Over the past few months, we’ve struck up a friendship with Andrew Starr of Starr Performance and Consulting. Andrew was formerly with Hilborn Injection before starting his own tuning business. Andy is a wealth of knowledge, and as such, he’s been helping us here at Engine Builder Mag with some tuning content. He also helps a lot of customers by tuning their cars and making them run at peak performance. We happened to cross paths with him at this year’s Sick Week in Florida.
Andy was working on a couple cars the morning of day two at Bradenton Motorsports Park when we saw him, and he told us we should go check out Joshua Norris’ ‘67 Nova. Andy tunes Josh’s car as well, so we knew it would be something cool. We walked into the pits and found Norris and his Nova getting ready for another pass. Josh was happy to take a break from prepping his car to tell us about the Nova, which he’s had for most his life. The Nova features an awesome Hilborn-injected 421 cid small block Chevy engine.
“I’ve owned the car for about 31 years,” Josh Norris told us. “My dad and I were going to a big car show called ‘Back to the ‘50s,’ and we were walking through the car corral when I happened to see this car and I knew that’s the car I wanted. We went and bought it the next day. I’ve been progressively building it since then. I try to pick a couple upgrades every year. This year, I put the Smith Racecraft front end on it.”
The ‘67 Nova is powered by a 421 cubic inch small block Chevy engine, which features a Dart Little M block, 245cc AFR heads and a Hilborn EFI intake manifold.
“I bought the electronic Hilborn from Andy Starr and he is now the primary tuner at Starr Performance,” Norris says. “He’s been my co-pilot now four times, and I’ve competed in six Drag Weeks. I actually built [the engine] around the Hilborn because I love old-school stuff, so it started there and we built an engine around it. We went with finned valve covers, and I love gassers and straight axles – all that stuff. The car was kind of my modern day interpretation of a gasser. I wanted to keep the full interior and stuff like that, so when you look at it, it doesn’t look like a straight up race car.”
Both Norris and Starr are seasoned drag-and-drive guys, and it shows in Josh’s Nova. Aside from a Dart block, AFR heads and the Hilborn EFI setup, the engine is also equipped with a Scat 4.185” stroke crankshaft, 6.000” Eagle connecting rods, JE pistons, and T&D rockers.
“The original combo was built by David Senderhauf and all the machine work was done by Travis Knowlton and Knowlton Thunderheads and Racing Engines,” he says. “Nathan Shaw of One Guys Garage did the one-off headers. It’s been a pretty proven combo. I’ve beaten the living heck out of it now for five years and virtually done nothing to it. It runs pretty consistent 9.60s-9.70s.”
While Norris has done a number of Drag Weeks over the years, this trip to Florida was his first Sick Week.
“We decided to come down this year and try it out,” he says. “Usually, we go to Lights Out. I ran Lights Out last year in the 6.0 class, but we decided to come down to sunny Florida and enjoy the weather.”
Josh competed in Sick Week in the Naturally Aspirated class, and recorded passes of 9.66 at 139 mph, 9.73 at 136 mph, 9.66 at 138 mph, 9.73 at 137 mph, and 9.94 at 137 mph for an average of 9.74 at 137 mph. You have to admit he was consistent! That consistency is thanks to good tuning work from Andy Starr on the 421 small block Chevy and it’s 760 horsepower at 7,300 rpm.
Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade Motor Oil, Elring – Das Original and 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].