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Danny's Corner

Six Second Small Blocks

by Danny White (2/7/99)

In the history of drag racing, the most popular engine has been the small block, although its use has been limited in certain classes such as the fuel classes, Pro Stock, and certainly in the mega-inch world quick doorslammer racing. When striving for six-second elapsed times and 200 mph speeds, it is much easier to follow the beaten track and get the hot combo of the week. The reason I chose to do this story is that the following racers dare to be different, often having trial and error as their only path to progress. Small block doorslammers in the six-second zone are rare, but many are getting nearer, much to the delight of the hard core racing fan.

The quickest and fastest of the small blocks is medical supplies CEO Hurley Blakeney. Hurley races the awesome "Angio Laz" 1995 Thunderbird in NHRA Comp eliminator on the index system in AA/AT. The car has proven to be the quickest and fastest doorslammer in NHRA history with a 6.641-second, 208.41 mph pass from the twin turbocharged 382 inch Ford built by turbo expert Ken Duttweiller. Texas car builder Kim Smith built the Thunderbird to replace a temperamental Mustang that crashed twice while overpowering the track. The short wheelbase Mustang went 7.08 before being totaled for the last time, prompting Hurley to build the longer and wider Thunderbird. At its last race, the Thunderbird had to run against a 7.25 index. The car is capable of putting the big number on the board at any time, but the 'Bird is prone to turbo lag, terrible tire shake, and inconsistent track surfaces. Blakeney races in a class where only two similar cars have run before he did, these being the Buicks of Garth Hill and the Hill & Williams 23 T and Buddy Ingersoll's Buick Regal and Skylark. Blakeney's "Silent Thunder" is by far the most popular Comp car with the fans and with the racers who do not have to run against him.

Ever the innovator, Blakeney has added a second turbocharged car to the team. It runs BB/AT with a smaller version of the other Duttweiller engine, a 290 cubic incher. The baby brother of "Silent Thunder" has made its own waves with Blakeney and chassis builder Kim Smith driving the car. Blakeney almost broke the six-second barrier with it, hitting a close 7.01. Smith has run a 7.05. The car is now scheduled to race in Pro Stock full time this year after Mike Bell showed its potential at Spring Ennis last year. Blakeney will run the Thunderbird on a limited basis while Pro Stock takes the main stage.

Some could argue that the baddest small block of them all is hidden down south in Mississippi -- out in the Scruggs Family racing stables. Jason Scruggs is the driver of the car, while dad Marshall is the master tuner. The Scruggs Racing 1963 Corvette has run a mind-bending 4.06 in the eighth mile with a blown (read deeply blown by a PSI) 400 cubic inch small block in the beautiful Rick Jones built racer. The best way to put that run in perspective is to note that Scotty Cannon is the quickest ever doorslammer in the eighth mile. Little surprise there, but Cannon's best run was just .06 seconds quicker than Scruggs, a 4.00-second pass with a combination that went 6.20 in the quarter mile! We don't have any quarter mile times on Scruggs' car, but the math works out to be better than Blakeney by far.

The fastest small block blown by neither supercharger nor turbocharger is Stacy Hall's killer small block Corvette. The late model purple and white machine has been a threat on the IHRA circuit in Top Sportsman and Top Sportsman Quick 8 competition. Hall, an engine builder for Gene Fulton, has run a best of 6.874 on nitrous and claims a best of 7.06 without nitrous boost. Hall won the World Finals Quick 8 program, running his best times ever to take an upset win over favored Greg Bensinger.

The fastest small block Mopar is the Ted May-driven 1996 Avenger that races in BB/AT. Ted May is best known for a string of successful Chevrolets in IHRA Top Sportsman and Super Gas competition. The car that made Ted switch sanctioning bodies and brands was the twin turbocharged machine of John Meaney. Meaney built the car as a hobby, but was able to get Mopar Performance sponsorship to help a bit. The team has run a super 7.038 against a 7.62 index with all of 302 cubic inches under the hood. The car has won numerous best engineered awards to go along with its great performances.

A match racer from Kansas City named Willie Brummit has been running a blown small block for the last couple of years and it is starting to come together for him. The car Willie runs is a 1993 Camaro with a distinctive chopped top and a wing on the back to give it a unique look. He runs the local races in the Missouri area and a best of 7.05 at 203.71 last year almost put him into the magic six-second zone.

Last year, Jeff Belloma debuted a small block Top Sportsman 1963 Corvette called "The Beast." If you don't remember the eye catching paint, you'll remember the purge of the nitrous coming out the side of the car -- right out of the painting of The Beast! Jeff, in his rookie season on the Top Sportsman trail, backed up those visuals with solid performances. Jeff used a big 421-inch Buick motor to grab a good 7.16-second, 191-mph pass, and will be looking for a six-second time slip in 1999.

Last but not least is the guy who has been doing this the longest. From California comes the "Sprit of St. Louis" (ironic, I know) of Ray Newton. Ray runs a drop dead beautiful green bubble top 1961 Impala with 420 inches of bored and stroked small block. Newton ran this full sized car for a couple of years, then sat out until he came back last year with a full on turbocharged engine. Ray got the car to run 7.19, 195.52, way back in 1993 to show definite six-second potential. The best run we have heard of with the turbo so far is an 8.08 in testing.

The small block motor has proven its rock-solid reliability for over 44 years and has become a racer's favorite. However, with numbers like those shown in this article, the small block is also proving it has the potential to contend for top dog honors in sheer performance, as well.

Danny White


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