440 LS Dirt Late-Model Engine - Engine Builder Magazine

440 LS Dirt Late-Model Engine

Fans of Jeff Baldwin's engines have said his power plants rev with a signature sound known by many as the 'Baldwin sound.' This 440 LS dirt late-model engine carries that signature roar as well. Find out what went into this unique build heading down under to Australia.

Anyone who’s ever had an interest in cars and engines has likely had a love affair with the rumble of an engine. That symphony of sounds created by the engine’s parts humming in harmony. In many ways, that sound is like a fingerprint. It is the character of the car hiding under the hood. How could you not love it?

Many engines have similar rev notes, but some are very distinct, and that’s what Baldwin Racing Engines in Friedheim, MO is known for. Just like your favorite band, you can pick up that signature sound with only a few notes or lyrics. Well, so too can fans of Jeff Baldwin’s engines.

“The ‘Baldwin sound’ is something that people have said about our engines over the years,” Jeff says. “They say that from circle track to truck pulling to demolition derby, they are always able to tell that it is one of our engines because of the ‘Baldwin sound.’”

Jeff owns Baldwin Racing Engines and runs the shop along with his wife, DeAnna, and four other full-time employees. The shop, which opened in 2002, specializes in LS engine work for dirt track racing, demolition derby, drag racing, truck and tractor pulling, street stuff, diesel, and really a little bit of everything. Jeff first started Baldwin Racing Engines as a part time endeavor.

From Left to right: Travis Moore (no longer with Baldwin), DeAnna Baldwin, Jason Pohlman, Will Simmons, Jeff Baldwin
Front row: Nick Brown, Rick Johnson

“At the time, I was a service manager at one of my buddy’s tire centers called Jackson Tire Center, and we basically would get up at 6:00 am, go to the tire center and get to the engine shop at 7:00 pm and work until 2:00 in the morning and do that every day of the week,” he says. “We kept adding equipment and we kept getting busier and busier to where it was time to make the plunge full time. We went full time in 2006.”

Jeff’s brother had been involved in racing, and that’s when and where Jeff got his feet wet. He started in 1992 and hasn’t left the dirt track since.

“We have a huge, huge following there, and basically got engines from California to New York and from Canada to Iceland and Saudi Arabia, and now Australia,” he says. “Our international stuff isn’t huge. It’s a small market but it’s growing. We actually got a series over in Australia wanting to adopt our LS stuff into one of their circuits over there.”

Baldwin Racing Engines is a full machine shop capable of doing everything in-house with the exception of crank grinding.

“We’ve got a Super Flow flow bench and we hand port stuff still,” he says. “We have a Rottler blueprinting block center, a CWT 5500 balancer, a Serdi seat and guide machine, a Rottler surfacer, and a Land & Sea engine dyno and Land & Sea chassis dyno. The shop has 8,500 sq. ft. of space that includes a dedicated clean room for doing assemblies and another room for doing pre stage work.”

Life has been good for Jeff and his team at Baldwin Racing Engines, and that’s not just because his engines sound good. The engines perform well too, keeping customers knocking at the shop door.

Recently, he had a customer in Georgia who runs a Baldwin dirt late-model LS engine, refer his buddy in Australia to Baldwin Racing Engines because he’s had such good luck with his engine.

“It’s a very nice piece,” Jeff says. “It’s a 440 LS dirt late-model engine. The build started with a Dart LS Next aluminum block, which has a much better oiling system in it than the factory block. We didn’t have to really do a whole lot there, just some standard block work. This is going to be a dry sump engine.”

The block work consisted of deck plate honing and correcting the deck height. The block was already stroker notched for the 4.100˝ stroke Jeff was putting in it, so the shop didn’t have to do any clearance work there.

“We balanced everything in-house,” he says. “For the cylinder heads, we went with a Mast 315 Black Label because of the alcohol set up and the large cubic inch. The heads have all custom, titanium Del West valves. We also have a solid roller custom COMP Cam in it with a set of Jesel rockers sitting on top of it.”

According to Jeff, he has used Mast intakes and some of the bigger Edelbrock intakes in the past, but on this engine he went with a CID intake, which is a little bit larger intake and should work really well.

