After completing the build...
After completing the build of one of the first NASCAR Late Model Stock engines utilizing Ford's new N351 cylinder heads and Boss 351 block, Charlie's Automotive dropped it into one of its house cars and took it to Myrtle Beach (SC) Speedway.
For the last three issues of Circle Track, we've chronicled the buildup of one of the first Ford Late Model Stock race engines using Ford's new Boss 351 block and N351 cast iron heads. We've shown you the updates to the new block and head castings, and we've taken you step by step as race engine specialist Charlie's Automotive went through the machining and assembly processes. We've also shown you every component in the build and explained why brothers Charlie and Robert Long chose those particular components.
But that's all practically worthless without some sort of test. After all, if the completed engine is down on power or unreliable what good was the build? So instead of simply stopping after the carburetor was bolted on, we followed up with Charlie and Robert as they installed the new engine into their house car and took it to Myrtle Beach Speedway for the season-ending Myrtle Beach 250.
Myrtle Beach (SC) Speedway is a 0.538-mile paved oval that hosted NASCAR Nationwide Series races until the 2000 season. For the last 17 years, it has also held a late season, big money NASCAR Late Model Stock race that has drawn the top teams and drivers from across the Southeast. Team owner Charlie Long decided that would be the testing ground for the new Ford motor.
The engine looks fairly conventional...
The engine looks fairly conventional compared to other Windsors, and it is. Power production isn't really any better than the older stuff either (if it was better in terms of power, NASCAR wouldn't have made it legal for the Late Model Stock class). It does, however, require less prep work to turn into a raceable motor (meaning less cost), and it should be more durable.
But before the motor could be dropped into the car, the new V-8 had to be broken in on the dyno. "The break-in was pretty uneventful," Charlie Long says. "It ran pretty much dead on the way all of our other Windsor Late Model Stock ran. The motor seemed to perform best at 31 to 32 degrees of total timing, which is typical to what we've seen with other motors running the older N351 cylinder heads. And that, of course, is a lot less timing than you usually will see on equivalent Chevrolets, which sometimes need in excess of 40 degrees.
"Peak horsepower was also what we expected to see based on our experience with other LMS Fords. The peak was right at 445, which is-at least on our dyno-as good as we see with any motor running a 500 cfm two-barrel. We would love to have seen more power than other Fords or Chevrolets we've built before, but I know that wasn't Ford's idea. Its plan all along was to provide a block and cylinder heads which are easier for engine builders to work with but produce the same power levels-or else NASCAR would never have made the new components legal."
The race was originally sched-uled to be held over the weekend of November 22. The Charlie's Automotive team brought two cars to compete. The car with the Boss Ford was the Number 1 and was driven by Jonathan Cash. The second car had an older Ford motor that made practically identical power; it was the Number 2 and was driven by former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Scott Riggs.
Late Model Stock is a very...
Late Model Stock is a very demanding class on race engines. It's a great proving ground for both an engine builder and the components he chooses. If he isn't on top of his program a failure is almost inevitable.
Long says that the two cars left the shop with the same setups, and after the practice sessions both differed slightly because of driver preferences but the setups were still very close (as were the lap times). In qualifying, Cash turned in the third fastest time, and was the fastest Ford overall.
But when race day rolled around, so did the storm clouds. The speedway was able to complete the support races and the Late Model Stock field did take the green flag, but could finish only 43 laps before the rain started falling. Up until that point, things were going well for the team.
"Starting up front really helped, and I was able to move up into the lead around lap 18 or so," Cash says. "The car was a little bit loose, but not too bad and the engine ran really well."
Once the rain began, speedway officials tried to wait it out, but sitting under red-flag conditions for an hour, they decided to postpone the rest of the event until the next weekend.
Driver Jonathan Cash qualified...
Driver Jonathan Cash qualified the Number 1 Ford (with our new engine) third and led a majority of the laps until the halfway break.
Upon returning the next Saturday, Cash tuned in a nearly dominant performance until the halfway break at lap 125. "Jonathan did really well," Charlie Long says. "He led up until lap 90 or so. It is important to get out front early at Myrtle Beach because the track surface is so coarse it can really eat up your tires. It's a lot like Darlington used to be with the Cup guys. If you are up front and out of the traffic, you don't have to drive the car as hard and it's easier on your tires. Qualifying well was really important for us.
"When they hit the break at lap 125 Jonathan was running third and was in pretty good shape. The car was a little loose and we made some adjustments to tighten it up a bit, but we missed the mark. The track changed in the second half and with our changes it just got too tight. We wound up finishing 10th which we are happy about, but Jonathan and that motor could have done a lot better."
"The new Ford motor ran really well in the Capital Bank Ford," Cash adds. "It held good power all the way through and was competitive with anything out there. We had a real chance to win with it if we hadn't gotten the car too tight, and that's about all you can ask of any motor."
Our new Boss-based LMS powerplant...
Our new Boss-based LMS powerplant fully prepped and ready to race.
Car owner Charlie Long says...
Car owner Charlie Long says he had no problem getting the new engine through tech.
Mrytle Beach Speedway is a...
Mrytle Beach Speedway is a demanding track for both drivers and cars.
Charlie Long's second house...
Charlie Long's second house car, the Number 2 Ford piloted by Scott Riggs, was powered by an older Ford Windsor and finished Ninth overall.
|On The Dyno