2010 Y-Block Shootout - Y Race?
The 2010 NMRA Expo In Columbus, Ohio, Plays Host To The 15th Annual Y-Block Shootout
From the February, 2011 issue of Modified Mustangs & Fords
By Steve Baur
Wally Kerstein of Wadsworth,...
Wally Kerstein of Wadsworth, Illinois, brought his '56 Ford to the Shootout and won Second Best Appearing Y-Block. We liked the slick two-tone paint and super-clean engine bay as well. It was Wally, in fact, who encouraged Greg Dietrich to drop the Y-Block into his Pinto-a combination that would prove to be a winner.
This past September marked the 15th anniversary of the Y-Block Nationals, which was held in conjunction with the NMRA Expo at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio. While we haven't done much more than include a photo of the past winner within our NMRA coverage before, this year, we opted to dedicate several pages to those who cherish the Y-Block engine, and wring it out on the track.
Royce Brechler's "War Bird"...
Royce Brechler's "War Bird" received the Best Engineered vote among the Y-Block competitors. The nostalgia competition coupe features a 368ci Lincoln powerplant backed by a C4 transmission. The tube chassis machine has gone as fast as 10.39 at 126 mph.
The Y-block replaced the legendary flathead engine, and debuted in 1952 with Lincoln, and 1954 with Ford. Engine sizes ranged from 239 ci to 312 ci, and dual four-barrel carburetors and superchargers were optional. The Y-block served duty in everything from trucks to T-birds. The engine's name came from the design of the block itself. Where the flathead's crankshaft centerline was on the same plane as the bottom face of the block, the Y-block featured deep-skirted walls that held the crank some 2 3/4 inches up inside. Many later gas and diesel engine designs incorporated this feature, as it strengthens the engine in a number of ways, thereby increasing durability and reliability.
Kerstein's '56 Ford charged...
Kerstein's '56 Ford charged hard when the Illinois resident banged the gears, running high 12s at nearly 104 mph.
Though it seemed to be a stout foundation on which to build upon, by 1958 the writing was on the wall for the Y-block, as Ford phased it out in favor of the FE-series big-blocks, and eventually the Windsor family of engines. Within that relatively short lifespan, the Y-block gathered fans and foes alike. It was employed in stock car racing, as well as Bonneville Salt Flats racing, and saw moderate success.
For the past two years, Ted Eaton has competed with a 375ci Y-Block (a bored and stroked 292) in the Popular Hot Rodding Engine Master Challenge. With Mummert aluminum heads, the engine produced nearly 100 more horsepower this year. Eaton, an FE racer and engine builder, learned a lot about building Y-Blocks since he started running one, and brought a Y-Block-powered Altered to the 2001 event.
Machesney Park, Illinois,...
Machesney Park, Illinois, resident Vic Correnti ended his weekend early when the transmission blew its guts all over the starting line. The '55 Thunderbird sports a 312 Y-Block with two four-barrel carbs and a bit of nitrous oxide. When the clutch dropped on the four-speed, the subsequent drivetrain shockwave made the weak link very apparent. Kudos to Vic, though, for spraying the vintage 'Bird and dropping the hammer without fear.
Jerry Ponder drove his E-code...
Jerry Ponder drove his E-code '57 Ford Fairlane 500 to the event. He's owned the car for some 30 years and added the VR-series Paxton-McCullough supercharger and custom carburetor plenum box. Jerry also owns an F-code, factory supercharged '57 Fairlane 500, and he drove that to the event in 2003. Whereas the E-code engines were rated at 270 hp, the F-code Y-Blocks were rated at 300 hp, and were equipped with low-compression cylinder heads to accommodate the added cylinder pressure from the blower.
Dan Bauer's '55 Ranch Wagon...
Dan Bauer's '55 Ranch Wagon is a clean machine. While it doesn't exactly blister the quarter-mile, we're sure it gets the groceries home quickly, and in style.
Harry Hutten went on to Runner...
Harry Hutten went on to Runner Up in Saturday's shootout with his '60 Mercury, losing to Greg Dietrich's Pinto in the final. The baby blue boat features a 312ci Y-Block and a C4 transmission.
Robin Church of Brandon, Mississippi,...
Robin Church of Brandon, Mississippi, made the trek with his '55 Ford that runs a 272ci engine with a C4 automatic. Church's Y-Block competitor won Best Appearing of the bunch, and is a former L-Stock Automatic class racer.
Gary Burnette of Ashville,...
