-barrel. This decision paid off as the next pull was their best at 589.6 horsepower and 518.9 lb/ft of torque.
Do you think you have what it takes to compete in the Amsoil/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge?
Remember that our annual contest is open to large and small shops, and even to individuals who build their own engines or want to start an engine shop of their own. While there is no cash prize for winning, previous competitors will tell you that participating in our challenge will get your phones ringing as Mopar Muscle gets your name out to thousands of subscribers and readers.
To enter the Engine Challenge, you just need to fill out an application (available at moparmusclemagazine.com) or simply email us or send us a letter via U.S. Mail and we'll send an application to you. Alternatively, if you plan to attend the PRI trade show in Orlando, you can watch as we announce last year's winner, and pick up the rules and an application right there.
The AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge is a blast for everyone involved, and is a good excuse to attend the Mopar Nationals in August, and to visit Comp Cams in September. Everyone involved with the competition freely shares information so it can be a learning experience as well as a great way to expose your engine building abilities while gaining exposure for your shop.