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The Giant Car Craft LS Engine Swap Challenge

A Heads-Up Wrenchfest Where The Winner Takes Home A Brand-New LS6!

By , Photography by ,

Team Olds was aware of some kind of problem with the Camaro, but its members were running their own race. As the announcer acknowledged the 20-minute mark, the whole team let out an audible groan, and it was apparent that this had been their goal. As it was, they weren't far off. Attempting to use the Hooker headers burned a few minutes when the passenger-side header crashed into the trans shift linkage, necessitating a switch to stock exhaust manifolds. In less than 30 minutes, Justin fired the engine to ensure it would run, and then the team jammed to complete the reassembly. A scant few seconds later, the front clip was dropped back onto the body, and with sweat dripping, Trent climbed behind the wheel, fired the engine, and backed up the car the required distance to stop the timers. A postswap inspection revealed only a loose throttle linkage, and the final official time was posted as an astonishing 31 minutes, 57 seconds. Considering Holley had allowed room in the schedule for the Engine Swap Challenge to continue through to the following Sunday if necessary, Team Olds had just placed an impressive elapsed time line in the sand for future competitors.

The RideTech Suspension Challenge
It doesn't take long for you to learn that Olds' owner Justin Dermody is a hustler. Not more than 10 minutes after his team had completed the Engine Swap Challenge, he walked down to the RideTech trailer to see what kind of deal he could swing on a complete pneumatic suspension system from company owner Brett Voelkel. Brett just happened to have a complete A-body chassis on display sitting in front of his trailer. Brett said, "Tell you what, you bring your car over here, and if you guys can swap the complete suspension over before the end of the day, you can have it." Clearly, Justin and his guys were on a roll. Then Brett suggested they baseline the car on the slalom and then test it again after the suspension swap. They bolted the Hooker headers on the Olds after removing the shift linkage, Justin and Brett donned helmets, and Brett flogged the Olds through the wet/dry slalom course. Then Team Olds rolled the big Snap-on toolbox in front of the RideTech trailer and let the wrenches fly. Three hours and six minutes later, after battling 40-year-old rusted bolts that had never been off the car, the Olds was sitting on a complete RideTech Street Challenge Level 3 suspension that includes both the front strong-arm pieces with the muscle car front sway bar along with the matching rear system and controlled by the Ride PROe3 control system. When Brett blasted through the autocross course again with the new suspension in place, the upgrade was worth 16 seconds-all accomplished in less than four hours. Amazing.

The '11 Engine Swap Challenge
Holley had so much fun with this year's event that you can expect to see an improved (which means much more challenging) version of the Car Craft Engine Swap Challenge at next year's event. The dates are already locked in for September 9-11, 2011, at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. For updated information, check out

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