2010 AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge
The Past, Present, And Future Of Our Dyno Contest
From the January, 2011 issue of Mopar Muscle
By Dave Young
Photography by Dave Young, Randy Bolig
It's been a while since our...
It's been a while since our first Engine Challenge in 2005 featuring the Hemi engine, and we've learned a lot along the way. This year our contest features the small-block Mopar engine with RHS cylinder heads, and the winner will be determined by one of the oldest standards in hot-rodding.
Back in 2005, the staff here at Mopar Muscle decided that since engine dynos and dyno competitions were becoming so popular, it would benefit our readers if we had an engine dyno challenge of our own, featuring only Mopar engines. Teaming up with Comp Cams, who have graciously hosted our contest each year since its inception, we set out to develop a format that would benefit everyone involved. At the time, we had no idea how popular our contest would become, and how much great information it would provide our readers so they could make decisions regarding the engine in their Mopar. Part of what makes the Engine Challenge so exciting, is that we change the type of Mopar engine each year, and also tweak the rules a little to make it interesting. We also give everyone a chance to see the engines each year, as they are on display at the Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, and engine builders are on hand to answer questions and discuss your next engine build as well.
Each year of our contest we've enjoyed spending time with the professional engine builders, and love learning from their experience. We must admit it's fun to dyno powerful Mopar V-8 engines, especially without the nervousness that comes when the engine is your own. Some great friendships and business relationships have been formed during our engine challenge as well, and we gain valuable knowledge every year that we can pass on to our readers. One of the best parts of our dyno contest is seeing the diverse methods that engine builders use to make power. It has certainly taught us that no matter how much you know about engines, there is always something else to learn.
Each year, the rules of our...
Each year, the rules of our dyno contest are announced at the PRI tradeshow in Orlando, Florida. The engine builders then have approximately eight months to deliver their engines to the Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.
The 2010 AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge features the Chrysler LA small-block, and we've made a somewhat dramatic change in the rules. Instead of limiting displacement or factoring the cost of these engines and dividing it into the power as in years past, we're going to judge these small-blocks by one of the oldest standards in hot-rodding, horsepower per cubic inch. That's right, good old fashioned run what ya brung, and hope you brung enough. To make the contest even more interesting, we eliminated the upper rpm limit of 7,000, which means these small-blocks can rev as high as the builders want them to in search of peak horsepower.
As of this writing, six of the eight competitors made the deadline of dropping their engines off at the Mopar Nationals, and you'll notice some familiar faces as well as one newcomer. One thing is for certain, each of this year's competitors took the contest seriously, and from the sound of the chatter at the Nats, these engines should make impressive horsepower on Comp's dyno. Speaking of Comp Cams, the engines have been delivered to their research facility in Memphis, Tennessee, where they will remain quarantined until we dyno them in random order. So this month, while we speculate about how much power these small-blocks will make, we'll take you through the past five years of the AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge, showing you the highlights and posing the question to our readers: What would you like to see next? Also, a challenge for engine builders: Show us what you can do in our engine challenge! Remember that we don't care if you run a huge engine shop or build engines on your living-room floor, all are welcome to enter the annual AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge.
The engines that make our...
The engines that make our deadline are on display at the Mopar Nationals each year, and engine builders are on hand to answer questions regarding the engine they built for our contest, or the engine in your Mopar.
Schurbon Engine and Machine
203 South Clark St. • Maquoketa, IA, 52060
Mid America Racing Engines
1945 W 18th Street • Washington, IA 52353
Chenoweth Speed and Machine
368 Erie Ave • Morton, IL, 61550
P.O. Box 969 • Challis, ID 83226
30 Gasoline Alley Suite A • Indianapolis, IN
After the Mopar Nationals...
After the Mopar Nationals display, we deliver all of the engines to Comp Cams, where they are quarantined until the dyno sessions in September. Comp has graciously hosted our contest each year, providing their facility and staff for the better part of a week to accommodate our contest. If you're in Memphis, we encourage you to visit Comp, and if you happen to be there during our contest, you'll get to see some big Mopar power being made.
During the dyno portion of...
During the dyno portion of the Engine Challenge, we dyno two engines per day on Comp's Dyno, which gives us plenty of time to run and inspect the engines,...
as well as discussing the...
as well as discussing the day's events over lunch...
