Hot Rod magazine’s bold move to expand the popular Amsoil Engine Masters competition to five divisions and set down very strict limitations in some classes—including requiring specific aftermarket part numbers for critical components—is now open for entries, and there isn’t much time to get them in.
Officials announced the larger and more diversified Engine Masters program at last year’s PRI show, but the final rules were just revealed over the last weekend in March, including a call for entry applications. Officials will review team applications during the month of April with participant and alternate selections scheduled to be announced by April 30.
One significant change from the original announcement is that there will not be a LS-Mod Motor shootout. Instead, it’s just a LS shootout, and there is no place in this year’s rules package for a team to enter a Ford 4-cam Modular engine. Two years ago, Mod Motors swept the top three places in their first year of eligibility but were not allowed in last year’s competition.
This year’s format will have separate competitions on each of the five days during the challenge week; therefore, crowning five champions with different engine genres. As in the past, all engines will be V8 and naturally aspirated but the classifications open up the competition to vintage motors as well as a new procedure for one division that requires teams to assemble their engines before running them on the dyno.
The Engine Masters competition will be held October 5-9 at the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima, Ohio. The official dyno run schedule will be available mid-August.
Scoring the competition
The engines are scored based on corrected average torque and horsepower recorded over a specific RPM range during three dyno pulls. Some classes will have the displacement differences factored in with a math formula.
Here are the five classes in the order that they will compete that week:
- Day 1: Hemi generations will pit all three generations of Chrysler Hemi engines built from 1951 to present. Displacement factor will be utilized.
- Day 2: Small-blocks from AMC, Buick, Chevy, Ford 351W, 351C, Oldsmobile, Mopar and Pontiac. Bore limited to 4.000-4.065 and maximum 4.005-inch stroke crank. No displacement factor.
- Day 3: LS Showdown. Teams will be given a spec short-block two days before the competition and they supply the cam, cylinder heads, induction and exhaust. No displacement factor.
- Day 4: Vintage engines open to any V8 from a domestic OEM passenger car introduced in 1954 or earlier. Chrysler Hemi prohibited. Engine families allowed after 1954 include Buick Nailhead, Ford Y-block and Chrysler ’56-’67 A-series polyspheric small-block. Displacement factor will be utilized.
- Day 5: Big-block Shootout for Pontiac, AMC, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Pontiac, Buick, Ford FE, Ford 385 (including Boss 429), Chrysler B & RB wedge, Chevy W-series and Chevy BBC, including 10.2-inch deck heights. Displacement factor will be utilized. Minimum displacement 450ci.
Rules vary between classes
Induction rules and test RPM range on the dyno will vary between classes. For example, the Big-block Shootout will run between 3,000 rpm and 7,000 rpm and allow carburetion or fuel injection. The Small-block challenge runs from 3,500 rpm to 6,800 rpm and allows only a single 4150-style carburetor.
Aside from the expected high-powered numbers in the Big-block Shootout, the two classes that are likely to draw the most attention and could be the most interesting are the LS Shootout and the Vintage Engine category.
The LS Shootout will require teams to use a spec short-block supplied by the competition. The rules package did not indicate the source of the short-block but the displacement is 6.2-liter and teams will be limited to a 11.5:1 compression ratio. The block, crank, rods, pistons, rings, bearings and lubrication will be provided. Teams will bring their own camshaft, cam drive, cylinder heads and intake manifold but engines are limited to hydraulic lifters. All teams will run with spec oil and VP Racing Fuels’ HP101 gas. Teams will also bring their own headers but a full exhaust system with spec mufflers will be hooked up on the dyno. X- or H-pipes are not allowed.
All parts that the teams bring to the shootout must be commercially available, but the cylinder heads can be ported. Welding or any other form of adding material is prohibited, and the heads must be fitted with stainless-steel valves. EFI and coil-on-plug are the only permissible fuel delivery and spark.
It will be interesting to see how the teams dial in the optimum torque for that RPM range. And also how uncomfortable they are working with a short-block they didn’t assemble. But the potential for exciting duels on the dyno is there. Unfortunately, there is already considerable discourse in the comment section for the Hot Rod announcement about the ban on Ford Mod motors. This is one issue that likely will not go away, and Engine Masters officials will be hard pressed to allow the Ford engines a shot at competing against other brands in the future.
Day 4 will arguably provide the most entertainment with a host of different vintage engines eligible for the competition. Think of what cars were winning NASCAR in 1953 and 1954—Hudson and Oldsmobile along with an occasional good showing from Buick, Studebaker and Lincoln. Sure, Dodge was also a contender but the early Hemi isn’t eligible. With all the aftermarket gear available for the Ford Flathead, that iconic V8 could be a worthy foe. This class will be tested from 3,000 rpm to 6,000 rpm and there are very few limits on carburetion, fuel injection and parts selection—but again, everything must commercially available. Even the compression ratio is unlimited, so this class certainly will be the most colorful.
The small-block competition on Day 2 will have a number of parts restrictions in place. Only specific heads and intake manifolds from Edelbrock are permitted, although they can modified within certain limits, and there are spec ignitions required from MSD. The obvious equalizer in this competition is the bore-stroke limitation. Engine builders are basically working with a square 4.000 x 4.000 architecture, so considerable emphasis will be on cam selection (must be ordered from Comp Cams) and header design to work within the 3,500 to 6,800 rpm test range. The other equalizers are restriction to OEM blocks and a single carburetor.
The class with the most mystery will be the Hemi Generational shootout. The rules are flexible enough to give the Gen I and Gen II Hemis a good chance, but last year’s winner and runnerup in the Amsoil Engine Masters were Gen III Hemis. This will be a tough class to handicap, as the big traditional Hemis will make power but will have to have the displacement factored into the final score. Good way to start off the competition.
Engine Masters officials have set up an email for questions, and the Facebook page may answer questions as teams gear up to apply. But again, time is short as announcements are scheduled for the end of April.