• Forum membership has its advantages....

Pro-lite and Super Buggy Spec Engines?


Well-Known Member
Brian what about going to the USAC Midgit motor program? Does'nt USAC have that program pretty well figuered out so the different motors all make about the same hp numbers? Wouldn't matter if you want to run a pushrod or overhead cam, and dont the major manufacturers suport these engine programs?
Plus this would allow a bigger market to buy and sell motors, keeping the cost down?

Pro-Lite Brian

Well-Known Member
USAC is rumored to be changine up the Midget Engine rules for 2010. They are rumored to be enforcing a RPM limit of 9000RPM for all engines. This is being done at the request of a couple Mfg's to keep the Esslinger Ford engines from winning as many races as they did in '08/'09. Esslinger won more races than any other manufacturer by a large margin.

The difference is that the Esslinger engines are in a larger percentage of cars than any other engine. It's kind of funny, the Esslinger (OHC) 2-valve engines cost less and run a smaller displacement than the MOPAR, CHEVY, or TOYOTA backed pushrod 2-valve engines (166cu.in. vs. 161cu.in.). So USAC is rumored to be changing the rules so that the larger, more expensive pushrod engines can turn the RPM's down in order to increase reliability. FYI, the Esslinger engines typically last about twice as long between rebuilds.

The top of the line Esslinger Aluminum OHC 2-valve 161cu.in. engine cost around $29k. with fuelpump, and powersteering pump, ignition, and aircleaner.

The Toyota backed engines are built by EPRE, and are only available to TRD supported teams. I am told you can buy a "similar" engine for roughly $40k.

The New Chevy engines are only available to Chevy supported teams. Don't know if you can even buy them?

The Mopar "factory" engine builder is Gary Stanton. You can buy an engine from Stanton for roughly $35k...

I'm not sure they midget engines are the correct route to take either. I know USAC talked about that option earlier in the year... It is funny that they choose the reduced RPM limit in one series and yet they want to change our engines all together!


Well-Known Member
I was going to stay out of this but here goes.....I have a little pro lite experience so I know the pain you PL guys are feeling. I bought a truck that was supposed to be "dialed" and it was a mess. As much as I hate the cost of these 300 ish horsepower engines, Brian is dead on when he says most guys have more problems than just HP. The # 1 rule in racing is RACE THE CLASS YOU CAN AFFORD. PERIOD. If you think saving 10 or 15 thousand on your engine cost is going to make you run better you are most likely going to be disappointed. I am not currently racing for this exact reason.....with the slow economy I cant afford it. Perhaps some of you who want the rules changed need to admit this hard reality to yourselves and move DOWN a class, or focus on making more money so you can then afford to race. Even with a cheaper engine package, all of the associated costs involved remain the same....i.e. , travel, food, crew, time off work, testing, crash damage, etc. The $$$ for the engine is a drop in the bucket.


Well-Known Member
Both PL Brian and Hotrod82 are right.

I also think a v8 or v6 is a mistake. limiting Rpms sound like a good start. i would love to see the midget motors allowed in the class. in fact i would probably put another pro-lite together if they allowed that.


Active Member
If you want reality, then all ford engines are illegal for p-l or u-l PERIOD.
The original casting design of that original ford head has been changed so many times it is BS.
Every other 4cyl manufacturer runs a production head!
We get all our toyota heads right from a toyota production part #, then work them.
There has NEVER, I REPEAT NEVER been a ford 4cyl with that head from the factory PERIOD. Back in the 70's it was a steel head anyways. It has been custom tailored over the years to what it is today. I worked for Crowders a few years back and saw the different changes that were developing but they just kept using the same approved stamped part number, so you can't fool me.
Now if all manufacturers could do that, things might not have that many ford winning.
I know fords don't win always but come on.
Sure, you're right it takes more than just an engine to get the job done, but look at how those rules have been munipulated over the years.
Maybe better policing of the rules needs to be done.

Are you in favor of a 2 hr tech where everything can be check per the rulebook, and who will fund the required manpower to do so? What about complete post tech too.
Nascar employs a ton of officials to try and do that. A couple per team.
I don't think shortcourse is quite ready for that yet, and who would fund that?


Well-Known Member
The # 1 rule in racing is RACE THE CLASS YOU CAN AFFORD. PERIOD.
There has to be management and control of each and every class that has any rules associated with them. If you want the class to survive and grow then you have to keep it "competitive" and "affordable" to MANY. How many of us have been racing in a class that we could afford only to see the "cost" of competing in that class grow outside of our budgets?

