Dyno Time: Evil 8.5’s Steve Morris Built Small Block Hits The Dyno


A finished racecar engine can be viewed almost like a delicious cake, in that all the ingredients you have put together should create a magnificent treat when it’s complete. Steve Morris Engines has been the gourmet baker of our Evil 8.5 project engine, and the smells that have been coming from the shop’s kitchen are intoxicating. We now get to see the final sweet, small-block Chevy-based, horsepower-delivering treat that Morris has created with this monster of a motor after it did some time on his dyno, complete with the Vortech Xi-Billet blower in place.

Evil 8.5 Recap

The Brodix-based engine Morris built will find its home between the fenders our Fox body Mustang LX that will be competing in the Outlaw 8.5 class of the NMCA West, WCHRA, and Premier Street Car Association. Running with that level of competition is why the specific parts were picked to be included with this engine build — we couldn’t bring a knife to a gun fight with Evil 8.5.

Evil 8.5 is ready and waiting for some 8.5-inch tire action!

The Steve Morris-built small-block Chevy that rests between the framerails is backed by an ATI two-speed Turbo 400 transmission filled with their best parts. The chassis of the Mustang has been outfitted with parts from Skinny Kid Race Cars, including their K-member and A-arms, along with Strange Engineering double adjustable struts. Inside, Evil 8.5 has been wired with some of the best parts RacePak has to offer, including their Drag SmartWire system that works with a Holley Dominator ECU that controls the EFI system.

We knew going into this final phase of the build that this particular motor was going to make some serious power. The Brodix heads are already great, but after Chris Frank at Frankenstein Racing Heads worked his magic on them, they became something more. In our previous article, we covered just what Frank and his team did to make these heads move boatloads of boosted air.


The inline Brodix heads were then bolted up to the Brodix small-block Chevy block that Morris machined to perfection. The solid aluminum block was then filled with some of the best parts around from Bryant, GRP, Diamond Racing, Trend, Isky, and topped off with a custom Steve Morris billet aluminum intake. Keeping the engine lubricated is a dry sump system from Moroso. You can read all about the full engine build in our previous article here.

Fueling and ECU

When you’re trying to make the power needed to compete in heads-up racing with a supercharger, it’s absolutely critical to make sure the engine is getting enough fuel. That need is compounded even more when you add in the fact that we’re using VP Racing Fuels Q16 as our fuel — a racing mixture that’s known to require extra fueling. If that wasn’t enough, Evil 8.5 will be using fuel injection, and that requires a very stout fuel system to keep the motor happy with a correct tune.


Having the correctly-sized fuel pump for this application is something that Morris was adamant about from the beginning. “You can never have too big of a fuel pump. It really needs to be sized to the application properly. You also need to have a fuel regulator that’s big enough to help the system operate correctly. After you have all those parts correct, there’s really never a problem fueling the motor. The pump needs to be able to supply the motor, plus have some extra capacity,” Morris explains.

“Performance-wise, anytime you can run a mechanical pump, it’s the best option.” – Steve Morris

The idea of making sure the system is sized correctly is echoed by Aeromotive’s Bub Miller: “What it really comes down to is your volume needs for the application. To get the volume needed to feed a motor like this out of an electric pump would actually require the use of several pumps, and it would be very difficult to do. The sizing of the system is all based on math once you know what your target horsepower is going to be and what fuel you’re going to use. That information will be used to help calculate exactly how much volume you’re going to need, and from that point, you can choose the pump.”


The Aeromotive Billet Hex Drive Fuel Pump tucks in nicely with the Moroso dry sump system and gear drive unit from Chris Alston’s Chassisworks.

To make sure that all the fueling needs were met, a mechanical Billet Hex Drive Fuel Pump from Aeromotive was chosen to get the job done. This pump was built to help with the fuel delivery in racecars that make really big power with boost and are using a fuel injection system. The pump uses a billet mounting collar and 3/8-inch hex driveshaft to move the fuel.

Making this pump so robust is what’s on the inside according to Miller.

“The pumping mechanism on this unit is called a G-rotor style. We went with the G-rotor design because of its ability to prime the fuel system, so there’s no need for a primer pump. It’s a great all-around pump that can be used on different applications because of the volume of fuel it can flow. We also use all anodized and coated parts inside the pump, so the type of fuel being used doesn’t affect the unit.”


Mounting the pump to the Moroso tri-lobe dry sump was easy since the pump is so small, and it worked out well for the Evil 8.5 engine arrangement, according to Morris. “The Chris Alston Chassisworks gear drive is really nice for a setup like this. They do a nice job of mounting the belt-driven fuel pump and oil pump combo all in one drive unit. It makes working with this fuel pump setup a lot easier in general.”

