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1971 Chevrolet Nova Nitrous and Drag Radials - Wild One!

Big Inches, A Splash Of Nitrous & 275 Radials And We're Good For Bottom 8s In The Quarter-Mile

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We've Been Talking About Building This Monster-Inch Big-Block For Nearly Two Years, And It's Finally Happened. It's Just Taken A bit longer than we anticipated. (Some of the receipts date back to the end of '05.) Hey, it's bound to happen, especially when you take into consideration our lofty goals. Truth of the matter is this is a no-holds-barred, upper-echelon 598ci mill built for one purpose: to knock down bottom-8-second e.t.'s in the quarter-mile utilizing a stock suspension chassis and weighing well over 3,400 pounds. Oh, then there's the matter of accomplishing that on a little set of 275 Mickey Thompson ET Street Drag Radials.

chp_01_o 1971_chevrolet_nova_nitrous_and_drag_radials Launch 2/23

So we had the motor, but what about a car? Our '91 Camaro Z28-Project Radial Flyer-is currently having an all-new front suspension built at Chris Alston's Chassisworks in Sacramento, California. From there it'll be transported to Bill Hickok of Hickok Racecars in California City, California, where he'll complete the build with all Chassisworks components. Until we can debut our new ride, we enlisted one '71 Nova belonging to Compton, California's Artis Houston. Considering he was the '05 Radial champ in the Pacific Street Car Association Wild Street class, we were getting a proven chassis and the experience needed to run on such a little tire.

Without a doubt, this is the most extreme engine to ever grace the pages of Chevy High Performance. At this level, this isn't a powerplant for everyone, but if you've ever been remotely curious as to how those volatile e.t.'s are produced by your local track heroes or sportsman doorslammer class cars, wonder no more. We're about to give you a real-world look at what it takes to perform at this level. If this is a route you're looking into pursuing, then you'll be happy to know that our entire combination can be had with readily available off-the-shelf components. Matter of fact, if you've already forged ahead through the images and noticed the CFE sheetmetal manifold, we'll admit it was originally custom-built to order; however, it seems our R&D over the past year has proven its worth and CFE now carries a part number for anyone who wants to run a similar piece.

Unless you have extensive engine-building experience, this isn't something you're going to want to tackle yourself. We were fortunate enough to have been associated in the beginning with Lonnie Patrick and John Fields of C&O Automotive in Hawthorne, California, both seasoned racers and builders who know the stakes at hand to earn a win. These guys are a class act and really got us going in the direction we needed to shoot for.

More recently, we partnered up with Mike Saiki from Motivational Engineering in Carson, California ("40 Days in the Hole," July '07) and have been working with him closely when it comes to tuning and chassis adjustments. All said and done, our year has been an array of serious trials and tribulations, but it was also filled with a season-opening win, big wheelies, a best e.t. of 8.35, and a best mph of 171. We still have plenty of racing left this season, and you can bet we'll be updating you both here in print and online at

The View
It's a fine balancing act with the 275 radials. We usually start with a short, 5-second burnout with the tire pressure at 14 psi. For the launch, we leave out of the gate on the motor alone and having a digi-set timer turn on the nitrous at 1.5 seconds into the run. From there, it takes a full 4 seconds for the progressive controller to ramp in the nitrous to 100 percent. It only seems complicated.

Trying to convey how tough a project went in just a few short pages is next to impossible. While the overall results have been spectacular, it's been a long-term project that required an incredible amount of testing, both in engine tuning and setting up the chassis. Add in the fact we competed in two series, it made for little rest at night and especially on the weekends. I have to thank everyone involved in this truly unique experience, especially Artis Houston, who has shown unbelievable dedication to the program. And while I could go on and on-and believe me I can-you'll have to log on to our Web site,, for my personal blog regarding our '07 season.

Headers Lemons 23¼8 long-tubes into 5-inch collector mufflers
Advance 40 degrees
Carburetors Dual 1,050-cfm Holley Ultra Dominators
Main air bleeds 34
Jets 30/30

6,100 901 776
6,200 913 774
6,300 929 774
6,400 944 775
6,500 957 773
6,600 965 768
6,700 973 763
6,800 980 757
6,900 987 751
7,000 994 745
7,100 1,000 740
7,200 1,005 733
7,300 1,009 726
7,400 1,013 719
7,500 1,017 712
7,600 1,020 705
7,700 1,025 699
7,800 1,034 696
7,900 1,036 689
8,000 1,037 681
8,100 1,035 671
8,200 1,033 662
8,300 1,028 651
8,400 1,023 640
AVG 994 724

Track Notes

Run 60-Foot ET MPH
Motor 1.42 8.98 156
Nitrous * 8.35 171
*Nitrous is never engaged until 1.5 seconds into the run.

Bore 4.600
Stroke 4.500
Displacement 598ci
Piston compression height 1.235
Piston deck clearance -0.010
Block deck height 10.200
Compression ratio 15.8:1
Piston-to-wall clearance 0.007
Ring design 0.043bc,
Ring end gaps 0.038, 0.042
Rod-bearing clearanc 0.0025
Main-bearing clearance 0.003
Crank endplay 0.008
Main bearing cap torque 110 ft-lb
Rod bolt torque 68 ft-lb
Head bolt torque 60/70/80 ft-lb

Rod (large end) 500 g
Rod (small end) 200 g
Total rod weight 700 g
Oil allowance 4 g
Piston 600 g
Piston pin 125 g
Locks 4 g
Rings 63 g
Bearings 50 g
Total bob weight 2,096 g
* Except as noted, all dimensions are in inches.

Casting A356-A virgin-grade,
  heat-treated to T6
Valveguides manganese bronze
Chamber size 119cc
Valves 2.350x5.494, intake;
  1.880x5.422, exhaust
· Raised exhaust ports (0.625 inch)
· Increased deck thickness (0.700 inch)
· Drilled and tapped for inside bolts
· Ductile iron valve seats
· Bronze alloy valveguides
· Available machined for Jesel rocker arms
· Available w/chamber volumes from
119cc to 124cc

Lift Intake* Exhaust*
0.300 258 174
0.400 325 212
0.500 375 250
0.600 411 277
0.700 429 292
0.800 443 304
0.900 456 315
*cfm @ 28 inches H2O

Cam Specs
ManufacturerComp Cams
Part number11-000-14
Type55mm solid-roller
Gross Valve Lift 0.824*/0.800†
Duration @ 0.050289*/304†
Lash (cold)0.018*/0.022†
Lash (hot)0.022*/0.026†
Lobe separation 114 degrees


Nitrous Oxide Systems
Bowling Green, KY 42101
ATI Performance Products
Baltimore, MD 21207
Dart Machinery
Troy, MI 48084
JE Pistons
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
SCE Gaskets
Lancaster, CA 93534
Total Seal Inc
Phoenix, AZ 85027
GRP Connecting Rods
Denver, CO 80216
Moroso Performance Products
Guilford, CT 06437
Lakewood, NJ 08701
Holley Performance Products
Bowling Green, KY 42101
C&O Automotive
CFE Racing
Cubic Flow Modifications
Jeff Johnston's Billet Fabrication
Motivational Engineering
Quarter Mile Performance
Titan Speed Engineering
Ojai, CA



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