BlownZ Tech Article Archive
Not only are we providing a pretty comprehensive build diary here, but we dive into tech details with full length articles. Check them out below:
If you had a 5,000 square foot shop, two full time pro fabricators, and the cell phone numbers of every engineer, marketing guy, and owner for all the aftermarket companies you’d ever heard of at your disposal, and you DIDN’T build some crazy, bad-ass race car, you would be out of your mind. Here at powerTV, we happen to have those resources at our fingertips, so it should come as no surprise that we’re putting together a no-effort-spared NMCA 275 Drag Radial Camaro right under our own roof.
Our shop dawgs Sean G. and Dean J. are in the middle of a flat-out thrash to get our 2002 F-Body aka “BlownZ” ready to hit the track this race season, and every day brings us a little bit closer to completion. We’ll be racing in the NMCA West 275 class, but will also venture into Outlaw 8.5 and possibly some LSX Shootout races. We’re documenting everything in detail for full tech articles on each aspect of this build, but we want to keep you up to date on some of the important milestones we’re passing every week. Bookmark this page – we’ll be updating as we go along, and putting in links to all the detailed stories.
Where do we begin? When our “new” Z28 rolled into the shop, it was a running, albeit not completely sorted, race car. But since our motto here is “never leave anything untouched,” we dove right in and began reworking the car into our own vision of what we wanted.
Project Build Diary:
May 3, 2012: BlownZ 388 LSX Rebuilds Adds Boost, Lowers Compression Ratio
In our debut season with BlownZ last year, our primary goal was more or less to get our feet wet and learn the race car. This was our first endeavor with a race car with this much power on this kind of tire, and so while we certainly had every intention of going rounds, our primary focus was making good, clean runs to gather data and knowledge from. As we looked forward to 2013, however, we were ready to take the gloves off, and that meant that during the off season, our 388-inch bullet had to come out and go under the knife, so to speak.
Our goal in the horsepower department was 1,500, and to do so, we needed to step up to a larger ProCharger supercharger, which in itself, prompted the need for not only a winter refresh, but a lowered compression ratio and other new components to support the increased boost levels.
The off season adventure got underway by removing the LSX engine and sending to L&R Engines in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. for disassembly and inspection. Once everything checked out fine, it was time to begin tackling our list of changes and upgrades.
The rebuild was fairly routine, as we had the block hot-tanked, checked, and honed to fit our new JE Pistons and Total Seal rings. We also installed Clevite bearings for the Lunati Pro Series crank and GRP rods, while the Comp Cams camshaft was placed back into the block with its original roller bearings.
Of course, at the heart of our new combination is the awesome new ProCharger F-1X blower, with a 72,000 rpm maximum impeller speed (up from 68,000), a half-inch larger outlet diameter, and a full inch larger inlet diameter from the F-1R that we ran last season. In a conversation with engine builder Steve Morris, who specializes in ProCharger engine applications, he told us that the F-1X is good for about 300-400 more horsepower over the F-1R, and will deliver up to 38 psi of boost from its self-contained design that relies on a 5.4:1 step-up ratio.
We’ve only got so much space here in this project update that only scratches the surface of our detailed tech feature highlighting the rebuild of BlownZ’s LSX 388, so do yourself a favor and click on over and read the complete story and see tons of high quality images from L&R Engines at the link below.
April 3, 2012: BlownZ Upgrades In 2013; Testing And Troubles…
We had a fairly successful first year of racing with our Project BlownZ Camaro, running a best of 8.24 at 168 MPH that, while a little short of our expectations, was quick enough to earn the title of the quickest and fastest magazine project vehicle in history. But we’re not content with running in the eights, and so the car underwent some wholesale changes in the off season in an effort to improve upon our performance and, hopefully, crack into the seven-second zone early on in the 2013 season.
The first big change, which was part of our plan from the very beginning, was a switch over to ProCharger’s killer new F1-X supercharger that’s taken the X275 world by storm over the last year since it’s release. We made just over 1,100 RWHP with our F1-R bolted to the 388-inch LSX bullet, but we knew the X would get us over the performance hump and into the same realm as our competition in the 275 Drag Radial class.