Don’t let the Billet Hex Drive Fuel Pump’s compact profile fool you, though … this unit can really move some fuel. Aeromotive rates this pump as being able to support a hefty 3,600 horsepower on gas, and up to 1,800 horsepower on methanol. When the pump is spinning at 5,000 rpm (50 percent of engine speed), it has a flow rate of 2500 lbs./hr. That level of flow will be more than enough to support Evil 8.5’s hunger for the Q16 in the fuel cell, and shows why the belt-driven fuel pump is better, according to Morris. “Performance-wise, anytime you can run a belt drive pump, it’s the best option. The pumps are better overall, and always flow larger amounts of fuel than what you can do with an electric pump.”

To help our Billet Hex Drive Fuel Pump keep up with Evil 8.5’s fueling needs, Aeromotive also supplied one of their Belt Drive Pump EFI Regulators. This fuel pressure regulator is made specifically for an EFI application like the motor in our Mustang that uses a mechanically-driven pump. The regulator has a large flow capacity, and has an adjustment range for fuel pressure from 40-100 PSI. Horsepower capacity is not an issue for the Belt Drive EFI Regulator, as it is rated to handle up to 4,000 horsepower for a race gas application like the Morris built engine. “It comes down to the math of making sure your power goals match the pump you chose and the volume you’re moving to be sure the regulator will work. The regulator is engineered to fit in the system based on these factors,” Miller explains.

Measuring The Big Power

Trying to dyno motors that make extreme levels of power is not easy. Most commercial dynos that are on the market aren’t made to take the abuse that Morris puts them through, so he had to build his own.

“I built both of the engine dynos I use myself, the only thing I don’t do is the electronics.  I make all of the hard parts from the absorber to the dyno stand, I build all that stuff. I kept breaking everybody else’s units with the power levels we are dynoing stuff at. Big motors making big horsepower are really hard on dynos,” Morris explains

Both the Billet Hex Drive Fuel Pump and Belt Drive Pump EFI Regulator will move enough fuel and avoid fueling issues based on their specifications. The Belt Drive Pump EFI Regulator matches the rest of the high-flowing fuel system and controls everything accurately and consistently. “If you don’t have a pump and regulator that’s matched to what you’re trying to do, there will be problems. If they can’t deliver enough fuel, the motor will go lean and just burn up. As long as you have the correctly sized pump and a fuel regulator that can maintain pressure, that’s all you really need to worry about,” Morris says.

Being able to pump all the fuel in the world doesn’t do you any good if it can’t be delivered correctly. To make sure the race gas is introduced into the engine in the best way possible, a set of eight 225-pound Billet Atomizer 3 fuel injectors were selected to be a part of the fuel system. Making sure the correct injector was chosen to meet the fueling needs is something that Morris pays close attention to. “The sizing of the injectors must also be matched to the power output for the motor. If it’s going to take more fuel, it will need a bigger injector,” Morris says.


The Billet Atomizer 3 injectors will have no problem feeding Evil 8.5 its diet of Q16 race gas.

The Atomizer 3 injector is an extremely precise piece that offers a high level of control for fueling in the motor. Having that control allows for easier tuning and a motor that will perform its best all the time in a high performance environment. Morris likes using these injectors because they perform so well under extreme racing conditions.


“I’ve been a fan of the Billet Atomizer injectors for a while. I use them on just about every engine I build. For an application like this, the injectors need to have a really good spray pattern. The injector also needs to move the volume of fuel for the given horsepower and fueling requirements that we have. Another thing I look at is that the injector also must be reliable, and we don’t have any failure problems with these Billet Atomizer injectors at all,” Morris explains.

Controlling all of the fueling and other vital functions on Evil 8.5 will be a Holley Dominator ECU. The Dominator ECU is an extremely robust EFI system that offers a wide variety of options to help control a rowdy engine like the Morris built small-block Chevy in Evil 8.5. The massive amount of datalogging channels the Dominator offers will be a huge asset in keeping the power on tap under control at the track. For an application like this Morris creates his own custom base map in the software and uploads it to the Holley unit to get the engine to run.


The Dominator has some specific features that are key for a boosted application like Evil 8.5. Inside the Holley unit is a feature-filled boost controller that removes the need for an additional third-party boost controller, helping to simplify the wiring. The boost controller can be set up to manage the boost in multiple ways, including by time, gear, speed, or manual inputs. Boost can be built with the Dominator by using the built-in “Boost Builder” functionality that alters ignition timing or fueling to help get the car ready for launch.

Based on the rich features the Dominator offers, Morris finds that using the Dominator makes sense for something like Evil 8.5. “I like the way their software works. I think it’s a user-friendly system, and it has a lot of features and functions for the dollar value that make it a great unit to work with on these high-horsepower applications. The boxes are also very durable and have few glitches in their system. What the Holley system offers makes it much easier for us to tune in the boosted applications. They’re always working on upgrades and new features, so it makes tuning the car a lot easier,” Morris explains.

Big Blown Power: The V-24 XI Blower

The grunt behind Evil 8.5’s Brodix-based small-block Chevy comes courtesy of one nasty supercharger, the Vortech V-24 XI. This is the only blower that’s allowed in the class that the Mustang will be running in, and it provides more than enough power. The V-24 XI can be spun up to 64,000 rpm while generating up to 29 pounds of boost, and flowing almost 2,300 cfm of air.


