Enthusiasts Set Sights on Wilmington Mile Records - Engine Builder Magazine

Enthusiasts Set Sights on Wilmington Mile Records

The engine for the Lakester machine is an LS-1 modified to make a thousand horsepower at the crank.
The engine for the Lakester machine is an LS-1 modified to make a thousand horsepower at the crank.

In the December issue of Engine Builder, our cover feature examined the unique one-of-one engine build-ups to maximize performance in all-out speed runs. The article also noted the presence of a new land-speed location at the former DHL facility at the Wilmington, Ohio airport.

The  super-smooth 9,000-foot runway is perfect for this high-speed activity and has garnered interest from all over the country. Since the first article just barely touched the innovation of these engine builders, it was decided to take another look at some more of these unique powerplants.

LS-1 Powered Lakester Belly Tank Racer

Owned by Don Gilmore of ­Pittsburg, PA, this machine was in the  158/BFL Class.

The 5.3L engine is mounted in a 2900# 2002 Chevy Avalanche pick-up. The engine is hyped up with a turbocharger from a Cummins Diesel pick-up which provides about 30 pounds of boost.

The engine carries stainless steel valves but a stock crank and produces about 750 on the dyno and 1,000 at the crank, and burns an E-85 methanol blend. Gilmore explained that the E-85 works well with the turbo.

This 3,600-pound Pontiac at speed at Wilmington where it has a best speed of 218+ miles per hour.
This 3,600-pound Pontiac at speed at Wilmington where it has a best speed of 218+ miles per hour.

To date, its best run through the traps at Wilmington has been a 159.9 mph dash with a best run at Bonneville of 167.7 mph. The engine has a compression ratio of 8.5 and perks at 6500-7000 RPM through the speed traps.

Big Block Chevy Powered Firebird Racer

This AA/Blown Fuel ‘82 Firebird is owned by Grand Rapids, MI native John Planger, and its Bowtie 8-1 powerplant has been bored and stroked out to 550 cubic inches. It’s based on a Dart aluminum block, a Callies Crank, Oliver Rods, Weind Intake, Diamond Pistons, and  Brodex Heads. But the real power booster comes from the Bowers 8.71 blower 30% overdriven.

Although it’s putting out a big-time 1,050 horses, Planger indicates he could use more. ”I like the E-85 fuel we use as it acts like an intercooler with the supercharger,” Planger explained. Weighing in at a hefty 3,600 pounds, the swift Firebird’s best run came at Wilmington with a 218.47 mph jaunt. No improvements are planned for the powerplant in the near future.,

Corvair-Based Land Speed Racer

This ‘66 land speed Corvair looks stock from the outside, but that sure isn’t the case under the body.
This ‘66 land speed Corvair looks stock from the outside, but that sure isn’t the case under the body.

New Yorker Jim Dunn has one interesting speed run machine with his Corvair, but under the skin it’s certainly not what it appears. It’s actually a mid-engine machine with the engine mounted about 36 inches in front of the rear axle.

The original Corvair design had its powerplant aft of the rear axle. But, we are not talking Corvair power here, rather a 2002 injected LS-1 350cid/350 horse engine, and the engine is kicked up with a 76mm turbo that provides 10-14 pounds of boost. The engine is hooked to a stock 4L60 automatic transmission with a 2.73 posi rear end which has provided a best run of 172 mph at Wilmington. It has yet to run on the sand, which should probably provide a significant increase in speed. The aspect of the spiffy machine that catches your eye is the significant front spoiler which provides needed downforce, as only 42% of the weight is on the front wheels.

By the way, the unique Corvair machine has also drag raced with a best of 126 mph/11.40 second run.

Mopar 4449 Jesel

If you think this stock car has a NASCAR look about it, you would be completely correct.

This engine is a modified NASCAR 358 engine that has been modified to produce about 900 horsepower.
This engine is a modified NASCAR 358 engine that has been modified to produce about 900 horsepower.

This is a former 2003 Busch Grand National car that was owned then by the same owner (Wayne Jessel), who is now running it in land speed racing. During its NASCAR days, it was driven by Casey Mears and Hank Parker Jr.

Jessel explained he started land speed racing in 2005. “It still carries the Busch engine, (Dodge R5 P7 engine), but it has been bored out to 380 cubic inches (from 358) and the compression ratio was raised from 12-1 to 15-1. It also carries a second Holley Dominator carb, a Bryant Crank and Tri-Y Headers which help push the HP to about 900 and 550 pounds of torque. It’s a rocket through the traps with a best time of 229 miles per hour,” Jessel said.

Needless to say, the aerodynamics of the machine which were done in wind tunnels during NASCAR days certainly pay big dividends during this later land speed application.

Big Block Chevy Powered ‘54 Vette racer

Another big block Chevy gets the job done with this A/GMS Class ‘54 Vette bodied machine.

The engine displaces 499 cubic inches, explained owner Dan Tackett from Mississippi, who is a retired state trooper. The engine makes 1,000 horsepower on gas. The engine innards include aluminum K-1 rods, a Profile aluminum intake, and a 1250 Dominator carburetor.

