As one of the legendary figures in the original heads-up Mustang drag racing arena, Wild Bill Devine has seen and heard just about everything when it comes to the small-block Ford engine. He championed the cause for the 8.200-inch deck height 302-based small-block Ford until it became unreliable at the power levels he was after, and a few years back switched to the 9.500-inch height Windsor-based engine.
Currently, his engine is at Steve Morris Engines, where Devine has been in close consultation with the team as they attempt to make 3,000 horsepower from the combination so Devine can use it to compete in the PDRA’s eighth-mile Pro Boost class. As you can see from the video above, with 37.1 pounds of boost pressure, the engine twisted the SME dyno needle to 2,544.6 horsepower at only 7,100 rpm. Devine typically twists the tach needle up another 2,000-plus RPM over this number.
“Steve’s shop is just a few miles away from Bullseye Power Turbochargers, where I work, and we’ve done a lot of development work with them over the last few years,” Devine says. “Steve suggested putting my car on his chassis dyno recently, and after a few days of testing we couldn’t really get the car to repeat. It would make power, then the next run it would fall off.”
While the car was on the SME chassis dyno, Devine made contact with longtime friends Robin Lawrence and Ricky Best at Holley EFI to set the car up with one of their Dominator ECU systems with sixteen injectors on board – a set of eight 220 lb./hr. squirters supplemented with eight more 500 lb./hr. injectors in the second set of fuel rails. These are fed by a Waterman fuel pump and suck down massive quantities of methanol fuel.
Based on the chassis dyno inconsistencies, Morris made the suggestion to switch to the engine dyno to have complete control over the engine’s performance. Devine deferred to his experience, so they pulled the engine out to put it onto the engine dyno, where they could do more development work prior to hitting the track.
“The goal is to make 3,000 horsepower, and we know we have the airflow to do it. We put it on the engine dyno, with the Holley system on it, and with coil packs now, changed from our previous magneto system. The boost is substantially lower than what we normally run – 37 pounds versus 40-plus on the track. We’re pretty sure with the boost ramped up, and the new camshaft Steve is working on, it will move the powerband up earlier and get that 3,000 number.”
Prior the chassis dyno test sessions, Devine changed the oil in the engine, and noticed a couple of aluminum shavings in the oil. These issues were unexpected, and as it turns out, a blessing in disguise.
“I thought it was just something minor, maybe some leftover shavings from assembly. We tore it down after the engine dyno sessions to check it out just in case, and it turns out that my forged crankshaft was flexing. Steve suggested that if we tried to run the car as-is, we ran the risk of breaking the crankshaft and having much worse issues at the track. I’m on the hunt for a billet crankshaft right now,” he says.
The engine is currently in pieces, with the development schedule accelerated a bit due to the crankshaft issues.
Based around a 9.500-inch Shelby aluminum block, the engine currently displaces 438 cubic inches through the use of a 4.100-inch stroke crankshaft, GRP 6.125-inch aluminum connecting rods, and Diamond 4.125-inch forged 2618 aluminum pistons. Compression ratio is set at a boost-friendly 10.8:1.
The new Steve Morris camshaft will employ custom, secret-squirrel dimensions as the team looks to bust that 3,000-horse magic number.
The cylinder heads are billet custom pieces machined and assembled by airflow wizard Dave Visner of Visner Engine Development – also located in the Western Michigan area Devine calls home.
They are stuffed with 2.180-inch intake and 1.600-inch Manley titanium valves and suck air from the Visner billet intake manifold. Cometic and Fel-Pro team up to seal the engine oil in and the atmosphere out.
Custom 1 3/4-inch stainless headers feed the 83mm Bullseye Power TCT turbochargers with stainless-steel turbine housings, as Devine looks to develop turbochargers that will perform properly in the eighth-mile Pro Boost eliminator.
“PDRA Pro Boost allows a small-block to be 2,250 pounds in competition, and with 3,000 horsepower on tap I know we can be competitive over there,” says Devine. “The mentality for choosing the 83mm turbochargers is that they fit in better places, at 29 pounds each they are lighter than typical 88mm turbos, and for eighth-mile racing we feel that they will help to keep the engine in the powerband more effectively.”
Devine’s past history as a trendsetter and capable racer will be on display in the ultra-competitive Pro Boost ranks, where he’ll go up against racers who will test his skills, and the skills of those members of his team that are all working to put him into the winner’s circle. One thing’s for certain – Devine will leave no stone unturned in his quest to excel against the best of the best.
Check out the sights and sounds of a monster-power twin-turbo small-block Ford on the SME dyno!