In his long career as a chassis builder, Wally Stroupe has learned a thing or two about building a competitive race car, but even the best chassis in the world won’t win races without sufficient horsepower, particularly in the ultra-competitive world of NHRA Pro Stock racing. To that end, it’s been hard not to notice the dramatic improvements made lately by Stroupe and his Strutmasters.com Camaro. On Friday in Norwalk, Stroupe made one of the best runs of his career with a 6.676. The improvement can easily be traced to the addition of a 500-cid engine from KB Racing, a switch that began at the last Pro Stock event in Chicago.
“We had Strutmasters come on board earlier this year as a sponsor, and when I lost to Bo Butner in the first round in Richmond, they wanted to know what we had to do to become more competitive,” said Stroupe. “I told them we had no power and we decided to fix that so we got an engine from KB Racing. I had talked to Greg [Anderson] and Jason [Line] before, so we had a good relationship, and it just seemed like the perfect time to finally put a deal together.
“With our old engine, we had this car going about as fast as it would go,” said Stroupe. “We could qualify at most of the races, but we weren’t competitive enough to actually win a round.”
Changing engines seems like a fairly simple process, but things are never as easy as they seem. The additional horsepower necessitated a variety of other changes including shock and chassis settings, gear ratios, and clutch tuning. Stroupe has spent the last couple of weeks working to adapt his car to the new engine, and his progress was evident during a recent test session where he ran a 6.58. At the same test, Anderson’s Summit Camaro was quickest with a 6.52.
“We still have a lot of areas where we can improve, but that test showed how far we’ve come,” Stroupe said. “We’ve made a lot of changes to this car, but we’ve tried to do it in small steps. We’re creeping up on the combination. That [6.67 run] was decent, but there is a lot left in it. At first, we just want to make sure we get down the track and make clean runs. Then, we can work on applying all that power.”
Stroupe prevoulsy built NHRA Pro Stock cars for Mike Edwards and he even did one for the KB team a few years ago and he’s certainly not opposed to building more of them. In fact, he’s currently got a Camaro on the jig for his crew chief, Alan Rose, that will be driven by a yet-to-be-named newcomer to NHRA Pro Stock. Stroupe’s own program is also expanding in the form of more events. He’s not planning to race the three upcoming Western Swing races, but plans to race in the final eight events, beginning in Brainerd in mid-August.
“Our deal with Strutmasters has been great and we’re looking forward to expanding it,” said Stroupe. “If all goes well, we’re hoping to be able to run in all 18 events next year.”