Project BlownZ Upgrades in 2013; Testing & Troubles…

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We attempted to get ahead of the “curve” with BlownZ by testing twice in 2013 prior to the first NMCA race. It didn’t work out all that well.

Project BlownZ had a fairly successful year of drag racing in 2012. While we fought our share of troubles, challenges, and breakage – we did achieve some impressive milestones with our 2002 F-Body Camaro. Our best e.t. of 8.24 @ 168 mph gave BlownZ the title of the quickest and fastest magazine drag racing project ‘car’ in history. We define project car simply as a car (full body with doors) and built/engineered and driven by a member of the staff of the magazine and designed to go down the quarter-mile. We were informed by Hot Rod Magazine’s David Freiburger that at one point in the 1960s there was a Hot Rod Top Fuel car. Since it doesn’t have doors, we’re going to side-step that debate for now.

2012’s power plant combination consisted of a LSX 388 cubic inch small block, 11.5 compression, with an F1R supercharger. We ran most of the year with a belt-drive, but switched to a Chris Alston Gear drive system after throwing belts with the elevated RPM levels. We made a tick over 1,100 rwhp with the combination at the end of the year, but didn’t make it down the track with the CDS/F1R combo. The crew consisting of Sean Goude (Crew Chief), Dean J. (Crew), and James Lawrence (Driver) worked hard in the off-season to try to go faster.

For 2013 – we had a slate of upgrades on tap:

  • ProCharger F1X Supercharger
  • Re-build the 388 with JE 9.5:1 compression pistons
  • Aeromotive Belt-Driven Fuel Pump
  • New TCI Transmission w/TCI 6-bolt Convertor
  • Moser Gun-Drilled Axles, Aluminum Center Section
  • Remove the Radiator for a Chiseled Water Tank/Rule Pump
ProCharger's New F1X got the call for BlownZ. X to the Z?

ProCharger’s New F1X got the call for BlownZ. X to the Z?

We moved from 11.5:1 JE pistons to 9.75:1 JE pistons for 2013. This drop in compression will be helpful as we attempt to digest the 28+ psi of the F1X.

We moved from 11.5:1 JE pistons to 9.75:1 JE pistons for 2013. This drop in compression will be helpful as we attempt to digest the 28+ psi of the F1X.

 

Our new combination this year consisted of upgrading to the new ProCharger F1X supercharger. With a few extra hundred horsepower under the hood, the total tally should be around 1,650 horsepower - enough to drop us into the mid 7s once we get the new combo sorted out.

Our new combination this year consisted of upgrading to the new ProCharger F1X supercharger. With a few extra hundred horsepower under the hood, the total tally should be around 1,650 horsepower – enough to drop us into the mid 7s once we get the new combo sorted out.

Our plan was to compete in NMCA West 275 Drag Radial, and PSCA Wild Street. In order to do that, we were going to need to get closer to the mid 7s at 185 mph. That meant a big upgrade in horsepower, and plenty of testing.

You know what they say about the … best laid plans. Yeah, well.

Barona Testing

We traveled to our local 1/8 mile track – Barona Dragway – in mid February to do some early testing. Unfortunately, we were quickly made aware of some gremlins in our combination. Namely in our ability to (A) Leave the starting line faster than a snail, and (B) To exceed 7,700 rpm. We made 3 passes and all were busts. While it’s true that we had a really soft initial tune-up with the F1X (extra fuel, reduced timing), there was no explaining the difficulty for us to launch. Essentially the new torque convertor we ordered was way too tight, not properly allowing the engine to spool. We knew almost from the first tune we were going to need to send the convertor back. We just guessed wrong. It’s part of racing.

Secondly, we had a “phantom” rev limiter we couldn’t figure out. Right after about 7,700 rpm the rev limiter was coming on, but we couldn’t find any rev limiter in the MSD software. Strange. We went home having not figured things out, but willing to try to figure out the issue.

Best E.T. at Barona was a disappointing high 5-second run in the 1/8 mile. We simply couldn't get the new F1X/convertor combo to properly flash off the starting line. We needed to get a new convertor in BlownZ before the next test date. We had a secondary issue with a RPM miss or Rev Limit.

Best E.T. at Barona was a disappointing high 5-second run in the 1/8 mile. We simply couldn’t get the new F1X/convertor combo to properly flash off the starting line. We needed to get a new convertor in BlownZ before the next test date. We had a secondary issue with a RPM miss or Rev Limit.

WCHRA Bakersfield

Next up, we were off to Bakersfield for some testing for the upcoming NMCA West opener. WCHRA doesn’t have a 275 class anymore, but we made the tow up to get some test passes and figured we’d run the True Ten 5 class while we were there. Follow along with our exploits.

With some adjusted suspension settings, and some tweaks to the MSD software - we were convinced our RPM / rev limit woes were behind us. We also put in a new TCI convertor. The first run didn't end as we hoped with a 5.50 e.t. at 130 mph in the 1/8 (about a mid-8 second run). The car was completely fat (10.6 af) and the rev limit was still present.

With some adjusted suspension settings, and some tweaks to the MSD software – we were convinced our RPM / rev limit woes were behind us. We also put in a new TCI convertor. The first run didn’t end as we hoped with a 5.50 e.t. at 130 mph in the 1/8 (about a mid-8 second run). The car was completely fat (10.6 af) and the rev limit was still present.

 

We got on the phone with MSD's Joe Pando, and he helped us identify our crank trigger as a potential culprit. He felt like the way we mounted the crank trigger was likely to be causing a high RPM flutter. Nothing we could do at the track, so we closed the crank trigger gap to .040-inch and hoped that helped.

We got on the phone with MSD’s Joe Pando, and he helped us identify our crank trigger as a potential culprit. He felt like the way we mounted the crank trigger was likely to be causing a high RPM flutter because our bracket we built could be flexing. Nothing we could do at the track, so we closed the crank trigger gap to .040-inch and hoped that helped.

 

We broke something in the drivetrain on the second pass at about 80 feet out. There simply wasn't enough data to figure anything out other than we were still far too rich with our tune up. Back to the drawing board to get ready for NMCA Bakersfield. Such is the life of a race car team!

We broke something in the drivetrain on the second pass at about 80 feet out. There simply wasn’t enough data to figure anything out other than we were still far too rich with our tune up. Back to the drawing board to get ready for NMCA Bakersfield. Such is the life of a race car team! Some minor repairs, a new crank trigger system, and we’ll be ready 🙂

 

 

About the author

James Lawrence

James started working on a Nostalgia Top Fuel drag racing team in 1992, and the rest has been history. A life-long automotive enthusiast, James is in fierce competition to see whether he can collect more cars or cats. Right now, the cars are winning. James co-founded the NMRA and NMCA Drag Racing Series in 1998 and continues to be an avid and passionate fan on everything 1320. He also thinks he can drive. Thinks, is the key word.
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