Local burn-out enthusiast Lucky Costa stopped by our shop last year to talk about a turbo engine build for his 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle, known by his many followers as “ChevHell”….
The Motortrend’s Hot Rod Garage co-host later had a change of heart and decided to supercharge the engine and put it into his ’67 Chevy C10 shop truck instead.
ACE Racing Engines founder and chief engine builder Stefan Rossi gives us the lowdown on Lucky Costa’s Supercharged LS Engine build…
We started with an aluminum LC9 engine block, and added Callies rods, CP Carrillo pistons with Total Seal piston rings, Trick Flow cylinder heads and I worked with Nick Evdos at Brian Tooley Racing to spec a custom cam suitable for the 2300 MagnaCharger Lucky already had.
The engine is based on our LC9 Long Block with some tweaks to accommodate the supercharger. All our engines are custom built, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have something slightly different in mind, just like Lucky did!
Lucky’s and his C10 have become well recognized for their fabulous burnouts somewhere in Mexico…
A top end crash may have slowed us down mentally for the rest of the week, but our engine performed flawlessly. Here’s what the FuelTech logs say…
Sick Week 2022 was the brain child of Tom Bailey, the driver of the world’s quickest street car. The idea behind Sick Week was to feature the highest quality drag-and-drive cars ever assembled on the quarter-mile, whilst also providing a shorter and hopefully more enjoyable street drive between tracks, with the added bonus of possibly getting to the hotel early enough to share a beer at the end of each day.
The event started on Sunday at Bradenton Motorsports Park. Sunday was tech day followed by a pre-party at the Freedom Factory. Monday was when Sick Week really began!
Our first pass in the car EVER and our first pass on day 1 of Sick Week didn’t end the way any drag racer wishes to cross the 1/4 mile mark. The Nova build was done to the best of our ability, with no stone unturned but unfortunately the ONLY hose on our car that wasn’t held in place by an AN fitting, came loose, leading to water under the back wheels. At 7.63 seconds going sideways, this was the only fast pass we made during the week.
A top end crash on the drag strip is no small feat. Water underneath the tires at 160mph+ is enough to flip a car on its roof. We were very lucky that Stefan’s fast reaction to pull the chutes and shut off the power whilst still trying to steer the vehicle away from the wall, led to a safe stop with no injuries to himself or any of the components of the car other than the obvious body work.
The major damage was predominantly body work though the parachute mount was completely bent and had snapped in one place, and one of the two chute bags was shredded to nothing. The wing had concertinaed like a fan and the front passenger side fender was without a headlight, though miraculously, the bulb survived! The back drivers side corner was the first to hit the wall, hence the new shape of the wing. The front passenger side then impacted into the opposite wall, forcing the fiberglass hood to rip off away from the frontend, taking the dzus hood rails with it.
Once the Bradenton safety staff had completed their checks and towed the car off the track, Stef was able to get a good look at what had happened in the engine bay. He was quick to notice the cause of the water spill, and was understandably angry that such a small thing could make such a huge impact.
The emotions quickly turned when the team realized it was a 7 second pass! Even though we crossed the 1/4 mile line sideways, we were happy that the car (suspension and engine) performed well and happier still, when we realized the only thing stopping us from completing the week was the condition of the body and/or our attitude!
We had already been on the road for over a week, from California to FuelTech in Georgia for a dyno day and then down to Florida for Sick week; so there was no way we were going to pull out of this event if there was any chance we could stay and complete the week.
Back at the pits, Stefan and crew member Jerome, checked over every inch of the car and analyzed the Fueltech log. Besides the body panels and the flat spot on the tires, everything was in good working order. Luckily Mickey Thompson was a vendor at each track during Sick Week, and we had their last two 315 Radial Pros. Big thanks to Mike Finnegan for hooking us up with those and the MT guys for mounting them!
“The FuelTech log shows I was out of the throttle 2.1 seconds into the run, that’s my first time feeling almost 3g’s and it felt INSANE. I don’t remember pedaling at all, maybe the G’s lifted my foot from the throttle, who knows!”
