These days, it seems like there is a new record being broke every week. Last week, we brought you news that Cleetus bested the current six-speed Corvette record—which was eventually one upped later the following week by Horsepower Solutions in their F1X-fed C6 with an 8.33. Not only is that a testament to the steady march of technology allowing street cars to go faster than ever, but also to the fierce competition that spurs these guys to go faster than the next guy.
But there has to be a limit to that, right? If there’s one thing that drives us nuts, it’s Corvette guys telling us that their car is rare because it’s the only white, six-speed, convertible Corvette to roll off the line at exactly 4:52 p.m. with one of the builder’s being named Randy. You can make anything special if you drill down far enough. And while we love record breakers, we don’t care for it when things get that granular. But when you break the record for the fastest stock bottom end LS of all time, we take notice—and so does the rest of the world.
And that’s exactly what happened over the weekend at Street Car Super Nationals hosted in Sin City. The previous holder of the record in question was Jon Capizzi in his LS-swapped Fox body Mustang. Obviously, that car sports a stock bottom end 5.3 and laid down a 7.72 at 174.57 mph, making it the fastest stock bottom end LS car of all time—at the time. But records are meant for breaking and a team from The Great White North, aptly named Team North, set their sites on breaking it for good. And that’s exactly what they did—for now.
We say “for now” because anything is possible, but when Team North broke this record, they broke it good, ripping off an insane 7.16 at 190 mph, besting Capizzi’s record by more than half a second. Let us rephrase that to put it in perspective: a stock bottom end LS-powered car almost went 6s.
But how did they manage to best the record by so much? For the answers to that, we turned to James Hatfield, member of Team North, to let us in on the secrets that allowed their truck to lay down such a pass, and find out if there’s more left in it.
“John Cuglietta has been working on building his new big-block combo—which is going in his former Pro Stock chassis truck—for a while and we started throwing around the idea of dropping a stock bottom end LS in it and going for the record,” Hatfield explained. “But he got the big-block done and dropped it in and it ended up letting go on its fourth pass and had to be sent out for welding. So this was early September and we started saying, ‘why don’t we go for it? Why don’t we get it ready for Street Car?’”
They quickly assembled a team to both help with the build and to donate the parts necessary to get the truck ready in time for the shot at the title. The build started out with fabricating the turbo kit for the stock-bottom-end mill. For the engine, an amalgamation of stock LS parts was sourced from multiple parties but ultimately culminated in a stock short-block 5.3. The bearings, rings, pistons, rods, and crank are all factory with most having at least 100,000 miles on them.
The rings were gapped and a set of ARP rod bolts were used, but other than that, the 5.3 is exactly how it would have left one of the General’s factory’s. While we know some may get held up by the use of ARP rod bolts, take it for what it’s worth. The rod bolts aren’t typically what’s failing in an engine like this, and the entire rotating assembly is factory cast.
In fact, what makes this record even more impressive is the fact that Team North actually used a set of 799 casting heads that had been previously beat up in a cylinder by a piston that went rouge. The heads were hand welded and sanded back smoothed by a sanding roll—not the most ideal situation in the world, but obviously it was good enough.
But the real magic, according to Hatfield, came in the form of the camshaft, which was sourced from Comp Cams. One of the team members had recently started working for the company just before the build began. This gave the team access to some of the best technology on the market right now.
“Mark Campbell, one of the team members, just started work for Comp and reached out to the R&D department, and Billy Godbold, and they started working on the cam for this thing.” Hatfield said. “We had a couple of targets in mind and they helped us achieve those. The design really helps keep the rods in the engine.”
For the boost, the team selected a Garrett GT5591 journal-bearing turbo they cannibalized off a team member’s car. It feeds directly into the 5.3 without passing through an intercooler. Naturally, this means the setup is running on methanol, provided by Fuse Fuel, and uses chemical action to cool the incoming air charge. The rest of the build utilized used and “borrowed” parts as well. Hatfield even donated the balancer from his own LS-powered S10 and others donated the torque converter, fuel system components, and other ancillary components. A Holley Dominator EFI system is the brains of the operation and helped keep the 5.3 in one piece.
With the truck cobbled together, and testing consisting of bringing the truck up on the chip once, they set off for Las Vegas with a pocket full of hopes and dreams. When they arrived at the track, they quickly realized the truck’s chassis, and large rear tire, were setup up to handle much more power than they were throwing at it and required some last minute tweaks to keep the slicks planted.
Nevertheless, Team North worked tirelessly to dial in the truck’s chassis and were rewarded with the fastest stock bottom end LS pass of all time, a 7.16 at 190 mph—tantalizingly close to the 6s. In fact, the stock bottom end was barely running off pace of Cuglietta’s big-block setup which typically runs 6.80-6.90s. Unfortunately the team didn’t have time to try to get the truck in the 6s, but Hatfield says they might go for it at an event soon. Like we said, records are meant to be broken, even if its by the person that set them in the first place.
Left: The record-breaking time slip. Right: Team North posing with the truck.