With the exception of our...
With the exception of our inaugural contest, Rich Smith of Comp Cams has had the pleasure of "throwing the handle" on a whole bunch of Mopar horsepower. We appreciate the hospitality Comp provides, as well as the assistance of their staff during our event.
Rockett Brand Racing Fuel...
Rockett Brand Racing Fuel is the fuel sponsor of the Engine Challenge, providing specially blended high-quality 93 octane gasoline to run these powerful street engines. Rockett Brand engineer Tim Wusz is also usually on hand answering questions about his products and gasoline in general. We won't tell you how much Tim paid us to use this picture from the 2005 contest. . .
AMSOIL is again the title...
AMSOIL is again the title sponsor of the Engine Challenge, providing quality synthetic lubricants for all of the contest motors. We appreciate AMSOIL as well as all of the manufacturers, participants, and people who makes our Engine Challenge possible, and thank them for their support.
It was a groovy year back then, you might notice the bell-bottoms and pork chop sideburns . . . just kidding. 2005 actually wasn't that long ago, but you may notice some of us with less gray hair during our first dyno contest. The 2005 Engine Challenge featured the 426 Hemi engine, and displacement was limited to 500 cubic inches. A flat-tappet camshaft was required, and the cost of the engine's parts was factored into the combined peak torque and horsepower, for a power per dollar score. Lofgren Auto Specialties won our first contest, but hasn't made a return appearance. J D Engine and Machine made the most power that year, a trend that would continue throughout our contests.
The inaugural Mopar Muscle...
The inaugural Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge featured the baddest engine on the planet, the 426 Hemi. Limited to 500 cubic inches and a flat-tappet cam, most of these engines screamed to 700 hp or more, setting a high standard for future contests.
Chuck Lofgren and the crew...
Chuck Lofgren and the crew from Lofgren Auto Specialties won the contest, beating out future Engine Challenge winners like Indy Cylinder Head and Mid America Racing Engines. With the best power per dollar rating of the Challenge, the Lofgren entry impressed everyone in attendance.
Engine builder Jeff Dickey...
Engine builder Jeff Dickey of J D Engine and Machine impressed everyone by making the most combined power the first year, and continues to place well in this category each time he enters our contest.
In 2006, the rules varied little other than changing the featured engine to a big-block Chrysler and allowing roller camshafts. The engines all had to be based on the RB block, and displacement was again limited to 500 cubic inches. Engine builders could use any choice of cylinder head, so long as they would bolt up to our Hooker Super Competition headers. Thanks in part to the roller camshafts, several of these engines made more power than the Hemis of the previous year, but it wasn't the most powerful engine that won the contest. David Bruns of Mid America Racing Engines built a powerful big-block with economical parts, winning based on the lower cost of his engine. Rich Nedbal and the crew from Mopar Engines West impressed all in attendance by making the most power in 2006.
The 2006 Engine Challenge...
The 2006 Engine Challenge featured the RB big-block Mopar, again limited to 500 cubic inches. We were surprised to see these engines make similar power to the Hemis the year before.
After building a relatively...
After building a relatively mild Hemi for the first Engine Challenge, David Bruns of Mid America Racing Engines came back with a vengeance, taking full advantage of our rules to win the contest in 2006.
Led by Rich Nedbal, the crew...
Led by Rich Nedbal, the crew from Mopar Engines West made the most power in 2006, handily beating the competition in this category with their Indy-headed big-block. Though there's no prize for making the most power, some competitors consider this rating just as important as winning the contest.
Our 2007 dyno contest featured the small-block Mopar, with displacement limited to 410 cubic inches. 408 cubic inch stroker 360s were a popular choice in 2007, but engine displacement ranged from an over-bored 318 all the way to the contest limit. The cost of the engine parts was again factored in 2007 and the engine builders could use roller camshafts and any cylinder head they chose. Indy Cylinder Head won the contest with their somewhat exotic, but within the rules, tunnel-ram equipped small-block making the most power-per-dollar and narrowly beating the second place engine of Schurbon Engine and Machine. Mid America Racing Engines made the most power in 2007, at over 567 horsepower.
The small-block Mopar engine...
The small-block Mopar engine was highlighted in the 2007 Engine Challenge, and we likely had the most diverse field of engines so far.
