$10K Drag Shootout 2, Episode 4: Middle Of The Builds Part 1

The teams of the $10K Drag Shootout are wrestling with their builds to make progress as time ticks away. Every team is beginning to feel the pressure as they mold their car into the vision of horsepower they need — but there are obstacles at every turn. This section of the build is the most treacherous, and the question is: will every team be able to navigate these waters on a course to success, or are their builds destined to sink?

Timeline Troubles

Thus far, the only team ahead of schedule is the crew from Midwest Mayhem. Each of the other $10K Drag Shootout teams is dealing with their own challenges as they progress. Whether its parts, team dynamics, or time, every team is feeling the pressure.

Last season’s champions, Team Bigun, have hit a roadblock in their quest to repeat [as champions]. The choice to utilize a big-block Chevy has come with some challenges. While the team has been hard at work getting the Granada’s chassis ready, their engine is still not anywhere close to being finished. It has begun to put a noticeable amount of stress on the team, and tensions are high.

The primary issue is the delay in the arrival of the cylinder heads for the engine. Engine builder Pete Harrell had plans for a serious port job to help the heads breathe, but he can’t begin that process until they arrive. With Harrell unable to work on putting the engine together, Team Bigun is starting to fall further behind. During the $10K Drag Shootout, the clock isn’t something you want to be at war with…

Suspension Setups

When you’re dealing with a tight budget and short timeline to build a car, a solid suspension strategy becomes vital. Each team in the $10K Drag Shootout had to craft a plan based around what car they have, what their budget is, and their ability to make the parts work as needed. To maximize the quality of parts they could get based on their budget, the teams are using their Summit Racing Equipment gift cards whenever possible.

The members of Team Midwest Mayhem have prior experience counting their pennies on a build, so they know where to spend money. They opted to use the factory steering box to save money and time, along with the factory front A-arms that work with homemade travel limiters. Summit Racing adjustable shocks and Moroso springs round out their suspension choices for the Olds.

Steering duties for The Dream Team’s ride are also going to be handled by the OEM steering box. Energy Suspension offset rack bushings aid the aging steering rack, which has been disconnected from its power assist. To make their Mustang have the best traction possible, The Dream Team opted for a set of single adjustable Strange coilovers at each corner.

Team Enemies Everywhere might not have been a fan of the Camaro at first, but when they went to tackle the suspension they quickly grew to like it. A full set of Strange Engineering single-adjustable shocks were used along with Summit Racing springs. To keep the front end of the Camaro down Team Enemies Everywhere fabricated their own travel limiters for the front suspension.

Since Team Bigun has a whole lot of car to get moving with their Granada wagon, getting the suspension dialed in is critical. A Strange Engineering coilover kit with single-adjustable shocks was sourced to help the car get the desired ride height. QA1 springs were added to the mix to make sure the suspension had the best possible level of dampening available when the nitrous power kicks in.

Team Midwest Mayhem Powers Ahead

The thrash required to build a car capable of winning the $10K Drag Shootout hasn’t phased the members of Team Midwest Mayhem one bit. They have torn through their car viciously to get it ready and haven’t wasted any time in executing their plan. With such a laser-sharp focus it wouldn’t be a shock at all to see them finish first during the build phase.

Part of what has assisted the team in getting so much work done is their interesting approach to building the Oldsmobile’s engine. Instead of doing a ton of engine work to the LS-based mill they are using all of the factory rotating assembly parts, right down to the stock piston rings that have a healthy 350,000 miles on them. The team does have extensive experience with building LS engines like this, but the question must be asked: will the stock parts hold up when racing begins?

Burrito Challenge Insanity

Just when the teams thought they were safe from challenges, another curveball was thrown their way. Enter the 3-foot monster burrito. With a 20-minute time limit, a pitcher of margarita, a pitcher of horchata, and a vomit bucket on stand-bye – this could end badly. There’s already enough stress on the teams, but adding in such an insane eating challenge ratchets everything up a few notches.

To make the challenge worthwhile for each team, there are some nice prizes on the line: the team who wins the challenge gets an additional $500 added to its budget, second place gets $250, and third place comes away with nothing. For the team that finishes in last place, they get smacked with an extra 25-pounds on their car and have to wear some less-than-flattering belly shirts for two hours of their build.