There were some changes made in the latter part of last season, including the addition of Chris Alston’s Chassisworks’ new CDS gear drive system for the blower, but the bulk of it all came during the winter (if you can call it that in California) as we went all-in for an even better sophomore season.
Our changes included:
- ProCharger F1X Supercharger
- Re-build the 388 with JE 9.5:1 compression pistons
- Aeromotive Belt-Driven Fuel Pump
- New TCI Transmission w/TCI 6-bolt Convertor
- Moser Gun-Drilled Axles, Aluminum Center Section
- Remove the Radiator for a Chiseled Water Tank/Rule Pump
Once everything was buttoned up, we headed out to our local 1/8-mile strip in Barona, Calif. in February for some shakedown runs, but the outing didn’t go quite as planned, as we discovered a few gremlins that only track-time can truly expose. We made three passes, and all of them were busts. Out main issues revolved around a soft tune, a converter that we determined to be a little too tight for our combination, and a “phantom” rev-limiter that wasn’t allowing the engine to exceed 7,700 rpm, causing the car to leave and run like a snail.
With a few weeks to work on things, we then towed up to Bakersfield and Auto Club Famoso Raceway for the WCHRA season opener to make some laps and compete in the True 10.5 class. We had a new converter in the car and hoped that our rev-limiter issue was solved, but as we quickly found out, the problem was still present. To add to that, our tune-up was pretty fat. We did record a best of 5.50 at 130 MPH, but that’s certainly not where we want to be. Hey, no one said this drag racing thing was easy.
March 12, 2013: BlownZ’s Fuel System And New Lithium Pros Battery
So we’ve dug into our valvetrain combination and then our exhaust system in our two latest project updates; now we’ve got to work on feeding this bad boy.
Our newest tech feature regarding Project BlownZ dives into our new Aeromotive fuel system that we’ve selected to fuel our supercharged engine, along with he components from Fragola Performance Systems that we’ve picked up to complete the setup.
Our pump, an Aeromotive EFI Pro Series unit, is designed for and can easily handle as much as 1,700 horsepower in a forced induction EFI engine and a staggering 2,600 horsepower in a naturally aspirated, carbureted motor. With almost double the flow capabilities of Aeromotive’s famous A1000 pump, this thing is killer and more than enough to accommodate our needs. In addition to the pump, we’re utilizing Aeromotive’s EFI Pro Series Fuel Pressure Regulator and EFI Pro Series fuel filters. The VP Racing Fuels C16 fuel is fed through Fragola’s 3000 Series race hose and fittings from a custom-built two gallon fuel cell to Holley LS fuel rails for our Hi-Ram intake outfitted with FAST 160-pound fuel injectors.
Elsewhere, we’ve also made a change in the battery department on BlownZ in the name of saving precious weight, opting for one of Lithium Pros‘ ultra light lithium batteries. Within our fuell-length tech review, we’ve dug deeper into the technology of lithium ion batteries and its advantages, but oen of the big selling points for drag racers is that these batteries are 60-80% lighter than a comparable lead acid battery. The battery seen here that we installed in BlownZ weighs just nine pounds, which is 26-1/2 pounds lighter than a same-size lead acid battery for the car. Of course, with an impressive depth of discharge of 80 percent and quick charging, there are obvious pluses beyond just weight.
You might recall in our recent feature on the Chassisworks gear drive unit that we’ve intentionally changed our combination around to run the fuel pump directly off the crank as an accessory drive so that we could cut down from two batteries to one, and this is a part of that process.
March 12, 2013: Exhaust System Tech: BlownZ Gets Its Pipes
In our last update, we took a closer look at the engine build of our LSX powerplant, and in specific, our cylinder heads and valvetrain combination. As any gearhead knows though,once that air makes its way past the exhaust valve, it takes a well designed set of headers to make the entire package work well, and that’s the subject of our latest BlownZ tech article, as we take a glance at the new headers that the folks at Kooks Custom Headers have ‘Kook’d’ up for us.
Based on our engine combination, power output, power adder, and other attributes that all come together int a header-building formula, the team at Kooks fabricated us a set of 304 stainless long-tube headers, featuring two-inch primaries and a 3.5-inch collector. Kooks developed these headers, which weigh in at 35 pounds with all the hardware attached, specifically for LS-powered, fourth-generation GM F-bodies like our Camaro.