Vortech’s V-24 XI is an extremely potent supercharger that’s able to flow massive amounts of air with ease.

One of the reasons this supercharger is so powerful is how efficient it is. According to Lance Keck from Vortech, efficiency was at the forefront of this blower’s design. “Our main goal is really to make a blower as efficient as possible, because efficiency leads into how well the blower will perform. If the blower doesn’t have a good enough level of efficiency, then it just takes way too much horsepower to drive the unit. When you start consuming that much horsepower, it goes through the whole system. The tuner has to put more fuel in the car because it takes more power to drive the blower, and it all snowballs from there,” Keck explains.

The efficient nature of this blower is what helps generate the big power for the potent combination that Morris has created.

“They have a really good cover design on their blower with the volute they have on it. The blower also has a very efficient wheel design on this particular unit. I think the parasitic drive losses are much less with this unit,” Morris says.

“Our main goal is really to make a blower as efficient as possible because efficiency leads into how well the blower will perform.” -Lance Keck

Morris then goes further into exactly what he’s looking for in a supercharger like this.

“Here’s what I’m looking at: this is the blower that we’re limited to, so we put that blower on the motor. Is this blower efficient? Yes, it is. Does it move the air we need it to move? Yes, it does, and it does it very efficiently. The outlet air temperature is a bit lower, so it’s not beating the air up too bad as it operates. That’s a sign of great efficiency in one of these types of blowers.”

Besides being designed for efficiency, the V-24 XI can take a beating under the extreme conditions of racing. “The durability and reliability of the unit certainly comes into play. We spend a lot of time working on all aspects of how well it will hold up. There’s time spent on making sure the gear box is durable, along with the entire case itself,” Keck shares.

This supercharger is a great ingredient to any combination because of how strong it is on the bottom end, and that strength can be controlled easily through good power management.

“This blower is extremely aggressive in the lower parts of the RPM range. On this particular motor that Steve Morris built for Evil 8.5, it will make a lot of boost in less than a second. That’s what really accelerates the car, and that’s where you get those great 60- and 330-foot incrementals,” Keck says.


For Morris, this supercharger was impressive and performed as expected for this combination. “It’s a nice blower for sure. It exceeded expectations of what we thought it was capable of. It made 22.5 pounds of boost. We thought it could make a bit more, but this was the level of boost where it made the most efficient power. If we spun the blower any harder, it would make its peak power at a lower RPM. It will really be determined at the track just what it will be like on this combination, and what it needs to make the most power,” Morris explains.

Evil 8.5’s Motor On The Dyno

After all the calculations and preparations, it was time to strap Evil 8.5’s heart to the dyno at Steve Morris Engines to see what it would do. There’s a lot more to it than just throwing the engine on the dyno and doing some wide open throttle pulls, though. Morris looks at a number of factors during each pull to ensure the motor is doing what it needs to be doing.


Between pulls Morris makes sure to check the valve lash and other vital items on the motor to avoid any issues.

“We look at everything with sensors when the motor is on the dyno. We’re checking the exhaust gas temperatures, air-to-fuel ratio, boost pressure, manifold air temperature, and many other elements. We’re trying to monitor all facets of the engine in order to do a good job of tuning and we do as many pulls as it takes to make it right. Everything is tuned to a lower boost level first to ensure the motor is happy before we move through the rpm range,” Morris explains.


And there you have it, some very impressive numbers for a motor that’s not that exotic of a package at all!

So how did the small-block Chevy do on the dyno? After the final pulls and tuning were done, the Vortech-supercharged 427 cubic-inch motor put up an impressive peak horsepower number of 1,834 at 7,500 rpm and 1,383 torque at 6,500 rpm. To Morris, these numbers are really no shock at all. “I figured this motor would make in the 1,800 to 1,900 horsepower level, and that’s about where it was at after the final pulls and tuning was done.”

“Overall, everything looks great with this motor, I’m quite happy with it.” –Steve Morris

“The motor really worked exactly how I expected it would numbers-wise. We could keep working with this combination to bring that number up a little more, now that we have seen what it can do,” Morris goes on to say. “To optimize this combination even more, the camshaft could be adjusted a bit, and the motor just might be a tick too big cubic inch wise. The intake is working well, the cylinder-to-cylinder differences are minimal, the RPM range looks great, and everything looks really nice. We don’t race dynos, so what it does at the track is clearly the best thing. There’s no real way to see what it would need until you test it in the real world.”


So there you have it. The final results of months of design and hard work from some of the best in the engine business. Morris and his team did a masterful job putting the ingredients together and creating a mechanical marvel that produces big power. Now that the icing is on the cake for Evil 8.5’s nasty, small-block Chevy, what’s left to do is see what it’s capable of at the track.

Look for future updates on Evil 8.5 as we complete the build-up and put the car through its paces at different race tracks all across the West Coast.

Article Sources

About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
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