Project BlownZ 275 Drag Radial Project Update: 2014 Edition

We finished 2013 on a high — winning the NMCA WEST World Finals in 275 Drag Radial and also making the quickest run in class history with a 7.353 at 190 mph. Our team was extremely proud of that accomplishment, but we wanted more for 2014 as we fell short of the championship by just a few points. Despite our solid progress on the racetrack, we knew we were in for some heavy lifting to get serious in NMCA Street Outlaw in 2014 and beyond, as well as competition in PSCA Wild Street and potentially WCHRA 275. It was time for a serious overhaul. Below are all of our 2014 updates to our build. If you’d like to check out the 2013 updates and history of our racing click here.

When we used the term, “serious overhaul” — we really weren’t kidding! Our goals are much higher this year – an all-out assault on the 2014 275 championships out West, plus select East Coast events. That means a new 25.3 roll cage/chassis, a new suspension setup, drivetrain, and engine. Essentially, everything is new in the pursuit of 7.15-7.30 performances in the 1/4, and 4.60’s in the 1/8 mile with 1.13-1.14 60-foots.

Our 2014 Combo – The Basics

Engine:  Our 2014 combination is fresh to make the horsepower needed to compete at this level. We’ve got an LME-built 400ci LSX, with a Chevy Performance LSX Block, Callies Billet Crank, GRP Rods, Diamond Pistons, Total Seal Rings, Jesel Lifters, COMP Camshaft, Curtis Boggs-ported Edelbrock LSR heads, and a Wilson single cast intake. Boost will come from a Procharger F1X with Holley EFI. We will also have a 427ci LME-built LS as another option with similar components with JE LSX Pistons and slightly higher compression.

Drivetrain: The team will be utilizing 3-speed Turbo 400’s for 2014, and we will be testing a Neal Chance NXS torque converter.

Suspension: Racecraft’s 46″ Pro Series Torque Arm, Fabricated 9-inch housing with Moser Axles, Santhuff rear shocks, Strange Brakes, Racecraft Control Arms, Sway Bar and a Wishbone will be under the rear of the car this year, with the front featuring the Racecraft front suspension setup and Santhuff shocks we ran in 2013.

Chassis: A complete new 25.3 roll cage and chassis by PMR – Phil Mandella Race Cars will keep us safe as we run 190-195 mph consistently, along with Tim McAmis mini-tubs, a Racetech seat, and lots of bits and pieces from Jerry Bickel Race cars. The chassis build team will consist of Phil & Tony Mandella along with lead fabricator Charles.

2014 Project Updates

2014 BlownZ Wrap Up: .003 Seconds Is A Bitch

The racetrack was in good shape from the NMCA Crew, giving us a pretty good and consistent platform to run low 7s on. This was an improvement from the track in June which was tricky at best. We could have run 6s but ran out of time. Seemed to be a theme this year.

The racetrack was in good shape from the NMCA Crew, giving us a pretty good and consistent platform to run low 7s on. This was an improvement from the track in June which was tricky at best. We could have run 6s but ran out of time. Seemed to be a theme this year.

We’re going to cut to the end of this story first, even if it means getting a little bit “out of order’. We lost the NMCA Street Outlaw Championship out west when we lost to Ryan Jones on a slight hole shot. At the stripe it was .003 seconds. We ran a 7.15 to his 7.16, but he left before us with a mild advantage. It was enough. Jones’ win helped Eric Gustafson outpace us by less than 50 points and handing him the championship. While it was tough, that’s really how you want racing to be — coming down to the final round of the final race.

A few days before the Street Car Supernationals our engine bay looked like this. We narrowly made the race, qualified #3 with a 4.64, but weren’t able to make the car for eliminations. It was our best ever e.t. but there was a lot left in the car that we weren’t able to demonstrate.

A few days before the Street Car Supernationals our engine bay looked like this. We narrowly made the race, qualified #3 with a 4.64, but weren’t able to make the car for eliminations. It was our best ever e.t. but there was a lot left in the car that we weren’t able to demonstrate.

We had a drama filled Sunday…we were on a six-second run (1.151 sixty-foot) in round one when our crank trigger magnet failed (on a bye) and there was craziness from there on out when we accidentally sucked something into the ProCharger (our fault). BIG props to Leonard Acosta and Andre Ball for saving our butts and even helping us make the finals with some new parts! In the finals, it was a 7.15 to a 7.16. That’s a hell of a drag race and if we had to lose, that’s HOW it should be. We ran a personal best of 7.09 at 202 this weekend, plus would have run a six-second hit if the crank trigger didn’t break. That’s progress.

