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Can It Be Mean and Still Be Green”?


I was wondering why I kept this old engine block for all those years, now I know. It will be the home for the 541/E85 MoparMax project engine for the Back-2-Basics III dragster. It goes to the machine shop this week so the preparation process can begin.

In the next few months we will be getting parts organized to build a big cubic inch Mopar that will race in the Quick 16, Super Comp and bracket races and will be burning the new environmentally-friendly E85 fuel (85% ethanol and 15% unleaded gasoline). We will also get a tune-up for pure ethanol, methanol and race gas. If drag racing is going to grow as a sport we might as well look at alternative fuels and why not create a little less pollution while we are at it?

In a unique twist you will see the first installment of this engine here in Mopar Max, then we will alternate it between Drag Racing Online and Mopar Max on a monthly and possible a bi-monthly basis (don’t worry, we’ll have connections in both magazines so you won’t get lost). So, stay tuned and see if an engine like this could be in your future. Our goal is to build a competitive race engine on an affordable budget. All costs will be listed as well as where you can get them.

We will be featuring the parts we use, the preparation and assembly and finally the dyno results of this 541” E85 Mopar engine. We were tossing around the idea of a new project engine and we thought about building a Chevrolet or a Ford but my familiarity with big block Mopars lead me back to what I was most familiar with. The technology we will be using to get this engine to make power on E85 fuel will be applicable to any make of engine.

Ohio Crankshaft Company (www.ohiocrank.com) will be the source of our 541” rotating assembly. It will be an excellent foundation for this project. Their 4.5” stroke 4340 forged steel crank, JE flat-top pistons, Ohio Crankshaft H-beam rods, Total Seal Rings and Federal-Mogul bearings all internally balanced for $2195.00 gives us a great starting point. Next month follow the engine block preparation, cylinder head selection and the all-important camshaft design.

We are hoping to be using EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) and be able to come up with a program for the Electronic Control Unit that will allow us to switch fuels if and when we decide to do that. Availability of E85 at some race locations could be a problem until local supplies increase. That is the reason we want the engine to be set up on a multi-fuel fuel management system.

In the coming weeks we will be announcing the names of the companies that are supporting the Project 541/E85 Engine. We will also be starting the preparation work on the block, start our work with camshaft, cylinder head and EFI specialists.

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