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Twin-Turbo 540 cid Big Block Chevy Engine

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At both Sick Week in Florida and at the Summit Midwest Drags in Ohio/Indiana this year, we saw Glenn Hunter’s red and white 1956 Bel Air. Admittedly, we were probably caught drooling a little bit, and we got the chance to finally speak with Glenn during a stop at Dragway 42 in West Salem, OH during the third day of the 2022 Midwest Drags.

It turns out, Glenn, who hails from New York, has owned this ‘56 Bel Air since he attended junior high school in 1979.

“I painted it in my grandmother’s garage in ‘91 and it still looks good,” Hunter says.

When we spoke with Glenn, he had already made a couple of hits down the track and after not getting great traction initially, he finally got into the 7s on the day.

“It was a little tough for me to get traction out there, but we took enough power out of it that we could get it down,” Hunter told us.

The Bel Air features a 540 cubic inch big block Chevy engine that has a Brodix aluminum block, Brodix Head Hunter 395 cylinder heads, a custom ground COMP Cams camshaft, a Callies crankshaft, Crower rods, Isky lifters, and the twin turbos are 88mm BorgWarners.

“We’re also using a HalTech engine management system, which is new to us the last couple years, and I’m really enjoying it because it does a lot that I couldn’t do before,” he says. “It’s just fantastic.”

As mentioned, Glenn found he needed to take some boost out of the turbos in order to hold the track at Dragway 42. When everything is clicking right, Glenn’s Bel Air is capable of a best ET of 6.98 at 205 mph.

“Depending on the track, it can be tough for me to get this down on radials,” he says. “We’ve had to pull a lot of timing out and take boost away, but some tracks surprise you and you can get right down. That’s the hardest part of this whole thing. I estimate that the big block Chevy makes 2,700 horsepower on good boost. But, I rarely ever use that much.”

Glenn did all the engine assembly himself, but he does get help on the machine work for other shops.

“I usually get two years out of the engine before I freshen it up and get back out here to do this again. We started doing drag-and-drive events in 2010 with Drag Week. I’ve done basically all of those since then, and Midwest last year and this year, and we did Sick Week this year. It’s been a busy year.”

Besides the 540 big block Chevy, Glenn’s Bel Air also has a lot of Coan Racing Transmissions parts that Glenn worked on himself to set up the trans. The car has a 9.5-inch ring gear and a 3.25 rear gear. The chassis was done by Mark Markow up in Connecticut, who unfortunately passed away last year.

“He set up the chassis for me and that’s been working great for years,” Hunter says. “This year at Midwest Drags, I feel like the tracks were a little bit tough. I would’ve liked to be able to get a little more power out of it and better times out of it. But, the facilities have been great. The weather has been a factor as well with some rain on a couple days. We just have to keep working on it and getting down the track.”

Despite not running what Glenn thinks are his optimal times, he, his team and the Bel Air still ended up winning the Pro Street Power Adder class at the Summit Midwest Drags for a second straight year. His overall average was 7.829 at 176.37 mph, and his best ET of the week was 7.455 at 189.95 mph. We’ll be eager to find out if Glenn will try to make it three in a row next year.

Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade Motor OilElring – 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]

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