At many drag strips, and particularly those here in California, we can’t simply run open exhaust, so we’ve got to make ourselves legal, and for that, we turned to Vibrant Performance and their four-inch Race Mufflers. We’ve also picked up two four-inch oval stainless steel tubing sections, two oval-to-round four-inch OD transition adapters, and stainless V-band flange assemblies to complete our exhaust setup.
In this update, we offer a glance at the components we’ll be utilizing before getting our hands dirty, welding the O2 sensor bungs to the header and piecing the entire system together out in the shop.
March 12, 2013: New Video From The Track
Last week, our video crew churned out an awesome new highlight video filmed last season at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona during one of our first outings with BlownZ, showing our shutoff 9.57 pass followed by a our much improved 5.62 to the 1/8-mile in eliminations. Hit the video below and have a look!
February 1, 2013: 388 LSX Race Engine – Trick Flow/TEA Cylinder Heads
We’ve already covered the short block build of our 388-inch bullet in-depth here on Dragzine, and with that complete, it’s time to move on to the rest of the engine build. Naturally, as we work our way upward, that brings us to the cylinder heads, for which we’ve called upon Trick Flow Specialties/Total Engine Airflow.
As any novice engine builder can attest, cylinder heads are one of the primary ingredients for making peak horsepower, so we knew we had to select the proper head (that also fit within the rules) to flow the kind of numbers we had in mind. Our good friend Shawn Miller at Virginia Speed, who performed the engine build, determined with the folks at Trick Flow that a set of their TFS 265cc LSX-R heads were just the answer. Once in Miller’s hands, Total Engine Airflow in Tallmadge, Ohio port the head for maximum flow.
Filling out the drivetrain, Ferrea supplied us with a set of their titanium intake valves stainless steel exhaust valves, all from their 6000 series Competition lineup. For valve springs, we turned to COMP Cams, who hooked us up with their Elite drag race dual 1.500-inch diameter valve springs to handle the valves while under operation at more than 9,000 RPM with a big lift cam and high cylinder pressures, because a set of wimpy just don’t do in those conditions. Last, but certainly not least, we turned to Jesel to supply us with their very trick shaft rocker setup and a set of keyed lifters, topped with some of their drop dead sexy billet aluminum valve covers.
This article covers every step of the cylinder prep process, and even dives into the flow numbers and the specific details of the port work performed by Total Airflow, so if you’re curious to know more about our setup or just want to glean some knowledge for own engine build, you’ll want to check out the story in its entirety.
January 15, 2013 – Keepin’ It Slick: BlownZ’s Dry Sump Oil System
If the absolute end goal of your racing program is to make horsepower (by not giving up horsepower) at all costs, there’s simply no other choice in the oiling department but a dry sump system. And in the vast majority of heads-up race cars where power wins and a lack of horsepower misses the qualifying field, dry sumps are a virtual requirement. There are of course other benefits — and cons — to a dry sump, which are hit on in detail in this latest update on BlownZ.
Getting down to the nitty gritty details, most of the hard parts of our dry sump puzzle come courtesy of our friends at Peterson Fluid Systems, including their lightweight, five-stage R4 dry sump pump, pre-filter, a seven-inch drag racing reservoir tank, oil tank heater, inline temperature sender housing, and their remote oil filter mount with a system primer. For the oil pan, we went with an ARE piece designed for the LS engine, and Fragola 3000 Series hoses and fittings completed the dry sump system loop for us in great fashion.
Naturally, even more important than how you circulate oil through the intricate system that is a race motor is WHAT you circulate through it. An engine is a sizable investment, and good oil is like a insurance policy on your investment. So, we got hooked up with Royal Purple, who turned us on to their XPR (Extreme Performance Racing) 10-W40 oil designed specifically for the demands of a high-horse race engine.
In this update, we take an in-depth look at each part of the dry sump system on BlownZ’s LSX bullet, providing a break-down of each of the components needed to make it operational.
