There are many scenarios that require you to lay out hard-earned cash for a race engine. Maybe you are new to racing and starting from scratch. Maybe you are moving up a class. Maybe you ran it hotter than a stove and blew it sky high (don't worry, we won't tell anyone). Regardless, we know you want a perfect home for your new engine to live and provide you plenty of power for a long time. With that in mind, Circle Track contacted some of the top pros in the industry for their tips on raising a happy, healthy engine.

Don't Get Double-Crossed
Wiring the ignition system can affect a lot of racers. MSD is kind of the standard in the industry, but the plug between the distributor and the ignition box isn't watertight. A lot of racers cut off the connector that MSD uses and install a GM weatherpack connector, which is definitely an upgrade in terms of keeping out water.

It's easy to get the polarities reversed when you do this, however. The connector is only composed of four wires-two from the distributor, which connect to two leading to the ignition box. The problem is that the wires don't match up. The two leading out of the distributor are black with a colored stripe. One stripe is orange and the other is violet. The two wires out of the distributor box are solid violet and solid green. You might think that the black-and-violet wire connects to the violet wire on the ignition box, but it doesn't. The black-and-orange wire connects to the violet wire, and the black-and-violet wire connects to the green wire. It's impossible to get it wrong because MSD's connector comes attached from the factory, and it's keyed so that you cannot plug it in if reversed. When you're splicing in your own connector, it's easy to get confused. We've seen a lot of people in this situation.

When the wires get crossed, it creates an error and 22.5 degrees extra advance. Plus, the ignition is firing sporadically because it's working on the wrong side of the pickup coil inside the distributor. The motor won't tolerate this. Then it gets worse because guys will drop a new engine in, get the wires reversed, and never check the timing because they assume it must be correct as it just came from the dyno. They end up bringing the engine back to the builder in a basket, wondering what happened. The first thing we'll check is the ignition system.

The good news is the fix is simple. If you are putting weatherpacks on your ignition system, just remember that the violet-and-black wire connects to green. Now you are home free.
-Glenn Clements
Clements Automotive
Spartanburg, SC

The Break-In Blues
Oval track engines with big mechanical cams have to be properly broken in. I know it's tempting when you get that new engine installed to rev it up a few times to impress the neighbors, but if the engine hasn't been broken in on a dyno, that's one of the worst things you can do to it.

A new engine needs to be run at 1,500 to 2,000 rpm for 11/42 hour to 45 minutes. That's enough to get the rings to seal and break in the valvesprings so that they don't disintegrate as soon as you run the engine hard. I recommend using high-grade detergent oil, and don't put any strain on the engine. You need to keep the rpm between 1,500 and 2,000 to keep the oil moving through the engine. You need oil pressure at the camshaft and oil splashing up on the valvetrain, and you don't get that at the level you need at idle. Every two to five minutes, give the throttle a little rev to keep the carburetor cleaned out. You don't want the engine to stall because it's real hard on a new cam if you have to start the engine up again.

After you have run the engine for 30 to 45 minutes, shut it off and check everything. Check for water and oil leaks, and maybe change the oil. Now is also a good time to re-check your lash as well as re-torque the head bolts. Now you are ready to race.
-Rob Beagle
Race EngineeringLake Worth, FL