When the beans and rice finally settled, it was Team Enemies Everywhere coming out on top, followed by Team Bigun, and The Dream Team. Unfortunately for team Midwest Mayhem, they consumed the least amount of burrito during the contest. That earned them the weight penalty and the less-than-desirable work shirts that needed to be worn as they toiled on their build.

To add insult to injury, a little side-bet was thrown into the mix with a ghost pepper burrito. It added some cash to the pockets of Enemies Everywhere and the Dream Team, but it caused the buckets to become very active.

Team Bigun’s Engine Troubles Continue

As the other teams recover from the burrito challenge and begin to lay the groundwork for installing their engines, Team Bigun is in a holding pattern with its powerplant. The team’s block is still at the machine shop getting worked on, so they can’t begin assembling the engine yet. And because its Saturday, the team will lose another day of work on the engine, since the block can’t be picked up from the shop yet.

Transmission Time

It’s going to take one tough transmission to deal with the horsepower each team is going to put down, but when you’re on a budget that makes things challenging. Team Bigun sourced a used TH400 transmission with a transbrake from another racecar and matched it to a 9-inch torque converter. To make the transmission reliable, they had to replace some internal parts.

Team Enemies Everywhere is building its own TH400 transmission from a used unit they purchased. To make the transmission more race-worthy, they are adding a manual valvebody and transbrake as they go through everything.

The Dream Team picked up a TH400 transmission using $1,500 of their cash budget that was equipped with a manual valvebody and transbrake. Since the team decided to purchase this transmission instead of building their own, it has put them way over budget. If they need to spend more money on other items it will come bearing a hefty 100-pound weight penalty.

For a transmission, Team Midwest Mayhem followed the other team’s strategy and used a TH400. They also are building the transmission themselves while filling it with a manual valvebody and transbrake. The team acquired a used torque converter to work with its turbo LS combination, however the TCI converter they won in the go-kart challenge turned it into a spare.

The Builds Continue

Team Midwest Mayhem isn’t fazed by its shop fashion requirements and continues to push forward with its build, even as they rock the belly shirts. They work on getting their turbo system buttoned up and that allows them to be the first team to see fire in the pipes.

A high-performance turbo system needs to use good parts for the hot and cold side of the kit. Team Midwest Mayhem and the rest of the teams of the $10K Drag Shootout that used boost for a power adder fabricated their turbo kits with parts from Spectre. The different lengths, sizes, and bends available gave them the freedom required to build a kit quickly and easily. Team Midwest Mayhem was able to fabricate one killer turbo kit with the Spectre parts that should move more than enough air in and out of their turbocharged engine.

While all of this is going on Team Bigun finally got its engine build on-track. They were able to start the process of assembling the engine and worked on porting the heads for the big-block Chevy.

Since each of the $10K Drag Shootout cars will be pushed to the edge when it comes to engine performance, keeping them cool is important. PRW stepped up to offer each of the teams some assistance with water pumps and radiators that could be used in their builds. The Dream Team was one of the teams that opted to use a PRW water pump to keep the chilled fluids flowing throughout their turbo LSX-based engine. Those lower temperatures will ensure there is plenty of horsepower on tap when the race goes down.

Make sure you tune in next week to the $10K Drag Shootout to see which team will be next to make big strides on finishing its builds and how much power Team Midwest Mayhem can put down on the dyno. You can see each episode of the $10K Drag Shootout on the Horsepower Wars website right here.

The 2019 season of the $10K Drag Shootout is made possible by some of the leading companies in our industry, including Summit RacingCOMP CamsTCIK&N Filters, Mickey Thompson TiresMAHLE MotorsportsDyna-BattWeld RacingCorsa PerformanceFragolaHolleyDiabloSport, NOSE3 Spark PlugsTotal SealMoser EngineeringBMR SuspensionMiller ElectricAerospace ComponentsVictor ReinzMorosoUS GearHawk PerformanceLucas OilPRW IndustriesWeld RacingVP RacingNOSProCharger, and ARP.

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.
Read My Articles

Drag Racing in your Inbox.

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from Dragzine, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Dragzine - Drag Racing Magazine

We'll send you the most interesting Dragzine articles, news, car features, and videos every week.

Dragzine - Drag Racing Magazine


We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Dragzine - Drag Racing Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

Hot Rods & Muscle Cars

Diesel Army

Engine Tech

Dragzine - Drag Racing Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • Hot Rods & Muscle Cars
  • Diesel Army
  • Engine Tech

Dragzine - Drag Racing Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Dragzine - Drag Racing Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.