COMP After Hours: Project Loophole Monte Carlo

Ever wonder what goes on at COMP Cams after hours?

Well, a few of the COMP Performance Group tech guys decided to pool their resources and have a little fun at the nearby Memphis International Raceway. While they all have project cars, they knew this would be a great way to hang out and keep them on their toes. Nothing helps them understand a customer better than walking in their shoes.

After studying the rulebook, they decided the V/Stock Eliminator class would offer the best bang for their buck. They combed through different potential car and engine combinations until they whittled their targets down to two choices: a Ford Astro Van or a V6-powered F-body.

While the V6-powered, rear-wheel-drive Astro Van would’ve been great, especially as a billboard for contingency stickers, the thought of reaching into the cramped engine bay was not. With the discovery of a clean $1,500 ’86 Monte Carlo in Indiana, Project Loophole was born, and they were on their way.

NHRA’s Stock Eliminator class is filled with opportunities for fun and competition at every level, by equalizing the field with horsepower-to-weight breaks. The Project Loophole Monte Carlo falls into the V/Stock class with a weight break of 22 lbs for each factory rated HP. With a factory rating of 140 for the TBI-fed 4.3L V6, the Monte Carlo is allowed a minimum “race weight” of 3,250 lbs with 170 of those allotted for a driver.

The trick is to try and do as much as you can with the lowest factory-rated HP base, to get the lightest car. For example, a 155-HP 305, times 22 lbs, will net a required 3,410 lb car to compete. Starting with a 230-HP 350 model will require a hefty 5,060 lbs. Yes, there are more cubic inches, but can the Loophole Monte Carlo with it’s tiny V6 do more with less? That’s what the guys want to find out.

V/Stock cars with an automatic must run at least a 15.50 index to get on the board. While modifications are allowed, they are fairly strict to keep the integrity of the “stock” essence intact, and the local class winner is running in the 13s.

You can see the classes here:

Obviously, creativity in weight savings and redistribution is the name of the game. With an eye on keeping costs down between the three drivers, weight is shedding wherever possible, and money is being wisely invested.

Upon purchase, the Monte Carlo’s actual weight, without driver and a full tank of gas, was 3,356 lbs.That’s already 106 lbs over.

For a baseline quarter-mile time, the guys used a GPS phone app to record 18.00 at 77 mph. The car ran 17.98 at 76 mph after the removal of a 50 lb box of parts in the trunk; the car was otherwise as-found and as-purchased.

If you worry about the ounces, the pounds will follow, and so the car was cleaned out to lose a little weight:

Jack and spare tire: 35 lbs

Floor mats: 10 lbs

Door insulation: 2 lbs

Shop Manual: 1.5 lbs

Mudflaps: 1 lb

A closer inspection showed the front brakes were gunked up and not properly releasing. They were cleaned with PB Blaster, and the caliper bushings and bolts were polished, lubed and reassembled. With a weight reduction of 75 lbs and freeing up the front brakes, the 0-60 time went from 11.00 to 9.99 seconds and the car ran 17.01 at 77 mph in the rain.

Lose More Weight!

Another 80 lbs was removed from under the hood:

Air Cleaner: 8 lbs

Wiper Motor: 5 lbs

Wipers, washer assembly and AC dryer: 17 lbs

Compressor and lines: 18 lbs

Condenser and line: 5 lbs

Front sway bar and braces: 16 lbs

Coolant in overflow: 5 lbs

This brought the estimated total down to 3,173 lbs.

The factory wheels and tires were 39 lbs each, and the fronts were swapped with a set of Weld Draglite Frontrunners with 26-inch radials that weighed 25 lbs each. Weight: 3,145

Surprisingly, the car began shifting better after adding 3.5 quarts of fluid to the transmission, reminding us to never overlook the simple things.

Swapping the wheels and tires saved a ton of weight.

Swapping the wheels and tires saved a ton of weight.

More parts equals less weight:

Rear seat belts, charcoal cannister, rear seat insulation, rear speakers and the horn shed another 16 lbs. Driving two gallons of gas out around town netted another 14 lbs and put the weight calculations at 3,115 lbs.

Back-to-back passes on the phone app showed a 16.93 and a 16.92 at 78mph.

Another 18 lbs came off with the muffler and part of the exhaust system, and the rear wheels were swapped for a set of Welds with 235/60/15 Hoosier Drag Radials, saving another 14 lbs.  New weight recalculated to 3,083 lbs.

The fan and heater box was removed, along with the power steering, saving another 60 lbs. A manual box was installed, along with an aluminum radiator from Rock Auto and a heater delete plate from Jegs. The cast iron rear brake drums were replaced with aluminum ones for another 11 lbs in weight savings.

With the total weight at 3,012 and a 227-lb driver, the car ran 15.95 and 15.97 at 84 mph on back-to-back passes. The 15s were now a reality.

Bear in mind this is a bone-stock (and fairly tired) V6 Monte Carlo with weight reduction modifications only. Now it was time to begin working on the “going faster” bits. A set of S10 headers were added, along with an SSF torque Converter and a FAST XFI 2.0 ECU. The FAST wiring harness was modified to run just the two injectors in the stock throttle-body.

Race Time!

The car was brought to the Memphis International Raceway for a test and tune. The TCC solenoid in the 200R4 was prematurely locking up the converter, and the car’s injectors hit full duty cycle and leaned out under the guidance of the FAST XFI 2.0 ECU. Nevertheless, the car clicked off a 15.91 and a 15.90 at 86 mph, all with the stock engine, transmission and rear gears.


Next up: We swap the rear for a lightened one with 4.56 gears and a mini-spool we picked up for $600 and a set of larger injectors. Stay tuned!