Photos by: Mark Steward
Peeling Back the Hood to Reveal Doug Cook’s LT1
Powered by an AES built stroker GEN V LT1 for Motion Raceworks, Doug Cook decided not to go with the ‘typical’ LS-swap when it came to his record-breaking 1972 Chevy Nova. They were going to push the envelope, but they wanted to do it with ease. Instead of chasing a record that so many were already after, they decided to go a totally different direction, and that meant opening new doors to get there.
It’s hard to imagine ever getting bored with the LS-platform, but that’s what happened with Doug Cook Motion Raceworks owner and the rest of the team at Motion Raceworks when they started planning what to do with this Nova. While the whole world is still trying to figure out the LT1/LT4 stuff, there was hardly any hesitation with this build, and no looking back on dropping the LS aspect from the planning.
Besides being able to use a new, far more powerful platform to start with, the records held in the LT world are still not that crazy since a lot of people haven’t gotten into swapping the engine into project cars, not yet at least. When Doug and the rest of the Motion Raceworks team started to toy with the idea, the LT world record was only 8.90-seconds in the quarter mile, which isn’t much considering the many passes LS-powered cars have made well below this zone. It’s also probably worth noting the previous record holder was a heavily modified 2016 Camaro, aka the Fireball Camaro, which was the first in the 8’s, but wouldn’t hold the record for long.
That being said, it wasn’t the intention of Doug and Motionworks to simply beat the current LT 1/4-mile record, they wanted to absolutely annihilate it. The goal with this build was not to just snatch the world record, but they wanted to make sure they were the first ones to dip into the 7-second zone with an LT engine. To do this, they were going to need the best engine builders out there, so this is where the experts at Automotive Engine Specialities (AES) step in on the build.
While the Nova isn’t a particularly heavy car at 3,350-pounds, it was going to need some power to move it down the track in less than 8-seconds. AES decided that using a 2017 stock Scoggin Dickey sourced sleeved LT4 block with a stock LT4 forged crank was the way to get this build started.
A set of forged CP pistons and Carillo billet I-beam connecting rods provide indomitable strength under the high-pressure conditions of the powerful engine. An undisclosed spec’ed Smallwood Engineering camshaft compliments the build, and the engine is topped with a set of CID 6-bolt cylinder heads, which got a valve job, resurfacing and were ported by AES. Manley Performance valves were used on the heads and 1.7 rocker arms and Manton steel pushrods finish off the top end.
Additionally, all machine work was done in-house by AES, naturally, since that’s kind of their specialty. The engine is also equipped with a Holley Hi-Ram LT intake and 1600cc fuel injectors, fed by a Magnafuel 4303 fuel pump and 9950 fuel regulator to make sure the engine is well-fed with plenty of fuel and air. Doug had to hand fabricated the headers because, as you can imagine, there’s not going to be an off-the-shelf option for anything like this.
With the engine built to handle an extreme amount of force, it was ready for a pair of box journal bearing Precision Turbo 6766 CEA turbos. These turbos were selected as a very basic and cost-effective way to equip the car with turbos. The setup used a 2.5” intercooler by 417 Motorsports, 64mm blow-off valve, and twin 46mm wastegates.
The power coming from the engine is handled by a 1.69 low gear Powerglide transmission with custom spec FTI torque converter. It feeds into 3.25:1 geared Ford 9” rearend, and engines up at the ground thanks to a set of Mickey Thompson 275 Pro Radial tires. Leaf springs and Caltracs do their part to keep the Nova on the ground.
Wiring was done by Brad Nagel of Nagel Performance, and Andy Cook of Motion Raceworks handle all of the tuning duties for the GM computer that works in tandem with the Megasquirt MS3 Pro.
So, you’re probably wondering by now, did this all add up to be enough for Doug Cook’s 1972 Chevy Nova to wipe out a 6th-gen Camaro’s record, and be the first in the 7’s? Okay, so it’s in the title, we know, just humor us here, it’s interesting how it all shook out.
“From day one of dreaming this project up, we had two goals at Motion with our Gen V Mule program: take the title of Quickest and Fastest Gen V powered car in the world, and be the first Gen V to the 7’s.” -Doug Cook
It all went down at the Cordova International Raceway on October 20th, 2017. The car has some ignition and power management issues up until about 20 minutes before the crew was set to leave to the track. After getting to the bottom of the issue at the last minute, the car was once again running on all cylinders, and they were ready to go.
The official time to beat was 8.83-seconds in the 1/4-mile, and they were just shy of hitting it with a first pass of 8.86-seconds on 12psi of boost. It would be the next pass, when they turned the boost up and got a better launch off the line that they would break the record and hit 8.196-seconds at 173-miles per hour. The record was broken, but they still hadn’t pushed it all the way.
Feeling confident in the build and the Nova’s suspension, they decided to take it up a notch to 20psi, adjust the tuning a little bit, and with an insane 1.35 60’, the Nova went 7.935-seconds in the 1/4-mile. The victory was sweet for everyone involved in the build, but they also knew it wasn’t exactly tapped out either. They did decide to call it a day on the October 20th trip, but would return a few days later.
“After fixing the starter and some routine maintenance we decided we would see if we couldn’t improve our time a bit more.” -Doug Cook
After fixing a starter issue, and doing some routine maintenance back at the shop, they were ready to see if they could improve on the time, so they went back six days later to do just that. At the privately rented Cordova track, the team and some friends were out to try again, but this time with more boost.
During their second trip to the track, the team broke their own record with a 7.73-seconds pass at 180mph. On this current record run, they would log 24psi of boost and 8,000-rpm shifts. It would be the last run of the season, but the team is fairly confident that the turbos are nowhere near hitting their peak. The next step will be to run 30psi of boost, and they are aiming to be the first Gen V LT equipped vehicle to run in the 6’s. We can’t wait to see what the AES powered Nova has up its sleeves for 2018!
Shawn Henry is a Texas native who has spent the majority of his career building and selling F-Bodies and Corvettes. Now studying journalism, he is taking a new direction with his love of performance vehicles.