“We’ve got a Willy’s Alcohol Super Bowl system sitting on top of it, so we’ve got no floats and no needles,” he says. “Dan Olson built a custom oil pan for us for that Dart LS Next block. He does a really good job on those.The engine also has a Callies Magnum crank and Ultra rod and custom Diamond pistons built for an alcohol setup.”

Since this LS engine is going to Australia, it can’t have coil packs and must be distributor driven. Jeff selected a MSD distributor. The bearings in the engine are Daido. Jeff used PSI springs and Cometic for the head gaskets.

“We’re trying to make 900 hp with this one, and it should make 770 lb.-ft. of torque with a compression ratio of 14:1,” he says.

The Engine of the Week eNewsletter is sponsored by Cometic Gasket.

If you have an engine you would like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder magazine’s managing editor, Greg Jones at [email protected]

You May Also Like

422 cid Small Block Chevy Circle Track Engine

We were treated to a shop tour of Terry’s Machine Shop by owner Todd Gilliam. This old-school machine shop outside of St. Louis does a little bit of everything, and they had just wrapped up this badass 422 cubic inch small block Chevy engine for a circle track customer. Check it out!

Recently, the Engine Builder team found itself in the St. Louis area for a couple different projects, so we decided to take a short field trip to Bridgeton, MO and visit with Todd Gilliam, owner and engine builder at Terry’s Machine Shop.

The old-school machine shop does a little bit of everything, and Todd had a cool small block Chevy engine just about wrapped up for a circle track application that he was kind enough to give us some details on. However, before we got to his engine assembly room, Todd toured us through the shop, which opened in 1980.

Supercharged 500 cid Billet Hemi Engine

Doc Baker is a racer and builder who does things his own way. A perfect example of his work can be seen under the hood of his 1971 Dodge Demon – this supercharged 500 cubic inch billet Hemi engine. Check out what went into the build!

521 cid Blown Big Block Chevy Engine

According to owner Colin Jost, this 521 cubic inch blown big block Chevy engine doesn’t know it’s a Chevy since everything was built like a Hemi. Regardless, it’s 2,500 horsepower of awesomeness. Check it out!

Supercharged 526 cid Hemi Engine

With a long history of street cars and street racing, as well as experience with Top Fuel and Top Alcohol dragsters, Jamond Haug of Homewrecker Motorsports knows a thing or two about engine work. Check out his supercharged 526 cid Hemi, which sits inside a 1969 Z28 Camaro!

434 cid Small Block Chevy Nitrous Engine

Competing in the High 5 class at the 2022 Builder’s Brawl, Kyle Needham and his 1979 Camaro were relying on a 434 cid small block Chevy nitrous engine to help get the win. Check out the details of this build!

Other Posts

1973 Toyota Celica with a Turbocharged 388 cid LS Engine

As day one of Sick Week 2023 came to a close at Orlando Speed World, we passed by the pit area of Steve Groenink. We did a double take of his 1973 Toyota Celica, which features a turbocharged 388 cubic inch LS engine. The 6-second capable build is our Engine of the Week! Related Articles

Schexnayder Racing’s Twin-Turbo 429 Ford Boss Engine

It’s always cool to see a Ford engine in a Ford car these days, so when we came across Earl Schexnayder of Schexnayder Racing and his 2000 Cobra Mustang with a twin-turbo 429 Ford Boss engine in it, we needed to know more about the combo. We got to chat with him during Sick Week

Brett LaSala’s Twin-Turbo 5.0L Coyote Engine

We caught up with Brett LaSala of Real Street Performance and MSR Racing at Sick Week 2023 to get the details of his Mustang nicknamed Snot Rocket and its twin-turbo 5.0L Coyote engine built by Fast Forward Race Engines. He had just run a PR of 6.52 at 212 mph and then went on to

Paul’s High Performance Nitrous-Powered Ford Godzilla Engine

GODZILLA!!!!! We stopped by the Fluidampr booth at the 2022 PRI Show to say hi and found Paul Svinicki of Paul’s High Performance hanging out, along with his nitrous-powered Ford 7.3L Godzilla engine that runs in his 2010 Cobra Jet Ford Mustang. This 1,100-horsepower Godzilla is our Engine of the Week. Related Articles – EB