These days, many drag racers are opting to build engines with a healthy dose of power-adder performance; whether it be turbocharging, supercharging, or even nitrous oxide, the power is often controlled by one of today’s powerful electronic fuel injection systems. Not so in the case of this wicked 406 cubic-inch small-block Chevy topped off with a pair of Holley carburetors, and built by Michael Consolo, Brad Lagman, and the rest of the team at QMP Racing in Chatsworth, California.
Although these carburetors weren’t cheap, Consolo says they don’t compare to the cost of electronic fuel injection for this particular engine. And since carburetion and nitrous oxide injection basically go hand-in-hand as they have for the last 30-plus years, that’s the route which was planned from the beginning of the project.
Originally, they had plans of putting a pair of fogger nitrous systems on top of the engine, as you might deduce from the pair of nozzle ports welded into each intake runner. But once the engine was all together and spinning up the dyno, Consolo realized that adding more power would completely eclipse the capabilities of the car to keep up with the powerplant.
Regarding the topic of fuel injection versus carburetion, Consolo elaborated by explaining that although the carbureted engine will make more measured power on the dynamometer in his experience, often fuel injected engines—given the same limitations—will be quicker at the racetrack as the tuner can play with the calibration at different points on the racing surface, something that can’t be achieved in the same manner with a carbureted engine. This performance improvement can’t be measured by the dynamometer, but the consistency in calibration will make a difference when the vehicle is put to the test. Regardless, carburetion was chosen for this powerplant after careful deliberation, and the results speak for themselves.
“Dual carburetors stand over the ports much better, and if the engine isn’t going to run a class or see some sort of weight penalty for using dual carburetors, I do believe they work much better than a big single and distribute the fuel more efficiently,” says Consolo.
The Braswell carburetors sit atop Unleashed Custom Machining carb spacers to feed the fabricated manifold from HRD, and Consolo explains that without spending dozens of hours in research time to determine exact injector placement to maximize fuel injection’s capabilities, the carbureted program made more sense for this particular setup and its intended usage scenario.
Consolo, who admits that he didn’t put a ton of time into the engine while it was on the dynamometer as it already makes more than enough power for the application, was very pleased with the overall results of the build.
“It’s going into a backhalf ’63 Nova that used to be raced in Super Gas in the early 1980s,” he says.
“Through a weird story, the car was sold to my stepdad, who owned it for a couple of years, then I bought it from my stepdad and had it for a year before giving it to my dad. We’ve run it in the past with a couple of different engines in it, most recently a 23-degree-headed engine. We kept on hurting parts, so we decided to build one good engine and not look back, and then I got carried away,” he explains.
QMP Racing Engines prides itself on being a one-stop-shop for all things performance engine-related, and has the equipment on-site to back up that claim. The Dart Iron Eagle engine block was put into the company’s CNC machinery and tuned up by Lagman, then Consolo assembled the 3.75-inch-stroke Crower crankshaft, GRP connecting rods, and 14.0:1 Ross slugs into a solid foundation. The pistons are fitted to the 4.165-inch cylinder bores and wear a set of .043-inch/.043-inch/3mm Total Seal piston rings.
Cylinder heads are Brodix 12×12 Series castings, which have raised valve covers rails to clear large rocker assemblies, intake ports which are one-half inch taller than traditional small-block Chevy castings, and a tall short-side radius. In addition, the combustion chambers are shallow and they use a spread port exhaust configuration to maximize flow. Weld Tech put their porting skills to the test to set the heads up to perform.
The importance of valvetrain stability in a performance engine cannot be overstated, and to that end Consolo spent plenty of time ensuring the components chosen would be up to the task for this high-winding small-block Chevy.
Manley valves, springs, retainers and locks combine with a healthy set of Manton pushrods; Jesel rockers, .937-inch-diameter roller lifters, belt drive, and front-drive distributor are all also onboard. The stability theme continues with the 50mm custom COMP Cams 4/7 swap bumpstick, measuring .850-inch lift on the intake side and .800-inch on the exhaust, with 278/292 duration figures. It’s installed on a 114+2 centerline.
Special attention was also paid to the oiling system; there are no run-of-the-mill parts here. An Aviaid oil pump combines with a Stef’s oil pan and Clevite coated bearings to ensure the rotating assembly spins clean at nearly 9,000 revolutions per minute. Fel-Pro gaskets and ARP hardware ensure none of the components leak unwanted fluids or come apart in mid-run.
“It’s not a popular head at all. It uses a straight plug, which is unusual in the small-block Chevy world, and it’s a true wedge head; there are no canted or splayed valves. It was just one of those deals where we got a deal on some of the parts and just decided to put it all together,” says Consolo.
And put it together they did—to the tune of 939 horsepower and 608 lb-ft of torque on the QMP Superflow dynamometer. When you consider the fact that the engine it will replace in Pete Consolo’s Nova makes just shy of 750 currently, that’s not too shabby!