Holley is easily one of the most iconic brands in all of racing. It has to be right up there with Ford, Chevrolet, and Earnhardt. Even now that NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series has ditched carburetors in favor of very expensive fuel-injection systems, the sanctioning body still turned to Holley to manufacture and supply the throttle bodies.

Of course, carburetors are still the only way to go in practically every other class of stock car racing. That, however, doesn’t mean that Holley doesn’t have competition. Companies like VDL, Braswell, and AED do a lot of work tuning Holley carbs, but they also produce a lot of components, and even complete carbs, of their own.

A few years ago, Holley seriously upgraded its 4150 series carburetors with the HP lineup. And now it has done it again with the Ultra HP carbs. There are tons of new features, but the most striking of all is the all-aluminum construction. Not only do they look good, but by switching to aluminum, Holley’s engineers were able to cut the weight of each carburetor from 12 to 7 pounds. And any racer will be happy to cut 5 pounds of weight high above the car’s center of gravity where the carburetor sits.

In addition, you can also get an Ultra HP with a hard anodized coating. Again, while it looks good, the true value for racers is elsewhere. The hard anodizing helps keep chemicals, track grit, and mud from attacking the carburetor’s surface. Not only are they easier to clean, they are also more durable for good service season after season.

Of course, that’s all nice, but the Ultra HP carbs are at least $100 more than standard HP carbs. So the question becomes whether all those changes are worthwhile. The only way to find out for sure was to do a shootout between the two carbs, and Holley’s Bill Tichenor encouraged us to do just that. His confidence in the new Ultra HP line of carbs spurred us on, so we brought two carburetors to the shops of race engine builder Automotive Specialists. Owner Keith Dorton had the engine we thought would put any carburetor to the test: a high-rpm, high-horsepower SB2.

The carbs we tested were a 950-cfm Holley HP (PN 0-80496-1) and a 950-cfm Ultra HP (PN 0-80805BK), which is essentially the next generation in the 4150 series lineage. We won’t spoil the surprise here, but needless to say the Ultra HP is a very impressive carburetor by any standard. The Ultra HPs are well thought out from top to bottom, and we expect that they will become the new standard in open classes like Super Late Models, where teams can use any carburetor they think will give them the best advantage.

Holley recently introduced the new Ultra HP series of racing carburetors with lots of new features. But is new really better? We put the new Ultra HP to the test to find out.

Holley HP vs Holley Ultra HP

HP 950 Ultra HP 950
RPM Torque Horsepower Torque Horsepower
6,500 487.8 603.7 497.7 615.9
6,600 491.3 617.5 503.2 632.4
6,700 493.5 629.5 505.9 645.4
6,800 496 642.2 508.6 658.5
6,900 498.9 655.5 510.8 671.1
7,000 500.8 667.6 514.6 685.9
7,100 504.7 682.3 517.9 700.2
7,200 506.1 693.9 520.7 713.9
7,300 509.2 707.8 523.7 727.9
7,400 511.2 720.3 526.5 741.8
7,500 512.1 731.4 527.6 753.4
7,600 512.5 741.6 527.7 763.6
7,700 510.9 749.1 526.3 771.7
7,800 509.8 757.1 525.6 780.6
7,900 507.2 763 523 786.7
8,000 504.4 768.3 521.5 794.4
8,100 501.1 772.8 519.3 800.9
8,200 497.9 777.5 517 807.2
8,300 494.2 781.1 514.6 813.3
8,400 489.5 783 512 818.9
8,500 484.8 784.7 506.6 819.9
8,600 479.5 785.1 501.5 821.2
8,700 474.2 785.6 497 823.4
8,800 468.3 784.7 491.8 824.1

By the Numbers

In a test, the only thing that really matters is the hard numbers. Here are the results on the dyno with the standard HP 950-cfm carburetor and the Holley Ultra HP 950-carb. As you can see, the HP carb not only produced better peak numbers, but was also better all the way across the board for both torque and horsepower. On the racetrack, there is no downside.