Legendary Engine Builder Sonny Leonard Has Passed Away - Engine Builder Magazine

Legendary Engine Builder Sonny Leonard Has Passed Away

In the hospital last month suffering from pneumonia, Sonny Leonard, Sonny’s Racing Engines’ president and CEO, passed away on Sunday, January 10, 2021. The engine shop broke the news on Facebook that it’s owner, founder and legendary engine builder, Sonny Leonard, had died. He was 77.

Sonny Leonard’s name is synonymous with big-inch mountain motor Pro Stock and Pro Modified racing. Leonard opened Sonny’s Racing Engines in 1968 in Virginia, and the shop is known for 700 cid to 1,000 cid engines for drag racing, truck pulling, extreme muscle car, and boat applications.

Leonard’s accomplishments as an engine builder are vast. He was a 13-time IHRA Pro Stock world champion and holds countless world records, event victories, and championships in drag racing and truck pulling spanning half a century. Leonard also built the first 800-plus cubic-inch engine and the first 500 cubic-inch small-block Chevrolet, developed the GM hemispherical cylinder head, and the 5.3-inch bore space wedge cylinder head. In recent years, his team built a massive 1,005 cubic-inch mill, the largest such engine to be built for drag racing.

Leonard last updated his social media on December 28, noting that he was in the hospital suffering from pneumonia, but was showing considerable sign of improvement.

The staff at Sonny’s Racing Engines, in a prepared statement said: “As most of you have heard , unfortunately Sonny passed away this morning. He will will be deeply missed beyond what words can describe, but we want to reassure our customers that Sonny’s Racing Engines will continue to thrive and remain open for business.”

Sonny’s Racing Engines celebrated 50 years in 2018, and we here at Engine Builder have had the distinct honor of knowing Sonny and speaking with him about several engine builds over the years. You can see those stories below.

You May Also Like

Liqui Moly Sponsors World’s Largest Porsche 356 Gathering

Promoted annually with the seal of Porsche AG and the Official Porsche Club, the International Porsche 356 Meeting takes place on a rotating basis in several countries.

The International Porsche 356 Meeting takes place in Portugal and brings together the owners of the first Porsche model to be produced and an exceptional guest. This weekend, Liqui Moly will be one of the visible partners of the caravan accompanying the International Porsche 356 Meeting – the largest meeting of owners of the historic model of the German dream factory.

Sick Week Wins USA Today’s Readers’ Choice for Best Motorsports Race

The week-long event held throughout Florida, plays host to over 350 street cars.

NHRA Names New South Central Division Director

Johnson will oversee NHRA member tracks in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.

McLaren Racing’s Zak Brown to Receive IMRRC’s Cameron R. Argetsinger Award

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, will receive the 10th annual IMRRC Cameron R. Argetsinger Award at a gala presented by Sahlen’s, NASCAR, Watkins Glen International and IMSA, on Thursday, September 12, 2024. The dinner and presentation will be held prior to the running of the NASCAR Go Bowling at The Glen event, September 11-15,

Schaeffler to Support Automotive Transmission Service Group Education

Schaeffler to provide ATSG members with ongoing education and technical resources.

Other Posts

SEMA Announces 2024 Hall of Fame Inductees

SEMA’s newest Hall of Fame members are Chris Kersting, Jack Priegel, Les Rudd, and Jon Wyly.

Schaeffler Recognized as General Motors 2023 Top Global Supplier

Schaeffler was presented its Top Supplier Award during the recent General Motors Supplier of the Year Event in Miami.

Pikes Peak Poster Art Contest Winner

The winning design was submitted by Rachel Aweida, a Colorado native who works in marketing for a commercial real estate firm.

American Powertrain Adds GearStar Automatic Transmissions

American Powertrain has now added GearStar automatic transmissions for Ford, Chevy and Mopar to its product lineup.