If you’re a fan of Street Outlaws, you’ll likely recognize the name Jeff Lutz. He’s one of the stars of the Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings series and is famous for his cars Mad Max and his ’57 Chevy. He also owns a race car shop named Lutz Race Cars where he does chassis building, turbo systems, dyno tunning, and roll cage work and certification.
Unfortunately, Jeff wrecked his ’57 Chevy in 2021, which meant a new car was needed. Jeff is a fan of GTOs, so it was a chance for him to use a GTO body and another example of the trusty big block Chevy under the hood. The result was a 2004-2006 Pontiac GTO with a twin-turbo 540 cubic inch big block Chevy from Vinson Racing Engines. We caught up with Jeff at the 2022 Piston Powered Autorama to get the details on the new race car and its engine setup.
“The big block Chevy platform of motor, I’ve been running for over 15 years,” Lutz told us. “Ever since I went twin turbo, I’ve been working with a local guy named Mark Vinson of Vinson Race Engines. He’s one of my best friends and I’ve raced with him a lot. He does an amazing job for us.”
Jeff latest big block Chevy is based on a 540 cubic inch Trick Flow block, which hasn’t been in production since 1989.
“Trick Flow made a big block Chevy with Sonny Leonard a long time ago,” Lutz says. “I don’t think they ever sold real well. I lucked into a batch of them and I’ve been running them ever since. They’re bulletproof.”
The Trick Flow block is equipped with a Callies crank, aluminum GRP rods and Pro-Filer Big Chief heads. It also features T&D rockers and Trend one-piece pushrods in the valvetrain, and twin 88mm Precision turbos give it some solid boost. The big block Chevy setup puts power to the ground via a Rossler 400 Turbo trans.
“It’s almost a bulletproof package for us and I’ve got so much data over the years,” he says. “I’ve had these engines in my ’57 and in Mad Max and I have it in this ’04-’06 Pontiac GTO Pro Mod. I just absolutely love it. It’s reliable horsepower. The 540 big block Chevy is a tried and true piece. It’s 4.250 stroke and a 4.000 bore. Everything is happy. The rod is not too long. The stroke is not too big. We’ve just had a lot of success with it.
“You can buy the billet stuff and all that good stuff. You don’t need it. This is all cast with water heads and a water block. I just don’t run any water through it. It’s reliable and you can put water in it and drive it if you want to. This is the same motor combination that I do Drag Week with. You can drive it 1,200 miles if you want. We put 89 octane in it and drive it straight down the road. On the street, we get almost 11 mpg believe it or not with 89 octane and no boost.”
The engine is lubricated via a Moroso six-stage dry sump oiling system with a Moroso oil tank and oil pan, as well as Moroso valve covers. Jeff utilizes a clear view oil filter, which he says has ‘saved my butt many, many times.’ You blow air through it in order to see if anything is in the filter.
Jeff told us there wasn’t anything overly special about this build and that for what it is, it’s actually a fairly low-budget engine, but a reliable one.
“It probably makes upwards of 4,000 horsepower, reliably,” he says. “On the race track in the eighth mile, this car has been 3.89 at almost 200 mph. This engine in my other car set the Pro Mod record five or six years ago in the quarter – it went 5.78 at 256 mph. It’s just an all-around good piece.”
The 2022 season of No Prep Kings features a 15-race series, and Jeff is excited to get racing.
“The goal for the season is to win,” Lutz admits. “We did really good last year. We hit the ground pretty close to running, but it wasn’t quite good enough.”
Jeff will be looking to improve this year, and in fact, all the NPK folks have stepped up their games, making the racing over the years extremely fun to watch. We’ll be eager to see how this new 540 BBC and its 4,000 horsepower can perform!
Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade Motor Oil, Elring – Das Original and Engine & Performance Warehouse Inc./NPW Companies. If you have an engine you’d like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder Editor Greg Jones at [email protected]