We got some sage advice from our family after we lost the championship. “If it was easy to be the best everyone would do it,” said our driver James Lawrence’s wife, Melissa. “All of the money in the world can’t buy the time and experience it takes to be a champion at anything.” She’s right. We may not be champions today, but we paid our dues with time and experience.

Above is the video of the final round. Congrats to Ryan Jones and his crew, Jamie, Art, Lara, and his amazing family. They deserve this after having a tough year and congrats for the new personal best!

The previous race, Las Vegas, was where we lost the points lead that we were enjoying coming off our victory at NMCA Fontana in June. We had some struggles with the racetrack and in getting our rear shocks dialed in on our 2002 Camaro, and although we went to the finals, we struck the tires against Gustafson.

Our best e.t. in 2014 was a 7.09 at 201.1 mph in the third round of qualifying at Fontana at the NMCA Finals. Gustafson out qualified us with a 7.10, it was that tight. We were both submitting the timeslips for NMCA records when vying for a close championship chase that could come down to the 50 pts.

Our best e.t. in 2014 was a 7.09 at 201.1 mph in the third round of qualifying at Fontana at the NMCA Finals. Gustafson out qualified us with a 7.10, it was that tight. We were both submitting the timeslips for NMCA records when vying for a close championship chase that could come down to the 50 pts.

The last race of the year, the PSCA Street Car Supernationals was a tough one for our team. Our guys worked very hard to get our BlownZ 275 car on track (just making the race was an accomplishment) with having to swap our engines and do some maintenance. It was a close call. We made a soft 4.64 hit to qualify No. 3 in 275 before parts breakage ended our race weekend. Overall, we had a good season and we feel we’ve got a lot to be proud of. Time to get ready for 2015.

“The price of success is hard work and dedication, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” – Vince Lombardi

The tough pill of losing the NMCA Street Outlaw championship by by .003 seconds is going to sting a while. Thus, we finished #2 by less than 1 round of racing. While not an easy way to lose, we are thankful for the accomplishments and progress this season. This season was a bit of a roller coaster, especially the last race, but we kept at it, and our crew and shop guys wouldn’t quit. Crew chief Sean Goude really found his own during the season and crew Dean Jigamian and Dave Lukason were solid all year.

Ryan “Toaster” Jones vs. us in the NMCA Finals. Last race, last round, and we ended up on the losing end of it by .003 seconds. That’s less than a foot. 12 inches more and we would have won the championship.

Ryan “Toaster” Jones vs. us in the NMCA Finals. Last race, last round, and we ended up on the losing end of it by .003 seconds. That’s less than a foot. 12 inches more and we would have won the championship.

The good news is with a brand new car for 2014, and our new LME engine combination, we managed a 7.09 at 202 mph personal best, and found ourselves by seasons end at the upper half of Street Outlaw competition — west coast or east coast. This is the one of the first times that a magazine/media-backed project vehicle has ever seriously challenged for a national championship or a national record. We couldn’t do this without some amazing support. Right now we’re just feeling thankful…while not winning and ending the season No. 1 doesn’t sit well with us, we are tremendously appreciative of the help from so many people and companies for this amazing opportunity to go drag racing and learn so much this year. We hope we represented our sponsors and their products professionally and completely with both our racing performances and our media coverage.

All we gotta’ say is 2015 better watch out because we’re on a mission…with a new look, a new engine, and some key changes. More on that shortly.

July 17 – Eastbound & Down: BlownZ Heads East To The NMCA Super Bowl!

Perhaps we’re a little crazy, but after some solid outings on the west coast with the NMCA WEST, we decided it was time to take on the big boys of the Street Outlaw class back east. With that, we drew up the plans for a trip out to Chicago for the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing at the Route 66 Raceway, some 2,000 miles each way from the Power Automedia offices. Things got off to an auspicious start when we learned the motor had been hurt at the previous race, necessitating a thrash to get the motor off to Late Model Engines in Texas and back in time to hit the road, but from there, the adventure went off without a hitch. We qualified well with our best pass to date and got quicker nearly every run (running as quick as 7.16 at 200 MPH), advancing all the way to semifinals, where a red light start did us in. Of course such a trip wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t blog about it every step of the way, from the cross-country trip east to the event itself.

