Engine Masters Competitions

2017 – Another Vintage Class Win in the annual Engine Masters Challenge.

Jon Kaase has won this year’s Amsoil Engine Masters Challenge Vintage class with a 473ci 1958 MEL (Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln) engine. Exploring the classic turf in distinctive fashion, it was not the first time Kaase had arrived with an unorthodox relic endowed with bewildering technology.

Held annually in early October at the University of Northwestern Ohio, his entry produced 770hp with torque never less than 630lb-ft during the entire scored rpm range of 3,700-6,200rpm. The engine’s peak torque was recorded at 715lb-ft. Earning a check in the sum of $13,700, it was Kaase’s seventh victory at the prestigious affair, which coincided a few days before his sixty-fifth birthday.   Read more.

2015 Brings Two Kaase Victories at the Engine Masters Challenge!


When legendary AMSOIL Engine Masters participant Jon Kaase considered the new Vintage V8 Class for the 2015 Challenge, he contemplated engine possibilities with the cold pragmatism of a serious competitor. One of the key requirements from Kaase’s perspective was the availability of an aluminum cylinder head. As Kaase explains, “An aluminum head allows almost unlimited modifications, and in an unlimited class like this year’s Vintage category, we wanted a head that can be machined and welded or modified.” Topping the Mummert heads is a custom adapter mating the heads to a tall Edelbrock small-block Chevy tunnel ram. The bottom end was built with a Bryant billet crank, Carrillo rods, and custom Diamond pistons. The result is a 400ci engine putting the squeeze on the mix at a 13.9:1 ratio. To work with the mushroom-tappet arrangement of the Ford Y-block, custom lifters were manufactured by Trend, with a Comp Cams billet flat tappet orchestrating the movement. Kaase custom-fabbed a long set of tri-Y headers and installed an MSD ignition system to light it off.

So what is the effect of all of these mods on this ancient Ford? How about numbers that would leave any builder of the latest hardware slack-jawed at the results. Torque started off strong at 526 lb-ft at the 3,000 rpm bottom of the test range, and twist only ramped up from there. Peak torque recorded measured 596 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm. On the power side, Kaase didn’t disappoint, with peak output showing 584 hp at just 5,500 rpm. That was plenty of power and torque over the rpm range to net a class-topping score.

Chris Thomas from the Almost Kaase team took the top spot in the Spec Small-Block class. The class specified Edelbrock aluminum heads, an Edelbrock intake, and a Comp Cams cam, and the winning engine was the one that made the most average power between 3,500 rpm and 6,800 rpm. The Almost Kaase team selected the Ford Cleveland platform because of its excellent airflow potential and milled the Edelbrock Performer RPM heads, swapped the valves, and tweaked the combustion chambers a bit in a bid to increase efficiency. It all paid off. The impressive score from their 415ci V8 was impossible for any of the competitors to match.

Kaase Does it again… 2013 Engine Masters Challenge Champion!


It was the year of the Ford mod motor at the 2013 Amsoil Engine Masters Challenge; 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place were dominated by the quad cam beasties from the Blue Oval. John Mihovetz from Accufab held first place all week with BES Racing Engines just behind, but during the finals Jon Kaase pulled out all the stops and managed to push ahead for the win!

Kaase pulls out another win at the 2009 Engine Masters Challenge!


In eliminations we run the qualifying engines from lowest qualifier to the top finisher, leading to the top qualifier. In last year’s event we made a change to keeping the score silent right up through the elimination field, so competitors have no idea of the outcome until the final engine has run. Without knowing the number to beat, each team is giving it all they have vying for the title of “Engine Master.” When all the dust settled, Jon Kaase Racing inched out a victory by just a fraction, taking top honors over second place finisher BES Racing by just 1.4 points! The rest of the field fell in line in the same order as qualifying, with Hot Heads / Gene Adams Performance finishing third, Performance Crankshaft in fourth, the School of Automotive Machinists in fifth, and Jon Kaase’s Boss in sixth position.

