Not all engines are created equal, and at no other show is that more apparent than at the PRI show. It was there at the 2022 tradeshow that we came across a sick-looking blown Hemi engine in the Manton booth, and we had to know more. Upon talking to the Manton folks, we found out this Hemi was built by Nick Bacalis of Bullet Racing Engines, and that Nick was also at the show helping out at the Larry Jeffers Race Cars booth. After all, Larry Jeffers owns Bullet Racing Engines, so we tracked Nick down and he was kind enough to give us the details of this custom Hemi engine.
Nick runs Bullet Racing Engines in House Springs, MO, a full-service engine machine shop capable of doing just about everything in-house. The shop specializes in drag race, dirt race, truck pull, and virtually all high-horsepower engines, and the two-man shop will build just about any gas engine platform.
As it turned out, Manton had recently developed rocker arms for the Hemi platform, so Nick used the components in this blown Hemi build and Manton wanted to showcase the engine in their booth at PRI, which also included Manton’s pushrods.
“Manton let us put the motor in their booth,” Bacalis says. “They just developed rocker arms for this platform and their pushrods of course. It’s a CN billet aluminum block, but it’s a Chevy 4.900” Hemi deal developed by PJS Racing. It’s a raised cam Chevy block, but it has the standard Hemi bell housing pattern and the motor plate pattern, so it bolts right in where a normal Brad Anderson deal or a Noonan deal or one of those motors would bolt right in.”
In talking to Nick, the engine isn’t necessarily 50/50 Chevy and Hemi, rather it’s a one-off engine concept.
“It’s kind of its own one-off deal, but it’s a Chevy type deal with a 1” raised cam, a Bryant crankshaft, R&R rods, custom Ross pistons, and Total Seal rings with Calico-coated Clevite bearings in it,” Bacalis told us. “Up in the valvetrain, it has a keyway lifter from Jesel, a custom Bullet camshaft, Manton rockers and Manton pushrods, and a PJS manifold on it for the screw blower. We’re running one of the PSI screw blowers with a Bohr hat on top of it. The engine was built mostly for Pro Mod, but also truck pull guys can easily put it in one of the truck pulls.
“Under the engine, we’re running a Dailey dry sump pan and pump. We’re running one of the Wyo Motorsports balancer pulleys on it. It runs a belt drive and lots of parts also from DMPE. It’s a really good piece.”
Nick isn’t lying. This engine is gorgeous and it required a good amount of work in-house from the guys at Bullet Racing Engines.
“The machine work is done in-house,” he says. “We get the blocks raw to where we’ve got to deck the blocks and bore them and hone them to our sizes and everything is checked with a profilometer. Then, we do the heads and we put fire hoops into these. We also receiver groove the block and then get the manifold fitted up and port match the manifold to the heads and just make sure it’s right for making 3,500-plus horsepower to run 3.50s-3.60s in the eighth.”
To help make 3,500 horsepower, this engine will run methanol and be paired with power adder packages such as the PSI screw blower on this particular setup, but also a twin-turbo or ProCharger option. From there, Nick is always looking for ways to continue updating and upgrading his engines, trying to make things last longer and go faster.
One of the coolest parts of this Chevy/Hemi engine is within the Bohr blower hat on top of the supercharger.
“Bohr has a spiral in their hat with nozzles on it to cool it, but then it’s spun so as the air is coming through, it helps with atomizing the air and cooling down the blower,” Bacalis pointed out. “Bohr makes some of the nicest stuff out there.”
This Chevy/Hemi will be hitting the drag strip this season, but plenty of other engines await Nick’s attention and expertise back at Bullet Racing Engines.
“I appreciate Larry Jeffers who owns Bullet Racing Engines and lets us work there and get stuff going for all of our customers,” Bacalis says. “We have a wide variety of customers with the Pro Mod deal and Larry builds some of the top cars, so we’re trying to build some of the top motors along with them.”
Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade Motor Oil, Elring – Das Original and 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].