The Top 10 Race-Engine Buildersby Richard Rowe
Racing and hot rod history is filled with great names in engine building, from a pioneer such as Zora Arkus-Duntov to a prolific builder such as Vic Edelbrock. Although most are content to either build an engine themselves our farm it out to a local machine shop, some customers are willing to spend some extra money to hire the best of the best. Many of these legendary builders have decades of experience and are brand names in their own right.
Along with his old rival Keith Black, Ed Pink's name is one of the most hallowed in drag-racing history. An early student of Vic Edelbrock, Pink first began building engines in the 1950s, and his "Pink Elephant" Hemi engines were the hot ticket for Funny Car racers in the 1960s. You can reach Pink's Van Nuys, California, shop at 818-785-4710.
Keith Black made a name for himself in the world of boat racing in the 1940s, and opened Black Racing Engines (BRE) in 1959. Black was trained as an engineer, and BRE's engine-building philosophy and intensive testing still reflect its originator's modus operandi. You can reach BRE's South Gate, California, shop at 310-869-2544.
LTR Racing Engines
Onyx, California-based LTR Engines specializes in building engines for NASCAR touring and late-model divisions that require a 9.5:1 compression ratio, so they know a thing or two about reliable performance on pump gas. You can reach LTR at 760-378-3443.
Lingenfelter Performance Engineering
John Lingenfelter's calling card is making massive power while keeping the engine truly street friendly. Lingenfelter's Corvette engines are known for their ability to make four-digit horsepower numbers while idling, driving and running as cool as a stock powerplant. You can reach Lingenfelter's Decatur, Indiana-based shop at 219-724-2552.
Katech is based out of Clinton Township, Michigan, and has been building all of GM's factory racing Corvette C5-R and C6-R racing engines since 1997. As you might expect, Katech specializes in building GM LS-series V8s ranging in horsepower from 475 to well more than 1,000. You can reach Katech at 810-791-4120.
Callaway is more of an engineering firm and car builder than a specific engine builder, but they will build you an engine on spec. Known for its well-sorted engine combos, Callaway's own 898 horsepower "Sledgehammer" Corvette twin turbo kit went on to become a GM-certified, dealer-installed option. You can reach Callaway's Old Lyme, Connecticut, shop at 800-231-1121.
Arrow Racing Engines
Chrysler enlisted Arrow's services to help engineer, build and establish repair procedures for their V10 Viper engines. The company still specializes in Viper engines but is willing to work on any of the Viper V10's smaller Magnum (LA-series) cousins. You can reach Arrow's Rochester Hills, Michigan, offices at 248-852-5151.
Hennessey Performance (HPE)
Texan John Hennessey made a name for himself in the 1990s, when "Car and Driver Magazine" declared his Venom 650R Dodge Viper the fastest car they had ever tested. Hennessey still offers ready-to-drive Venom Viper packages and 1,000-plus horsepower Venom-spec engines but has branched out to build Ford, Chrysler and GM V8s as well as Nissan VR-series engines. You can reach HPE at 979-885-1300.
Names in the automotive world don't get much more legendary than that of Carroll Shelby, whose 427 AC Cobra roadsters have been dominating racetracks and adolescent dreams since the 1960s. Shelby specializes in building Ford Windsor and FE engines, and you can reach his Gardena, California, shop at 310-538-2914.
Miller's Hernanso, Mississippi, shop has decades of experience in building engines of all ilks, but specializes in engineering and building torquey, powerful and street-driveable Oldsmobile V8s. You can reach Dick Miller Racing (DMR) at 622-233-2301.
Richard Rowe has been writing professionally since 2007, specializing in automotive topics. He has worked as a tractor-trailer driver and mechanic, a rigger at a fire engine factory and as a race-car driver and builder. Rowe studied engineering, philosophy and American literature at Central Florida Community College.