2009 Amsoil/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge Winners - We Have A Winner!
The 2009 Amsoil/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge
From the March, 2010 issue of Mopar Muscle
By Dave Young
Photography by Dave Young, Randy Bolig
This year's Amsoil/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge featured Chrysler's low deck big-block with Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads, which is a popular combination for both street and racing applications. Seven engine shops built engines for our contest, and displacements ranged from 451 to 512 cubic inches. Building one of the smallest and most economical engines in the competition, Schurbon Engine and Machine teamed up with Mo-par City, finding the right combination of horsepower, torque, and economical parts selection to win the 2009 Engine Challenge.
Each year our dyno contest features a different Mopar engine combination, offering engine builders a chance to highlight their skills. This year we eliminated the displacement rule, and factored the combined peak power and torque into the cost of the engine's parts, for a cost per power factor to determine the winner. We alter the rules slightly each year to make it exciting, and one of this year's changes was to factor used parts at fair market value. We figured that since there are more and more used parts for Mopar engines on the market these days, and with the tough economic times many of us are facing, this was a way to keep costs down for the builders while showing our readers they don't necessarily need all brand new parts to build a stout engine.
The field was tough this year, as J D Engine and Machine's 500 inch entry made 724.5 horsepower and 610.2 lb/ft of torque for the highest combined power score of the contest. LaRoy Engines also impressed everyone as their relatively small 452 cubic inch engine made just one horsepower less than J D's powerhouse. The way the rules were written, however, gave the least expensively built engines an advantage this year that horsepower and torque just couldn't overcome.
Taking full advantage of our rules, Schurbon Engine and Machine/Mo-par City built the least expensive engine in this year's contest, utilizing pre-owned and inexpensive parts throughout. Engine builder Scott Schurbon also noticed that we deleted the rule prohibiting epoxy modifications to the cylinder heads, raising the intake runners of his Edelbrock Performer RPM heads for improved flow. Though this wasn't the most powerful engine in the contest, it was a very stout 452 cubic inch engine, making over 580 horsepower. Once cost was factored the Schurbon/Mo-par City entry had the lowest cost per combined power score, landing the win in a very close 2009 contest.
The fact is, all of these engines impressed us with their power and durability, and we'd be happy to have any of these professionals build the engine for our next project. The contest was exciting this year and we enjoyed working with everyone involved. This month we'll give you the highlights of each shop's engine and dyno session in the order they placed in our contest. Be sure to follow along, because in upcoming issues of Mopar Muscle, we'll go through each of these powerful big-blocks in depth. To see videos of these engines making pulls on Comp's dyno, log onto moparmusclemagazine.com.
|Chenoweth Speed and Machine||JD Engine and Machine|
|Mike Chenoweth||Jeff Dickey|
|Morton, IL, 61550||Columbia, MO, 65203|
|LaRoy Engines||Mid America Racing Engines|
|Jim LaRoy||David Bruns|
|Challis, ID 83226||Washington, IA 52353|
|Promax Performance||R.M. Competition|
|Ben Gorman||Randy Malik|
|Indianapolis, IN||Roseville, MI, 48066|
|Schurbon Engine and Machine|
|Maquoketa, IA, 52060|
|2009 AMSOIL/MOPAR MUSCLE ENGINE CHALLENGE FINAL RESULTS
||Schurbon Engine and Machine
||Chenoweth Speed and Machine
||Mid America Racing Engines
||J D Engine and Machine
||R M Competition
Schurbon Engine and Machine/Mo-par City
Schurbon Engine and Machine...
Schurbon Engine and Machine teamed up with Mo-Par City, building a powerful and economical low-deck big-block to win the 2009 Amsoil/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge.
Schurbon Engine and Machine in Maquoketa, Iowa, specializes in one thing: everything. Engine builder Scott Schurbon says while he is a die-hard Mopar guy, his shop will machine or build anything automotive, from stock to all-out race engines, and even does agricultural work as well. No newcomer to high performance engines, engine builder Scott Schurbon's engines have powered no less than 15 champions in Dirt Series racing as well as IMCA late model national contenders. Schurbon Engine and Machine also builds drag racing as well as truck and tractor pulling engines, and is currently working with Mo-Par City to provide powerful Hemis for Larry Griffith's 2009 A-Stock Drag Pak Dodge Challenger.
Engine builder Scott Schurbon...