July 8 – Inside Blown Z’s Valvetrain With Jesel, Manton, PAC and Comp Cams

As we alluded to in our previous story highlighting the buildup of our new 400 cubic inch LSX mill, the team at Late Model Engines in Texas laid out a plan to run the engine at a higher usable RPM range, this delivering more horsepower. That, combined with a different gearing range and shift points, would translate to better performance on the track. This, of course, puts added demands on the valvetrain combo, requiring a stout combination of valvetrain components to handle the job. To address that, we opted for components from Jesel, Comp Cams, Manton, and PAC in our engine build. In this feature tech article on the valvertain combo, we take a look at a number of topic, from the attributes of the components (such as weight versus strength), keyways lifters, pushrod technology, cam profiles, and a lot more.

July 1 – Tech: Giving BlownZ A Fresh New Look With 3M And SoCal Wraps

The final step in the process to our complete re-build of BlownZ during the off season was giving the car a fresh new look, and in a polar opposite approach to the silver-on-black scheme that we’d run the two seasons prior, we decided upon an all-white look with black, carbon fiber racing stripes running down the hood and the trunk. To do this, we called upon the team at SocalWraps to design and apply a wrap made from 3M’s 1080P material to the Camaro. During the process, our video crew documented the entire process, and while a more detailed article in the coming weeks will highlight the wrap in more detail, this time-lapse video will provide a pretty cool sneak peek at the application.

June 23 – BlownZ Wins NMCA Street Outlaw In Fontana

IMG_1871The third time was indeed the charm. Competing in just its third race since hitting the track with an entirely new combination this spring, BlownZ captured the hardware at the NMCA WEST’s second stop of the season at the Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, after defeating the always-tough Ryan “Toaster” Jones in the Street Outlaw finale. The BlownZ Racing team entered eliminations in the No. 1 qualifying spot on the heels of a 7.359 on the hot and tricky racing surface. On race day, our first round opponent was a no-show, and a come-from-behind 7.46 in the semis moved us into the final round, where a 7.39 elapsed time was enough to overcome a late start caused by engine issues to chase down Jones, who had to pedal his Nova down track. With the victory, our team moved into the points lead in the Street Outlaw category, with two events still remaining on the schedule in Vegas and back at Fontana for the finale.

May 29 – Project BlownZ Gets Cool – Concato Racing’s Engine Chiller And More Race engines get hot — there’s no secret in that, but being able to manage that heat between rounds, particularly on brutally hot southern California summer days, can be a great asset for any racer. To accomplish this with BlownZ, we hooked up with Concato Racing in New Jersey for one of their Engine Chiller units to help us improve upon our consistency on the race track. These units are essentially an aluminum box that has a fluid transfer pump at the bottom that’s filled with an ice-water mixture.

This setup allows one to pump the hot water from the engine and cycle fresh, cold water through. In doing so, you can cool the engine to exactly the same temperature run after run, meaning you’ll arrive at the starting line with the engine in the same temperature window, making for a more consistent race car. As part of this project, we’ve also worked with C&R Racing and a pair of their check valves, as well as Jiffy-Tite Motorsports, who assisted us with the quick disconnect fittings needed to set the system up. Check out the full text to learn more about these very advantageous systems from Concato!

May 22BlownZ Debuts A New Look At NMCA WEST Pomona Race

Project BlownZ embarked on its second outing of the season at the NMCA WEST race at historic Auto Club Raceeway at Pomona with a fresh new look, compliments of a matte white wrap with black racing stripes — a big departure from the silver-on-black that we’d run the previous two seasons. With a few runs under our belt and some data in our back pocket, we rolled into Pomona with plenty of confidence, and although we did struggle in qualifying, only mustering an 8.53 best, we got it together in the first round of eliminations, rolling to a 7.46 at 194 MPH to get around Kevin Young. Unfortunately, a simple case of driver error cost us in the semifinals, but we once again gained valuable experience with the new combination to step it up the next time out.

May 20 – Custom Building A Driveshaft Build With Mark Williams A race car is truly only as strong as it’s weakest link, and when you’re making close to 2,000 horsepower and trying to propel a 3,200 lb race car down the track, well, you don’t want any weak links. For that reason, we teamed up with the driveline experts at Mark Williams Enterprises to spec a new driveshaft that would hold up to the punishment of seven-second, 200 MPH runs. What we arrived at is a 7075 aluminum shaft– the most popular driveshaft for drag racing use that Mark Williams offers.

