John Warren Nixes Juice for Boost in his Nimble Nova

With each year that has passed since he bought his 1972 Nova as a teenager, John Warren has become more and more attached to it, and that’s why he’ll stay in the driver’s seat of the car he calls the Nuke as he moves from NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street to NMCA Mickey Thompson Radial Wars and Limited Drag Radial.

Warren, who competed in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street from 2010-2016 and has been as quick and fast as 7.61 and 178 mph with a nitrous-enhanced Knieriem Racing Engines-built big-block Chevy, began concocting a new combination in his head last summer.

“I had been wanting to try a blower combination for a long time, so I started watching a lot of drag radial classes and talking to friends who have blower combinations,” said Warren. “Then, I talked with Dave Werremeyer of ProCharger at the NMCA race at Summit Motorsports Park last August, and then again at PRI last December.”

Their conversations, according to Warren, revolved around whether it would be prudent for him to pursue a big-block Chevy and ProCharger F-3 combination or an LS and ProCharger F-1X combination.

“Dave (Werremeyer) was open to anything I wanted to do as long as it involved putting a ProCharger on my car and getting it out there for people to see,” said Warren, with a laugh. “Because the car is already set up for a big-block engine and I already had some parts that I would need, we decided that it would be more economical to stick with a big-block combination, and we also decided that we may even have more power with a big-block and ProCharger F-3 than we would with the LS engine and ProCharger F-1X.”

Warren got the ball rolling on the new combination by selling his Edelbrock Victor heads and his shortblock in early January, and then called ProCharger at the end of January to place his order for an F-3R-136 supercharger.

“I have even more parts to sell, including nitrous stuff, carburetors and more, but I’m kind of scared, because the more I sell, the more committed I have to be to the new combination,” said a half-joking Warren.

But proof that he’s feeling confident about the planned changes to his powerplant is the photo circulating on social media of him snuggling with his new supercharger.

“I chose the ProCharger F-3R-136 because it has been around for a while and will be the most efficient blower,” said Warren, who’s likely to also aim for some leafspring races in his leafspring equipped car.

To work with the supercharger, he has hired Tim Knieriem of Knieriem Racing Engines to build for him a Dart block-based 540ci big-block Chevy engine.

It will feature a Callies billet crank, and it will be topped with Brodix heads massaged by Race Flow Development and an Edelbrock Victor intake, and Warren plans to change from a conventional ignition to either a coil on plug or Magneto.

“I’ve talked to several people who have said that a 540 cubic-inch engine will be a sweet spot for the ProCharger F-3R-136, and that capping the cubic-inches at that will make it easier to control the power with my car’s stock-style suspension and leafsprings,” said Warren. “At first, my engine-builder, Tim Knieriem, wanted to go with a bigger engine and try something outside of the box, but then he thought about it some more and said we should go with what we know will work for now. We intend to make more steam from the mid-track on, and we intend to shoot for the record for the fastest leafspring car on the planet, which Lyle Barnett recently ran with a 4.17 in the eighth-mile in Jason Digby’s Dodge Dart.”

While Warren’s Nova is still in his garage, it will soon go back to John Shelden’s chassis shop to have more bars added to the 25.2 cage and to have a second parachute mount added. While it’s there, Shelden also will work with the rear shock set-up, so that the shocks are mounted straight up and down and through the trunk, and replace the front stock coil spring set-up wth a strut-style set-up.

“Once John (Shelden) has done all of that, I’ll be able to lower or raise the car,” said Warren.

Additional modifications to accommodate the ProCharger F-3R-136 supercharger include cutting and reconfiguring the radiator support and fabricating new plumbing and headers, and the car’s current bumper may be replaced with a bumper with a hole cut in it to route more air to the ProCharger F-3R-136.

“It will be non-intercooled because I plan to run methanol, so the piping will go straight from the blower to the Wilson throttle body,” said Warren. “I’m running methanol because I don’t want to have to mess with ice and water, and I don’t want to cut the car up and add more weight, and adding intercoolers and a waterbox would make me have to to that. Also, with the methanol, I’ll run cold and won’t have to run a radiator and water. Plus, I think I’ll make more power with this combination with methanol rather than gas.”

The Vine Grove, Kentucky-based driver, whose brother, Andy Warren, is the reigning NMCA Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle Car champion, said it’s possible the car’s conversion may be complete in time to test later this year, but he won’t focus on competing until next year.

“It’s very hard to not be racing right now, and it’s very hard selling my parts and seeing them all go away, but I still don’t have any regrets about switching combinations,” said Warren. “I hope, after all of this, to achieve 4.teens to 4.20s and 175-178 in the eighth-mile, or maybe even quicker and faster than that. It will be an adventure for sure.”Owner and driver: John Warren
Hometown: Vine Grove, Kentucky
Occupation: Supervisor at Altec Industries
Class: Formerly NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street and headed for NMCA Mickey Thompson Radial Wars, Limited Drag Radial, leafspring classes and others.
Crew: Andy Warren, dad John T. Warren, mom Brenda Warren, Craig Watson and Jeremy Lyons
Vehicle weight: 3250 pounds with the former nitrous setup, and should be close to the same with the new ProCharger set-up.
Quickest ET: 7.61 in the quarter-mile and 4.79 in the eighth-mile with the former nitrous combination
Best 60-foot: 1.15
Fastest mph:
178 in the quarter-mile and 148 mph in the eighth-mile with the former nitrous combination
Sponsors: FueLab, Mickey Thompson, Don Baskin Truck Sales, Unlimited Products, Edelbrock, AEM Performance Electronics, ProCharger, Ultimate Converter Concepts, TRZ, Bilbrey Automotive and Transmission, AEM and hopefully more to come.

Written by Mary Lendzion and photos by Brian Hogan for the July 2017 issue of Fastest Street Car)