The TCI Engineering entry to the 2017 Super Chevy Muscle Car Challenge is Andy ‘The Nova Guy’ Mule’s ’66 Sedan. Andy has been a long time customer and friend of TCI Engineering. He’s been messing around with Nova for two decades so he’s accumulated mass amounts of stock parts. If you need factory Nova parts, he is the guy to contact. He doesn’t do it for the money, he does it for fun and to lend a helping hand to fellow Nova enthusiasts. He’s a diehard Nova enthusiast, so much so that everyone calls him “the Nova Guy”.
A few years back our VP of Operations (Sal) sold his project ’66 Nova Sedan to Andy. This car was our design vehicle for both the Pro Touring clip and Torque Arm rear suspension. The sedan sat in the garage for a few years as he put all his time and energy into building his wife’s Nova convertible. With his priorities firmly planted on his better half he began to plan his sedan build. The sedan came out of the body shop 21 days before the 2017 Super Chevy Muscle Car Challenge. We knew that he couldn’t assemble it in time by himself so to our R&D facility it came.
It seems to be a reoccuring theme with last minute preperation for this event over the years and 2017 would be no different. The night before the event we were reassembling the 3rd member after a gear change(thanks Currie), making last minute timing adjustments to the MSD box, and doing a final alignment and pinion angle adjustment. The only miles the car had on it were from our shop over to the fine folks at Elegance Auto Interiors which is just a few miles away. OK, and maybe a few “spiritied” jaunts down Brooks street to bed the brakes in. The car is powered by a 427″ carbureted Blueprint engine backed by a Tremec T56 Magnum provided by Silver Sport and a Mcleod RXT twin disc clutch. 18×10″ front and 18×11 rear American Racing wheels shod with 275/35 & 315/35 Falken tires. Ridetech triple adjustable shocks keep it planted while 13″ Wilwood brakes bring it to a hault.
We arrived at 7:00 AM with our game faces on. We would get 5 laps at each of the three performance aspects of the event (Slalom, 100 yeard dash, and the road course). After just one lap of the Road Course we had two issues. The rev limiter was coming on too early. We have a bunch of data for this course and we had calculated exactly what the car should mph in 4th gear on the front straight(main reason for the last minute gear change). We weren’t able to correct this until after our 5 laps were up. Watch the video below, you can hear it banging the rev limiter on every lap. The second issue was brake related. This car had a different master cylinder configuration than we’ve used so brake bias was out of whack. After adjusting it as far as it would go the little sedan still had too much rear brake. This is the unfortunate side effect of doing a last minute build. If we had a spare hour or two we could have fixed the problem. In spite of these issues Sal still managed to run a 1.18:43 lap putting him in the 8th spot.
Did we mention it was hot? Air temps hovered around 110 degrees and track temps were 150+. We were doing everything we could to keep the engines, tires and even ourselves from overheating. Sal seemed to struggle getting the Nova through the slalom. The first pass he got through two cones and had too much momentum so he didn’t even try to yank the wheel back to the next cone. On the 4th pass he got through clean and ran a 6.42 which was 11th fastest. By comparison, the last time we tested an early Nova with Super Chevy we ran a 5.90. That would have been enough for 1st place but that was on a cooler track back in 2010 at El Toro with Nick Licata behind the wheel. Nick’s real good at the slalom. The last test was the 100 yard dash. We’ve always considered this portion to be “Our event”. Sal has a bunch of drag racing experience so he knows how to put the power down, especially in a slick environment such as this. With the rev limiter raised he got through in the 3rd gear running a 5.02 putting him in 2nd place. Just .02 behind the sequentially shifted Speedway “Hot Wheels” Camaro.
We’re still unwinding from the 2017 Super Chevy Muscle Car Challenge and we already can’t wait for next year. We’ve already addressed the braking issues and Andy intends to abuse his car as much as a retiree possible can. His first event behind the wheel will be in less than 2 weeks at the NMCA Fall Nationals. We’re excited to see Andy get to put his new build through its paces.