May 14 – Beadlocks Aren’t Just For Looks: BlownZ Gets Upgraded By Mac-Fab

Gone are the days when simple rim screws will get the job done in high-powered race cars, due in large part to the fact that today, ‘high-powered’ has an entirely new meaning, with cars delivering power to the ground by the thousands. This has necessitated greater measures be taken to keep the tire and the wheel firmly anchored to one another under the stresses put on them, and this is particularly the case with radial tires and their common use on wide rims. Fortunately, the team at Mac-Fab Performance provide an excellent service for equipping a standard set of wheels with headlocks, and they recently did just that with our Mickey Thompson Pro 5 drag wheels, giving us an added measure of safety as we hit the race track this summer and pour the coals to the 275 radials.

May 8 – Tech: The NHRA’s New Mandated Collector Tether Systems During the off season, the NHRA Technical Department issues a new ruling mandating the use of an approved collector retention system for all racing vehicles utilizing removable header collectors — a move designed to improve safety for the racers and those on the starting line by effectively tethering the collector to the vehicle in the event that the bolts or springs holding them on failed. A number of manufacturers have begun producing approved devices, including Quarter-Max, Tim McAmis Performance Parts, and Lokar Performance Products, whose unit we installed on the new custom Kooks Headers that are on BlownZ.

May 5 – Project BlownZ’s Winter Chassis Build-Up At PMR Race Cars

With visions of the NMCA WEST championship dancing in our minds, and plans to travel east to take on the heavy hitters in X275 and Street Outlaw later in the year, there was no question we’d have to go all-in with BlownZ if we wanted to be competitive this season. As they say, go big or go home, right? So just like that, our perfectly good race car was in the Power Automedia garage, being stripped down to nothing but the bare Camaro shell. Awaiting it was the team at PMR Race Cars — Tony, Phil, and Charles — who were tasked with turning around a brawny fighter and building a brand new car in less than eight weeks.

The goal was to construct a full 25.3 chassis, utilizing many of the tricks that today’s top radial tire cars sport, with complete removal of the stock floor and rear framerails to allow for contraction of the new chassis. the build-up also included the addition of a new Racecraft K-member up front and rear housing and torque arm out back, carbon fiber wheel tubs from Tim McAmis Performance Parts, and a host of components from Quarter-Max — including their steering column kit, brake pedal, parachute lever and cable kit. As well, the PMR team also re-worked our front end to make it fully removable, with a fiberglass nose reducing some weight off the car. Our in-depth feature article highlights every step of the build at PMR, from the very beginnings of the chassis construction, to engine fitment, to the plumbing  of the intercooler and fluid systems, mounting of the parachutes, and the complete suspension installation.

April 29 – Inside Carbon Fiber Wheel Tubs With Tim McAmis Race Cars As part of our complete chassis overhaul to a 25.3 specification this winter, we’re installing a set of new carbon fiber wheel tubs from the team at Tim McAmis Performance Parts, that will provide us with a little weight savings, but beyond that, a more robust piece that installs with ease and can handle the rocks being slunk into it during a burnout. The tub we’ve used in specific is a 34-inch model designed for radial tire and mall slick tire cars, and has a liner on the inside to protect the finish. The team at PMR Race Cars used some pretty high-tech equipment — a by high-tech we mean cardboard — to create a template for the tubs that were then cut down to size on the real tub. Thanks to their flexibility, the tubs simply fold up into the quarter panel and return to shape so they can be affixed to the chassis and the quarters.

April 9 – BlownZ 2.0 runs 7.52/190 in NMCA West Street Outlaw Debut After weeks of thrashing to get her complete and ready to run, BlownZ made her season debut at the NMCA WEST opener at the Auto Club Dragway in Fontana. With an entirely new combination from front to rear, there was no question we had our work cut out for us, and the Fontana event was simply a tune-up for us to gather some data and get experience with the new drivetrain and chassis. Fortunately, despite struggling in qualifying and a late night of work, we were able to put it all together for a nice lap in the first round of eliminations, running 7.52 at 190 MPH to take out Ryan Jones. The bad news was the car took an unplanned trip to the beach when the parachutes didn’t deploy after that run, leaving us with a little mess to clean up in the car that unfortunately kept us from making the call for the second round. It was an interesting weekend, but we’d call it a success by any measure.

