Check out Part 2 and Part 3 of this series on building the next generation race engine!

On the one hand, it is admirable that racing series attempt to contain costs for racers by maintaining consistency year after year. After all, throwing away perfectly good racing components and replacing them with equally good—but slightly different—racing components sounds a lot like a plan Congress would come up with.

But sometimes the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy can keep people from experimenting in order to find improvements. Here at Circle Track we're big fans of making things better. You might even call it tinkering. We've set our sights on building a better race engine, and we thought we'd let you in on it.

GM's LS series of engines have been around for decades now and are commonly considered the go-to powerplant of choice for everyone from sports car racers, hot rodders and basically anyone who wants to make lots of power without a lot of fuss. Heck, drifters are even ditching their turbocharged four-cylinder engines and sneaking LS engines into their imports. Yes, they are that popular.

But so far they aren't very common in circle track racing. While NASCAR has created an LS "Spec" engine and there's also the "A4MP" Sprint Car engine package (the acronym stands for Alternative 410 Motor Program), nothing has really caught on big yet. And that's despite the fact that almost all major engine parts manufacturers for traditional stock car racing engines also have performance components for the LS engines as well.

So we decided to take a closer look at just what could be done by creating an LS for stock car racing purposes. And if we're going to do that, we might as well go big, right? So our goal is an LS capable of racing toe-to-toe with the current competition in one of the most horsepower-hungry classes anywhere: Super Dirt Late Model.

The rulebook for the Super classes is notoriously thin. The thinking is that practically anything goes, the limiter in the equation will be the tire. And as a result, we've seen a lot of high-end engine tech hit the racetrack in this class. Cylinder heads that have to spend hours being welded up before the porter can make radical changes to the ports, chambers and even the valve locations, billet heads, and specialty blocks with the bore spacing stretched to 4.500 inches (versus the small-block standard of 4.400) are becoming the norm. So are SB2 race engines right out of Cup shops with the addition of an aluminum block and even bigger carburetor.

We all love watching the big names in dirt racing going at it in the big events, and there's big money to be had for winning some races. But really, does this type of arms race make sense for the regular guy in dirt racing when the average payout in a Super race is seven grand or less for the winner and considerably less for everyone else?

So our plan was to put together an engine with power that was right in line with what is currently racing right now but uses affordable components that are readily available from trusted racing resources, is easy to maintain and capable of handling lots of abuse. After all, we don't want to put an engine package out there that instantly makes every other engine in the class uncompetitive and obsolete. Instead, we want to propose an engine package that can be phased in over time. So if a Super Dirt team has too much money invested in its current engine, the team can continue racing it until it's ready for the new design without being out to lunch on the racetrack.