Engine builder Scott Schurbon and his team tuned their economical big-block to 582.7 horsepower and 544.6 lb/ft of torque, for a combined score of 1127.3. Once cost was factored, this was plenty to win this year's Engine Challenge.
For this year's dyno contest, Scott Schurbon and his employees Mike Rude and Darrin Anderson worked with Michael and Larry Pontnack and Shawn Hazey at Mo-par City, carefully interpreting the rules and calculating which approach would give them and advantage. Scott claims they ran the numbers building an all-out engine for power, and just didn't think they could make enough power to cover the costs of a big-inch motor and that building an engine on a budget was the way to go. Using a stock 400 block combined with a factory forged 440 crank, Schurbon utilized stock connecting rods and hypereutectic cast pistons to keep costs down. Knowing he'd be sacrificing power by not using a roller cam, Scott chose to again keep costs down by ordering a single-bolt flat-tappet cam and lifters with matching springs from Comp Cams. Other stock or inexpensive parts included a factory oil pan from an industrial crane, a single row timing set, and used ductile iron adjustable rocker arms.
Schurbon Engine and Machine...
Schurbon Engine and Machine has competed in previous Engine Challenges, placing second in the 2007 contest. This year they teamed up with Mo-Par City, building a powerful 452 cubic inch low deck big-block on a budget to win the competition.
On Comp's dyno, Scott and his team made their qualifying pulls using a Single-plane intake and 1,000 cfm Holley carburetor, but then quickly changed the intake to a less expensive-and used-Weiand tunnel-ram with a pair of used Quadrajet carbs built by Bob Siegworth. This change made a huge difference, allowing Scott and his crew to tune their big-block to a best pull of 582.7 horsepower and 544.6 lb/ft of torque for a combined power score of 1127.3. As the least expensively built engine in the contest, this was enough power to give the Schurbon/Mo-par City entry the least cost per power, winning the 2009 Amsoil/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge.
Chenoweth Speed and Machine...
Chenoweth Speed and Machine is another returning competitor in our contest, building an economical big-block and making enough power for a second place finish in the 2009 Engine Challenge.
Chenoweth Speed and Machine
Engine builders Mike and Dale Chenoweth of Chenoweth Speed and Machine in Morton, Illinois, also decided to build an economical entry for this year's Challenge, putting together a very inexpensive engine for the contest. Specializing in Mopar engines, Chenoweth Speed and Machine is known for their powerful Hemis and big-blocks, building everything from mild street engines to powerful drag race engines for their customers. The Chenoweths have also helped out Mopar enthusiasts by developing great parts like their main stud girdle for big-blocks and Hemis.
Schurbon and Mo-par City decided...
Schurbon and Mo-par City decided to make their three qualifying pulls with a single four-barrel, but then had a trick up their sleeves. Switching to the less expensive combination of a used tunnel-ram intake and used Rochester carbs, they picked up nearly 40 horsepower!
The Schurbon/Mo-par City team...
The Schurbon/Mo-par City team made ignition timing, carburetor, and valve lash changes to optimize their entry, tuning their cost-effective big-block to enough power for a win in this year's contest. We congratulate Schurbon and Mo-par City for their outstanding performance in the 2009 Engine Challenge.
After qualifying using a single...
After qualifying using a single Holley Dominator, the Chenoweth's installed a used tunnel-ram intake, confident they could make more power with the less-expensive used parts.
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.
After several unsuccessful...
After several unsuccessful attempts to regain their lost power, engine builders Mike and Dale Chenoweth reinstalled the Dominator, making a best pull of 589.6 horsepower and 518.9 lb/ft of torque. We congratulate Chenoweth Speed and Machine for their second place finish in the 2009 Amsoil/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge.
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.
LaRoy Engines was a newcomer...
LaRoy Engines was a newcomer to the Engine Challenge, making a lasting impression as their reasonably priced 452 inch big-block made an incredible723.4 horsepower to finish third in our 2009 contest.
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.
This engine was obviously...
This engine was obviously designed to maximize power, making an impressive 1.6 horsepower per cubic inch running on 93 octane Rockett Brand pump fuel. The LaRoy's efficiently tuned more power from their engine with each dyno pull.
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.
Jim and Cody LaRoy brought...