We ran 4.80 @ 148mph in the 1/8 with a slow 1.26 60ft and with pedaling at 2.1 secs (the orange line on the log is the TPS). The 60ft was slow because we pulled timing to ensure the car left straight and that we could get some good data from the pass on what the suspension was doing. This was also our first time running on a radial tire, our suspension settings worked and the car felt way more stable down the track than racing on big tires ever did.
After speaking to Tech Director Lonnie Grim about the damage and the possibility of continuing, it was determined that a few improvisations could be made to help see us down the track again. But first, we had to get to get some street driving taken care of.
Ratchet straps were added as a temporary fix to help keep the front end panels from moving too much. The strongest Gorilla tape was used to make sure the damaged front and back bumpers were secure, and Stef & Jerome straightened out the wing by hand. The parachute mount was stored in the small 6′ x 4′ trailer, which is all the Drag-n-Drive teams are allowed to haul in order to be self sufficient. We were then ready to leave just before nightfall, to reach the two checkpoints of day one and then onto the hotel in Orlando.
Day 2‘s racing was supposed to take part at Orlando Speed World, but the Sick management team determined on Monday evening that the racing should be called off due to heavy rainfall that was due that day. Orlando was instead turned into a check point for the competitors and we were then to follow the directions to the two original check points thereafter.
After leaving Orlando Speed World, the rain came down and did not stop! Just 30 minutes away from the first official checkpoint at Daytona Beach, the rain would throw another issue at us. Having no hood, the engine bay was getting soaked and eventually led to Stefan and Jerome losing power on a bridge. They managed to roll back down to a safe place and check out the issue.
FuelTech’s FT Spark Ignition box is made with pro-mods in mind, not street cars with no hood, in a day long Florida downpour, therefore the rain seeped in and destroyed the internals. With help from FT’s owner Anderson Dick, we were able to source a local-ish FT dealer who were willing to offer us the FT Spark box off their own personal race car in order for us to continue! The only issue we had now, was the 160 mile round trip in an Uber that meant we would be back at the rain soaked car in the dark. Some plastic grocery bags were placed over the turbos and off we went on the 3 hour trip.
With the new FT Spark Ignition box fitted on the side of the road and ‘double bagged’ to keep it out of the rain, we were back on track to the checkpoints en-route to Gainesville for day 3 of Sick Week.
Thankfully the next morning the sun was out in full force, meaning the grocery bags could come off the FT Spark box before a quick trip to Lowes for supplies to fix the front sheet metal.
The ratchet straps were replaced by metal braces, allowing us to get back down the track for Day 3. Although Stefan didn’t feel comfortable getting into the drivers seat for any more high powered passes this week, at least we could get a timing slip and stay in the competition, albeit a 10 second one.
We arrived in South Georgia on the evening ready for the next day – Day 4 at South Georgia Motorsports Park.
Once at SGMP, Stefan and Jerome carried out some maintenance on the center section, before welding the parachute mount back together where it had snapped upon impact with the wall on Monday. Big thanks to Doug Cook of Motion Racework’s for supplying a spare parachute bag!
Another timing slip was obtained and we left for dinner with some fellow Brits, Al and Paul in their single turbo’d Volvo, before heading back to Florida for the Don Garlits Museum checkpoint.
A good nights’ sleep was had after the museum and a nice early start was made to get to back to Bradenton Motorsports Park for the fifth and final day of Sick Week 2022. We gained our last timing slip meaning we had successfully(?!) completed the week. It was both extremely relieving and quite sad at the same time!
Other than the obvious body work issue that arised, we are over the moon with how the car did during the week. The engine performed flawlessly, and we didn’t have to remove the valve covers all week, thanks to our hydraulic roller set-up. The only maintenance we did to the engine throughout the whole event was spark plug and oil changes.
Camera Shy Stef had his fair share of interviews throughout the week, with the penultimate interview being the acceptance of the “Sickest of the Sick” award!
We were all so surprised but absolutely honored to take home this awesome award. It was a humbling experience to know so many people had been watching and rooting for us! There are so many people we have to thank for their help and for making the week an experience like no other.
A huge thank you to all the vendors for their badass parts. Without them these events wouldn’t exist!
