By Mary Lendzion
Photos courtesy of John Warren
When John Warren was racing in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street, he was competitive and commanding.
He clocked a best of 7.61 and 179 mph in the quarter-mile with a 565 cubic-inch big-block Chevy by Knieriem Racing Engines and nitrous under the hood of his Nova which features leafsprings in the back and TRZ suspension in the front, but in 2017, he announced he was going in a different direction.
“I was talking to Dave (Werremeyer), who was at ProCharger at the time, and he asked me when I was going to start running a ProCharger,” said Warren, who had a nitrous bottle in his car for as long as he could remember. “It was at an NMCA race in the fall of 2016, and it really got me thinking, and I thought I would go ahead and try it. It was a hard decision because my car was working great with the nitrous.”
Warren chose a ProCharger F3-136 paired with an MTP gear drive, and talked with his longtime engine builder, Tim Knieriem of Knieriem Racing Engines, about building a new 540 cubic-inch big-block Chevy on a Dart raised-cam steel block topped with Brodix SR20 heads massaged by Race Flow Development.
To help Warren go from a carburetor to fuel injection, Wilson Manifolds ported his Edelbrock Victory intake and set it up with fuel rails, and he’ll use a Rage Fuel Systems mechanical belt-driven fuel pump.
“Tim (Knieriem) and I went with a combination we knew would work well with the blower,” said Warren, who will back his combination with a Turbo 400 by Bilbrey Automotive and a Protorque converter.
Warren sent his Strange rear-end housing to TRZ to be narrowed four inches. When TRZ completed and carefully shipped the housing back to him, he installed it into his car, while also replacing his 9-inch center section with a Strange 9.5 lightweight center section and Strange solid 40-spline axles, all purchased through TRZ.
“I went with a stronger, bigger center section to handle more power,” said Warren.
Then, the Kentucky-based driver whose brother is eight-time NMCA Detroit TrucTrac Nostalgia Muscle Car champion Andy Warren, installed his new engine into his car before taking it to Dean Lee of Compression, Fabrication and Machine, for what he referred to as a “whole lot of cutting, welding, fabrication and aluminum work.”
“We had to do the intake piping, coil pack mounts, new transmission cross member and clearance work under the hood of the car for the blower,” said Warren. “We have Lemons headers for the car and Dean and I made slip-on zoomie collectors, and did some notching on the stock frame rails and Dean put fittings on the custom 4.5-gallon aluminum fuel cell that Jason Love made. Jeremy Lyons helped us with some of the cutting and manual labor at the shop.”
When that work was wrapped up, the car spent a little time at CamboBuilt Speed and Chassis.
“Cam Dedman at CamboBuilt did the fuel plumbing and hoses, made a mount for the AEM CD-7 digital dash, mounted the burn-down evacuation tank, fitted the engine catch-tray, and helped install the transmission and a new tow hook under the chassis,” said Warren.
Craig Watson will soon help set up and program the AEM CD-7 digital dash, and Warren will then take the car to Haltech to be wired for an engine management system and to be put on a chassis dyno for an initial tune. Eric Gash and Victor Contreras are on board to design additional tunes in the days to come.
Warren, who has two different sets of double beadlock Holeshot wheels and two different sets of Mickey Thompson drag radials, plans to be testing by April before competing in various small tire races and Limited Drag Radial races, including the recently-announced Mickey Thompson Radial Rampage, featuring Limited Drag Radial, Radial vs. the World, Street Outlaw and Xtreme Street, at the NMCA Power Festival, May 28-31 at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois.
“I’m excited, but also nervous,” said Warren. “I’m hoping everything works out as it’s supposed to, with no issues. I’ve never had an engine of this caliber, plus a whole new type of power adder. It will have power you can physically feel in your chest.”