Jim and Cody LaRoy brought a solid big-block to this year's contest making 723.4 horsepower and 568.8 lb/ft of torque. When the cost of their engine was factored, LaRoy Engines placed third in the 2009 Engine Challenge.
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.
ProMax Performance put together...
ProMax Performance put together a healthy big-block for this year's contest, making 568.9 horsepower and capturing fourth place in the 2009 Engine Challenge.
Located on Gasoline Alley in Indianapolis, Indiana, ProMax Performance is right in the heart of the racing capital. Engine builder and carb guru Ben Gorman started ProMax 15 years ago, building carburetors in his garage to support his Mopar drag racing habit. The business has since evolved into a full service engine and machine shop, with a speed shop and dyno facility. The crew at ProMax still races, campaigning three Mopar drag cars of their own and sponsoring the ProMax fastest street car shootout. Of course ProMax is still known for their carburetor products and restoration services, and has entered and performed well in two prior Engine Challenges.
The ProMax entry was likely...
The ProMax entry was likely one of the most docile and durable street engines in the competition, but still made very healthy power on a tight budget. All of this year's competitors did their homework, making the 2009 contest very close.
As a foundation for their entry, ProMax used a factory 400 block and a forged 440 crankshaft combined with Eagle H-beam rods and Diamond pistons. A Comp solid flat-tappet cam and lifters were installed and the Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads were ported in-house. A combination of reasonably priced new parts and some used equipment was utilized in this engine, keeping costs down while not sacrificing durability.
The ProMax entry needed only...
The ProMax entry needed only minor tuning to optimize power, producing 568.9 horsepower and 518.1 lb/ft of torque on its best pull. We congratulate ProMax Performance on their forth place finish in this year's contest.
Once on Comp's dyno the ProMax Performance 451 inch engine fired immediately and sounded crisp. Engine builder Ben Gorman and his crew tuned their big-block with timing changes, eventually making their best pull with 40 degrees of ignition timing using a ProMax prepped 850 carburetor. ProMax's impressive 568.9 horsepower and 518.1 lb/ft of torque, combined with a sensible combination of parts was enough for a forth place finish in this year's Engine Challenge.
Mid America Racing Engines...
Mid America Racing Engines built a 500 inch engine for this years contest, making nearly 700 horsepower to capture a fifth place in the 2009 Engine Challenge.
Mid America Racing Engines
Having competed in all but one of our annual events, engine builder David Bruns of Washington, Iowa, is no newcomer to our contest, winning the Engine Challenge in 2007. Mid America has been in business for 34 years, building stock restoration engines, street rod engines, mild to all-out street/strip motors, and engines for full-blown drag and circle track applications. Mid America performs all machine work in-house, utilizing their Superflow engine dyno and flow bench to optimize their combinations.
Engine builder David Bruns...
Engine builder David Bruns tuned his 500 inch wedge to nearly 700 horsepower on Comp's Superflow dyno before a brief interruption to change the dyno fuel pump. Luckily, Comp had a spare and the Mid America was running again shortly.
Not wanting to sacrifice durability, Mid America built a solid big-block for this year's contest utilizing a factory 400 block and a used RPM 4.15-inch crankshaft with RPM connecting rods, and Keith Black pistons. Engine builder David Bruns even spent the money for a main girdle to further strengthen his engine's bottom end, and utilized a solid roller camshaft for maximum power potential. Mid America performed all of the machine work and ported their Edelbrock Performer RPM heads in-house, then dyno tuned their engine before bringing it to our contest.
The Mid America 500 inch big-block...
The Mid America 500 inch big-block responded well to David Brun's ignition timing and jet changes, making 697.4 horsepower and 619.3 lb/ft of torque for a combined score of 1316.7, the second highest power score of the competition.
At Comp, the Mid America entry performed flawlessly, even though the dyno fuel pump decided to stop working. Luckily, a spare was on hand so after dyno operator Rich Smith made a quick repair, engine builder David Bruns got busy tuning his 500 inch big-block. Having already been dyno tuned at Mid America, David optimized power through a series of carburetor jet changes, using an ice pack on the intake to cool the charge for each pull. Netting a best pull of 697.4 horsepower and 619.3 lb/ft of torque, this is a powerful and durable big block that would be a blast in a street or strip car.
J D Engine and Machine built...