Perhaps some of you who want the rules changed need to admit this hard reality to yourselves and move DOWN a class, or focus on making more money so you can then afford to race.
Agree, with nothing changing, moving down, or simply throwing in the towel, as you have - until you afford to compete is the fiscally responsible choice. But this does not help the racing organizations or promoters. I'm sure they would prefer to see an increase in numbers, not a decrease, and wouldn't you like to be out racing too?

Even with a cheaper engine package, all of the associated costs involved remain the same....i.e. , travel, food, crew, time off work, testing, crash damage, etc. The $$$ for the engine is a drop in the bucket.
The only thing ^^ that we do have control over is the cost of our engine. We can't control travel costs (fuel prices, airline, lodging) or foresee crash damage. $15K would pay for an entire season of SB racing (for me).

If you are building a vehicle within the rules for a specific class, and there is a discernable difference in the performance of a particular vehicle, then management of the class rules becomes a requirement. Even if it takes place within a "season". The reason that there are so many classes is so that racers can find a class and race within their budgets -and- compete with one another. As a racing organization, you can't simply sit back and see what happens, because what will happen, is that someone will come along and stretch the rules as far as they can, and put something out there that runs off the competiton or limit those that can afford to compete in the class.

Time and manpower for Tech is a real issue. The more rules you put in place, the more enforcing it takes, yet just the opposite occurs. It becomes almost impossible to enforce or check them all, especially if vehicle count is increasing. So how do you compensate? A crate motor is not the answer. Ask any racing organization in the country doing this. This exponentially increases the requirement for Tech to make sure no one is modifying the motors -because you can be certain they will.

The only "real" answer to me is to limit RPM and final drive ratio. Limit those two things (which are relatively easy to manage and inspect) and the rest is driving and set up. Just my 2 cents...
Last edited:


New Member
i feel the same way that you do hesco about the lack of proper technical inspection and thus the class rules ultimmatly become inconsistant. with this a lot of teams will become put off.
racing org. all to often look past this issue and try to reshuffle the rules to make a difference which always means the racer has to spend more money. but in the end what ever the rules are they still need to be enforced and if they are not, the same issues will be there.
please understand i am not trying to put down all tech guys i know this is a tuff job and it takes a lot of time and common sense to do a good job.
also i have seen tech guys not make calls because they know if they do the promotor will not stand behind their call [because of sponsors or not wanting to deal with hard feelings] so then they end up looking stupid when they make a call and it gets reversed.
in the end people just want to feel they have been treated fairly. if a racing org. can do this it goes a long way.


Well-Known Member
Pro Lite Brian has the most knowledge of all the pro lite engines then anyone i know and i would have to agree with him once again. Splitting the 2 series with rules is not the answer. Also making every one in a class pay 15k and allot of work to change to another package dose not sound good either. limit rpm 2 8k cost nothing. limit compression is cheap as well. make the rule changes now when every one is freshening for next year wont cost anything extra. if your not worried about the money and wont factory involvement then make the switch to the USAC midget motors but still limit the rpm to keep reliability.


Well-Known Member
the series is so close to having it right , they HAVE to open up the rules to anything with up to a 2.7 twin cam or a 2.7 esslinger and let the pushrod guys have 2.9 ltr if the want. this is the only way to get trucks showing up.. forget the v8 mix in this class that why its the LIGHTS class...!!! i do feel more v-8's will confuse the fans!
the reason for my displacment bump is that the esslinger got too big back in the usac days they were greasing someone to allow them, more cui like a pushrod chevrolet/ fontanna at that time. Then the esslinger guys showed up with a badass overhead cam engine that should have never been able to be so big, thats why its stuck in the top now.. lots of grease and favoritism and it went there way. Now allow more size for the pushrod engines , chevrolet , ford and dodge brand pushrods engines!! you guys follow me right pushrod ford at 2.9 ltr. the best part of this is the aftermarket guys are ready to supply nice aluminium racing engines for 20K 25k range.. forget the rev limiter racing , engine builders will spend more $ to make a faster 9K rpm engine that will cost more and spread the class out even more .( ie nascar restrictor plate engine )
open this thing up ! Gearte , Hawk , Rodeck , Fontanna , Esslinger ,... they all have aluminium race blocks and heads to go right now!!! bring jobs back to usa!


