Seasoned engine builder Mike Tiry believes the GM 5.3L LS engine is the answer for culling costs in limited and sportsman pavement late model racing in the Midwest. It’s less expensive, can be built by anyone, easy to police, and durable.
“We can build a competitive racing engine that is substantially less expensive than open or concept engines now in use,” Tiry, of Tiry’s Race Engines in Ripon, Wisconsin, said. “LS engines can be harvested from junkyards for $100 to $200. Racers bring us a core; we work on it to make it into a racing engine.”
With the core provided, Tiry sells the 400-hp sportsman LS 5.3L for $7,800. The 470-hp limited late model version retails for $9,800.
Sportsman and limited late model engines go for $11,000 to $14,000, according to Tiry. He added that a blueprinted, race-prepped Chevrolet Performance 604 crate engine sells for around $10,000.
The LS offers another advantage over the 604.
“The beauty of the LS is it can be built by anyone,” Tiry said. “It doesn’t have to be built by us or any other [specific] engine builder.”
Policing the engines doesn’t require the racer to have the power plant resealed by a certified rebuilder after tech, either.
“It’s easy to police cheating up the ports,” said Tiry. “On the sportsman engine, it has totally un-ported cylinder heads. It takes longer to take off the carburetor and airbox than the intake, which takes only 35 seconds to remove. The intake uses O-rings and has no water flowing in it, so no gaskets. The intake runners are straight, so you can see the whole port.
“The limited late model engine has fully CNC-ported heads from Lingenfelter. Since it’s fully machined, it’s the best that it can be, so you can’t cheat it up.”
The LS uses coil packs, eliminating a potential problem spot — the distributor. Both versions of Tiry’s LS use hydraulic roller camshafts, boosting its reliability when compared to flat-tappet versions. Tiry said the LS should run without a rebuild for two to three years.
When it comes to weight, the 5.3L LS engine weighs about 10 lb. heavier than the concept engine. However, the additional weight resides lower due to lighter, aluminum cylinder heads.
As far as the engine’s competitiveness, Dave Trute, of New Lisbon, Wisconsin, scored four feature wins and a runner-up point finish in the sportsman class at Dells Raceway Park in Wisconsin.
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 51st year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.