Indy Cylinder Head pulled...
Indy Cylinder Head pulled out all the stops in 2007, winning the contest and narrowly beating second place finisher Schurbon Engine and Machine. This was a powerful, economically built small-block and Indy really had to sharpen their pencils to win our closest competition so far.
After winning the 2006 contest,...
After winning the 2006 contest, David Bruns of Mid-America Racing Engines set the power benchmark in 2007, at over 567 horsepower.
We made a dramatic rules change...
We made a dramatic rules change in 2008...
In 2008, we decided to feature one of the most commonly built Mopar engines in our contest, the Chrysler 440, limited to a .060-inch overbore. Additionally, we required all the competitors to utilize the same Indy SR big-block aluminum cylinder heads, for what is commonly referred to as a "spec" engine. Because each builder used essentially the same major parts, we didn't factor the cost in 2008, which meant the winner simply had to make the most combined horsepower and torque to beat the competition. Indy Cylinder Head had what it took in 2008, placing first in our contest for back to back wins. As a function of our rules, the win meant that Indy also made the most power in 2008, at nearly 760 horsepower, for a win in that category as well. J D Engine and Machine was a close second in terms of power, narrowly missing a win in the '08 contest.
... requiring all the competitors...
... requiring all the competitors to run engines with the same cylinder heads and displacement, for a true test of engine building skills.
Indy Cylinder head captured...
Indy Cylinder head captured their second consecutive win during the 2008 contest, as their sixty-over 440 screamed to nearly 760 horsepower on 93 octane Rockett Brand gasoline.
J D Engine and Machine placed...
J D Engine and Machine placed second in 2008, making just shy of 740 horsepower with their single-carb equipped 440. Since Indy did have the advantage of using their own cylinder head, we consider this a powerful showing for engine builder Jeff Dickey.
We featured a big-block again in 2009, hoping to show our readers the advantages of a low-deck Mopar B engine, and decided to again factor the cost of the parts into the combined peak torque and horsepower of each engine for a power per dollar score. There was no displacement limit on these engines, but all of the engine builders had to utilize the same Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads. Additionally, since the economic times have forced us all to cut back, we decided that second-hand, or "seasoned" parts would be factored at fair market value, instead of full retail cost. While this scoring system made the contest a junkyard war of sorts, it also highlighted the fact that you don't necessarily need to break the bank to make good power with this combination.
We stayed with a big-block...
We stayed with a big-block in 2009 as our contest featured a low-deck engine with Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads. You'll be surprised at the power these engines made.
Schurbon Engine and Machine...
Schurbon Engine and Machine took top honors in 2009, ensuring their place in history and earning a guaranteed entry in the 2010 contest. Engine builder Scott Schurbon paid attention to every detail of the rules, using a factory 400 block and 440 crank to build a powerful engine using very economical parts.
Did we mention that Jeff Dickey...
Did we mention that Jeff Dickey of J D Engine and Machine knows how to make power? In 2009 his entry again made the most power of any in the contest, though the cost of his parts kept him from a top finish.
It's 2010, and as of this writing all of the contest engines have been loaded up and delivered to Comp. This year, we again changed the rules to keep things interesting, deciding to score the contest based on an old standard: horsepower per cubic inch. The engines will all run the new RHS cast-iron cylinder head, but there is no limit on displacement. While at Comp, the engines will be run on the dyno, and we've eliminated the upper rpm restriction so the sky is the limit. Displacements for the 2010 engines range from 408 cubic inches, to just over 273. Who'll have the advantage in this year's challenge? We'll let you know as soon as we get back from Comp!
The 2010 AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle...
The 2010 AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge will feature the small-block Mopar, with RHS/Indy cast iron cylinder heads. The scoring this year? Horsepower per cubic inch!
Well, we loaded the engines...
Well, we loaded the engines at the Mopar Nationals and they've been delivered to Comp Cams where they'll by dyno tested. Be sure to check out moparmusclemagazine.com for same day dyno results and video of the engines being run, and while you're there, let us know what we should consider for future engine challenges.
Seriously guys, I'd help with the engines but someone has to take the pictures...
Editor's note: if you noticed the burn out marks going into the trailer, ask editor Bolig's wife about that, she was driving!