One of the coolest race events we got to be part of this past summer was Joe Zolper’s Builder’s Brawl – a race where builders competed against one another’s skills, work and knowledge rather than who had the deepest pockets. All participants had to go through a screening process to qualify as a builder to be part of this race, needing to convince a panel of five that they qualify as a builder by either building their own engine (not machine work), building their own chassis or cage, or building their car from the ground up. They also had to be the driver.
Simple wiring or plumbing of your car, installing an engine, installing wheels, or bolting on suspension parts didn’t qualify you as a builder in this race. For those who did make the grade, participants competed in one of five classes – Big Tire, Small Tire, 4.50 Index, Daily Driver, and High 5. Only the Daily Driver class was exempt from having to qualify as a builder and was open to all vehicles.
We loved the old-school concept of this new race, so we flew down to St. Louis to spend a couple days at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, IL. One of the first competitors we saw on the track grounds was Mike McCoy. Mike showed up with a 1966 Chevy II Nova and a 632 big block Chevy nitrous engine under the hood. The drag racing was 1/8th mile, and Mike was running in the High 5 class.
Admittedly, Mike told us he intended to bring his Funny car, which he also does a lot of work on himself, but due to it not being ready in time, he opted for the Nova. Mike also mentioned he isn’t an engine guy, but he did a large amount of work on the transmission and the car itself in order to qualify. As for his engine, he relied on a BluePrint Engines 632 cubic inch big block Chevy package.
“It’s a crate engine from BluePrint,” McCoy says. “BluePrint did everything for the engine. They do the heads, the block and select all the internals.”
For those unfamiliar, BluePrint Engines is located in Kearney, NE and was founded by Norris Marshall 40 years ago. Marshall started by building engines for local racers out of his garage. Since then, BluePrint Engines has grown to be one of the largest crate engine manufacturers in the world.
“If you add this engine in a street car, it comes with a warranty,” McCoy pointed out. “It works good for bracket racing and the grudge stuff we’re doing, even with our car weighing 2,950 lbs. with me in it. It runs 6 seconds on pump gas, which is pretty good power with an 11:1 compression and a hydraulic roller cam.
Aside from what BluePrint provided, we put everything else on the engine, such as the alternator, water pump, headers, the Edelbrock intake, the Holley carburetor, and MSD ignition. We also got an Induction Solutions 100-horse shot of nitrous to give us that extra boost if we need to get into the high 5s. The engine usually runs pretty consistent. It’s a power getter for running on pump gas.”
McCoy’s Chevy II Nova also features a built-up transmission, which McCoy had a large hand in, as well as a 7.50 cert cage and lettering on the side of the car from Racer Tees that reads ‘Orange Blossom Special.’ No matter what went down on the track, McCoy told us he was happy to be at the Builder’s Brawl and was looking to have a good time.
“I had done a few of the No Prep Kings races prior to Joe starting the Builder’s Brawl,” he says. “That’s where I met Joe and I got to be friends with him on Facebook. He started Builder’s Brawl and I liked the idea of having a race where you’ve got to do a lot of the work yourself. Joe’s a standup guy and I like what he stands for – if you built it, bring it, race it, and we’ll see where you fall. I’m here to have fun.”
McCoy’s 632 big block Chevy is capable of 840 horsepower NA on pump gas, which gives him low-6 capability in the eighth. Looking to run 5.75-5.80, and compete in the High 5 class, McCoy would be utilizing that 100-hp shot of nitrous to get there. That 940 horsepower and some 100 octane gas should do the trick!
“I guess the time slips will show,” he says.
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]