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959 cid Big Buck Engine

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Back in 2015, King, NC-based shop, Buck Racing Engines, was broken into and seven race engines were stolen from inside, valued at nearly half a million dollars in lost inventory. The four thieves responsible were caught and sentenced a year later. However, none of the engines or parts stolen were ever recovered, forcing shop owner Charlie Buck to rely on the insurance company to keep his business intact.

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Fortunately, the insurance coverage was good enough to keep Buck Racing Engines going, and good thing too, because Buck Racing Engines is a well-known engine shop focused on big cubic inch nitrous engines for the likes of Pro Extreme, Pro Boost, Pro Nitrous, Top Sportsman, and Top Dragster series. While that is the shop’s bread and butter, Buck Racing Engines doesn’t put all its eggs in one basket, and also does good business building 632s, 565s and 540s for Top Sportsman, as well as engines for bracket racing, truck pulling and marine applications.

After more than 25 years in business, Buck Racing Engines has also become very well-known in the PDRA ranks. In fact, in a typical 32-car field for a PDRA race, roughly 18 cars will be running a Buck-built engine.

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More than anything else, what the shop is really known for are its 959 cubic inch fuel injected engines and we’re going to give you the details of that build in this episode of Engine of the Week.

This set up was brand new in 2018 and spent 18-20 months under development. The magic of this engine starts with the heads, which begin as a plastic mold and are sent to Dart to create a CNC’d head.

“Dart doesn’t finish our heads, we finish everything here. We do a lot of lightening work. We put the seats and guides in and do a valve job and hand-blend the chambers. We do several other machining processes on them and get the head’s ready to go and put together.”

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The block for the 959 also comes in from Dart and is loosely based off a big block Chevy with 5.300˝ bore spacing. Once the block is at BRE, it has to be decked, O-ringed and all the clearances are checked to clear the 6.100˝ stroke crankshaft.

“After you do all that, we have to put a scavenge section in the lifter valley,” he says. “We then hone it and put the engine together.”

For the internal engine components, BRE uses a billet crankshaft, GRP rods, Diamond pistons, Jesel valvetrain, Manley titanium valves, PSI springs, and a COMP camshaft. Brandon Switzer of Switzer Dynamics makes a one-piece billet manifold for the 959 and provides five nitrous systems for the engine. The Big Buck also gets MoTec fuel injection, Clevite bearings and is given to customers with PennGrade oil.

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Once the 959 Big Buck is all put together, the shop runs the engine in, but doesn’t do a full dyno session with it. Buck estimates that the 959 Big Buck engine will crank out somewhere around 1,900 hp normally aspirated. With the nitrous switched on, the 959 churns out in the neighborhood of 3,000 hp.

Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade, Scat Crankshafts and Elring. If you have an engine you’d like to see featured, please email editor Greg Jones at [email protected]

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