Making 3,000-Horsepower with the CFE LSFusion Small-Block

The LSFusion engine block from CFE Racing is not for the meek. It’s not the kind of block you can expect to see at your local cruise night, or even your local race track for that matter. It’s the kind of hardware that’s reserved for only the most serious efforts. Genuine points-chasing, major-championship competition with world record-level performers. The kind of racing where the rules are loose enough to allow a block with non-standard dimensions, like pro-level Outlaw stuff, mainly.

While it might have the letters “LS” in the name, there’s not much here that could be compared with any factory V8 manufactured by General Motors. The 6-bolt main bearing cap design (with 4 traditional vertical main cap bolts and 2 horizontal cross-bolts per main bearing cap) does look like it was inspired by the LS, so maybe that counts. Also, the front drive setup is based on LS dimensions and accepts LS accessories, so that sure counts toward the naming convention. Finally, the oil pan pattern is also based on the GM LS pattern, so the wide range of factory and aftermarket oil pans developed for the LS will bolt right up to the LSFusion block.

Stroke length is limited by the fully-enclosed 60mm cam tunnel, which sports 9 cam bearings. This was inspired by the DRCE3 platform. This much beef in the heart of the block means big power and high RPM levels can be supported for extended periods.

The deep “Y” shape to the block supporting those caps looks sort of like an LS, if you squint your eyes and look at it from far enough away. However, the center thrust bearing, and those 6-bolt mains sunk deep into a deep-skirted block are definitely LS inspired.

But, that’s where things start to get weird. They stretch a bit in almost all directions. The bore spacing is widened to 4.500 inches, allowing for huge bore sizes of up to to 4.400 inches. Likewise, the deck height has been increased to 10.2 inches, which allows for a maximum stroke of up to 4.900 inches. At maximum dimensions on both bore and stroke, 598 cubic inches of displacement – out of something resembling a small-block – is possible!

So, where does one get cylinder heads for a crazy block like this? Not surprisingly, CFE makes excellent LS-style heads for the block (named SBX heads), along with intake manifolds. Naturally the heads are offered with a wide range of race-friendly options, like Jesel or T&D Machine shaft rockers and valve sizes from 2.180-inches to 2.280-inches on the intake side, and 1.550-inches to 1.665-inches on the exhaust side. Chamber volume options stretch from a tiny 42cc combustion chamber, all the way up to a generous 69cc. Even more options exist, of course, including a lightening program to whittle away every bit of unnecessary weight.

The first CFE LSFusion block lives comfortably within the confines of the Hutter Performance Stratus. Boosted by twin turbos and kept alive by an exotic oiling system, the 3,000-plus horsepower mill requires precious little maintenance to propel this car to the top of the Street Legal/No Prep drag scene all over the Mid West and South East. Much like premium rear axle assemblies and planetary racing transmissions, LSFusion-based engines have proven to be durable and reliable enough to not command constant attention, so the team can focus on fine-tuning for track conditions.

From the Mill to the Racetrack

Hutter Performance received the very first LSFusion block in 2013, and is one of the few teams around willing to divulge any information about their engine program. They paired the LSFusion block with a set of CFE’s own SBX cylinder heads for use in the Dragway 42 Outlaw 660 Pro Mod class and the Professional Drag Racing Association (PDRA) 1/8-mile drag race circuit. If there’s a heads-up Pro Mod race on the East Coast, the LSFusion-powered, bright red Dodge Stratus-bodied Hutter Performance machine will probably be there, and probably real close to the top.

Shop owner/founder Ron Hutter is well known in many different racing circles as an engine designer, builder, and tuner. He made his name in the NHRA Modified Eliminator and Pro Stock classes before expanding into NASCAR’s Modified series. Once there, he teamed up with Ritchie Evans and won a total of 8 national championships. Hutter moved to the Busch Grand National series, winning in both 1998 and 1999 with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Matt Hutter told us, “Currently we’ve run a best elapsed time of 3.807 seconds, and our best top speed has been 197.89 mph in the eighth-mile.” Blasting from zero to almost 200 mph in less than four seconds is impressive enough, but to do so all season on an engine demanding minimal maintenance was unheard of not too long ago.

Today, Hutter Performance builds engines for a wide range of professional racers in everything from IHRA Pro Stock to the SCCA Speed World Challenge GT, to NASCAR Modifieds. When he decided to field his own entry into the ultra-competitive world of heads-up 1/8-mile Outlaw Pro Mod racing, he could choose any engine combination he wanted. The fact he chose the LSFusion says plenty. The fact CFE made sure he got the very first one also says a lot. This collaboration was destined for success.

Hutter has run the engine in a couple different configurations since he first assembled it. Initially, it was set up to run on high-octane gasoline and a heavy dose of nitrous oxide. While this combination made great power, it was not very predictable or repeatable from run to run. Experienced racers know how changing weather conditions can play havoc with a heavy nitrous tune-up, and the wildly varying conditions the Hutters race in around their Chardon, Ohio, headquarters. In 2015, Ron and his son Matt made the decision to switch the engine program over to a twin-turbo setup, now burning methanol. The new combination has proven to be much more consistent and predictable.