April 9 – Five Things You Need To Know About Parachutes With Stroud Safety With a 3,200 pound car turning nearly 200 MPH at the stripe, it takes a good bit of stopping power to bring things to a safe halt. With our performance goals ratcheted up a bit this season, we decided it was time to do the same for the safety end of our program, and to do that, we sourced a pair of Stroud Safety’s Pro Mod parachutes, sporting a mechanical launcher. Along with a look at the chutes and the installation in BlownZ, we’ve also highlighted a number of golden rules for drag chutes in the accompanying article with the team at Stroud.

April 7 – Tech: Building A Drag Race Turbo 400 With Hughes Performance We’ve virtually turned our combination upside down from last season, and part of that is a move to a new transmission and coverer package to back up the 1,800-plus horsepower we expect to be putting to the ground. We sourced a beefy new Turbo 400 from the team at Hughes Performance, sporting a Reid Racing case and bellhousing, with heavy duty, billet components throughout it’s assembly.  The Turbo 400’s have become on of the leading automatic transmissions in drag racing, all the way up to the Pro Modified level, thanks to their performance and bulletproof design — made just that much better by aftermarket builders like Hughes Performance. The build-up of our transmission was documented from start to finish in intricate detail, giving you a rare look war what goes into these impressive transmissions. This one’s a must-read!

April 4 – LME Assembles Super-stout 400ci LSX For New ProCharger Our 388 cubic inch LSX powerplant served us quite well in our first two seasons campaigning BlownZ, and went out with a bang at it’s final race in Bakersfield last fall when we eclipsed the national record elapsed time in the 275 Drag Radial class. But with a new year comes bigger and badder aspirations, and that all began with a new ProCharger F-1XR supercharger, that was going to need a bigger mouth to feed in 2014.

Late Model Engines in Texas was tabbed to build us a brand new bullet, which sports a Callies billet crankshaft, GRP aluminum rods, and Diamond forged pistons, with a set of Edelbrock’s LS-R heads finessed by Race Flow Development and a billet cam from COMP Cams to deliver optimum horsepower. We won’t ruin the rest of the story for you, but the (new) old girl put up some great naturally-aspirated numbers on the dyno, giving us plenty of promise going into the new year. Be sure to click 0ver and read more about the engine build!

March 19 – A Look At ‘Bullhorns’ As We Build A Custom Set Of Headers With Kooks As you’ve probably seen, ‘bullhorn’ exhaust exits, or other variations of upward-pointing pipes are all the rage in doorslammer racing these days, and although public opinion on them does seem to differ, they really do work. You see, with so much exhaust pressure being forced out of the pipes, there’s a degree of propulsion in an exhaust setup, and by pointing them upward, you can actually supply a noticeable — albeit largely unmeasurable — amount of downforce on the nose of the car. And because so many of today’s high-horsepower cars are trying to reach for the sky, even at speed, every little bit helps. In the rebuild of the Camaro this winter, we set out to replace our old exhaust setup with a new set of bullhorns, as part of an all-new engine combo that will of course require a set of newly-fabricated headers. At 200 MPH, we’re convinced they’ll help keep the front of the car more stable. To do this, we teamed with Kooks Custom Headers, who hooked us up with a setup composed of a primary header tube diameter of 2-1/8-inches to 2-1/4 to a 4-inch merge and a 4.5-inch bullhorn. In the full text, we take a detailed look at bullhorn tech, header sizing, and the fabrication and installation on BlownZ.

February 4 – Reviewing Racetech’s Lightweight One-Piece Carbon Seat

In drag racing, where one spends mere minutes in the seat, comfort isn’t necessarily of paramount importance, but safety certainly is. These days, racing seats themselves are technological wonders, with designs meant for the utmost in driver protection, from full containment support to custom poured foam, and special padding in all the right places. At the forefront of this movement is Racetech USA, a division of an internationally-renowned racing seat manufacturer that produces seats for sports car racing, in particular. During the winter months, we got connected with Racetech and acquired one of their impressive kevlar/carbon fiber one-piece seats, that incorporates an integrated upper torso and head support to keep the driver safe. Our friends at Tim McAmis Race Cars use these very seats in their Pro Modified builds, and their drivers have walked away from some harrowing incidents, thanks in large parts to the Racetech seat design.

About the author


Dragzine® delivers the hard-hitting news, rumors, and event coverage that drag racers crave from NHRA, IHRA, NMCA, PDRA, Outlaw, and Drag Radial events, not to mention videos, in-depth car features, tech articles, and interviews. It’s drag racing — 24 hours a day! Our goal is to deliver to you the quickest news and insights in the drag racing world. You’ll also find some of the best technical content on the web — from installations, dyno tests, project vehicles and more.
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