Tech NotesWho: Rowdy McDaniel
What: '66 Chevy Chevelle
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Short-block: This is the part everybody wants to know about. Rowdy started with a Dart Big M iron 4.500-inch-bore block and added a 4.250-inch Callies steel Dragonslayer crank, Manley H-beam 6.385-inch-long rods, and a set of SRP forged, 10cc, domed pistons that create roughly a 10.5:1 compression ratio. Mike Lewis from Laytonville, California, did the machine work. Rowdy built the engine himself with help from Clevite 77 bearings and Sealed Power 11/416-inch rings. He chose an Isky mechanical roller cam with 267/272 degrees of duration at 0.050 with pole-vault-like 0.730/0.714-inch lift numbers working on the Isky Red Zone EZ Roll mechanical lifters and Trend 31/48-inch-diameter, 0.135-inch-wall-thickness pushrods.
Heads: To make Rowdy power you need a great set of heads, so the 540 got a set of AFR 335 CNC'd castings outfitted with fully machined combustion chambers and 2.300/1.88-inch stainless steel valves with titanium retainers. Rat motors are famous for tossing valvetrain parts and evidently Rowdy's learned the lesson. Rather than stick with stud-mounted roller rockers, he invested in a set of Larry Tores' T&D shaft-mounted 1.7:1 rollers, which keep everything glued together.
Induction: Big Rats need big carburetors, and this stealth big-block breathes through a Pro Systems 1,100-cfm Dominator ducted with help from an Edelbrock Victor 454-R single-plane intake. Rowdy also says that his current black Holley fuel pump is probably too small to feed this voracious Rat the gallons of 91-octane pump gas it devours. Ignition is handled by an MSD distributor and plug wires with Autolite 3924 plugs.
Exhaust: Rowdy managed to squeeze 2-inch Hedman headers with 3-inch collectors between the framerails with minimal difficulty and plumbed the 3-inch mandrel-bent tubing through a pair of DynoMax Ultra Flo mufflers.
Power: It makes 753 hp at 6,700 rpm and 673 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm. Now you know why he needs that T&D rocker-shaft system and those big pushrods.
Cooling: Rowdy has a handle on keeping this Rat cool even in desert conditions with a modest aluminum radiator, a pair of Spal 12-inch electric fans, a Stewart beltdriven water pump, and a 135-amp alternator.
Transmission: It takes a stout transmission to push a 3,490-pound Chevelle into the mid-10s and live on the street to boot. Rowdy uses a Coan Extreme Street TH400 with a Coan 10-inch converter that stalls at 3,500 rpm.
Rearend: That's just a run-of-the-mill Chevelle 12-bolt out back with Richmond 3.55 gears and an Auburn limited slip. Rowdy says the axles are stock. They have to be the most abused stock axles in Nevada.
Suspension/Brakes: If you think the drivetrain is powerful yet unremarkable, wait until we run down the suspension. Except for cut springs, a 111/44-inch front sway bar and Competition Products front shocks, the only other trick in the front is '68-'72 Chevelle single-piston-caliper, 11-inch disc brakes. In the rear, Rowdy has had to add a set of Lakewood bars and an H&R antiroll bar to keep the rear tires glued to the track.
Wheels/Tires: Those are simple aluminum Weld wheels on all four corners. The rears are conservative 15x8-inchers with 5.5 inches of backspacing mounted with a pair of Mickey Thompson 275/60R15 ET Street radials.
Interior: The safety freaks will no doubt notice that the car has no rollcage or harnesses, so don't bother to write. Rowdy says he re-covered the black upholstery himself using his 1898 treadle Singer sewing machine. Other additions include factory gauges and an original Chevelle console and shifter.
Exterior: The only clue to this Chevelle's potential is the Goodmark 2-inch steel cowl hood necessary to clear the tall Edelbrock intake manifold. Maaco painted the car black, and that about says it all for the exterior. "It's built to look good from a distance that seems to be increasing," Rowdy says.
Performance: Rowdy says the Chevelle has run a best of 10.69 at 125.90 mph with a best 60-foot time of 1.59. The Chevelle's best mph is 127.53. He says the current engine has 4,900 miles on it.
Appearances: There's a promo that ran for Spike TV where Rowdy's Chevelle runs off against a yellow Lamborghini.