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

872 cid Reher Morrison Pro Mod Nitrous Engine

A car like this 1966 Corvette featuring an 872 cid Reher Morrison Pro Mod nitrous engine is trying to kill itself every minute it’s running. But, a lot of this drag-and-drive racing is about loving the car you’re working on and feeling it’s a cool hot rod. John Ens and Dave Schroeder certainly have a cool hot rod, even if it’s a bit different! Check it out!

Ever since we began covering drag-and-drive and attending events such as Sick Week, we’ve been fascinated by Dave Schroeder’s C7 Corvette and its massive nitrous engine. We had planned to speak with Dave and his partner in drag-and-drive crime, John Ens, during the 2023 Sick Week event last year. However, as fate would have it, Dave’s first run down the track at Orlando Speed World that year resulted in his C7 Corvette coming loose at the big end of the track and a bad accident ensuing, where the car hit the near wall and barrel rolled into the opposite wall before coming to a stop. Thankfully, Dave walked away from the crash (seen below) relatively unscathed, but his C7 was done for.

540 cid Supercharged Big Block Chevy Engine

Born without arms, Matt Stutzman, aka the Armless Archer, has excelled at competitive archery. Now, he’s turning his focus to another passion – drag racing. Looking to go 200 mph in the 1/8th mile, Matt runs a Top Sportsman drag car with a supercharged big block Chevy engine. Check it out!

Turbocharged Toyota 2JZ Engine

Damon Elff’s Toyota Supra, which features a turbocharged 2JZ engine, will send you backwards as it revs up. This 2JZ is wicked, and we caught up with Damon at Sick Week this year to get the full scoop on the build.

Turbocharged 5.0L Coyote Engine

This 50th anniversary Mustang Cobra Jet features a turbocharged 5.0L Coyote engine and it’s one of the fastest Mustangs in Mexico. That said, there’s still room for improvement, and Martin Martinez of Junior Performance plans to make it even faster!

Twin-Turbo 572 cid Big Block Chevy Engine

Bryant Goldstone and his AMC Javelin are drag-and-drive staples. Consistently running 6-second ETs, the car is powered by a twin-turbo big block Chevy engine built by Bryant’s father-in-law Norm. We caught up with the two of them at Sick Week 2024.

Other Posts

Twin-Turbo Nissan GT-R Engine

At events like Sick Week, there aren’t a ton of competitors only pushing 6 pistons, but for Trevor Branden, he wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, his Nissan GT-R and its twin-turbo 4.1L stroker engine have done a multitude of events over the years, racking up nearly 200,000 miles since he got the

Nissan GT-R
Big 3 Racing’s ProCharged 540 cid Big Block Chevy Engine

There’s just something about a badass wagon that hits different, and Chuck Stefanski of Big 3 Racing definitely has a badass wagon. The drag-and-drive build was completed in time for Sick Week 2024 where we caught up with Chuck to get the details of the car’s wicked ProCharged 540 cid big block Chevy engine for

Big Block Chevy engine
Cometic Duramax Top End Gasket Kit

Cometic’s Duramax gasket kit includes: 4.130″ bore, .047″ MLX cylinder head gaskets.

Cometic Duramax gaskets
Exposed Hot Rod Features a 572 cid ProCharged Big Block Chevy Engine

In the weeks leading up to Sick Week 2024, we caught glimpses of Leroy Edwards’ custom-built yellow hot rod. With its unique look, even for drag-and-drive, we knew we had to know more about this build and the ProCharged big block Chevy engine Leroy put in it. We got the details in this episode of