Emperor of Engine Masters Challenge: Kaase claims purse

Emperor of Engine Masters Challenge: Kaase claims purse

By Ben Mozart, Photography by Moore Good Ink: It takes uncommon pluck to enter an engine performance contest—what happens if you finish 39th? Developing racing engines is a serious business. Your reputation, your record of success and your credentials are constantly on the line. Despite the obvious reservations, however, entering the annual Engine Masters Challenge is generally beneficial for all competitors. Some engine builders bring along unusual or rare engines, knowing the media will fill pages with their editorial in the aftermath of the competition. Others build engines not to compete for the best average power output at all, but instead with peak power in mind, knowing their achievement will also receive recognition. Importantly, most if not all engines will be photographed and featured in the magazine articles during the following twelve months. So even if the event turns out not to be the shining hour you’d hoped, entrants gain much more recognition for their engine shop than by staying at home. For the front runners in the dyno room though, tension is usually high and interestingly the contenders deal with stress in very different ways. Some like Accufab’s John Mihovetz remain quiet; deep in thought he scarcely issues a word. On the other hand, the face of Chris Thomas, Kaase’s right hand man, is profoundly focused. Kaase himself seems to play it like a sport—with a lighthearted gusto, but plays to win. Lima, OH: The 2013 Engine Masters Challenge, the eleventh in a series first started in 2002, was won by Jon Kaase Racing Engines. His fifth victory in the Challenge, he collected a purse just under $70,000. When the reward amounts to more than any Pro Stock race...

Titus: World’s first aftermarket Cleveland engine in production

By Fergus Ogilvy Photos by Moore Good Ink A regular top finisher in the annual Engine Masters Challenge, Mark McKeown is a man with a prolific output of engine improvements in his résumé, not least the Ford Cleveland. But even with thirty years of Cleveland toil and achievement in McKeown’s background, it takes exceptional gallantry to resurrect a low-volume engine block—a block that was first conceived almost half a century ago. The fact is though, he had the daring, the energy, and the resilience to see it through and now it’s in production. The Titus will be his hallmark: a defining moment for all Cleveland aficionados who will benefit by his incentive.   Waldorf, MD: Revived by MME (McKeown Motorsport Engineering), the world’s first aftermarket Cleveland engine is now in production. It is called Titus. Accepting standard Cleveland accessories and hardware, these new larger displacement blocks are available in aluminum or cast iron, with deck heights of 9.2in or 9.5in and with bore sizes ranging from 4.00in to 4.20in. As anticipated, MME’s Titus engines are suitable for street or strip use and for most forms of drag, oval track, and road racing. Needless to say they operate in naturally aspirated form or with nitrous, turbochargers, or superchargers. More importantly, though they are designed to handle extreme power, they mate to stock components and operate easily in standard street cars. Unlike the original Cleveland block, the lubrication system has been redesigned for priority oiling to the main bearings with the ability to adjust oil flow elsewhere. In addition, the main webs are designed for solidity, providing the greatest amount of...

The day the Hemi Cuda took flight

By Fergus Ogilvy: Photos courtesy of Jim White Almost fifty years ago, toward the end of the 1965 drag racing season, Chrysler and their Southern Californian Plymouth Dealers Association underwrote the costs of constructing and operating a blown nitro 426cu in rear-engine Plymouth Hemi Barracuda Funny Car. The proposition that brought together the Chrysler Corporation and the Southern Californian Plymouth Dealers Association was conceived by the late Lou Baney. Lou, who was already running the “Mongoose” in the Yeakel Plymouth Center’s Fuel dragster, could see the potential for exploiting a new Hemi Barracuda Funny Car in exhibitions and Match races. The moment was right and the deal was struck; B&M Automotive were contracted to construct the car, Dave Zeuschel to prepare the engine, and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen to drive it. The origins of the Funny Car The term Funny Car had derived from the appearance of Chrysler’s Ram Chargers a year earlier. The corporation’s competition department had moved the rear axle assembly forward on the chassis in an attempt to improve weight transfer under acceleration, thus increasing the car’s traction. Also, funny by today’s standards, this Fuel car, those that run on nitro methane, and others from that era exhibited a conspicuously high front ride height. Constructed with leaf springs resting on a simple front beam axle the high front ride height was most probably adopted for its ability to transfer weight quickly to the rear end during full acceleration. However the practice came to an abrupt end when the “Mongoose” unleashed the new 1965 Barracuda on its first full quarter-mile run at Lions’ drag strip in Los Angeles....

Don Garlits:

How his severed foot led dragster design to its most defining moment By Sam Logan Don Garlits’ front-engine race car career ended at Lion’s Dragstrip in 1970. “His 2-speed transmission exploded and severed a portion of his right foot—from the middle of his foot to his toes,” Tom McEwen explained. “We rushed him to a hospital immediately where he remained for a month. His wife, Pat, flew to Los Angeles and I gave her my Cadillac and put her in a hotel. We visited Don each day and took him sci-fi books—he enjoyed science fiction: outer space, black holes and all that. But it was in the hospital that he dreamed up the first rear-engine dragster.” “Big Daddy” of innovation Always influential, constantly seeking a technical advantage, Garlits was determined to reduce the driver’s exposure, particularly feet and legs, to exploding engines and transmission parts.” By eradicating the conventional rear axle, Garlits’ rear-engine dragster was the greatest innovation since 1954, when Mickey Thompson moved the driver’s seat behind the rear axle that marked the creation of the slingshot era. “We had a lot of success with front-engine cars,” said Don Prudhomme, “then Garlits came out with the rear-engine dragster and that changed things overnight. It made the front-engine cars obsolete.” Garlits sold his first rear-engine chassis to Tom McEwen, who won the Bakersfield March Meet soon after. In 1971 Don Garlits returned to professional drag racing with his Swamp Rat XIV and won two of his next three Top Fuel Eliminator events. The only remaining impediments to the success of his engineering prowess lay in changing the steering ratio...
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