May 2011 Chevy High Performance Q&A - Performance Q&A

Love It When A Plan Comes Together

Kevin McClelland Mar 29, 2011 0 Comment(s)

Well, it’s been a longtime coming. Today, we finally made it to the track with my super gas roadster. I know, you’ve been reading about it for months. As with any project, it took much longer than expected, and I don’t even want to think about adding up the receipts. I figure this will be the only new race car I’ll ever have. True, it was originally built in 1995 by Don Davis Race Cars and was one of the first ’27 Ford roadsters they built. It ended up being the house carthe one they tried all the upgrades onfor the first several years of its life cycle. Don doesn’t build these cars anymore and has mainly moved on to the Corvette roadster for the aerodynamic advantages. Needless to say, this car has had several sets of interiors in its lifetime, with brackets and tabs welded on and cut off in the process. Now it’s fresh and pretty until I need to make some type of change. Remember, race cars are just tools to win races, not show cars. (My dad will love that one!)

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After many hours of double- and triple-checking everything, it rolled out of the trailer this morning and went through tech inspection without any drama. Not only was the car fresh, I was finally able to reinstall my 524 big-block built from a Dart Big M block and 335 CNC Pro One cylinder heads, Crane valvetrain, CP pistons, and Total Seal rings. It’s completely fresh, and many new tricks went into this pump-gas 10:1 compression race engine. With my change of job several years ago, I lost easy access to the engine dyno that I had the pleasure of running for almost 20 years. I just couldn’t bring myself to pay someone to run my engine. So after running the engine in, and bedding in the brake pads and rotors several weeks ago, it was ready to pull up to the asphalt dyno.

Fontana Auto Club Dragway is the slowest dragstrip in California. There are many reasons for that, but mainly the air sucks (it’s right on the edge of the desert) and the track is slightly uphill! Not knowing what to expect, I put on my wheelie bars and drove it up to the lanes. I was ready to be very happy if it ran in the 8.70s at Fontana. Pulling to the line, setting the transbrake, and letting it rip, it rocked back on the wheelie bars and carried the front wheels just past the Christmas tree! As it blasted straight down the track, I watched the sensor readouts on the RacePak digital dash. It felt good, and just hoped it was really that quick. Pulling to the timeslip booth for my instant report card, I had to give it a double take. I ripped off a 1.229 60-foot, 5.430 at 126 in the eighth, and trucked on through the quarter at 8.560 at 155.56 mph. Well, I can’t wait for tomorrow morning and first round. It’s been almost a year and a half since the last time I’ve raced it. All the thrashing was well worth it, and next up is the Bracket Nationals in Las Vegas. Hope to see ya there.

Valve Clearance School

Can I install a camshaft with 0.533-inch lift into a stock 454 Chevy engine? If so, what type of modifications would I need to make? What selections of valvesprings are available, and will I need to use long slot rocker arms? Any clearance issues between valves and pistons? It’s a ’74 engine with oval-port cylinder heads. Thanks.
Minnie
San Antonio, TX

At least you’re asking all the right questions. Many folks install an aftermarket performance camshaft increasing the lift and duration without ever thinking of the consequences. Yes, lift can be an issue with piston-to-valve clearances, but it’s more about when it happens in the engine cycle. Let’s talk a bit.

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