Grattan Raceway 2004 (Carl Floyd's red 1979 MGB, Mike Moor's blue 1973 MGB, and Pete Mantell's white 1969 MGB)
2004 British V8 Convention - Grand Rapids, Michigan - August 13-14
by Dan Masters
If you're an MGB V8 enthusiast, and you haven't yet been to a V8 meet, you've missed a lot, particularly if you are converting, or thinking about converting, a 4-cylinder car to V8 power. Even if you're lucky enough to own a factory V8, these meets are still very much worthwhile. For converters, there is more information, and problem-solutions, to be had at one of these meets than you could get in a year of BBS participation or book reading. If you can make it at all, you really should. Besides all the good, solid, "been there, done that" help available, we just plain have FUN!
This years V8 meet East was no exception. Held in Grand Rapids, Michigan in conjunction with University Motors' newly revived Summer Party, participants not only got a chance to see 40 - 50 LBCs with V8 power (including some Triumphs), they also got to look at a BUNCH of other MGs of various types as well.
Some of the more aggressive, competitive types arrived early, on Thursday, for a chance to do some hot laps at the Gratton Race track. The track was ours for the day, and participants could run as many laps as they wanted, and passing WAS allowed! There were a few off-track excursions, but all-in-all, it was an uneventful day, and every one who participated had a great time. Our V8 Newsletter founder, Kurt Schley, must have put a thousand miles on his car, and it was still going strong at the end of the day. A couple of the cars, Kurt's included, needed a bit of a tune-up, as the backfires when they lifted off for the corners sounded like a Hatfield-McCoy feud in full swing!
OK, talk is cheap - how much horsepower do these V8 conversions really have? A portable dyno was made available, so it was put-up or shut-up time. Put-up it was, as the cars put-out some significant HP. King of the Hill was Bob Samyn and his Chevy 355 powered MGA, with 328HP. King of the Bs, and very close behind was Steve Carrick and his Ford 302 B Roadster, with a "paltry" 323HP! Keep in mind these are Rear-wheel HP figures. The lowest figure for the day came from Jack Renaud's Rover 3.5 aluminum V8, at 160HP. That may not seem like much compared to the big numbers posted by Bob and Steve, but still pretty respectable for a stock Rover, and pretty amazing for an MGB!
323HP in a heavy car such as Plymouth Roadrunner or an Olds 442 is pretty impressive, but what about these lightweights? What are the pound/horsepower figures? To find out, Pete Mantell brought along an impressive set of computerized commercial track scales, and we weighed a few of them. Weights ranged from 2244 to 2345 for the Bs, and Bob's A weighed 2420. Weight to power ratios ranged from a low of 6.95 pounds/Hp for Steve Carrick, to a high of 7.38 for Bob Samyn.
|Chris Trace's Ford 302 powered TR6||Carl Floyd's Buick 215 powered MGB|
Next morning, the competition continued at the Autocross. Hot shoe Carl Floyd set the second fastest time of the day in his own Rover powered MGB, and then proceeded to set the fastest time of day in Steve Carrick's Ford powered MGB. This dropped Steve to second fastest TOD. To entertain the crowd, Mike Moor proceeded to do a few smoky doughnuts on the autocross course. It's amazing how much noise and tire smoke an MGB with 306 rear-wheel HP can make! In the afternoon, it was off to New Haven for a pleasant summer drive and an afternoon at the lake. As usual, the evening was spent milling around the parking lot, admiring each other's cars and asking a million questions, well into the night.
Early next morning, it was off to Fast Cars, Inc., in nearby Wayland for a breakfast and tech sessions. Ted made the formal introduction of his new front suspension setup, and wowed the folks with it. It is a really impressive unit, and Ted took a few orders that morning. I gave a wiring harness tech session, giving the pros and cons of the various options available - stock, Painless, EZ wire, Ron Francis, etc, and my own design. I took a few orders also.
It's really hard to convey just how much fun these V8 meets are. If you are even thinking about doing a V8 conversion,
you really should make every effort to attend one. Besides having as much fun as you can have at any car meet, you'll
learn more about the process of swapping a V8 into an MGB in two or three days than you will in a year or two of reading
and internet research. There is no competition (except for the autocross) at one of these events, and there are no secrets.
Everyone is more than willing to share everything he's learned about the process, and everyone is eager to learn
what you know.
Do you have additional photos of this event? If so, please share them with us!