January 14, 2013 – Chassisworks CDS Gear Drive On BlownZ
Hardcore supercharged racing applications like our Project BlownZ have for years been shifting away from the more standard use of supercharger belts in favor of a gear drive system that takes the stress and load off the snout of the crankshaft, while also alleviating the problems that belts inherently have in all-out race use. With BlownZ in the shop for the winter for upgrades for the coming 2013 season, we took the opportunity to upgrade our drive system with Chris Alston’s Chassisworks’ new Component Gear Drive system that brings to the table not only a gear drive setup for single and dual superchargers, but some really trick accessory drives on the single blower units that can drive your alternator, fuel pumps, water pump, steering pump, and distributor, should you so choose.
Chassisworks has developed these units for a number of different engine combinations, and we had the opportunity to bolt on one of the first pieces designed for the LSX powerplant to mate up with our ProCharger F-1R blower (and eventually the F-1X). We also opted for a lone accessory drive for our new fuel pump from Aeromotive that we’ve gone to. The fuel pump, Aeromotive’s Billet Hex Drive, was a necessary addition to fulfill our goal of downgrading our power draw, as we’re not running an alternator and recently went from two 16-volt batteries to one.
Another part of this update on BlownZ, and one that comes as part of the move to the gear drive, is our new ATI Super Damper balancer that ATI Performance Products whipped up for us to our specifications. What we received was a lightweight damper that actually encompasses seven different part numbers, with a dual-keyway hub (a must when running a blower), a thinner physique, and a face with three extra bolts to bolt to the face of the six-puck hub of the gear drive.
January 10, 2013 – Installing A Chiseled Water Tank And Intercooler
If a supercharger is going to make the optimum power — and that’s pretty well the reason why we drag racers do what we do — then cooling that air being forced into the engine at an incredible rate is key. To keep our 388-inch LSX bullet fed with cool flowing air from our ProCharger F1-R blower, we set out to install a brand new intercooler and water tank system inside the confines of our Camaro.
The new setup consists of a water tank and intercooler from Chiseled Performance, a Rule in-tank pump, 3.5-inch intercooler piping and VanJen clamps from Vibrant Performance, and water lines and fittings from Fragola.
The new intercooler comes out-of-the-box with the tank already mounted inside, however, the end-user is required to perform a little welding work to install the mounting brackets for installation. After all, not every car is the same.
When all was said and done and testing was complete on the dyno to see how the new intercooler and water tank setup performed, we recorded a maximum blower air temperature of 385 degrees at 6.250 RPM, with an intake temperature of 85 degrees at 3,500 RPM. Plus, our water temperature never peaked over 168 degrees — much lower than a car typically runs at.
October 25, 2012 – Our New Holley Hi-Ram Intake From Wilson Manifolds
Those of you familiar with our 2002 Camaro BlownZ will know about our desire to run 7s with our ProCharger F1R equipped 388 LSX engine. As part of our mission, we equipped the engine with TFS 265cc cathedral port heads and the new Holley Hi-Ram intake manifold. The Holley Hi-Ram (see our article here) is an outstanding intake manifold that is a tunnel ram-type intake for the LSX engine. However, because the Hi-Ram is built for everything from hot street applications (500 hp) to entry-level race engines, it simply can’t be all things to all people. After we go the engine running down the race track and on the dyno, we discovered that for our power levels of 1,300-plus horsepower, the Hi-Ram simply didn’t have the plenum volume that our engine needed in order to produce maximum horsepower with optimal efficiency.
October 15, 2012 – Moroso’s LS Valley Plate And Our Cooling Setup Swap
Despite the best-laid plans when piecing a race car together, there are certain things that you simply can’t determine without taking the car out to the track, putting some laps on it in a true racing environment, and evaluating all of its functions and operations.
For the cooling setup on BlownZ, we chose one of AFCO’s premier doorslammer radiators (Part No. 80104N), which features an all-aluminum, tig-welded construction, and paired it with a single 8-inch fan. Because we were going to run a Meziere radiator-mount water pump rather than an engine-driven pump, we had to do some modifications. We began by replacing the large inlet at the top of the radiator with a pair of -16 AN bungs and fittings, one of which was drilled and welded on the side of the radiator. The crew at AFCO then assisted in modifying the water pump and bracket so that it could be mounted on the radiator. In lieu of the water pump mounted on the motor, we installed an adapter with four AN fittings — two of which fed to the inlet and the other two to the water pump.
