Twin-TorqStorm-Supercharged 454 cid Big Block Chevy Engine - Engine Builder Magazine

Twin-TorqStorm-Supercharged 454 cid Big Block Chevy Engine

It had been more than two decades since Val Morris of Steve Morris Engines was behind the wheel of a drag car. This Chevy Malibu with a twin-supercharged 454 big block Chevy engine was her forray into drag-and-drive, and now she wants to go even faster!

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Anyone familiar with the drag-and-drive scene will know the name Steve Morris and his shop Steve Morris Engines. Steve has been building high-horsepower engines for decades and is a ‘household name’ in Hot Rod Drag Week and Sick the Mag’s Sick Week circles, as Steve has both competed in these events and has been Tom Bailey’s right-hand man for numerous Drag Week wins.

Like his dad, Steve’s son Kyle has now gotten into the drag-and-drive mix with his own car – a Mustang with a twin-turbo small block Ford engine. But in 2024, the Morris’ made it a full family affair when Steve’s wife Val got behind the wheel of a new drag-and-drive build.

Unfortunately for Steve, his 2024 Sick Week ended before it began when he his wagon hit the wall during testing and damaged a rear quarter panel. Kyle sat this year out and was there in Florida for support, but Val was in the Street Race 275 class with a 1980 Chevy Malibu and a twin-TorqStorm-supercharged 454 cid big block Chevy engine. Now, Val is no stranger to drag racing. In fact, she was quite the racer in the late ‘80s and through the ‘90s, but put it all on hold to have a family.

Now, roughly 25 years since the last time she drag raced, Val was taking on Sick Week, and we caught up with her to get the details of the Malibu and its big block Chevy, as well as Val’s expectations for her first time back behind the wheel in more than two decades.

“It’s been 26 years since I’ve been down the drag strip,” Val Morris told us. “I didn’t think I was going to be nervous. As soon as I got suited up and started pulling up, I was like, ‘Oh, this isn’t like what it was when I was in my 20s. But, after that first pass down the track, it was like riding a bike. You just get back at it and hit it again.”

The Chevy Malibu had been a project car that Steve Morris Engines had been working on for about a year. As they tinkered with it, it became a reality that the car would be ready in time for Sick Week 2024, but it needed a driver. The first thought was for Kyle to take the wheel, but Steve had ideas that Val would be driving this time.

“I don’t think it took too much convincing,” Val says. “I was like, ‘Oh, okay!”

As mentioned, the Malibu features a twin-supercharged big block Chevy, and in true Steve Morris Engines’ fashion, the engine has a number of drag-and-drive-ready goodies.

“It’s a stock big block Chevy block that’s 454 cubic inches,” says Kyle Morris. “It has a Scat rotating assembly, Dart 355 heads, a hydraulic roller camshaft, Jesel shaft mount rockers, FuelTech FT 550 EFI, and of course you can see twin centrifugal superchargers from TorqStorm.”

With twin superchargers, Val was able to run 21-lbs. of boost, which meant pulling some timing out of it and adding some fuel to keep everything safe and happy. With EFI on board, that was an adjustment for Val since her carburetor days.

“That was one of the things that was hard to get used to is 25 years ago it was carburetor, and so getting used to how you drive it a little differently, that was probably the biggest learning curve was going from carburetor to EFI,” Val says. “We’re getting it figured out though.”

Val was figuring things out in the 275 class, which is an 8.50 class and the Malibu’s cage cert is good for 8.50.

“We’re still working the bugs out,” she says. “But the target is 8.50. We haven’t gotten there yet, but we’re inching up on it, so it’s been a fun ride.”

According to Kyle, the big block Chevy made 800 wheel horsepower on 16-lbs. of boost, so at 21-lbs. of boost he estimates the engine is producing 1,000 wheel horsepower. Of course, with those horsepower levels and the stresses of a drag-and-drive event the caliber of Sick Week, no one goes five days without issues. For the Morris’ the dreaded transmission failure reared it’s ugly head yet again.

“I think this transmission has been in and out like three or four times and it’s about to be a fifth time,” Val admitted. “When we first dropped the transmission, we put one of Steve’s spares in and that did not work. It was not happy with that combination. We were running mid-10s and that’s way far from where we wanted to be. We got a new transmission from a guy down the road and got down to a 9.44, which was the quickest we ran. Then, we had some traction issues and we had more transmission issues. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re getting there. Hopefully by the end of the week we’ll see an 8.”

Despite having multiple transmission issues, Val and the Malibu completed the week at Sick Week 2024 with ETs of 9.97 @ 140 mph, 11.10 @ 110 mph, 15.20 @ 92 mph, 10.56 @ 103 mph, and 9.44 @ 148 mph for an average of 11.25 @ 119 mph. While it wasn’t the result they had hoped for, it was enough for Val to admit it would not be another 25-plus years before she raced again.

“Once you’re back into it, how do you stop?” she says.

In fact, it got her competitive side going and a desire to go faster. As some may know, Steve and Val have purchased a new race car being built by KSR Fabrication, which will get one of Steve’s new SML engines. With that car underway, the Malibu and its big block Chevy engine are now part of a giveaway hosted by Steve Morris Engines, running now until 4/15. Grab some merch to gain entries for a chance to win, or fill out a note to mail to SME if you don’t want to make a purchase.

“The car has been great, and it’s tough to decide whether this is a race car that’s trying to be a street car or is it a street car that’s trying to be a race car?” Val notes. “We’re not quite sure. It’s right smack dab in the middle, so it’s fun no matter what.”

Now the car will get a chance to be owned by someone new to create their own driving adventures with.

Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade1Elring – 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].

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