We caught up with Ryan Martin and his team from B&R Performance at Lights Out 8, where they were putting their new Pro Line 481X engine through its paces in a 2010 Camaro entered in the Radial vs. The World class. That weekend, they ran a career-best elapsed time of 3.83 and a high speed of 208 mph. “On the 3.83 run, we dropped a cylinder, so I am pretty sure we will get it into the 3.70s the next time out,” Martin said. Having all eight cylinders on a run isn’t the only thing fueling the team’s confidence. The engine was running on 58 to 59 psi of boost from the turbochargers, and that setup is capable of going over 80 pounds. That kind of power should put the fifth-gen Camaro dangerously close to world-record territory for a radial-equipped drag car, which currently sits at 3.73.
The Pro Line Racing 481X powerplant begins as a big chunk of billet aluminum that's whittled down by Alan Johnson Performance Engineering (AJPE). It was designed for Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car applications and is based on an Oldsmobile/big-block Chevy design, but with special attention to strength and durability. Pro Line Racing reconfigured the supercharged engine design for use with turbochargers, and with it came numerous world records and championships. The Fireball Camaro's 481X features a Sonny Bryant crankshaft, Bill Miller Engineering connecting rods, and a set of pistons from its sponsor, Wiseco. The forged pistons are wrapped in a set of custom rings by Total Seal. Final displacement is 572 cid, but outside of that, the compression ratio is a closely guarded secret as well as the bore/stroke combination.
Two years ago, AJPE reconfigured the cylinder heads at the request of Pro Line Racing. These Stage III heads feature 2.450-inch-diameter intake valves and 1.920-inch exhaust valves. Both sides use an 11/32-inch-thick valve stem. The ports have been revised specifically for turbocharged use, and the combustion chamber measures 73cc. The cylinder head is made from U.S.-sourced 6061-T651 billet aluminum. As with most racing engines, the camshaft profile is secret, but our sources at Pro Line Racing did admit to a 65mm cam core. Other valvetrain components include T&D steel rocker arms, Smith Brothers pushrods, and PAC triple springs.
A Hogans sheetmetal intake manifold rests on top of the billet cylinder heads and it's pressurized by either a set of Precision Gen 2 Pro Mod 102mm turbochargers (for Radial vs. The World) or an 88mm version of that same compressor family. The intake-manifold pressure on Martin's quickest run was 58 to 59 psi, but the combination is capable of going to a bone-crushing 85 psi of boost.
Fuel System/Engine Management
The engine burns methanol rather than gasoline, which means it requires a significant amount of fuel. A Waterman mechanical fuel pump pushes more than 4,500 lbs/min of fuel, capable of supplying whatever power level Martin chooses to run. A set of 16 fuel injectors—two per cylinder—keeps the hungry engine well fed. Each injector is manufactured by Billet Atomizer and rated at 700 lb/hr. A Fuel Tech FT500 and MSD Grid are responsible to control the massive fuel flow as well as the electric shock coming from the MSD magneto ignition system.
The B&R Performance team relies on two very different TH400 transmissions—both are built by M&M Transmissions. Radial vs. The World action requires the use of a two-speed TH400, otherwise known as a Turbo-Glide. For big-tire street racing, a three-speed version of the transmission is installed. Torque converters are also tailored to each arena of battle; a Pro Torque EV1 is standard fare with radial tires, while a Greg Slack Converters is the chosen one for big tires. The chassis is a double-framerail setup that carries a SFI 25.3 tag and was built inside an actual Camaro body. The chassis is a typical Outlaw 10.5 build that was supposed to be a back-half chassis, but instead is a full-frame stuffed under a production body and stock firewall. Billy Gilsbach is credited as the original chassis builder, and Mike Duffy Race Cars has helped get the car sorted for the different areas of play.
The Fireball Camaro race car serves as a 200-mph marketing tool for a special-edition Camaro available through Chevrolet dealerships and built by B&R Performance and Black Horse Racing. The high-performance custom Camaros also carry the Fireball nickname and are offered in a 700- and 900hp configuration. A ProCharger supercharger is the main focal point for the boost-pumped LT1 engine, and the powerplant details vary depending on which model is chosen. The Fireball 900 has run 9.00s at nearly 150 mph with a little shot of nitrous on top of the built engine, which has some forged internal components. The Fireball 700 is no slouch in its own right, having secured high-9-second timeslips. The Fireball 700 isn’t constrained by production numbers, but the Fireball 900 will only have 90 versions prowling the streets.