J D Engine and Machine built the most powerful engine in this year's contest, making 724.5 horsepower and 610.2 lb/ft of torque for a leading combined power score of 1334.7
J D Engine and Machine
J D Engine and Machine of Columbia, Missouri, is known for making power, and that's just what they did in this year's Engine Challenge, making more horsepower and torque than any of the other competitors. J D Engine and Machine is a full service shop that can do any type of engine work including bushing lifter bores, cylinder head flow work, and dyno tuning, right at their facility. Engine builder Jeff Dickey is an avid drag racer himself, winning the NMCA Championship in 2008, and has built numerous championship engines for all types of race cars. J D Engine and Machine builds anything from mild street engines to blown alcohol race motors for their customers, fully understanding the needs of Mopar enthusiasts.
Jeff Dickey, Daniel Crane,...
Jeff Dickey, Daniel Crane, and Don Driskill tuned the J D Engine and Machine entry by making ignition timing and valve lash changes between dyno pulls. Though not the biggest engine in the contest, this big-block certainly was the baddest.
For the 2009 Engine Challenge, engine builders Jeff Dickey and Daniel Crane obviously made the decision to sacrifice costs, going for all-out power instead. Like all competitors this year, Jeff used a stock 400 block because of its large bore diameter. Performing all of the machine work in-house, Jeff and Daniel installed an Eagle 4.150 inch crankshaft and forged connecting rods, with Diamond forged pistons for a displacement of just under 500 inches. A main girdle from Chenoweth was installed for additional support. The Edelbrock heads were ported in house and assembled with Comp valve springs to match the Comp solid roller camshaft.
J D Engine and Machine made...
J D Engine and Machine made a statement with this engine, posting the most power of the contest at 724.5 horsepower and 610.2 lb/ft of torque. This is one potent big-block that would easily propel a properly prepped bracket car to sub-ten second elapsed times.
In Comp's dyno cell, the J D Engine and Machine entry fired immediately and sounded tame, and didn't make the expected power on its first pull. Finding a plug wire off, the problem was quickly corrected and Jeff Dickey and his crew tuned their entry by making ignition timing and valve lash changes. This durable big-block made some 16 pulls on Comp's dyno, netting a best judged pull of 724.5 horsepower and 610.2 lb/ft of torque for a combined score of 1,334.7, topping this year's second most powerful entry by some 20 points. While the use of top quality parts kept this entry from competing for a win, this engine impressed everyone with its power and endurance.
R M Competition brought the...
R M Competition brought the largest displacement big-block to our Engine Challenge this year, making over 620 horsepower and nearly 600 lb/ft of torque.
R M Competition
Located in Roseville, Michigan, R M Competition has been in business for 12 years, building engines of all types for their customers. As a full service engine shop, R M Competition has experience building stock restoration engines, as well as highly modified engines for drag racing, oval track, road racing, and even truck and tractor pulling. Engine builder Randy Malik's engines are competing in various forms of sanctioned racing vehicles, even inboard drag boats!
Engine builder Randy Malik...
Engine builder Randy Malik had a little trouble timing his engine, as his used stock distributor was erratic. Finally setting the timing at 35 degrees total advance, Randy spent the rest of his dyno session tuning his engine with air-bleed changes.
For his Engine Challenge big-block, engine builder Randy Malik decided to utilize a factory Chrysler 400 block, installing a forged rotating assembly from 440Source for a final displacement of 512 cubic inches. Randy chose a Lunati flat-tappet camshaft, and had his Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads ported by Modern Cylinder Head before bolting them onto his short block. Keeping costs down, a factory electronic distributor was utilized along with an Edelbrock Victor intake manifold and used Holley Dominator carburetor.
Using all new internal engine...
Using all new internal engine parts drove the cost of this engine up, keeping if from a better finish in the 2009 contest. At 628.8 horsepower and 596.5 lb/ft of torque, however, this big-block would be a blast in a Mopar street or race car.
On the engine dyno at Comp, engine builder Randy Malik made ignition timing and air-bleed changes but the engine didn't seem to be responding. Ignition timing was erratic, making it difficult to pin down the problem. Through a series of adjustments, Randy managed to tune his engine to a best pull of 628.8 horsepower and 596.5 lb/ft of torque for a combined score of 1,225.3. Though not a contender for a top spot this year, the R M Competition entry performed well and unlike most other engines this year was built with mostly new parts internally. This is a respectable big-block built on a reasonable budget and would be at home in any Mopar street/strip vehicle.