Starting with a worn factory 400 block, the Chenoweth's performed all the necessary machine work and installed a 440 forged-steel crankshaft. Diamond forged pistons were used along with reconditioned aftermarket connecting rods. The Chenoweth's cut every corner they could as even the oil pump, flat-tappet cam, Howard Cams oil-thru lifters, and many other items in this engine were used parts. In terms of price, this was the second least expensive engine in the contest behind the Schurbon/Mopar City entry.

During their dyno session, the Chenoweth's made their qualifying pulls using a Holley Dominator and single-plane intake manifold. After qualifying, they attempted the same trick as Schurbon, bolting on a Weiand tunnel-ram intake with a pair of Carter carburetors to gain a performance advantage. Unfortunately, the tunnel-ram hurt their numbers, running rich and losing some 30 horsepower across the board. After a couple of attempted fixes, Mike and Dale Chenoweth decided to reinstall the single Dominator, making a best pull of 589.6 horsepower and 518.9 lb/ft of torque for a combined score of 1108.5. When cost per power was factored, the Chenoweth's big-block scored a second place finish in the 2009 Engine Challenge.

3rd Place
LaRoy Engines

As the son and grandson of engine builder Bill LaRoy, the father and son team of Jim and Cody LaRoy of LaRoy Engines in Challis, Idaho, have been around cars and engines for most of their lives. Though neither Jim nor Cody have actively built engines for many years after Bill LaRoy's passing, Cody read a Popular Hot Rodding article about an engine his grandfather built, leading he and his father to re-visit the idea of an engine shop in the family. LaRoy Engines now builds engines for street and strip cars, performs cylinder head porting on any Mopar cylinder heads including Cummins diesel heads, and works on other brands as well. Though too busy to race, Jim LaRoy placed third behind two other Mopars in the Dynomax Power to the Wheels finals, making nearly 700 hp at the rear wheels with a 500 inch normally aspirated big-block Mopar.

For their contest engine, the LaRoy's utilized a stock 1974 400 block combined with a factory forged-crankshaft. Deciding to spend money where it counted, Jim chose Scat H-beam connecting rods and Ross forged pistons to complete the rotating assembly. Instead of going for a win on cost, the LaRoy's made the choice to go for big power, splurging for a roller cam and valve gear even though they knew they might sacrifice a win. Experimenting some years ago with his grandfather's flow bench, Cody learned how to port cylinder heads, and as evidenced in our contest he learned very well. The port work on the Edelbrock Performer RPM heads on this engine was nothing less than beautiful, equating to big flow numbers, and equally big power numbers.

On the dyno, this engine sounded powerful as soon as it started and performed flawlessly during its pulls. Making timing and air-bleed changes, Jim and Cody LaRoy efficiently tuned their engine to more power with each pull during the 45 minute qualifying session. After a cool down, the LaRoy's continued improving their numbers by richening the mixture and advancing the ignition timing, scoring a best pull of 723.4 horsepower and 568.8 lb/ft of torque, equating to a contest best of 1.6 horsepower per cubic inch. After the judged dyno pulls, we pulled the LaRoy's engine past the contest limit of 7,000 rpm to 7,600, and it made an even more impressive 726.3 horsepower and 569.3 lb/ft of torque. We congratulate LaRoy Engines for their third place finish in this year's dyno contest.