Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
August 27, 2010

Nitrous oxide injection remains to this day a very popular way of increasing the performance of a normally aspirated engine. It's much less inexpensive than a supercharger or turbocharger, and you only have to pay when you want to use it. The one problem with it-out of the box, at least-is it's either on or off. The solenoids are open or closed, unless you use a progressive nitrous controller like the one we sampled from Edelbrock.

Edelbrock's progressive nitrous controller (PN 71900) is an amazing little box that will transform your nitrous oxide injection system into a smooth and programmable power adder. By utilizing pulse-width modulation, the controller can regulate the amount of nitrous and fuel being delivered over a specific period of time. Rather than having the solenoids on or off, the controller rapidly pulses them open and closed, and several timers allow you to adjust how much nitrous flows at the start and end, and how long it takes to get from start to finish. This can provide a smoother delivery rather than one instant hard hit, which allows you to optimize the amount of available power to compensate for track conditions, chassis setups, or tire selection.

The Edelbrock controller uses full digital circuitry and features an easy-to-read scrolling LED and simple push-button switches to make the unit exceptionally user-friendly. Through these switches, you can select and individually program the nitrous parameters in order to ramp up your nitrous system safely.

Installation of the controller is fairly straightforward, with no more than a dozen connections total. The controller comes with its own wiring harness and a complete instruction manual. After the unit is wired up, the integrated battery voltage monitor periodically displays battery voltage, and even if you lose voltage, the built-in flash memory will retain your settings. The Edelbrock controller uses separate nitrous and fuel solenoid outputs for more current capability and better overall solenoid control, and the positive 12-volt timer output can activate an ignition retard controller or a second stage of nitrous.

We contacted nitrous-oxide guru Steve Johnson from Induction Solutions to put us in contact with some subject vehicles and their owners. Induction Solutions carries the Edelbrock controller in its inventory, and is very familiar with the device.

"With many of today's over-powered and under-tired cars, the progressive controller can really help a racer get down a hot slick track," notes Johnson. "I would say probably around 50 percent of our guys use controllers, whether they admit it or not! Most notable is the dual-ramp feature that guys really love, as well as the quick and easy programming."

With Johnson being well versed in the intricacies of the Edelbrock controller, we asked him for some tips for the beginning user.

"Read the instructions! Many people seem to just install the box and don't pay attention to the details in the instructions. There are quite a few settings that you can custom tailor for your application," says Johnson. "One of the most overlooked options is viewing the run data and clearing it for the next run. This can tell you how well the controller is working or even tell you the time and percentage of power at which time you have to lift off of the throttle."

Johnson also recommends starting with a simple program to get a baseline. Once you've got that down, he recommends using the dual-ramp option to bring more nitrous in sooner. Of course, keeping a log of your 60-foot times, as well as the controller settings, will provide you with plenty of information that should help you more easily find a base tune for different track conditions or chassis changes.

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To put the Edelbrock progressive controller into practice, we called upon two local Tampa Bay area racers, Clint Lonon and Mike Burkart, to show you what it takes to install the Edelbrock Progressive Nitrous Controller, and to show you how to implement its functions at the track. The whole process is far simpler than installing the nitrous system itself, but installing the progressive controller can make a world of a difference in your elapsed times, and your win streak.

These days, small-tire racing is all the rage for the sportsman racer who wants to runs heads up. Clint Lonon of Lutz, Florida, is just such a racer-he runs a number of local racing classes that utilize a small drag radial tire, usually no more than 275mm wide.

Running in the Heads Up Madness Real Street class at his local track, Sunshine Dragstrip in St. Petersburg, Clint's '97 Mustang has a single-bar Induction Solutions Real Street plate system (PN 19738 or PN19739) on top of his 430-cube BES Racing Engines bullet. Running the class-specified 82 nitrous jet through the Edelbrock-based plate and using the Edelbrock progressive controller, Clint's Mustang has charged to a best eighth-mile time of 5.23 seconds at 135 mph. Induction Solutions' Steve Johnson told MM&FF that the Real Street plate in this configuration offers about 225-250 hp, depending on the jet and bottle pressure.

Clint also runs a class called Ultimate Street in the Outlaw Radial Tire Championship series, which follows the same basic rules-single-bar plate system, 275 drag radial, but allows for an open jet choice. In this form, the shiny black stallion has run a best of 5.19 seconds at 136mph.

Clint recently added an IS fogger setup, along with an additional Edelbrock pro-gressive controller, to compete in the local Extreme 275 drag radial class. With two nitrous systems and a small tire, ultimate control of the nitrous oxide delivery is the only way to end up in the winner's circle.

"I've used various Edelbrock products in the past with great results," says Lonon. "The Edelbrock Progressive Controller is a great product that, in the right hands, affords the nitrous racer a competitive edge." Lonon told MM&FF that while he might be able to run competitive elapsed times without the controller, getting down the track consistently would be far more difficult. The nitrous controller affords you the ability to get down the track every time, which is all the more important when running on a narrow tire.

To show you exactly how the controller works at the track, we called up the guys at Real Speed Racing in Clearwater, Florida, who hooked up MM&FF with customer Mike Burkart of Holiday, Florida. Mike also runs in the very competitive Heads Up Madness Real Street class at Sunshine Dragstrip with a 434ci, Windsor-based powerplant, as well as an Induction Solutions/Real Street single-bar plate system. We followed along as Mike and the Real Speed crew looked to make some test hits at Sunshine Dragstrip.

With Charley Pixley behind the wheel and Real Speed's Walter Drakeford making the changes to the Edelbrock progressive controller, the '86 Mustang GT trotted to a 5.43 at 131.42 mph (1.32 60-foot). This was with us starting at 15 percent, finishing with 100, and using a build time of 2.2 seconds. For the next run, we moved the starting percentage to 28 and knocked the build time down to 1.8 seconds, which resulted in a 5.34 at 131.92 mph (1.27 60-foot). The extra nitrous at the hit combined with a faster ramp rate decreased the 60-foot time and overall elapsed time.

On the final run of the night, we bumped the starting percentage to 32 percent and shortened the build time to just 1.6 seconds. We repeated the 1.27-second 60-foot time, but Burkart's GT dropped off shortly thereafter with Pixley noting wheelspin at the top of first gear. This resulted in a 5.37 at 131.36 mph. Had we more time, we would have slowly dialed the numbers back to account for the lack of traction, which is exactly what traction-limited racers like Mike Burkart and Clint Lonon do to get down the track every time.

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