e try to be hands-on here at DRO. So when DRO's bracket racing editor
Jok Nicholson says to the old Burkster, "Why don't you put together a
motor for the "Back to Basics" Vega project car and see if we can build
one that will get us into the 10.90 classes without spending a ton of
cash," I thought about it for about ten seconds and said, "Why not!"
I've worked on racecars for the better part of 40 years and figured I
could do a job like this without too much grief. I was just half right.
I could do it all right but there would be some grief along the way.
I started the project using a Chevy 350 short
block that had been sitting out in my garage
for a couple of years. I had swapped some race
parts to my hot rodder friend and neighbor Rich
for it. I figured I could save a lot of money
using that short block to build a bracket motor
that would run 10.90. I figured wrong.
short block came out of a 3/4 ton Chevy van
with 130,000 miles on it. The block is well
seasoned. The block has four-bolt mains but
had a cracked cylinder wall, so I took it to
a local machine shop, had it line bored, a sleeve
installed and kept it standard bore +005.
The crank is supposed to be steel and didn't
require turning. I polished the beams on the
stock rods, installed good rod bolts, bought
a set of aluminum flat top pistons and had the
whole assembly balanced. I ended up investing
about a grand in hard cash on the short block.
It was at about that point, after talking to
several racers including my buddy Bill Weckman,
that I came to the sad realization that a 350
inch engine just wouldn't pull the project Vega
into the 10.90's using just a single four-barrel
carb, even burning alcohol. So I kept the block,
sold the rods, crank and pistons, and started
I talked to Stan Ray, owner of Ohio Crankshaft,
and told him what we were trying to accomplish.
He agreed that a 350 motor wouldn't make enough
power, convinced me that we needed a stroker
motor, and offered to supply one of his rotating
assemblies for the project. The kits come with
a 4340 steel stroker crank, six-inch I-beam
steel rods, J&E pistons with a little dome
on them because we're going to burn alky in
this engine, plus the rings and bearings needed
to assemble a 383-inch engine. The Ohio Crankshaft
" Street Rodder" kit retails for just
under $1400, which was a definite bargain considering
what I had spent just trying to make stock pieces
into race pieces.