This cooling setup peformed admirably, but if you’ve ever been to California, Nevada, or Arizona in the summer time, it’s hot, and with some of the delays that are common at the track, like waiting for officials to check the track or for a car to clear the top end, we were running a little on the warm side. So we turned to our friends at AFCO, who set us up with a larger 10-inch fan and a shroud to bring those temperatures in check and allow us to run the car for a longer period of time without concern.
Elsewhere, another recent addition to the project is one of Moroso’s LS Lifter Valley Plates. These plates, which cover the lifter valley’s atop factor and aftermarket GM LS Series engines, replaces the OEM GM plate and lacks the two provisions for knock sensors that generally aren’t used in racing applications, as open headers, slid lifter cams, and stiff suspensions can false trigger the sensors. Aside from the more streamlined functionality that’s more appropriate for racing purposes, this plate is made of aluminum and simply looks great on our LSX powerplant.
September 20, 2012 – Dropping Weight With Five Star Bodies Windows
In our latest project update, we’ve highlighted the replacement of BlownZ’s front windshield with an aftermarket, race-intended windshield from Five Star Bodies. Now, make no mistake, there’s a lot of weight to be lost by swapping the heavy factory glass for plexiglass or polycarbonate windows, but beyond that, the added level of safety gained by eliminating the actual glass from a 180 mph race car is immeasurable.
Five Star Bodies manufactures windshields for the 1993-2002 Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird using a “top secret” process that delivers incredible strength and durability, in thicknesses that include 1/8, 1/4, and 3/16-inch. Rear windows are offered in 1/8 and 3/16-inch.
With the OEM windshield removed and all of the sealer cleared away, the direct-fit windshield drops into place. From there, without over-tightening, we simply begin at the corners and work out way around the windshield installing the allen head screws. The result here? A lighter — and more importantly — a safer race car.
September 10, 2012 – BlownZ’s Front Suspension
Getting a high-powered, heavy race car down the drag strip on a set of 275 Drag Radials using stock-style suspension is no easy task, but it’s the task that we’ve accepted. In order to give ourselves the best ride possible and all of the tuning adjustments we need to dial the nose of the car in to the power and the race track, we’ve commissioned a new K-Member, Control Arms, and a Pinto Steering Rack for the front suspension department. In addition, we’ve also obtained a set of AFCO’s double-adjustable front coilover shocks that will allow us to independently set our compression and rebound to tune for the race track.
Tying it all together is PA Racing’s lightweight chromoly drop spindles that will allow us to drop the ride height two-inches and utilize a longer shock, but even moreso, drop sound 60 pounds off the car over the stock OEM spindles.
September 10, 2012 – Plumbing With Fragola Performance
When building and operating a race car, you really want the fluids to remain in the race car, because nothing good can come from errant oil, water, power steering fluids, and the like. In effect, hoses and fitting aren’t something that you want to skimp on, and we haven’t.
For BlownZ, we’ve called upon Fragola Performance to hook us up with their braided hoses, fittings, and fittings ends from their Series 3000 Race line of products for the fuel and cooling systems on our supercharged Camaro. The 3000 Race hoses can withstand pressures of 1500 psi with their two woven layers of stainless steel that’s compatible with alcohol and any natural or synthetic-based lubricants from -40 to over 300 degrees.
September 5, 2012 – AEM’s 4-Channel Wideband UEGO
One of the most recent additions and certainly one of the most useful tools on our BlownZ Camaro is our new dual 4-Channel Wideband UEGO controllers from our friends at AEM Electronics. This setup is state-of-the-art, with a single oxygen sensor for each hole rather than one sensor for each bank that averages the results.
By being able to monitor and control each cylinder separate of the other with our accompanying XFI 2.0 engine management system, this offers us unparalleled tuning insight.
From the get-go with our chassis dyno testing, we had to work to line out our tune-up, and we were able to take the data gathered from the sensor in each hole to pinpoint where the cylinders were blowing out and get ourselves on the right path as we headed to the track.
August 30, 2012 – The Jesel Valvetrain Setup In Our LSX 388 Mill
As one of the most extensive projects we’ve undertaken to date, a lot of components have played into the construction of BlownZ, with the assistance of a long list of partners in the industry. The folks at Jesel Valvetrain, along with COMP Cams and Trick Flow Specialties, were a part of our most recent tech piece centered around BlownZ, in which we take a look at the trick valvetrain setup that’s been devised for the 388-inch powerplant.
