It is simply not a good thing for short track racing in general when the rules are twisted so that you are forced into using a mass-produced street-type engine in order to compete. I will be the first to admit that built race engines have gotten expensive. But so has everything else in racing, and as long as the rule book stays consistent, a well-built race engine can provide a lot of value in the long term. I have said before that there are ways to keep engine costs down while maintaining brand identity and tight competition. I would be glad to share these ideas with anyone, any time.

The sealed motors have been around for a while now, and people are starting to see more clearly how they aren't the magic cure they were billed to be when they first came out. But now we also have a similar situation with the recent introduction of NASCAR's new spec engine used in the Busch East and West Divisions. They aren't affecting a lot of people yet since they are in only two racing divisions, but there are plans to use this engine in a growing number of series and I believe we need to take a good hard look at the spec engine before it gets too far.

This spec engine is based off of Chevrolet's LS family of engines. It is available in kit form or fully assembled through Provident Auto Supply. Wegner Automotive did the development on this engine, and the main selling point is the cost savings a racer can benefit from by using this lower priced engine.

This engine will replace the 18-degree Chevy engine that has been in use in racing for quite a while. The 18-degree engines cost approximately $40,000 complete. The basic engine will last a number of seasons. In fact, we have had engines using the same block, crankshaft, connecting rods, cylinder heads and other components last five or more seasons if the team takes care of them and follows a sensible rebuild schedule. And, believe it or not, at the end of those five seasons they are still competitive. They make approximately 600 hp and operate at a maximum rpm somewhere around 8,500.

By comparison, the spec engine makes about the same horsepower, but they are limited to approximately 7,500 rpm because of the hydraulic roller cam that they use. They also use an 830 cfm carburetor while the 18-degree was limited to a 390 cfm carb. Sounds like a good idea, right?

But wait a minute, let's back up a bit and look at the entire picture.

When this spec engine was proposed, the kit (unassembled) price was going to be $12,500 while the assembled version was to be priced at $15,000. Things changed however as the first kits my customers bought cost $22,500. This is for a kit not an assembled motor.

Apparently, we are supposed to unbox, clean and assemble the spec engine kit, providing Automotive Specialists (or any other engine builder, for that matter) a profit of $2,500. But there are some things I just can't bring myself to do, and one of the biggest is assembling a race engine without at least verifying the clearances. Remember, a lot of the components in the spec engine are production-line pieces where the tolerances simply aren't held to the same specifications as a true racing component. That makes checking clearances even more important than on an engine built with real racing components. I don't want to discuss our pricing, but I will say we assemble these engines in the same manner as all our racing engines and price accordingly.