If you follow Hot Rod’s Drag Week, or drag racing in general, then the name Jeff Lutz should be a familiar one. He also seems to have a soft spot for ’57 Chevys. His previous two, both called Mad Max, and both in flat black paint, were powered by twin-turbo big-blocks. See a pattern here? Even his 1969 Camaro streetable Pro Mod (which won Drag Week last year) was flat black with a twin-turbo big-block. So, when we heard Lutz had a super-secret project in the works we were pretty sure what the engine combo would be. Well, we were right and when the car was unveiled this weekend, for the first time, at the Tri Five Nationals it was motivated by a 540 big-block tied to twin 98mm turbos! And while the engine is the same displacement Lutz has used before the turbos are bigger than the 88s he has ran in the past.
Of course, that was wasn’t the only departure from his previous build formula. This time when the car was crafted at Lutz Race Cars in Callery, Pennsylvania, the flat black paint was set aside for something a bit more eye catching; yellow. The yellow basecoat is a custom mix done by his buddy Jeff Thompson of Pro 1 Automotive in Butler, PA. Thompson is also responsible for massaging the mix of steel and composite body panels.
Back in 2016 Lutz and his son Jeffrey Jr stared work on the project which started out with a beat down ’57 210. The car kept its steel roof, windshield frame, and cowl, but that’s about it. Woody’s Hot Rodz provided new repro steel quarters, but the rest of the ride is chromoly tubing and composite carbon fiber panels. Add it all up and you get an amazing race of just 2,360 pounds! Since winning Drag Week again, and maybe slapping around some Street Outlaws, is in his plans, the car has all the stuff needed to roll legal on the street. Headlights, turn signals, horn, even back up lights are there; and of course, mufflers. The ’57 has two tanks for fuel, at the track he runs M1 methanol, then switches to gasoline for the drive between tracks. This means he carries two ECMs and just swaps them out base on what tank the engine is drinking from. Since the big-block has only 9.0:1 compression he can run 87 octane on the street.
Of course, on the methanol the engine spits out 3,500 hp! The car is set up to launch at 10 psi and then the boost ramps up as the car travels down track. 24 fuel injectors feed the engine at full power and the car is shifted at 6,500 rpm. So what’s Lutz’s plan for the new car? Well, for starters be the first car to break into the 5s at Drag Week. He ran the car for the first time at Beech Bend raceway and while they turned off the timing boards to keep the competition in the dark we heard he was only a tenth off his best time in Pro Mod, which pretty damn impressive.