A guy cornered us in the hotel elevator: "Did you see that rusty Nova with the turbocharged LS1?" No, we hadn't yet, but we made sure to look for it the next day at Lights Out V—the outlaw drag-radial race at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Adel, Georgia—earlier this spring. We were in for a treat, too, as this ratty-looking Nova revealed a tasty, turbo 4.8L swap when we peeked under the hood. Floyd Cannon found this car for sale less than a mile from his house. He didn't really intend to make a race car out of it, but "the build got a little more involved," as Floyd put it. He and his son, Travis, who'd been racing Jr. Dragsters since age 9, yanked the old-school 350 in favor of a "lightly built" LS1. Travis is a metal fabricator, so he built the rollcage, did the chassis modifications, and built the turbo kit. A few weeks prior to this weekend, the LS1 got hurt. Not wanting to miss the race, they didn't have time to rebuild the LS1 because it needed machining, so this is a 4.8L core engine they picked up from a local wrecking yard. They put their LS1 heads on it, but it's completely stock otherwise. At the time we shot these pictures, they had already made at least 20 passes at 19-psi boost, and the engine was holding up just fine. When their LS1 is back together, they'll race the Nova in the Ultimate Street class, where it should be making high-5-second passes in the eighth-mile.
Floyd and Travis Cannon
What: 1969 Chevrolet Nova
Where: Noble, OK
Drivetrain: During the weekend of Lights Out V, the Nova was running with a turbocharged 4.8L engine purchased for $100 from a junkyard. It's backed by a Powerglide transmission, and the rearend is a Fab9 out of their dragster. Travis built the headers and plumbing between the Precision 88mm turbocharger and the engine. He also uses HP Tuners to program a stock '01 Camaro ECM, connected to the engine by a cut-down factory wiring harness. The lowly 4.8 is stock, save for the addition of the cylinder heads borrowed from the LS1 that's supposed to be powering the car. They've been putting 19 pounds of boost to the engine, and it hasn't balked yet.
Other notables: Travis hooked up a water/methanol injection system to cool the intake charge and reduce the risk of detonation.