The COMP Cams Engine Builder Duel breaks to re-tool for the 2017 season.
The COMP Cams Engine Builder Duel program will take this event season off to completely re-tool for 2017. After eight hard years of service, the legendary Chevy small blocks will be retired. Surprisingly, two of the original three engines remain.
Bryan Pitcher of COMP Cams has been with the program since the beginning and has overseen every competition except two. By his estimate, the engines have been torn down and rebuilt more than 200 times.
“Thankfully, we’ve only had two minor mishaps and one catastrophic one,” he says. “We were able to get the two engines with minor mishaps repaired and running very quickly, but the third failure was fatal, and the engine had to be replaced with our ‘barker’ block at the beginning of the 2015 season.”
The “barker” is the third engine that’s fired up at the 10-minute mark prior to the start of the competition. Through the years, teams of two have gone head-to-head assembling their engines in the shortest amount of time. The first team whose engine starts and runs for one minute is the winner. Teams have consisted of everyone from a 12-year-old girl and her grandfather and husband and wife teams to tech students, magazine editors, and professional engine builders.
To date, the current official record is 20 minutes and 59 seconds, set by Jim Schmittinger and Jesse Nelson at the Car Craft Summer Nationals in 2014.
The blazingly fast duo were repeat participants who came back several years, improving their time with every competition.
“At the end of eight years, the engine blocks were getting soft,” says Pitcher. “Repeated head torquing had softened the metal in the block, and we were adding helicoils between each round. The cam bearings and rod bolts also took a beating, but the engines still ran. It’s a testament to the durability of the Chevy small block.”
Plans are underway to re-tool the entire program with new engines, components and hardware. Look for the new and improved Engine Builder Duel to emerge in the 2017 event season.