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At US 41 Drag Strip this summer, we got to speak with Jamie Doller about his 1971 Camaro during the Summit Midwest Drags. As that conversation was happening, we couldn’t help but notice three guys very hard at work in the next pit over. Laying on the ground under a gorgeous 1970 Nova, one of those three men was Brandon Doller, Jamie’s brother and owner of Lowdoller Motorsports. Brandon was kind enough to take a 5-minute break from fixing his streetcar to speak with us about the Nova and its 6.0L LS engine setup.
His team was hard at work because after an early pass down the track that morning, Brandon’s car was smoking quite a bit.
“We found that we had a dead hole, or a low-compression hole,” Doller says. “We’ve been kind of fighting that and questioning it. The engine had a noise, so we pulled it apart and the oil had some aluminum in it. We went through the rockers several times and basically decided to keep driving it and see whether it would self-clearance itself or not. I believe it might have self-clearanced itself out there at about the 1,000-ft. mark.
“We haven’t found any windows or big pieces of the block out of it, which is beneficial. We’re tearing it apart and we have the pan off. It’s got a little bit of metal in there. We checked rod bearings and main bearings real quick to see if there’s anything obvious.”
While the second day of the drag-and-drive event had already been eventful, Brandon told us it had been an eventful month preparing the car just to make it to the 2022 Summit Midwest Drags.
“The car is a ‘70 Nova, and it’s been together now, running, for about five days,” Doller says. “It’s been a mad thrash. I’ve owned the car for about seven years. I had it together for two or three years and had maxed the turbo out on something like pass 15, and I decided it wasn’t enough. I was going to change the turbo and it turned into doing everything.
“Nothing on the car is the same from what it was besides the roof and the quarters. The back end of the car was done by Tin Soldier Race Cars, and the front is a stock sub frame, bolt-in sub frame, drop-in replacement. It’s clearly not a stock suspension car, but it’s as close as we can get with some of the rules that were in play at the time. Outside of that, it’s a full steel car – steel roof, steel quarters, steel doors, fenders – and a carbon hood and carbon deck lid.”
If getting all that work done wasn’t enough, Brandon also decided to paint the car himself. He purchased a ‘bouncy house’ blow-up paint booth for his garage and got busy. “I never painted a car, so that was interesting,” he admits.
Of course, the exterior of the car was just one half of the conversation. Brandon also wanted more horsepower and performance out of the 1970 Nova, so he revamped the turbocharged 6.0L LS engine under the hood as well.
“We have a 6.0L iron block that’s a little less than 370 cubes,” he says. “We have a Callies DragonSlayer crank, Callies Ultra billet rods and Wiseco 12.5:1 dish pistons. It’s also got Trick Flow 220 cylinder heads as cast on it, and then it’s got a custom ground cam from Nick over at BTR, who did some of his magic on it.
“On the other side of it, we have a dual fuel system – nothing too crazy. It’s got a 16 gallon-per-minute mechanical pump in the back and a cable drive up to the front with a mandrel. Then, it’s got a drop-in pump in the tank. For that, we took a 20-gallon cell and split it and added the other one in.
“I’ve been working on the tune this week, so basically it drives on pump gas or E depending on what I put in. I’ve got a content sensor that reads that. I have three fuel tables that I’m blending this whole time and it transitions in and out based on my parameter.”
Speaking of the different tuning options and sensors that help operate the car appropriately, that’s some of what Lowdoller Motorsports helps customers with. Brandon spent 10 years doing industrial engineering sales and he realized quickly that people were paying way more than they should on a lot of these sensors.
“Since I had ties in that market, I brought that in and we designed some stuff in-house such as shock sensors, laser ride heights, outside pressure sensors – a little bit of everything,” he says.
As mentioned earlier, Brandon’s whole impetus for rebuilding the car was a desire for a larger turbo. The LS engine now features a 98mm Forced Inductions turbo to up the ante on the horsepower. Brandon’s cage is certified to 8.50, and that’s what he was aiming to run during the Midwest Drags.
“We’re hoping to go 8.50s this week, but at Edgewater when we’re back and I turn in my 8.50 passes, then I’ll roll into it a little bit more and see if we can get it to go somewhere in the 7.50s or so,” Doller says. “We’ve got some lofty goals for it ahead, but you have to have goals, right?”
In terms of the horsepower capability of Brandon’s 6.0L LS, he says the turbo is able to handle more than the engine can give it, but 1,600-1,700 horse is certainly possible.
“The turbo is capable of making more than it will ever eat,” he says. “I think the turbo is probably somewhere in the range of 2,200 hp. It depends how angry I am at the tune, but if I do things right, it can easily make somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,600-1,700 hp at the wheels.”
Brandon was competing in the Super Street Small Block Power Adder class, and unfortunately, he wasn’t able to finish the week at Midwest Drags due to the issues he had on day two. He’ll look to rebound at future drag-and-drive events!
Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade Motor Oil, Elring – Das Original and Engine & Performance Warehouse Inc./NPW Companies. If you have an engine you’d like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder Editor Greg Jones at [email protected]