From the rear, we can see the LS-flavored transmission mount surface, and how the overall beef of this radical casting can deal with several thousand horses on a regular basis. The quality of the casting, machining, and CNC finishing are all evident from this angle.

Their version of the CFE LSFusion block is water jacketed (solid blocks are also available) and relies on a 4.200-inch bore and a 4.00-inch stroke to push 443 cubic inches. As mentioned, the block is topped with CFE’s own SBX cylinder heads, which breathe through 2.280-inch intake, and 1.665-inch exhaust valves. The crankshaft is a billet Sonny Bryant piece, swinging GRP connecting rods and forged CP pistons. The ring package consists of Total Seal “Diamond Finish” products, and has proved to be very stable under pressure.

The valvetrain is based on a Comp camshaft, with Jesel lifters pushing Manton pushrods into either PAC or PSI valvesprings. The rocker arms are also Jesel products, with a 1.8:1 ratio on the intake side and a 1.75:1 ratio on the exhaust side. The Hutters are working directly with Comp Cams to continually evolve the intricate camshaft specs, and they’ve been able to make steady progress as the camshaft program evolves.

The bottom end of the LSFusion block showcases strength over any other attribute. The 6-bolt billet steel main caps ship with studs and premium hardware. Note the machine work on every surface, leaving no sharp edges anywhere. Also note the block notching to clear rods for a long stroke, and the extensive use of CNC milling to remove any unnecessary weight from inside the block.

Clearly, the turbochargers are a big part of this horsepower project, and the Hutters work directly with the experts at Comp Turbo Technology (no relation to Comp Cams) to make big, reliable boost. Comp Turbo has recently developed a new, more efficient compressor wheel design, which is present in the pair of CT6X Pro Mod 80mm turbochargers atop the Hutter’s engine. On the track, Ron limits the boost pressure to a relatively conservative 31 psi.

The cutting-edge turbos get spun by a custom set of stainless exhaust headers, crafted in-house by Matt Hutter. The incredibly high temps take their toll, and Matt might be making his next set from thicker-gauge stainless or possibly Inconel. Once they are spinning, the turbos feed pressurized air to the engine through a Matt Hutter-crafted intake lid, into a CFE-made sheetmetal intake manifold base. The fuel injectors are ID2000 units from Injector Dynamics, which, along with the four-port wastegate control setup, are controlled by the proven MoTeC M800 engine management system.

The result of this combination has proven to be reliable, with no breakage and no need to swap valvesprings all season, even shifting at a heady 9,300-9,500 rpm. In last year’s off-season, a teardown and rebuild showed no major issues. With a fresh set of rings and bearings, the bottom-end was ready to go another full season. Dyno testing with a limited amount of boost (27 psi, vs. the 31 psi they race with) delivered remarkable 2,780 horsepower. Ron is confident the car is making just over 3,000 peak horses in race trim at full boost at that same 9,500 rpm redline. Hutter told us he runs an oil system using Dailey Engineering components exclusively, from the dry sump pan to the 7-stage belt driven external oil pump. The engine uses only Schaeffer racing 10W-40 synthetic oil at 85-90 psi.

The LSFusion-based engine has proven to be incredibly durable. It requires minimal maintenance in its current configuration. For instance, the team ran all of 2017 (a total of 78 drag strip passes) without changing valvesprings. This was unheard of just a few years ago, but a post-season teardown showed no damage and only a couple bearings showed signs of wear enough to change them out.

Those thick sleeves won’t shift in that beefy deck, and there are 6 bolts around every bore to ensure an excellent seal. The attention to detail is evident in every part of this block, and it’s success on the track backs up the engineering prowess that brought it to life.

As Hutter’s block is a “wet” version with full water jacketing, they run a radiator and an electric Howard Stewart inline water pump on their racecar. CFE also offers this block in a fully solid, non-jacketed version for drag racers who don’t run coolant and don’t expect to run for extended periods, like an alcohol dragster or similar.

While this block is admittedly for the very hardcore, it contains the kind of engineering and design excellence we love to share. We know some racers will be interested in it, but the overwhelming majority of street enthusiasts could never justify it for their own projects. However, if you’re like us and you love learning about what makes a block a true race piece, this is a great example. It’s incredibly strong and does not flex under high boost situations. We have also given you a rare look inside what makes one of the country’s most competitive 1/8-mile outlaw door slammers such a heavy hitter, and we hope that you were as impressed as we were with the surprising lack of maintenance work required to keep this 3,000 horsepower car running strong all season.

CFE’s own cylinder heads and intake manifolds are offered in a broad range of configurations to suit racers of many disciplines. While the block immediately found favor (and success) on the drag strip, we can see where boat racers and pulling trucks could really benefit from its strength, durability, and power potential.

Article Sources

About the author

Scott Parkhurst

Beginning his career in the U.S. Air Force, Scott transitioned from hands on positions assembling air craft and racing engines when he became Tech Editor of Popular Hot Rodding. He was later Editor of Engine Masters and is a published author.
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