Tackett said future plans call for a pair of 1050 Dominators.

The Vette Racer is powered by a 499 cu. in. Chevy engine that pounds down close to 1,100 HP on gas.
The Vette Racer is powered by a 499 cu. in. Chevy engine that pounds down close to 1,100 HP on gas.

The tranny is a vintage Chevy Powerglide, and includes a Gear Bender Overdrive which can be engaged over 3000 RPM. He’s run the car at Bonneville with a top speed of 170, but that was when there was a fuel problem so he’s hoping for better in the future.

27T Ford Model B Roadster  

This vintage Ford roadster really gets bigtime attention when it hits the track.

Owner Steve Sturim of Grand Rapids, MI, explained that this unique machine carries its vintage look to the engine compartment where there is a tiny Ford Model B powerplant. Originally producing about 50 horsepower, it has been upgraded to about 125 HP.

Additions include a Wico Magneto, a Brierley Cam, and an aluminum flywheel. The engine has also had a .125 inch overbore. But probably most important, it’s been fitted with a Simmons performance cylinder head. Certainly an attention-getting feature is the pair of Weber side draft carbs which are mounted externally, which provide for better air intake. It is fueled by high-test pump gas. The engine is attached to a five-speed Chevy S-10 transmission. The

The Model B’s best run was a 113-mile per hour run through the traps.
The Model B’s best run was a 113-mile per hour run through the traps.

vintage hauler made 113 mph through the lights with the engine turning at about 6,000 RPM.

You May Also Like

Shop Solutions – January 2024

Before installing cam bearings, make sure to chamfer any oil holes and clean up back grooves of any sharp edges.

Engine Builder and Engine Pro present Shop Solutions in each issue of Engine Builder Magazine and at enginebuildermag.com to provide machine shop owners and engine technicians the opportunity to share their knowledge to benefit the entire industry and their own shops. Those who submit Shop Solutions that are published are awarded a prepaid $100 Visa gift card. Submit your Shop Solution at [email protected]. You must include your name, shop name, shop address and shop telephone number. Submitted Shop Solutions not published will be kept on file and reevaluated for each month’s new entries.

The Road to AAPEX Season 2, Ep 8

The innovation of the Lincoln Highway wasn’t just about building roads—it was about putting them on the map. The Wyoming Historical Society notes that the abandoned routes laid down by the Union Pacific railroad from 1867 to 1869 were often the best, and sometimes the only, east-west path available when developing the Lincoln Highway. In fact,

The Road to AAPEX Season 2, Ep 7

Rolling through Nebraska, Babcox Media’s Joe Keene meets kindred spirits as he drives the rare Lincoln Blackwood he refurbished for his journey to AAPEX. Along the way, he meets a family traveling the Lincoln Highway section by section, taking in sights such as the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument and the Classic Car Collection,

The Road to AAPEX Season 2, Ep 6

It’s the unexpected moments that make a trip memorable. Babcox Media’s Joe Keene, an ASE-certified technician who fixed a rare Lincoln Blackwood, enters Iowa on his drive to AAPEX and discovers the charm of small-town America along the Lincoln Highway. A standout spot is the Lincoln Highway Hotel. Related Articles – The Road to AAPEX

The Road to AAPEX Season 2, Ep 5

To know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been. For Babcox Media’s Joe Keene, an ASE-certified technician charged with fixing up a rare Lincoln Blackwood, it means heading back to Transtar Autobody Technologies in Detroit to put the finishing touches on the Blackwood. Then, he’ll put Babcox Media HQ in the rearview

Other Posts

Turbocharged 5.9L Common Rail Cummins Engine in a 1947 Ford

After sitting in his father-in-law’s backyard for a number of years, this 1947 Ford was gifted to Chase Wells’ wife. Chase owns 1 Way Diesel Performance and knew someday he’d bring the truck back to life. He did so using a 5.9L common rail Cummins engine on a special episode of Texas Metal’s Loud and Lifted. Check out the result.

ProCharged 5.000” Bore Space Billet Big Block Chevy Engine

One of the first 5.000″ bore space big block Chevy engines that Visner Engine Development has come out with in this new design, this billet engine was built by Nick Bacalis of Bullet Racing Engines for a 1971 C10 belonging to Michael Rieck. Check out what 4,000-plus horsepower looks like!

billet big block Chevy engine
Bullet Racing Engines’ 5.000″ Bore Space Billet Big Block Chevy Engine

We love when we get a chance to catch up with Nick Bacalis of Bullet Racing Engines. As the in-house engine shop for Larry Jeffers Race Cars, Nick is always working on high-horsepower, high-dollar builds for race customers, and this big block Chevy engine that we saw at the 2023 PRI Show is no exception.

Bullet Racing Engines Big Block Chevy engine
Summit Racing Forged Pro Pistons

Made in the USA, Summit Racing Forged Pro Pistons are made using ultra-modern technology and materials so they’re stronger and lighter.