Shout out to Nick Evdos at BTR for the record breaking hydraulic roller camshaft, and to Pete Nichols for the billet converter that makes this all work! Jacob for track side and 24 hour assistance, Garrett Chastain, Luís de Leon, Anderson Dick and the rest of the FuelTech crew for helping us break the LS Hydraulic Roller HP record the week before Sick Week and tuning the Turbosmart E-gates. Pro Line Racing for letting us use their shop. Thanks to Doug Cook for the chute bag, Justin Martin and Larry Larson for the suspension tips and to Mike Finnegan for the tires! When we broke down in the rain Robert Willinger came to the rescue with the tailgate of their hire car so that we could work somewhat out of the rain. Thank you to all the photographers, professional and hobby, that captured all these amazing memories. And of course to Tom Bailey, Luke Nieuwhof and the rest of the Sick team for putting on such a badass event! To everyone here in the US and back in the UK that supported us and kept us going throughout the week- thank you! Hopefully next year we can do you all proud and maybe come away with a guitar!
The events of the week leading up to Drag Week 2021, featuring a very messy shop and an emergency haircut!
I’d like to start this update by saying a huge thank you to all our customers for their patience whilst we took a little working hiatus. Thankfully they are all very cool guys and were just as excited as we were to see our ’66 Nova race car build finally get underway!
Stefan and I originally planned to bring the Nova back to the shop at the beginning of August. It was August 23rd by the time we had crated and shipped out the last two completed engines and had a little move around in the shop to accommodate the car and the bodies that would be surrounding it during the next few weeks.
I’ll set the scene – It’s Thursday 9th September 2021 and we had planned to to depart California for the 30+ hour drive to Michigan yesterday. Drag week starts on Sunday morning, the 12th. Three days away and a drive that takes over one and a half of those days.
The Nova build has been ongoing during weekends and evenings for most of the year. Since June, our fabricator Chad, has been helping Stefan on evenings and weekends, with placement and mock up of the engine, turbos and fuel cells, in order to build the headers and weld the firewall and any framework, tabs, etc, that were required.
Covid-19 has caused a lot of back logs for our industry on a whole over the last 18-months but, although everything that could have been ordered in advance, was ordered in plenty of time, unfortunately, no amount of planning and organization will ever cover all the little hiccups in a build this extreme. Parts coming from the East coast were stuck on a freight train arriving a week later than expected, incorrect measurements of custom items, wrong spec of hoses supplied, and an extra days’ wait for last minute items to arrive due to the Labor Day holiday. These mishaps all added up and took it’s toll on our timeframe.
Hot Rod Drag Week is covered by 1320 Video and many other media outlets and YouTube enthusiasts. With this in mind, I scheduled a long overdue and impromptu hair cut for Stefan at the shop.
I also made him a makeshift bed for a couple of nights and told him not to leave the shop until the Nova was finished!
The time is now 10:30pm and I went home to fetch our bags which were packed days ago; the guys gather together to check the to-do list and establish if we really can complete the build in time, or if we should call it quits.
The last two weeks have seen us working 7 days a week, 15-20 hours a day, with very little rested sleep. A good friend offered to drive us to Michigan so we could catch up on sleep during the journey. This generous offer meant we could leave at the very latest about 10am Friday morning. We were about 12 hours away from that deadline, Stefan and our four friends/helpers decided to give it a shot and reconvene at 2am. Could we collectively and realistically get the Nova finished to leave in the next 8 hours, for Drag Week ’21? The answer the second time round, was a resounding ‘no’.
To say Stefan was gutted, would be an understatement. Attending Drag Week has been a dream for a very long time. A lot of planning, time, blood, sweat and (almost) tears, had gone into this build.
Alongside the defeat was also a sense of relief. We each knew we had made the right decision before collectively agreeing. A car that hasn’t seen the street, let alone the track for five years, being driven by a driver running on very little sleep, un-tested, capable of 3000hp+ and running a low 6, a complete rebuild from the bottom up, everything upgraded, ‘no stone unturned’ besides the body and some of the chassis; would’ve been a huge and potentially dangerous undertaking.
