Photo Captions: “Manifold Wars”
Legendary Chevy racer Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins led the charge in developing the new Pro/Stock category in 1970. Jenkins was also on the leading edge of technology in developing 2×4 intake manifolds and carburetors. Here the Malvern, PA wizard puts his magical tuning touch on the 427 big-block Chev in his ’67 Camaro. This car was liberated from its previous role in rules-choked Super Stock/C class to the new, wide-open Pro/Stock. Atop the Edelbrock TR-1 intake are a pair of 660 cfm Holleys.
Jenkins grabbed a new 1970 Gen II Camaro for the next Grumpy’s Toy. This car was hastily built but used to further develop the Edelbrock Tunnel Ram design for the 427 CID big-block Chevy. This car also used a manually shifted four-speed transmission, Dana 60 rear axle with multi-leaf springs and Lakewood “bump bars” for traction. Post-Grumpy, the car was campaigned by Bruce Larson, Richie Zul and Dennis Ferrara, with success.
In the late 1950’s a group of drag racing minded Chrysler engineers and technicians formed a loose-knit, after-hours car club they named The Ramchargers. Their first club effort was this ugly duckling ’50 Plymouth C/Altered. The homely car is credited with displaying the first drag racing “Tunnel Ram” design for a racing intake manifold. High & Mighty proved that sometimes the ugliest dog in the pound may be the best hunter. The ‘Rams set the C/A class records and won class at the 1959 NHRA Nationals, at Detroit Dragway.
The Ramchargers “High & Mighty” has been faithfully reproduced, with valued input from several of the original club members. This car and surviving ‘Rams members were on hand when inducted into the 2011 East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame. Carter 4-barrel carburetors, a hand built plenum box and rubber hoses fed ported Chrysler hemi heads.
Vic Edelbrock, Sr., and son Vic, Jr., introduced the TR-1 Tunnel Ram manifold in 1968. That line of intakes has been dominant for more than 50 years! The TR series was itself inspired by the success of Ralph Ridgeway’s “Ridge Runner”, a homebuilt design made from a modified Corvette fuel injection. The Ridge Runner likely took its que from the Ramchargers’ groundbreaking High & Mighty ’50 Plymouth, in 1959.
Ralph Ridgeway’s 2×4 manifold began with bed and runners pirated from the 375 hp fuel injected, 327 Corvette engine option. Handmade plenum chamber and a pair of Carter AFB four-barrels were mounted. This design reintroduced the long-runner, plenum intake design to drag racing in 1965.
Ralph Ridgeway’s famous “Deb’s Automotive” ’55 Chevy C/Modified Production proved the worth of the Ridge Runner intake, setting C/MP class records and winning Street Eliminator at the ’65 NHRA Springnationals, at Bristol, TN.
This is the zenith of Pro/Stock, 426 Hemi development of the mid-1970’s. Dual spark plugs and distributors, breakerless ignition, a short-plenum beneath a pair of highly modified Holley Model 4500 Dominator carbs. 775+ hp at 9,000 rpm got the job done!
Phil and Joan Weiand (“Say Why-And”) were major players in the Manifold Wars era. Weiand was a favorite for both big-block Chevys and the 426 hemi. This 2×4 Weiand intake is flanged for Holley Model 4500 carburetors and has the short plenum popular at the time.
Bill Jenkins changed the face of Pro/Stock with his 1972 small-block 331 CID Vega. Grump’s dominance quickly launched a flurry of manifold development for the SBC. This Edelbrock TR-1Y sports sideways-mounted Holley R-4224, 660 cfm “Center Squirter” carburetors and an abbreviated plenum depth. Similar set-ups were common on Modified and Comp Eliminator engines.
In the early 1960’s Chrysler developed this cross-ram intake design. It permitted long-runner length power increases with critical hood clearance for dual four-barrel carburetors. These cross-ram style intakes reached their peak on the 426 Max Wedge Dodge and Plymouth engines. Original manifolds are today highly prized and high priced by collectors.
Current 2×4 intake designs borrow heavily from pre-2016, carbureted Pro/Stock technology. Rules now require Electronic Fuel Injection for NHRA’s premier door-class racers. This flashy Hogan’s manifold is precision fabricated from sheet aluminum, heliarc welded, flow-bench and dyno developed. Huge fuel rails and mounting bungs for equally large FI nozzles are provided, along with data gathering points. The ports and all fabricated pieces are made using CNC machinery. Current Pro/Stock engines are producing 1,200+ hp at 10,000 rpm, from 500 CID!