The best laid plans…

uring the 1970s, Edelbrock employees worked 5.5 days/week. That meant half days on Saturdays. For those of us engaged in “engineering” activities that included engine dynamometer testing, these “half days” frequently bled into late Saturday afternoons that unfolded in a more casual atmosphere. That sets part of the scene, what follows describes one instance that occurred during one of those times.

It was around 1974 and Penske Racing was involved with what was then termed “Grand National” NASCAR program. Bobby Allison had made his switch from the Penske camp to an AMC Javelin, amid woeful cries from his Hueytown, Alabama constituency, and  Edelbrock was engaged in “helping” him with his induction system requirements. In typical fashion, that meant tailoring various intake manifold configurations to his particular engine combinations. In a word, working with Bobby was pure “fun.”

Concurrently, Penske had been involved with (actually helped create) the International Race Of Champions (IROC) program and moved from first-year Porsches to Camaros, largely because of the expense associated with patching wrinkled-up German sheet-metal. After all, if you’re among the elite race car driver community and not financially responsible for repairing your broken machinery, why not engage in “bumper car” techniques on the race track? Roger reckoned Camaros would be less expensive to maintain. The point here is that Traco Engineering in Culver City, CA, and one of the premier engine builders of the time was contracted to build the 302 Chevy IROC engines and had previously been assembling the AMC GN engines Mark Donohue had been driving for Penske at the same time with Allison.

You may recall a prior “Technically Speaking” bit that chronicled how Vic enjoyed dropping a piece of heat-treated aluminum onto the dyno room’s concrete floor at times when racers’ engines were wailing away at “high C” rpm, thus treading on any tendencies toward cardiac arrest… all in the interest of good humor, you understand. In fact, it was from such an experience with a young parts-runner from Traco that we’d subsequently learned about his then-recent exposure to an engine explosion (at Traco) a night before Vic’s deed. Funny story. But I’m digressing....

So… here we are on a Saturday afternoon in the Edelbrock dyno facility, testing one of Traco’s AMC GN engines, Donahue is present and we’re winding down the afternoon spinning stories about racing. You know the drill. With the telling of each yarn, the objective is to out-do the previous teller with one of your own.