August 21, 2012 – BlownZ’s NMCA West Debut In Pomona
For months, our goal had been to complete BlownZ in time to debut it at the NMCA West Coast Shootout in Bakersfield. This was the first NMCA race of the year. We didn’t make it. We reset our sight on the PSCA Fontana race, and Fontana got shut down. Just our luck. We quickly eyeballed Pomona – the legendary Pomona raceway that hadn’t seen a fast street car in over 10 years – and although we only had a couple of test hits on the car to this point, we were off to smog city. Driver James Lawrence, Crew Chief Sean Goude, and Crew Member Dean Jigamian finished the last minute thrash and loaded up the trailer.
We arrived at the Auto Club Raceway still in test mode, but with every intention of making a showing, and we’d like to think we did just that. We competed in the NMCA West 275 class, which features mid 7 second runs, and some very competitive racers including the Young Brothers (Jeff and Kevin). The Young’s consistently run in the 7.50s and 7.60s with ProCharger F2 small block Chevys.
Our goal for the weekend was to get some seat time in the car and learn the chassis and setup, and work on the tuneup. High 8s would be fine, we weren’t trying to really win – but we wanted that sweet nectar called progress. During Friday’s first test and tune session, we were going to start out with a 1/8 mile hit to get a baseline. Buckled into the car, it was hot, hot, hot – almost 100 degrees. We left our setup the same from Barona, a very conservative timing and air fuel ratio, and almost 5 degrees of timing pulled out at launch. After a spirited burnout, we pulled to the line and put BlownZ on the trans brake. We dialed in 3,800 rpm for the launch, and the ProCharger F1R was just started to get work done with 6 psi when we let go off the button. A 1.38 60′ foot was promising, but the car began to the pull to the right soon after launch. Our driver pedaled the car at 300′ before getting back into it, and lifted right around 500′ well before the 1/8 mile mark. We carded a 5.90 at 121 mph in the 1/8, and a 9.57 at only 117 mph in the quarter mile.
For the first round of qualifying, we made some tweaks, but ran into a similar challenge. The car drifted right. We lifted and ran 9.56. BlownZ was practically a bracket car, but not for the right reasons. For a long time, we have been battling an issue with fouled spark plugs. They reared their head again in the second round of qualifying, and the car shut off on the line. We were unable to test our sway bar adjustments. Without a third round of qualifying, that left us with one-shot, one-kill for the first round of eliminations. Good thing we were lining up with the class champion.
BlownZ qualified No. 4 in the five-car field at 5.86 at 117 mph, and although we dropped out first round match with eventual 275 Drag Radial winner Kevin Young, we did card a much-improved 5.62 at 128 mph, with a 1.36 short time and our first full 1/8-mile pass with the car. This run would equate to a 8.70 at around a buck-sixty in the quarter. We’re getting there. This was still on a very conservative setup – think less than 18 degrees of timing and 10.8:1 air/fuel ratio. We’re going to work on fixing a few things, and will get BlownZ back to the track soon in pursuit of the 7-second zone soon.
Pomona TnT Run
Pomona Qualifying Run #1
August 21, 2012 – Testing At Barona And Oiling With Royal Purple
Bakersfield First Shakedown Run
Testing at Barona
June 20, 2012 – Finishing Little Pieces
In this installment we wire up BlownZ’s XFI engine management system and ignition, cut our light weight windows, and fire up the ProCharged 388 LSX for some base line dyno tuning. When it came time to tune BlownZ, we went to one of the best in the business. Brian Macy from Horsepower Connection. Brian is one of the most talented XFI tuners in the country and he also is the lead XFI instruction for FAST XFI for EFI University. We have a full story coming soon on the dyno results and our tribulations on BlownZ. While we aren’t telling you the full story yet, rest assured it’s an interesting one!
We highly recommend Macy and Horsepower Connection for XFI tuning. If you need help with XFI, or need to purchase a full system, con sider him and their team. Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BlownZ Breaking Up On The Dyno
May 22, 2012
May 17th, 2009