There’s big and then there is Sonny Leonard big.
Leonard, a veteran engine builder from Lynchburg, Va., is building what he believes to be the largest drag race engine ever at 1005 cubic inches.
Did the veteran engine builder ever believe the day would come?
“Absolutely not,” Leonard said on Thursday morning. “[Years ago] I couldn’t have even comprehended that.”
Leonard, who has built a solid reputation for supplying mega-inch-displacement engines to mountain motor Pro Stock, Pro Modified and fast doorslammer racers, believed early into his business that engine displacements would likely peak in the 500 cubic inch range.
Leonard was building engines as large as 540 cubic inches back in the 1970s.
“I believed back in those days that engines could only get about 540 or 550 tops,” he admitted. “Those were mountains back then but in today’s world, they are effectively molehills.”
Back in those days the leading proponents of the massive displacement engines were not only Leonard, but Pat Musi and the legendary “General” Lee Edwards.
As overwhelming as the 1005 cubic inch engine is, Leonard isn’t naive enough to believe that it’s the end all of engine displacements. He definitely sees even larger on the horizon with the continual refinement of the technology.
“It takes two things, time and money,” admits Leonard. “If we could put a man on the moon and bring him back over 40 years ago, anything is possible.”
The general consensus amongst engine builders is that the larger the displacement, the less efficient it will be. For instance, Leonard believes an engine displacing in the range of 500 inches will more times than not be more efficient than one displacing twice as many cubic inches.
However, for brute horsepower in a car weighing 2350 pounds, size does matter. And truth be known, the outer dimensions on the 1005-incher will be the same as the 904-inch beast he completed last year.
“This engine is capable of running 8,000 rpm which was unheard of five years ago,” Leonard explained. “The door is open here. It might not be as efficient but it will go quicker. If it was weight per cubic inch, this wouldn’t be the way to go.”
Leonard is building this monstrous powerplant for Craig Olson and his CEO Racing team sponsored by Rescue Voice.
According to Leonard, the engine will be naturally aspirated and feature Sonny’s Racing Engines new fully in-house CNC-ported special Edition GM Hemispherical Cylinder Heads.
The heads on this 2150 horse engine will feature Sonny’s Ultimate Pro Stock porting. Other engine components includes SAR custom titanium valves, PSI springs, Sonny Bryant billet crankshaft, GRP billet aluminum rods, mammoth SAR/ custom pistons with special ring package, SAR/CE 1.062 keyed lifters, 1.031 tool steel taper-wall pins, SAR/T&D.
The mega-inch engine will also feature a Jesel shaft mounted rocker system, Jesel belt drive, Custom Dailey 7 stage lightweight dry sump oiling system, ATI balancer, MSD Ignition, SAR sheet-metal Pro Stock intake featuring SAR/ Accufab Throttle Bodies.
The engine will be equipped with a custom Big Stuff electronic fuel injection system, a set of billet valve covers from Moroso and an MSD Pro Series Starter.
The engine is based on a special SAR billet aluminum block with a 2-inch raised cam to accommodate the custom 70 mm camshaft.
Leonard estimates the engine will weigh about 675 pounds with an EFI system. The average 500-inch engine typically weighs in the 550 pound range.
“It will catch a lot of eyes and it will go plenty fast,” Leonard added.
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