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ith the recent announcement by the NHRA that a moratorium would be put in place on all further major engine component development and a spec engine will likely be introduced in the near future, a debate has broken out as to whether this will actually achieve NHRA’s goals of constraining costs and improving safety by limiting further performance gains. One side of the fence says a spec engine is inevitable and anything that improves the racing should be done, the other points out that strict spec rules seldom if ever control costs – in fact often costs increase as performance gains are harder (and hence more expensive) to find, and failure rates increase as design limits are exceeded more frequently.

As a counter point to NHRA’s argument, a little heard of team in Australia has been busy building it’s own Top Fuel engines for over a decade. Coming from a family with a powerboat racing background, Terry Sainty’s first real drag car was an Alcohol Dragster powered by one of his father Stan’s 32 valve OHC motors from the boat racing days. On the water the Sainty 4-valve motor ran quite well and on alcohol a 6.8 lap was their best effort. Soon, however, due to the rules of the day the team was forced to run in Top Fuel, and on nitro the motor struggled to a best of 6.1.

Taking the lessons learnt from the 4-valve motor, and what they could glean from similar efforts such as the McGee quad-cammer, combined with advice from several knowledgeable fuel tuners, the Sainty team headed by Terry’s father Stan began working on a new design, intended to blend the best aspects of multi-valve technology with traditional fuel engines. Also tipped into the mix were some features from Big Block Chevs and Fords. High on the wish list was avoiding the more serious problems inherent in existing designs, which Sainty Speed Works spends a lot of time fixing for customers. 

It was designed to be bullet proof, powerful, economical to run, and yet easy to work on - all essential ingredients in Top Fuel racing.

Starting with the short block, the Sainty BTV (Billet Three Valve) motor’s block is made in three sections from heat treated 6061TS billets to permit easier machining and simplify repair in the event of failure - each cylinder bank bolts to the centre crankcase and can be easily removed. The block has 4.9” bore spacing, which allows for better cylinder wall stability and head gasket clamping, as well as an improved bore/stroke ratio. An 11” deck height improving clearances, and it is 1” shorter than a Hemi, with the thrust bearing on the rear main.


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