Well-Known Member
another reason is that there is no 4 valve twin cam 2.5 litre engine in the series that even comes close to the 2.7 esslinger now so why not let these 4 valve cammers come up a little in the world ( 2.7 would be fine in my book ).


Well-Known Member
another reason is that there is no 4 valve twin cam 2.5 litre engine in the series that even comes close to the 2.7 esslinger now so why not let these 4 valve cammers come up a little in the world ( 2.7 would be fine in my book ).
I bet your Honda motor would give everybody a run for the money with more inches. Bruce should have gone with Esslinger to the USAC grease session to get more inches for 4 valve motors.

Sir Prize

The rules in Pro-lite are the way they are for a reason. To understand that reason you have to go back to the SODA days and follow it through. Back when the Crowders were allowed to run a Jerico because it looks just like a toploader and Johny Greaves complained so he got to run the 16v and him and Jeff smoked everybody so SODA allowed the Ford guys to port their Esslinger heads and Jeff and John still smoked everybody so CORR allowed the Ford to go to 2700cc. Then Rick Huseman came along and made the Ford fast and began the epic battle between Ford and Toyota which came out surprisingly even over the years that Rick and Jeff raced each other. The one year experiment with fuel injection. All the silly carb rules, plenums, spec ignitions and everything else. The dyno day at Crandon where Art Scmitt and Jeff Kincaid cheated and therefore lost the weight advantage they had over the Fords.
And then the Baldwin era with Kyle and Rodrigo and Naughton.

A lot went on in this class over the years and if you don't understand it's past then your comments on it's future aren't worth much.

Pro-Lite Brian

Well-Known Member
What a crock Dan! You are smart enough to know that the Esslingers have NO MONEY to be greasing anyone! The build the aluminum midget engine because it's a passion and a challenge... not because they think it will make them rich! They Esslinger engine has a bore size limit imposed because they are using an OEM architecture when none of the new engines have nothing to do with an OEM design. It doesn't matter anyhow, since their Midget engine has almost nothing to do with the 2700cc. "Lite" engines.

The truck engines are based on OEM Ford Turbo blocks (Except for Naughton, Ampudia, Huseman, and Wallace's MTEG/ Dash series Tall Blocks). The standard block 2700's deck height remains at 8.355" while the Tall SVO blocks are upto 8.980". The standard block engines are 3.820" max bore while the tall blocks are 3.940" max bore. The standard block engines are ~3.600" stroke and the tall block engines are ~3.375" stroke. They (Esslinger) use a 2.0" Intake valve and 1.6" Exhaust valve in the standard block engines, and upto a 2.1" Intake valve and 1.55" Exhaust valve in the Tall Block (some still use the 2.0" x 1.6" setup). They use FORD roller cam followers on steel cam cores originally designed hand in hand with CROWER. The "ARCA" style porting is used in the 2.0" valve 4 cam journal heads just like it was in 1999 when Jason Crowder and Rick Huseman started using it. Since by 2001, both Jason and Rick had Tall Block engines with the 3.934" bore, Esslinger supplied both of them with heads that had 2.1" intake valves, smaller 1.550" exhaust valves, and the Entire head offset .050" towards the back of the block to help clear the larger intake valve with less shrouding. These changes were done in the quest for the all mighty horsepower #'s at the expense of larger torque #'s...

Fast forward to 2006 when Esslinger was approached by one of Johnny Greaves' customers to supply an engine (That was first raced by John Marking). Since the Tall Blocks are/were very hard find, Esslinger set out to build a standard block CORR engine. They built an engine around the 3.820" x 3.600" architecture with a 5.5" rod and an "ARCA" style head. They use the Plenum that is still in use today atop a modified Weber down draft manifold, topped by 2- 48IDF Weber carbs mandated by CORR rules. This engine along with the inverted flank roller cam originally designed around the SCCA GT3 class, made way more power than they thought possible. For some reason, this combo just seems to work! It accelerates as good or better than the more powerfull Tall Block engines that have a shorter stroke and longer rod... These same specification engines are being built by Kroyer and Nogrady as well as Esslinger. The standard block engines make almost the same peak hp., more peak tq. and all at lower RPM's so they live longer!!!

