November 2011 Chevy High Performance Q&A

Kevin McClelland Sep 22, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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This past weekend I had the honor of guest-judging the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow engine-building competition. This competition was held at the sixth annual Rev’ved Up 4 Kids Charity Car Show at Vic Edelbrock’s Garage in Torrance, California. The car show began in 2006 under the leadership of Vic’s daughter, Christi, and benefits The Center for Learning Unlimited, which combines a unique transdisciplinary approach to helping gifted kids with Autism, Asperger’s syndrome, bipolar disorder, ADD, and ADHD. This outstanding car show was attended by thousands of people and more than 400 cars participated. A very cool car show for a very important cause. Thanks, Vic, for the hospitality.

The Hot Rodders of Tomorrow is a high school auto shop competition, held in eight divisions all around the country throughout the year. The final build-off is held at the SEMA show each year with over $1 million in scholarships going out to the students. The student teams take identically prepared 350 Chevys dressed with Edelbrock carburetors, air cleaners, manifolds, aluminum cylinder heads, and valve covers. The ignition duties are handled by MSD, all the hardware is ARP; the bottom end is capped with a Moroso oil pan and finished off with a K&N oil filter. The five-person high school teams must dissemble the engine down to the crankshaft and camshaft, then completely reassemble the engine under five watchful judges and the ticking clock. This year, there were 13 teams in competition, and five teams went head-to-head in three rounds. This year’s winner was Loara High School Team 1 from Anaheim, California, with a world-record time of 22 minutes and 34 seconds! They accomplished this feat with no errors. Unbelievable. Not a lifter or rocker out of place or adjustment. Not a washer out of place or fastener out of torque spec. This was done with all handtools, as no power tools were allowed. It was one of the most impressive displays of teamwork by high school students I’ve seen in a long time.

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Not only was the winning team impressive, but the enthusiasm of all the participating students was moving. Some of the teams were challenged by the daunting task. For those teams, we, as judges, were there to give them guidance, tips, and techniques to make the competition a learning experience for everyone; I hope to be invited to judge again next year by the good folks at Edlelbrock. It was truly a pleasure helping young people, the gearheads of tomorrow, who are so passionate about engine building. Until next year, I’ll keep finding ways to pay it forward, expanding the minds of young people. For more information on these two great programs, please check them out at and

We love letters, especially technical questions. Submit your tech questions to Kevin McClelland at Regular shout-outs and good tidings are also always welcome.

Big Mutha

I’m in the process of building a 496 big-block Chevy for the street. The only strip time this engine will see is when I’m on a highway onramp. I am using a production block, aluminum heads, and EZ-EFI up top. I’d like to use a hydraulic roller cam but am unsure of the best one to use. I’ve been looking into the Thumpr series from COMP Cams because I love the sound, but I’m a little hesitant on whether it would be my best option. Any advice?

Mac D.

You didn’t give us anything to go on except that you wanted a nasty idle, and that you’re going to stand on the throttle getting on the freeway. We only wish selecting a camshaft grind was that easy. Is your 496 going in a lightweight street car or a 4x4 with 40-inch gumbo mudder tires? Are you running a manual transmission or a stock-stall automatic? From your questions, we can tell that you have a clue about what you need. Please, guys and gals, give me enough info to help you!




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