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1969 Chevy Nova - The Hurricane

Dan Novara's 1,450hp, 8-Second Nova

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Tech Notes
Who: Dan Novara
Where: St. Louis, MO
What: '69 Chevrolet Nova

Engine: Let's talk horsepower, shall we? Starting with the foundation, Dan's brother, Mark, machined and built this 509ci big-block with a big-bore 4.500-inch Dart iron-block, adding an Ohio Crankshaft forged-steel 4.00-inch-stroke crank. This 1/4-inch-larger bore automatically produces better airflow while the short stroke crank makes rpm a breeze. The forged pistons produce an 8:1 static compression ratio, which is combined with a set of Total Seal rings to seal up all that cylinder pressure. Comp supplied the mechanical roller cam with 0.650-inch lift and 300 degrees of duration. All this valve action takes place within a big rectangle-port set of Brodix aluminum heads with 2.30/1.88-inch valves and a Crower stainless steel rocker shaft system. Brodix also supplied the square-port single-plane intake. The carburetor is a 900-cfm Holley modified to be used as a blow-through carb. One of the big tricks is to epoxy the metering block main-well cups to prevent boost pressure from pushing them out, causing a massive fuel leak. The headers are 2 1/4-inch primary-tube jewels built by Lemons ( and designed around the Smith Racecraft front suspension. The exhaust combines DynoMax mufflers with 4-inch pipes.

Supercharger: That's a cog-driven ProCharger F-2 bolted to the front of Dan's 509. The F-2 is rated to flow up to 2,700 cfm of air at a maximum boost level of 38 psi. Dan is much more conservative than that, pushing only around 24 pounds of boost when using VP C-16 race gas. One of the reasons the F2 is so popular is because it has a self-contained lubrication system, which means Dan didn't have to fabricate pressure feed and return lines between the engine and the blower. He also added an ATI air-to-air intercooler just to put the chill to that boosted Air. Fuel is delivered by a Product Engineering fuel pump and regulator system.

Transmission: There's a reason Powerglides are the predominant choice with drag racers: They work. With an estimated 1,450 hp on tap, you don't need a lot of gear multiplication to get the car moving. So Transmission Specialties built a stellar two-speed for Dan and matched it with a 5,800-rpm stall speed converter, all controlled with a simple B&M shifter and connected to the rearend by Driveshafts Unlimited.

Rearend: Another forgone conclusion is the 9-inch rear axlehousing. Strange fitted the centersection with a 4.30:1 gear, a spool, and 33-spline axles. What more do we need to say?

Front suspension: One of the first things Dan wanted to do was install a Smith Racecraft front clip under the car. This is a complete bolt-in, round-tube front subframe that utilizes unequal-length tubular upper and lower control arms rather than struts. The subframe is designed especially for drag race cars with aluminum motor plates and small-diameter chrome-moly tubing control arms. Dan added a Flaming River rack-and-pinion along with Strange shocks, springs, and front disc brakes to complete the front suspension.

Rear suspension: Here, Dan went with a complete M&B ladder bar system installed by Mike LaRabel. The tough part about this job was that the Nova was already painted when Mike got the call to install the front suspension as well as the rear tubs, 9-inch, ladder bars, and the rest of the rear suspension. Dan says the work was excellent with no runs, chips, or errors. He is also careful to mention that despite the car's extremely quick times, you'll not see any wheelie bars on it.

Wheels/Tires: The rear sits on a set of Weld Racing Star 15x10-inch wheels mounting a big pair of Mickey Thompson 30x13.5-15-inch ET Drag Radials. In the front are a pair of M/T ET Fronts measuring 26x5 inches mounted on impossibly narrow 3.5x15-inch Weld wheels.

Interior: Dan credits The Top Shop for the complete interior installation, including the dash, headliner, door panels, carpet, and custom back seat area-and that was after Mike LaRabel had already installed the 'cage. In the dash is an Auto Meter Sport Comp tach and gauge package that was wired by Dan's brother, Mark.

Performance: Here is where the real numbers lay it all out. The Nova's best pass in the eighth-mile is a 5.21 at 136.5 mph, which our computer simulation says would make this an 8.10 pass at 165 mph. On pump gas, Dan says this combination should make about 1,300 hp, and the car weighs in at a svelte 3,260 pounds.

Crew: Dan wanted to thank Mark for all his work on the car along with Mike LaRabel for the excellent chassis work, Mick Boyer for his tuning expertise, and, of course, Dan's wife, Pamela, and their two sons, Jamie and Johnny.

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