In this same time the Toyota engines of Jeff Kincaid have changed from the 2RZ that has a deck height of roughly 8.468" to the 3RZ that has a deck height of over 9". They have changed from an internal chain drive for the cams to an external belt drive that requires the front of the head to be machined off in front of the first cam main jourals. These belt drive engines require a billet valvecover, billet front head plate, billet front block plate with new idler and tensioner pulleys, etc... The intake flange surface has been machined back at an angle and new bolt holes are drille and tapped into the head (to expose a more direct route to the valves). The Intake valves were enlarge from the OEM 37.5mm dia. to as large as 40mm. before settling on the current 39mm. size. Now keep in mind that two 39mm. valves is equal in flow area to a roughly 2.1" dia. single valve. The cams have moved on from hardwelded OEM castings to 8620 steel cores with chromed journals and hardwelded lobes so they won't break like the modified OEM castings have.

Either way the engines have OEM heritage, but have been completely modified to fit the CORR/ LOORS/ TORC rulebook. The only Ford parts still used are the block, front main seal holder, roller rockers, cam retainer plate, and head alignment dowells. The Toyota uses an OEM block, head casting, head alignment dowells, and crank casting. What do you expect from any race developement?

The Ford engines require slightly less expenditure for all the "hard parts" than the Toyota. I have spent right on about 20k in parts and machinework for the Toyota I built and run. Esslinger charges right on about 20k for an assembled engine. They both make more than 300hp. and less than 325hp. The Ford standard block engine makes more peak torque and my Toyota makes more peak hp. Both are very comparable in powerband shape with my Toyota requiring about 500RPM more to make these numbers. The Ford engines are way more drivable below peak torqe though. To each his own. I'm planning on making some changes to try and bring the powerband down that 500RPM and increase the drivability on the bottom end (for the 2010 season). I think both engines are pretty comparable in the hands of a top tier driver. In the hands of an average driver I think the Ford has the upper hand.

Anything else you want to know?


Well-Known Member
Not make them rich ? , have you bought anything from them in a while ?...im not crocking ,.... im talking political grease .. the big time midget owners played a role in the survival of the ford esslinger at its displacement.

you do offer some so so tech data on the equiptment we are all using , you of all people should aggree with open cc in the 4 banger lights class, then the overloaded tech guy can just weigh them , check wheel base etc.. and tech is over , no over size engines to whine about ,or rev limiters to cheat. its not rocket science, 4 pistons , 4 spark plugs 2 weber carbs , LETS RACE. if your engine deck is too short or block too small get a new engine. OEM crap is not racing worthy. USAC has been there and done it, why do you think they came out with a aluminium Fontanna , ESSLINGER or Gearte block in the 80's , 90's. ? the oem stuff failed and ran out of stock( BLOCKS, HEADS ) just like trying to find a tall deck 2.3 ford..... lets buy aftermarket stuff and do it right guys...!


Well-Known Member
i have little knowledge of this subject but why wouldnt a "spec" aluminum fuel injected v8 with MORE power then you need, be WAAAAAY cheaper and just as exciting for the spectators and drivers????? if you were building a class from scratch it would be a NO BRAINER! yes, i realize the guys that run up front dont want this as they now have the advantage and dont want to spend more money and eat all the high dollar engines.........but wouldnt a change be better for all in the long run? please explain where im WAY off here.......


Well-Known Member
HAHA...too funny. Crower said what I have been thinking for 5 years. Scrap the OEM stuff. The aluminum Fontana motor would be a perfect PL motor. The original buy in isn't too bad and most of the maintenance items are all SBC and cheap. They would develop so much HP that it would be all set up and driver at that point. With the 11.5" tire wheel spin would be your biggest problem!


Well-Known Member
I think most agree on a change. The change to be made seems to be the issue. If someone wants to race they will make the switch to what ever change is made. i don't see how every one running the same brand of engine would peek the interest of any factory involvement. You would think USAC would talk to the factory reps and see if they wanted see there engines in PL as well as the midgets.


Well-Known Member
a huge point is being made in the DIRT late model series also i must point out so yall can really chew on this.
they don't have time , tech pesonel and $ to worry about who's running a 327 or a 427 , its open cui.... they run sb 355 against bb 470 if you want.. and it all mixes we'll...some guys have 3 engines for each type of tracks.. heavy loamy tracks favor the 440 cui.... the dry nights where the track falls apart the 390inch runs hard...so they you go, no rules on size is working great for this series....carbs and methanol are the only engine rules. anyone like this idea ? i luv it...


Well-Known Member
So is the PDG. going to help out($$$) the four cylinders pro-lites when they gernad a motor racing agaist the V-8 pro-lite? Or do all the four cylinder pro-lites just race LOORRS because its more of an equel playing(racing) field?