We now have a Nova that’s more than 98% ready to go. More ready than it has been since it was last raced and stripped of the small block Chevy in 2016. The 3000hp+ LS engine is in and running. Just a few more bits of fabrication to complete and we are ready to take the car off the stands and go for a test drive.
We aim to test at our local track over the next few weeks and perhaps sign up for some drag events before the new year. We are very much looking forward to attending Drag Week 2022 with a fully dialed car and plenty of street testing miles behind us. Tom Bailey has also announced a new event – ‘Sick Week’, which will be a similar drag-and-drive event in Florida, expected to run in February ’22. This has certainly got our attention!
We would like to say a huge thank you to our sponsors, not only for their top of the range parts and craftsmanship, but for believing in this build as much as we do.
And to our friends:
Brad Lagman at QMP for his machine work & advice.
Nick Evdos at BTR for the badass Hydraulic roller camshaft.
Pete Nicholls at Hughes Performance for the pro mod transmission and Gear Vendors Overdrive.
Jerome for his electrical & plumbing expertise.
Moises for making the brake lines and providing the last minute tools.
Stretch for the paint work and other odd jobs.
Chavez for the color-sanding.
Eugene for the fabrication help.
Andrew Calkins for making a new HD wishbone for us with measurements Stef gave him from 400 miles away.
Greg Stephens for the spare center section.
Andrew Peterson for being on standby as co-pilot for the week.
Scott Breckenridge for spare supplies and diagnosing a faulty master cylinder on the last day.
Andrew for the haircut.
For staying up late with us. For laughing with us through the delirium, sharing both the stress and the victories. And for making our ’66 Nova Drag ‘N’ Drive car a reality!
Beadlock assembler, feeder, parts runner and the other half of ACE.
Many thanks to Engine Builder Magazine for this awesome write up about our 3000hp+ Twin Turbo 427 CID LS Engine. Including the thrash for Drag Week 2021, the defeat, and what’s next in line for our ’66 Nova!
Hot Rod Magazine Drag Week 2021 preparations are fully underway…
The new overhaul sees, FuelTech FT600 ECU, two Garrett GTX5533R Turbos, Dart LS Next2 block, Callies Ultra Billet Crank, our own JE Pistons/ACE Racing Engines custom pistons, MGP Aluminum rods, RDC gear drive, Aeromotive fuel pump, Dailey Engineering dry sump oil system, Shaun’s Custom Alloy Billet Intake, Hughes Performance Transmission with Gear Vendors overdrive and Sander Racing Double Beadlock wheels.
The old Nova…
Best 1/4 mile E/T to date: 8.97 @ 148 (2016) Previous Engine: 415ci Small Block Chevy (6800cc) 800hp on methanol Transmission: Powerglide Chassis: SFI Spec 25.1
The 2016 season in the UK, saw the Nova with a fiberglass front end and a 415ci Small Block Chevy engine. Shortly after reaching the goal of an 8 second quarter mile pass, the Nova was stripped back in preparation for the Drag Week dream, stateside.
The twin turbo ‘more door’ sleeper coming to the streets of LA very soon…
Sunbathing in the Arizona desert, this lucky 1966 4-door “more door” Chevelle Malibu has been brought back to a slightly cooler SoCal for a new lease of life.
A few upgrades have taken place; Wilwood brakes, Viking Crusader coilovers, UMI tubular suspension, Hughes Performance billet torque converter and 2000hp TH400 transmission, Precision Performance shifter, FuelTech FT550 EFI, and last but not least, an ACE Racing 1200hp motor with two G35-1050 reverse rotation Garrett turbos. All mounted on four perfectly conventional steel wheels with dog dish caps for true ‘sleeper’ demeanor.
Have you ever wondered why Stef brought Aircooled Engineering from England to the US? How did he get into building motors? Why VW and Chevy LS? and where exactly did he learn everything he knows about blueprinting an engine?
Back in June, Bill from Let’s Talk Dubs approached Stef about recording a podcast to ask these questions and many more…
Click the link below to find out all the answers and hear how ACE Racing Engines all began!