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Tina Pierce is just like anyone else who found a passion for racing. She developed a need for speed and has since been striving to go faster and faster. Whether it’s on a motorcycle when she was just 8 years old, or in a 7-second dragster, a 1995 Mustang with a small block Chevy, or her S10, Tina has been racing many years now and has found success in several different disciplines.
In fact, over the years she’s been a rookie of the year, a transition racer of the year, an index class winner, a Street Outlaws racer, and for the last almost decade, she’s been enjoying time at various drag-and-drive events. Tina recently competed at Sick Week 2023 with her 1966 Chevy II Nova, which features a twin-turbo 509 cid big block Chevy engine. Just one of only a few women in the field that week, we caught up with Tina on day three at South Georgia Motorsports Park to find out more about her and her drag-and-drive setup for the week.
“We’ve done many drag-and-drives,” Tina Pierce told us. “The 2014 Drag Week was our first drag-and-drive and we’ve done one almost every year since. We did two last year and then we’re doing this one and we’ll probably do a couple more drag-and-drive events, but there’s also a race series that we’re going to be running Top Sportsman in and then we’ll be index racing too.”
Tina and her husband David keep a fairly busy race schedule between various events that Tina Pierce Racing competes at, but Sick Week was an event they had been eager for. The 1966 Chevy II Nova and its twin-turbo 509 cid big block Chevy was still a new car for them, so Sick Week would be a good test of the combination.
“This car is very, very new to us,” Pierce says. “We just got it done in June 2022, so we have done some racing, but we’re still creeping up on the times that we want. We’re working it slowly, but it’s getting there. It just takes some time. We don’t like to be all or nothing. We like to make sure we’re doing baby steps more than anything.”
The big block Chevy engine features a Brodix block and Brodix cylinder heads, a Crower crank, rods, camshaft and valvetrain components, and twin Precision turbos.
“We just had this engine freshened up this year after running it for two years,” she says. “We drive it and we beat on it, so it’s a good combination. We always check our valvetrain to make sure everything is good because anything that is slightly off can just mess up everything, so we check that. We always check our transmission and our suspension to make sure all that stuff is lined up. We make sure our bolts are good to go as well. Those are the normal, standard checks right before we go up and make passes.”
The amount of boost Tina ran during Sick Week was admittedly on the low end – about 29-lbs. of boost. However, she was out there to make consistent passes.
“I would’ve liked to do a personal best each day, which I had the last two days, but today we went back a little bit, but that’s okay,” she says. “My goal was try to run 200 mph each day this week. I wasn’t going to worry about the ET. I was just wanting to run 200 mph each day. I’m right there every time, but I’ve been shy of that 200 mph mark. If I happen to run a 6-second pass, I would be thrilled.”
As it was, Tina’s performance had her near the top of the Unlimited Iron class. And, day three saw a couple more top competitors drop out of competition, helping Tina move up even further.
“I know the heavy hitters went out and I feel bad for them,” she says. “It moves me up whenever something like that happens, so I’ve just got to make sure I can make it through the week and make good, decent passes.”
Those good passes came courtesy of Tina’s twin-turbo 509 cid big block Chevy engine, which she estimates makes roughly 2,000 horsepower to the tires. Not only had it been running well on the tracks during Sick Week, but it was also making fairly easy work of the drives.
“The drives are awesome,” Pierce says. “We don’t have overdrive in this. We’ve got a two-speed Powerglide, so everything that we do, we try to keep rpms down and save on everything. We run about 65 mph usually.”
While Tina is perfectly content to cruise during the drives from track to track, she turns up the heat in an effort to hit that 200 mph mark. During Sick Week, Tina handed in slips of 7.24 at 193 mph, 7.08 at 197 mph, 7.23 at 198 mph 7.38 at 188 mph, and 7.21 at 198 mph for an average of 7.23 at 195 mph and a second-place finish in the Unlimited Iron class.
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].