Five years ago in February, the guys at TRE Racing Engines were busy building engines, machining parts and testing engines on the dyno. It was a day just like any other. However, for owner Taylor Lastor and the rest of the employees at TRE Racing Engines in Cleveland, TX, this particular day would end much differently than normal.
“We were dynoing a 10,000 rpm, Comp Eliminator engine and the steel flywheel exploded during testing, cutting the fuel lines on the dyno,” Lastor says. “It happened so fast and erupted the dyno room into flames.”
Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident, but unfortunately, due to TRE’s location in Texas, it took more than 30 minutes for firefighters to arrive, leaving the entire shop in a pile of ashes.
“By the time fire trucks arrived, the fire had already spread from the dyno rooms to the main shop and that’s when it got bad,” Lastor says. “At that point, the firefighters didn’t want to go in, they just wanted to keep the fire from going anywhere. The fire took everything out. I had two dynos, five CNCs, two honing machines, two seat and guide machines, mills and lathes and tools my dad had from the ‘80s. It was all scrapped. Hundreds of engines, thousands and thousands of dollars worth of parts – all lost.”
TRE didn’t let the fire stop them. The shop immediately moved into another building Taylor owned that was being used for assembling and maintaining racecars. However, Lastor didn’t receive financial aid from the insurance company, so costs were coming out of pocket. Hearing this news, the engine industry came to the rescue.
“Companies like Brodix and COMP Cams came through to help us a lot to get back going again,” he says. “We had a lot of people do a lot of stuff for us. The old shop is still a leveled slab. We’re a rebuilt company and I don’t have as much staff as I used to. It’s not starting over, but its kind of like starting over. We’re not what we were, but we’re still ridiculously busy.”
TRE has been focused on building big cubic inch engines for Top Dragster, Top Sportsman and Pro Modified, as well as Outlaw racing engines featuring nitrous, turbos and blowers.
One of the shop’s builds is this big block Chevy nitrous engine for X275 drag radial racing that makes 2,000 horsepower using conventional heads and a standard deck Dart big block.
For X275, if you’re using a big block, they have to be a standard 9.8 inch deck height and stock bore space with conventional big block Chevy heads, which are 24 degrees. Here’s Taylor to tell you more.
“When we first started in this class 6-8 years ago, we were all using off-the-shelf stuff. Of course, X275 has evolved and changed,” he says. “What we do now is buy a raw head from Brodix. It has zero holes in it. It’s just basically a chunk of aluminum we buy from Brodix. We do everything in-house – we put the valves where we want them, we put all the spark plugs where we want them and we have our own valvetrain that Jesel builds us. We do just about everything we can do within the rules and then refine it, but being careful to stay within what constitutes a conventional big block Chevy head.”
This engine also features a billet crankshaft and a 60mm COMP Cams camshaft with well over an inch of lift. The camshaft is raised for better geometry. TRE used .937 Jesel lifters and a Jesel rocker system, billet aluminum rods, Bill Miller Engineering pistons, King bearings, a cast Edelbrock 565 intake, and valve covers and an oil pan from Mickey Williams at Williams Fabrication.
“We build a lot of these with EFI now. We were doing 100 percent carburetor up until recently, but now about 90% of them we’re doing with EFI. We’ve developed our own EFI system through Holley.”
TRE has developed this big block Chevy to make 1,200 horsepower on fuel only. It makes right at 2,000 horsepower using a single nitrous system, which is a lot of horsepower for a standard deck block and a conventional head!
With the big block Chevy’s compression at 13.5:1, the engine makes 800 ft.-lbs. of torque at 6,500 rpm on fuel. With nitrous it makes about 1,500 ft.-lbs. of torque. This is one hell of a race engine!
That does it for this episode of Engine of the Week. Thanks to our sponsors PennGrade, Scat Crankshafts and Elring. Please like, comment and subscribe if you haven’t already. And, if you have an engine you’d like to see featured, please email our editor Greg Jones at [email protected]. Thanks for watching!