The rules of a winning racecar are consistency and repeatability, something that comes fairly easy with the right tune-up for the situation... and an automatic transmission. To that end, the ATI Turbo 350 was fitted with a trans-brake and a 3,800-stall speed converter. John changes up with a B&M Pro Ratchet shifter. To complement the system, Precision Shaft Technologies in Clearwater constructed an aluminum propeller fitted with Spicer ends. To add strength to the whole and keep torsional stress to a minimum, John bolted in a hefty G-Force crossmember with a dropped center for the transmission mount and arches for the exhaust system pass-through.
Meanwhile, Texas Speed was plastered to the 427 (4.127 x 4.00) project. They based the assembly on a Callies Comp Star crankshaft matched with Comp Star 6.125-inch-long connecting rods. Time was taken to fit the Wiseco forgings (hi-temp coated skirts, offset wrist pins, flat deck with deep valve notches) to the combustion chambers of the CNC-ported LS7 cylinder heads and produce a pump-gas-amenable 11.0:1 compression ratio (93 octane). Further, the seats were finished with multi-angle competition Precision Race Components hollow-stem stainless valves, PRC springs, guides, retainers, and locks. The wet-sump oiling system includes an F-body sump and blueprinted pump. Wiseco forgings are favorites of juice and forced-air addicts and the ones in John's engine are surrounded by companion Wiseco GFX ring packs.
Comp Cams ground John a special one featuring 240 degrees of duration at 0.050-inch, 0.609/0.615-inch lift, and lobe separation angle of 110 degrees. Harland Sharp pedestal rockers (exhausts offset) yield a ratio of 1.8:1, and the Comp solid rollers hump Texas Speed chrome-moly pushrods. TS put cam to block with an LS2 double-roller timing chain and gears and covered the internals with a Wegner Motorsports conversion for carbureted applications, including and MSD controller and moving the distributor and coil to the front of the engine.
With its combustion chamber design, optimized ports, and a 12-degree valve angle, this engine doesn't need a mountain of ignition timing. Sans nitrous, John's maintains 28 degrees total. Induction includes a Holley 1,000-cfm HP carburetor with a K&N hat atop a spidery GM Performance Parts intake manifold. Fuel is sourced from a fuel tank sump and Mallory Comp 340 pump. The residuals resultant come out of Hedman headers 1-7/8-inch primaries into a 3-inch system, zigzags through an X-pipe, and on to ancient, stubby two-chamber Flowmasters.
Race rubber is in constant attendance: 28.0x7.50 Mickey fronts roll on 15x4 Hole Shot (Bunnell, Florida) Hole Star three-piece lightweights followed by either 295/65 M/T Drag Radials or 29.0x10.0 Goodyear slicks on 8-inch-wide Hole Stars. Local rules require a parachute used in league with Aerospace Components 11.75-inch-diameter discs and four-piston calipers. The stock, although rebuilt, 12-bolt drums are there for the ride. John added a bit of contrast to that '86-89 Chrysler Silver by having the wheel centers powdercoated black.
In the office, things are tidy and clean, black and gray. Once past the rollcage stringers, the Kirkey race seats stand prominent. John covered the sun-mauled, severely cracked dash pad with a slick inexpensive cap from National Parts Depot. To modernize, he and Brayman installed a Classic Dash panel assembly fitted with Auto Meter Ultra Lite gauges of various denominations. John swears by the shift light and admits to rarely consulting the tachùracer's intuition, an educated butt, and a big ol' wink light get him through. Steering wheel is a Grant GT.
"John's motor barks loud," said Campy. "I especially like the big cowl hood behind the factory stand-up hood ornament. You sure this car isn't a ringer from I-78 Dragway outside Newark Airport?"