Welcome to this month's Pavement Pounders Shootout, where we return to Virginia Motorsports Park (VMP) in Petersburg, Virginia, to bring you a fresh round of Pontiac racers ready to risk their reputations on the quarter-mile track. The Shootout, held the day before the Inaugural Performance Years Pontiac Nationals (see coverage in the next issue), allowed private-invitation-only Pontiac drag racers from across the United States to have use of the VMP quarter-mile track for the day, show off their engine combos, and experiment with alternate tunings and techniques to find the lowest e.t.
We start our series with a comparison of two completely opposite Pontiacs. The elder of these two Ponchos started life as a typical 326ci, two-barrel, six-seater "grocery getter," and over the course of the last seven years has been built into a racetrack-only, sizzling strip scorcher. The other participant's Pontiac was factory-engineered with the word "musclecar" already in its DNA-specifically a 346ci LS1 V-8 engine-but its owner has treated it to some popular mild mods to improve e.t.'s, while still retaining 100-percent daily streetability.
Let's meet the racers.
Carl McHenry of Parkersburg, West Virginia, came ready to rule the racetrack with his 16.66-foot-long '66 Tempest wagon. Originally it came with a 250hp 326, but for our event, it was stuffed with a 0.040-over 455 engine, KRE aluminum D-port heads, a Turbo 400 trans, and 3.73 rear gears. Carl bought it to be the tow vehicle for his GTO, but will the wagon earn its own reputation on the quarter-mile strip?
Steven Woods of Central, South Carolina, brought his daily-driver '99 Trans Am WS6. It's equipped with a 346ci LS1, "853" heads, a T56 six-speed manual trans, and 4.10 gears. How much improvement can his cam, bolt-ons, and gearing give him over a factory-stock Fourth-Gen?
The temperature at Virginia Motorsports Park during our Shootout ranged from 68.9 degrees to 91.9 degrees, and the barometric pressure was 29.88 hg. The track is 170 feet above sea level and density altitude varied from 956 to 2,554 feet, so we'll give each racer his own correction factor (if needed) based upon the density altitude at the time of his best pass: Since Carl's best pass occurred with a density altitude of just 956 feet, he will not receive an altitude-correction factor, but since Steven's best pass was at 2,396-feet density altitude, he'll receive an altitude-correction factor of 0.9718 for e.t. and 1.0297 for mph at 2,400 feet to chart the theoretical best performance at sea level. This will be done on the best pass only, based on e.t.