Alan O’Brien has always flown the AMC flag at the drag strip — it’s a tradition for his family dating back to the 1960s. Now, O’Brien is bringing some big AMC power to the PDRA’s Pro Outlaw 632 class via a 2007 Chevy Cobalt. Once O’Brien and engine builder Barry Allen get this unconventional combination figured out they plan on making a run at the Pro Outlaw 632 title.
O’Brien has been a fixture in the Top Dragster class since it started with his AMC-powered machine. The dragster consistently runs in the low 6-second range with a pair of turbos, making it one of the quickest cars in the class at any event. O’Brien has achieved a fair amount of success with his AMC-powered dragster and it made him somewhat of an icon within the AMC community.
The Race Tech-built Cobalt is the first doorslammer that O’Brien has raced in over 15 years, but he’s adapted quickly to his new office. Originally, he didn’t even plan on keeping the car, however, Allen talked him into making it a fun nitrous oxide-assisted project.
“I actually purchased this car to resell it but nobody would buy it. Barry wanted to do this nitrous engine with AMC stuff so he put everything together. We’ve struggled at times trying to find what the engine likes, but we’ll get it figured out. This is an all new cylinder head design that Visner Engine Development came up with for us so we are really in unknown territory,” O’Brien explains.
Trying to build AMC engines is a pretty big challenge because there aren’t any parts readily available. This means you have to start getting creative with what parts are out there and develop your own horsepower recipe. For Allen, that meant starting with an aluminum Indy Cylinder Heads block, then having Visner create a set of billet cylinder heads and intake to go along with it.
“Every other engine combination has better heads and intakes available, that’s why we had the billet parts made for the top end of the engine. Trying to make this thing live so far has been a challenge, so we had to move to a dry sump oil system to help the bearings survive. Since we’re running a 499 cubic-inch small-block we only have to weigh 2,400-pounds with a five-speed transmission. After we get the combo figured out it should run in the 4-teens no problem,” Allen explains.
It will be interesting to see O’Brien and Allen dial this combination in — these two AMC aces have already found a way to make a boosted engine package work in the world of fast bracket racing, so it’s only a matter of time until they make an impact in the heads-up racing scene.