Bonneville Speed Week And Chevy Engines - Performance Q&A

Kevin McClelland Mar 1, 2009 0 Comment(s)

Bonneville Speed Week
Whenever you hear the words "Speed Week," the first thing that comes to mind is the Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Week, which is held every August. This is where man and machine have set out to break speed and endurance records for more than 60 years. Many of the records have stood for decades. Many of the classes contested at Bonneville have very specific rules and requirements for vehicle and engine combinations.

Every year the week before Bonneville, many of the local racers stop by our facility in order for me to give them a final once-over on the chassis dyno. This is when my Speed Week really starts. This past week we tested three cars for a local builder, Vern Tardel, who specializes in early Ford iron. The first of three roadsters we tested was his record-holding blown and injected 283-cid flathead burning alcohol stuffed into a '27 T roadster! This little engine has a 6-71 blower stuffing over 17 psi of boost through the little L-headed engine. Next was a very nostalgic 32 highboy roadster with a mild 283 flathead with fuel injection. Finally (now we're getting to the Chevy), we tested a brand-new '32 that Tardel built for the Mariani Brothers. It has a 258-cid SB2 NASCAR-inspired small-block with two four-barrels on top of a sheetmetal tunnel ram. This little mouse produced 530 hp at 9,600 rpm on the engine dyno when it was sent out from the builder. Tardel installed the engine, Jerico trans, and low-friction 9-inch into this very nice E/Street Roadster. After working through several days of bugs, we finally ended up with 520 hp at the rear tires! This was a very nice gain from the engine dyno.

After my week was done, all I could do was wait by the phone for the record runs. The Mariani Brothers smashed the E/Street Roadster record by 11 mph and bumped it up to 185 mph. Tardel, with his nasty blown '27, pushed his own record from three years ago up 11 mph from 166 mph to 177 on the first run.

Remember when I mentioned endurance? To set a record you must make your first run and then the car goes to impound. The next day you must make a return run to set the record. After Tardel had made his first run and the car was in impound, they found water in the oil from a cracked block! Who do you think they blamed that on? Of course that would be me! They said it was because it made too much power. Maybe one of these years I'll get the chance to make the Speed Week trials. I've heard that it's a life-changing experience! Check them out at

LS Bracket Bomber
QNormally I'm not one to invent a new mousetrap. However, with all the new equipment for the LS series Chevy engines, I keep thinking that this is something I could do. Currently I'm using a mild iron-headed big-block Chevy to run 10 flat in my bracket car. It has been 9.79 at the track, but the conditions were excellent. Currently it is 2,588 pounds with me in it and a Powerglide. With an LS engine I could cut some weight and go maybe 9.50s with a good solid engine.

I've got some questions though. Where does one mount the front engine plate on one of these? The water pump looks like it may not work the way Gen I engines do. The LS engines are missing one bolt hole on the trans mount flange. I understand the hole was left out here because of interference with a head bolt. Couldn't I just drill a shallow hole here and use a stud? This way I could use my Powerglide. I think converter issues and an AFI flywheel have been worked out by the aftermarket.

The ignition system and fuel metering system are where I'm really confused. How do I use an EFT with my current throttle stop and MSD 7AL3? I'd like at least 400 ci, and a production block with L92 heads might help me reach my goal. Things like cams, rocker arms, and oil systems have been addressed by the aftermarket already. Lots of choices here. Your thoughts? How would you approach this project? I'm all ears.
Bruce Guertin
Via email




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