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LA Street Racers

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Custom Performance Racing

Viewers of the Nat Geo channel will know CPR and its flat-black LS-powered ’72 240Z. CPR is owned by 27-year-old Martin Marinov. He got his start building engines and custom headers and setting up cars for friends out of his garage. His business grew by word of mouth, and soon he was setting up shop in a warehouse in Gardena. His philosophy is to start with a high-compression small-block, run it on E85, control it with MegaSquirt or an AEM computer, and bolt in the power-adder of your choice. His Z used to have a Gen I small-block Chevy, but he wanted to upgrade to higher-flowing, 15-degree cylinder heads. Looking at the cost involved, he decided to swap in an LS engine. “It was cheaper, plus it’s 150 pounds lighter,” he says. When asked about the best platform on which to build a race car, Martin says it doesn’t really matter that much. “Even the worst car can be built to go fast. The process involves a lot of trial and error in deciding on the right combination of cylinder heads, cams, and power-adders. After that, pinion angle, shock valving, and mounting angles need to be dialed in to make the car hook. Finally, you have to find the right combination of tire dimensions and gear to both launch the car and still pull on the top end of the track.”

As an example of a car that is fast but shouldn’t be, check out CPR employee Jim Rios’ Chevelle wagon. He’s owned it for more than 10 years and has just finished dropping in a 14.0:1 small-block Chevy. With forged internals, CPR-ported Procomp heads, and a huge shot of nitrous, it makes 1,000 to the wheels through a TH400 and 12-bolt rear. He’s anticipating 9.40-second e.t.’s out of this 3,900-pound car the next time he takes it to the track.

Flow Technology Racing Heads

Want some heads ported but don’t have a lot of money? Drop them off at Juan Mendoza’s shop in Garden Grove. According to Fabian, Juan is a genius when it comes to porting cylinder heads, and judging by the collection of Wallys casually sitting in his lobby, it’s clear he knows what he’s doing. Juan is 72 years old; he doesn’t have a website, a Facebook page, or a Twitter feed. You need to deal with him one-on-one in his shop, but we guarantee it’s worth the trip.

American Custom Cam

Need a custom cam grind? Look up American Custom Cam in Covina. Owner Joseph Bray took the business over from his father, Joe Sr., nearly 30 years ago and can grind a cam for any engine you can dream up. In his core pile, we saw everything from Model T camshafts to a 6-foot-long cam for Detroit Diesel tractor engines, along with a smattering of obscure motorcycle, forklift, and vintage British sports-car cams in between. He didn’t want a lot of pictures taken, but we did manage to shoot a photo of the template of the cam profiles for a Ferrari V12.

QMP Racing Engines

Based in Chatsworth, QMP Racing Engines is no stranger to the pages of Car Craft. It has a reputation as a high-end company building extreme-horsepower engines, and we suspect it may have been responsible for the engines in at least a few of the cars we’ve featured in this article, even though QMP co-owner Mike Consolo denies it. However, he was able to tell us that, in theory, street racers are making 1,000 hp to the wheels and getting there by way of high-compression, big-displacement small-blocks running on E85 or a mix of 91-octane and race gas. Generally, they are also using nitrous or forced induction as a power-adder.

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