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.

The 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 over.

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.

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