Chances are, you remember the winner of the first season of Horsepower Wars’ $10K Drag Shootout — Team Bigun’s turbo LS-powered Fox-Body Mustang dubbed “Beer Money.” Since winning the competition three years ago, and getting to keep the car, it has been raced in the no-prep arena consistently.
All that racing takes a toll on even the best-built race engine (let alone one that was built as part of a ten-day, $10,000 build for an entire car), and the hard-blocked 5.3-liter LS short-block finally said “Uncle.” While it held up admirably, now engine builder Pete Harrell of Harrell Engine and Dyno gets to do it right, and put together an LS3-based combination for Beer Money.
Shaving Weight While Adding Cubes
In order to save weight, Harrell decided to go with an aluminum 6.2L LS3 block, which came from a blown-up engine, literally sitting in the corner of his shop. After having it resleeved with Darton iron sleeves, the sleeves were bored to the stock 4.065-inch bore size and then machined for O-rings. In this case, the groove is .049 inch, while the O-ring wire is .051 inch, allowing for some mechanical grip.
Harrell filled the water jackets with a lightweight epoxy block filler to help withstand the cylinder pressures induced with 30psi from a turbocharger, but not add all the weight of concrete or other traditional block fillers. The next step to handling all the pressure is outfitting the block with 1/2-inch ARP head studs and main studs.
Using narrowed Clevite H-series bearings, HED engine builder Jay Wiles spent a significant amount of time ensuring that this engine’s bearing clearances were dead-on. Into the bearings went a K1 forged steel crankshaft which retains all of the stock LS3 measurements, including the 3.622-inch stroke.
Attached to the beefy K1 crankshaft is a set of equally beefy BoostLine connecting rods. The 6.125-inch rods are machined from a 4340 steel forging, with the unique three-pocket I-beam design boasting a light weight and incredible strength. The rods come standard with ARP 2000 rod bolts, and the whole combination is rated at 2,000 horsepower.
Hanging off the rods are a set of Wiseco’s forged flat-tops, with the .043-inch ring pack moved further down the piston to maintain a thick crown, with lateral gas ports on the top ring land to be sure the rings will seal. Attaching the pistons to the rods is a pin with more combined wall thickness than pin bore area, but are shorter than standard at 2.25 inches long.
Cam specs aren’t being furnished because, well, No-Prep and all, but we do know that it’s a solid-roller bumpstick. A Rollmaster double roller timing set is used to keep the crankshaft and camshaft in sync, and a standard Melling 10296 oil pump, which has been spaced out to clear the double roller chain. The oil pan is a generic fabricated-steel deep-rear-sump unit that came from the original engine and utilizes the stock LS windage tray to control oil inside the engine.
Top End Of The Beast
Topping off the combination is a set of Mast Motorsports Black Label 255cc LS3 heads. The heads come with an extra-thick .750-inch deck, which is a nice feature considering Harrell has gone through and TIG welded all of the water passages closed to dry-deck the head. That way, water can still be circulated through the cylinder head without any chance of it leaking onto the tires if the head were to lift.
The heads feature an 11-degree valve angle with large 2.165-inch stainless intake valves and 1.600-inch exhaust valves, also in stainless steel, both with a five-angle valve job. Both valves are 0.100-inch longer than stock thanks to the lowered spring seats in the casting. The 69cc chambers also have reciprocal O-ring grooves and make for an 11.0:1 compression ratio. The heads seal to the block with custom .040-inch-thick solid copper head gaskets from Flatout.
PSI valvesprings with 250 lbs on the seat and 700 open combined with titanium retainers keep the valves under control. A set of BAM solid-roller lifters ride on the camshaft and a set of massive Manton 7/16-inch diameter, 0.168-inch-wall pushrods actuate the T&D shaft rockers. Even though this model of rocker arm is made from a proprietary steel alloy, they are within a few grams of the T&D’s aluminum version of the same rocker system.
A Precision Turbo & Engine mid-frame 88mm turbo with an 84mm exhaust wheel provides the unnatural aspiration for the 6.2-liter combination and is controlled by a 66mm Precision wastegate. A Holley Sniper EFI sheetmetal Hi-Ram intake manifold, with a 90mm throttle body opening and matching throttle body funnel the compressed air into the intake ports.
No intercooler is used thanks to the cooling effects of the methanol fuel, which is injected through Billet Atomizer injectors. Boost, fuel, and spark are all controlled via the Holley EFI system. Altogether, the new aluminum LS2 combination tips the scales at 120 pounds less than the iron-block 5.3 combo, and with more displacement to boot.
“At 22psi on the chassis dyno, it showed 1,000 horsepower with a loose converter,” says Harrell. “We could probably spin it another 1,000 rpm and see 1,200 on the dyno, but we don’t really care about numbers on the dyno. We just want to make sure that everything works for when we go to the track. It’s turning 8,000rpm out the back right now and at some point, it may turn 8,500 or 9,000.”