The 2008 JEG’S Engine Masters Challenge winner is – Jon Kaase Racing with final score of 2,587 @ 403 cubic inches using the NEW Kaase C-400 CHI cylinder heads!


The Finals
We went into the finals with a new format in which the competitors are blind to the scores until the end of the competition. In contrast to previous years in which the scores are revealed while working through the ladder, the score required to win was anyone’s guess. With this format, there would be no sandbagging or holding back, as competitors gave it everything their engines had. When the dust cleared Jon Kaase prevailed to win the 2008 Engine Masters Challenge with his phenomenal Cleveland Ford. With a low-end torque hit at the bottom of the rpm range that resembled a bulldozer, the points for the Kaase team piled on for a convincing win.

The New Kaase Boss Nine Cylinder Heads Finish 3rd in Their 1st Engine Masters Competition! 2008

Jon Kaase is a veteran Engine Masters competitor and two-time champion, so there always attention when this team enters the test cell. This year there was a special treat in store for Engine Masters fans, with the debut of Kaase’s brand-new “Boss 429” cylinder heads and top-end package. The Boss engine is a larger-than-life relic of the factory musclecar wars, and original parts are exceedingly rare. After last years Challenge Kaase went to work to develop this modern version of the famous Boss, and for his effort captured the 3rd place finish.

Kaase wins 2004 Engine Masters Challenge with 3v 225 CHI Heads!


Jon Kaase is no stranger to the world of ultra high performance engine building and the incredibly slick Ford 408 Cleveland he brought this year was by far the most exotic mill in attendance. With its Australian CH1 Cleveland heads, AMC six-cylinder main bearings and .5-inch thick copper head spacers, it was number one qualifier with peak readings of 698.2 hp, 619.6 lb.-ft, average power readings of 485.9 hp and 557.3 lb.-ft. and a staggering 1,043.2 points.

We asked Jon if there was anything left in the 12.4:1 compression Ford Cleveland to be unleashed for the final rounds and he said, “I’ve got the timing back as far as it will go (24 BTDC) and still make power so jetting is all that’s left.” During the warm-up pulls the motor easily made in excess of 650 hp despite audible levels of detonation. During the tuning period Jon had his hands full. Not with the engine, of which he declared, “No tuning required,” but with the TV cameras and an interview with Speed TV’s Ken Stout. Stout was there taping an episode of the upcoming series “Lucas Oil…On The Edge” and Jon spent several minutes talking about the Engine Masters Challenge while the silent Cleveland cooled off prior to the final competition pulls.

With the Hollywood action out of the way, the motor was started and the competition pulls commenced. The amazing result was peak output of 691.2 hp and 616.2 lb.-ft., average output of 485.9 hp and 557.3 lb.-ft. for a total score of 1,043.2 to win the Engine Masters Challenge. Sharp readers will note that Kaase’s qualifying and eliminations point scores are identical. It’s no typo, Kaase was the only contestant to get the hat trick. Coincidence or not, it earned him the nickname Kaase the Konsistent.

Kaase wins 2003 Engine Masters Competition with SCJ Big Block Ford!


Jon Kaase (pronounced KAH-zee) developed a Challenge-winning formula based on a Ford Motorsport A-460 block, but that is only the beginning. Extensive block modifications were completed, drawing on Kaase’s extensive experience in IHRA Pro Stock. In his own words, Jon shared the technical developments with us.

“Like most in this business, I love nothing more than healthy competition. Entering the Engine Masters Challenge, I figured there would be plenty. What I’d not anticipated were the rewards of the process itself. There is much that I learned during this experience that will soon find its way into our 815-inch engines. Moreover, I got to better know people I respect with whom I deal on a regular basis and whose work I’ve long admired. Those with whom I’d not worked before but have gotten to know along the way have, happily, become friends and associates, as well. Forget what the commercial says, this is the stuff that’s ‘priceless.’