Gary Burnette of Ashville, North Carolina, dipped into the high 12s with his '56 Thunderbird during qualifying, but he found himself looking between the fenders for what seemed to be a blown head gasket. The 'Bird is a fabulous Ford after our own heart, with its 312-based Y-Block that features the newly minted Mummert aluminum cylinder heads, and approximately 450 hp. The car is a driver, too, as Gary dropped in a T-56 six-speed manual gearbox to make the 3.90 rear gears liveable. The 'Bird ran an all-time best 12.96 at 106 mph before it started pushing coolant.
In 2005, one of Eaton's Y-blocks propelled a supercharged, rear-engined dragster to a quarter-mile Y-Block record of 8.10 seconds. Then, a few years later, Oregon's Bob Lindsay dropped the Y-Block mark into the 7.90s with a front-motored blown dragster with a Jerry Christenson powerplant. Ted and Jerry have been going at it ever since, and have pushed the Y-Blocks into the nostalgia technology wave.
Ray Parker of Mantua, Ohio,...
Ray Parker of Mantua, Ohio, attended the event with his '57 Ford. Ray assembled the car as an E-code clone and equipped the ride with the red VS series Paxton-McCulloch Supercharger. Known among the group as "towering infernos," the dual four-barrel carbs would occasionally catch fire after backfiring. Ray has seemingly solved this by forcing the air in with the supercharger.
Whereas most people moved on to the later engine options that offered improved weight reduction and/or increased dis-placement, there are a small number of enthusiasts who have stayed loyal to the Y-Block. They keep the Y-Block current with things like the bi-monthly Y-Block magazine, and the web forum at www.y-blocksforever.com. Each year, these enthusiasts trek to Columbus, Ohio, and take their turns at the quarter-mile drags for bragging rights, a good time, and a chance at a pretty decent prize purse.
The Y-Block competitors were given their own dedicated class in 2000 at the NMRA Expo event, known then as the Y-Block Nationals. The Y-Block racers eventually invited streeters and cruisers to pit with them, and the events turned into great gatherings at a race place. Now called the Y-Block Shootout, the class offers two shootouts with one for Saturday and one for Sunday. This year, the group gathered more than $3,400 in purse money.
We ventured out to National Trail Raceway to check out what these folks were up to, and if you're into Y-Blocks, or just early Ford products, these guys can tell you a lot about the unloved and often overlooked Y-Block and the machines that they propelled. Special thanks goes to Bob Martin, who introduced us to the Y-Block community and helped us out with the details of this story.
Be sure to visit our website, www.mustangandfords.com, for extended photo coverage from the Y-Block Shootout and NMRA event action.
Pennsylvania resident Dennis...
Pennsylvania resident Dennis Leeking competed with his '54 Ford F-100 that runs a 239ci Y-Block with three-on-the-tree, and three two-barrel carbs.
Mickey Bogden of Tecumseh,...
Mickey Bogden of Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada, was Runner Up in Sunday's Shootout. His '57 Thunderbird features a 342ci stroker and a C5 transmission. He did win the Most Improved, Same Configuration award, having shaved three tenths of a second off his best elapsed time from last year with a 12.85 at 103 mph effort.
Jerry Christenson's rear-engine...
Jerry Christenson's rear-engine dragster was an interesting piece of machinery. Interior real estate is obviously rare considering the gauges and shifter are on the outside of the car. New car bugs kept Gary from making more than two passes, but after the first 15-second run, he laid down a solid 10-second pass.
Bob Bell entered his Ranchero...
Bob Bell entered his Ranchero in the shootout. It features a Ted Eaton-built 318ci engine based off of the 292 engine, along with a C4 transmission, and ran a peppy 14.05 at 97 mph.
Adding a bit of popular hotrodding...
Adding a bit of popular hotrodding to the venerable Y-Block, Bill Patridge's turbocharged '60 Ford pickup features a T5 five-speed manual transmission and a Supernatural Turbo, non-intercooled 60-1 turbocharger blowing into the carburetor. Bill drove the truck home to Pelham, Alabama, after the event.
Greg Dietrich's "orange eBay...
Greg Dietrich's "orange eBay monstrosity" was thrown together at the last minute for the shootout. The Mt. Morris, Illinois, resident popped in a hot 319ci Y-Block, and combined with a Powerglide trans-mission and a svelte curb weight of just 2,475 pounds, the Pinto ran consistent 11.40s and 11.50s all the way to the winner's circle.