MAKING A MURDERER

GRUNT HUNT

STORY SCOTT TAYLOR PHOTOS RICK WELCH, STEVE KELLY, NATHAN JACOBS & POVIPULLINEN

> BUILDING THE TWIN-TURBO BIG-BLOCK CHEV THAT KILLED THE INTERNET

IT’S ONE of the toughest motorsport events in the world, but Hot Rod Drag Week is also one of the most publicised. Which explains why Australian Harry Haig made such a big bang at last year’s event, when he dragged an old big-block four-speed ’69 Chevelle out of a field to use on the five-day, 1000-mile odyssey.

But he wanted to go even bigger this year, with a built big-block and a pair of snails hanging in the breeze. Given the amount of publicity Harry and team received at Drag Week 2016, we’d say mission accomplished!

Drag Week is no joke though; to build something that’s gonna go fast and is going to last, you want to use the right people if you plan on being there at the end. With that in mind, Harry tapped Paramount Performance’s Terry Seng on the shoulder to help out with a new big-block combo for the Drag Week Chevelle. 132 “Getting the engine built up north [Paramount is situated in Toowoomba, Queensland] made sense because Terry is a great mate and he was coming with me to the US,” Harry says. “Plus Robby Abbott’s engine machining is some of the best I’ve seen. I told Terry he can build the engine and if it shits itself he’ll be paying the bar tab every day in the States. Terry said: ‘I’ll take that bet.’”

Parts selection was easy; start with a Dart Big M block and then fill it full of good stuff like a forged Eagle crank and Scat rods with JE pistons. For the top end the boys gave Edelbrock the nod and fitted the engine with a pair of complete Edelbrock Victor CNC heads and a Victor Jr EFI intake. Terry is a big fan of the Holley Dominator EFI system, so the boys went with that to manage the fuel, spark and boost.

But the real stars of the show were the 72mm BorgWarner turbos the boys wanted to hang out the bonnet. With the Chevelle waiting for a transplant in the US, the plan was to fly over a week ahead of time and build the whole car before the big event, so to avoid possible clearance issues they decided to position the turbos high. As it turned out, they positioned the turbos very high indeed, but that just added to the car’s awesomeness when the team fronted up at Drag Week registration.

But a whole lot of work had to be done before they could even think about the US. Robby Abbott from Abbott Engine Reconditioning handled all the engine machining, before the whole lot was sent up to Paramount Performance for assembly. Kyle from 6Boost handled the turbo manifolds and dyno piping, with the plan that the guys would redo the inlet piping in the USA to suit the intercooler.

I TOLD TERRY HE CAN BUILD THE ENGINE AND IF IT SHITS ITSELF HE’LL BE PAYING THE BAR TAB IN THE STATES. TERRY SAID: ‘I’LL TAKE THAT BET’

On the dyno at Tremaniac Racing in Brisbane, the big-block reeled off an easy 1300hp on E85 at around 14psi boost before it was packaged up and put on a plane to the USA.

“We wanted something that would be easy on the valvetrain and make reliable horsepower, as well as drive thousands of miles,” Terry says. “I reckon we nailed it. The only other thing I would have liked to do was more testing in the car before we headed to Drag Week.”

At King Hotrod & Restoration in Leavenworth, Kansas, the boys spent a full week of days and nights mating the Chevelle with its new driveline. Things were so tight at the end that they only had time to drive it out of the workshop, take a couple of photos and put it on a trailer to head to Drag Week. How did they go? Head to page 74 to find out.

BUILT IN A WEEK – RUNS EIGHTS

BUILDING an eight-second car is serious business. Nobody wants a car falling apart around you at 150mph+. But building an eight-second car in another country and in just a week is insane. Something like that takes serious commitment and good planning; well, we guess one out of two isn’t bad.

Harry Haig, Terry Seng, Shannon Jennings and Ryan Jones doubled down on the commitment side of things to push this twinturbo Chevelle out the door. They flew in to Kansas a week ahead of Drag Week to strip the ’69 SS Chevelle down to its bones and then back up again into a genuine eight-second monster.

The only thing done to the car ahead of time was the rollcage; the boys had to fit the new engine, trans, diff, suspension, rewire the whole car and convert it to EFI. It was a mammoth task and the guys got very little sleep during the week, but they made it to Columbus, Ohio in time for Drag Week registration and then headed back to the pits to finish building it.

Most onlookers thought it was a gutsy move; others thought it was all a bit of a joke, but nobody was laughing after the Chevelle ran 9.06 on Day One of Drag Week. Then the rusty SS proceeded to go quicker at every track until Day Five, when the insane track temps hurt the small-tyre combo's traction.

But the team achieved their goal. They built the car in a week, finished Drag Week, and averaged in the eight-second zone for the whole event. The boys reckon that their average of 8.95 is the quickest of any Aussie car to finish Drag Week. That’s pretty amazing. s