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History Part II
The Story of the Ultimate Nova continued

Dad and I agreed that it was time to go to Albuquerque to see what kind of ET the nova could produce, so we loaded the car onto the trailer and headed off to the track. When we arrived my heart started pounding with anticipation. We unloaded the car and had tech inspect it: the staging lanes opened shortly after. I watched a few cars do their burnouts, stage, and then race down the ¼ mile.

I had a good idea what to do now so I went back to the pits, jumped in the nova, ABQ racewayand went to the staging lanes. Finally it was my turn to go. I pulled in the water box and heated up the slicks, staged, and then the lights started to go down. Of course I waited to see the green flash on, talk about cutting a bad light, and kicked off a 14.6 at 95mph. As the day progressed the ET's and reaction times fell to a best of 14.10 at 97mph. The car was not even close to being tached at the end of the quarter: the gears were too high and the stall on the converter was too low (1800RPM). It was very consistent throughout the time trials though. Later on that evening it was time for eliminations: I was entered in the trophy class. I went two rounds before being eliminated, getting beat by eight thousandths of a second. I still had more fun than one could imagine despite being eliminated.

A month later I ordered a TCI Trans Brake, TCI 10" 3200 Stall Converter, Richmond 4.88 gears, MSD 6AL, and MSD Pro Billet Distributor. This made a vast improvement in the nova's performance, dropping the ET to a respectable 13.5 at 103 mph. Not to bad for an everyday driver.

I drove this combination throughout high school, and in those three years never once received a traffic citation. I graduated in 1997 as an honor graduate, and started talking to dad about boosting the nova's performance. He said that I had proved I was responsible with both the car and school, so we started thinking about the options-stroke the small block? blower? or install a big block with some cubic inches? While flipping through a Hot Rod Magazine I came across an article from Sallee Chevrolet advertising a 502 making over 600 hp. I called and asked for an engine brochure, which I received within three days. They had several different 502 models ranging from 400 hp to 800 hp, but the most appealing was the 611 hp version due to its mild build up­able to idle and run on pump gas. I called and asked for a quote then started rounding up my money.

One month later I received the 502. I took the crate apart, unwrapped it, and Sallee 502there before me stood one massive big block. It was stunning, the colors of the aluminum offsetting the black and red . The only thing I could think about was getting the engine in. My employer donated the use of his shop, giving me the aid of a lift and all the tools I would need. A GM Master Tech also helped with the installation. The engine went in like it had eyes, and looked more at home than the small block ever did.

It was finally time to start the Rat. It immediately fired off and pounded out a stout cackle. We went on a maiden voyage after letting the engine run a while. I babied it, but you could tell that this was no mouse: this monster had neck-snapping torque. I waited five hundred miles before really opening the four barrels, but when I did it fried the BFG's. I knew immediately that I was geared too deep with the 4.88's. This thing wrapped way faster than the small block ever did. I ran a computer program and it recommended a 4.10 gear ratio, so we went ahead and installed a set.

Now it was time for a trip to Albuquerque to see what the bigblock could do. First pull of the trailer I ran a 12.46 at 110 mph. We were unable to do any tuning between rounds because they were trying to fit a two-day show into one day due to the bad weather. I made three more passes and each pass the car got faster and so did I (reaction times). The best ET for the weekend was 12.14 at 112 mph, unfortunately we were unable to do any tuning. This was the only time we went to the track with the big block N/A but I believe with some tuning that the car would have turned in a high eleven-second pass. I guess I will never know.

 

On to Part III