Even though both power disciplines require strong, high-rpm capability, there are significant strategy differences between engines built for drag racing and land-speed attempts at Bonneville.
“You’re doing the exact opposite in some ways,” says Frank Beck, owner of Beck Racing Engines and builder of the 420ci Chevy small-block shown in the video above. “You can’t build them with super lightweight parts and restricted oil. You’re going five miles at wide-open throttle. Nothing has a chance to cool. You better keep everything happy.”
This engine sees duty in Ed Van Scoy’s B/GT class Corvette, a former record holder at around 223 mph who now is hoping to regain the title. But he’ll have to go well over 236 mph to do so. The flood on the salt flats before last month’s Speedweek has put that quest on hold. For now, however, EngineLabs has an inside peek into this 850-horsepower screamer built around a set of Bowtie cylinder heads that once powered Michael Waltrip in Busch competition.
Beck inherited the engine a few years after it was suffering durability problems and in need of more power.
“We corrected some issues and it set the record then,” remembers Beck, adding that just about every part has since been replaced except for the heads, intake and oiling system.
The current foundation is a new Dart block that supports roller cam bearings and a Scatcrank that’s a “cross between their lightweight and ultra lightweight” models. The counterweights have been scalloped but no gun-drilled mains. Beck says one of the keys to durability in land-speed engine is plenty of lubrication, so the Oliver billet rods have an EDM hole between the bearing and pin.
“The dry sump scavenges so well that it literally sucks the wrist pins dry,” says Beck, noting there is a 5-stage Aviaid pump improving the pan vacuum. The CP pistons are secured with DLC-coated pins and squeeze out a 15.3:1 compression ratio. Beck also utilizes oil jets in the crankcase to cool down the underside of the pistons.
Beck opened up the 18-degree, raised-port heads before installing titanium valves secured with PACsprings and titanium retainers and keepers. The valves are actuated by Jeselshaft-mounted rockers andManton pushrods, and they’re all hidden underMoroso valve covers equipped with spring oilers.
“I run 5/16 stems on the intake valves and 11/32 on the exhaust. That exhaust valve basically has a flamethrower around it,” notes Beck, adding that his cam strategy focuses on a broad power band. “I don’t care about peak power. I concentrate on where that engine’s running and maximize results across the board. I’ll sacrifice the peak number to get a better average.”
On top is an early style Hogan sheet-metal manifold supporting a pair of 750 cfm Demoncarbs. Given tight hood-clearance restrictions, Beck did modify the intake with the plenum and phenolic spacers to pick up a few more ponies. An MSD crank trigger handles the spark.
“You’ve got to have longevity built into a Bonneville engine. You give up some weight savings and then literally flood it with oil,” sums up Beck, adding that he even manipulates the fuel curve to ensure durability. “Look at the brake specific on the dyno chart. I’m running a little richer than on a drag engine. Just want to keep it fat and happy.”