Ilmor Engineering 396 ARCA Engine Assembled At Light Speed

Ilmor Engineering, a name synonymous with high-end circle-track racing engines, recently released a pair of videos in which they apparently let their hair down, so to speak, and put a fun, lighthearted twist on the business they take so seriously. This short—pun intended—series of videos follows along with the assembly and dyno setup of one of their Ilmor 396 engines—engine number #200, to be exact.

The Ilmor 396 is an LS-based V8 engine designed for ARCA racing. As we see in the video above, Ilmor strarts with a Chevrolet Performance LSX block, a Crane Cams camshaft is inserted, a Callies 3.600-inch stroke is dropped in, and the Diamond Racing 4.186-inch pistons are locked onto the 6.200-inch rod and dropped into the block. The heads and valvetrain are bolted on to finish the engine at a speed that resembles a Hot Rodders of Tomorrow competition.

The ARCA-approved powerplant features a rating of 700-horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque with a valvetrain that will spin reliably to 7,500 rpm. The fuel-injected engine uses a spec Holley throttle body, HP EFI system, injectors and wiring harness. As you can see below, they get the engine on the dyno in a jiffy, too.

Originally designed to reduce the cost of competitive engine packages, the engine is designed to have a service life of 1,200-1,500 racing miles, or about a third of a season between refreshes, which is no small feat in the world of ARCA racing.

Besides being a more affordable option, the Ilmor 396 took every top-qualifier spot, and every race win in the ARCA series in 2015 and 2016. As noted in the video description, they’ve produced 200 of the engines in the three years that they have been approved for ARCA use. That fact alone speaks volumes about the popularity of the Ilmor 396 package.

Through the magic of time-lapse videography, the team at Ilmor has taken a process that takes the better part of a day (if you don’t count the almost-immeasurable amount of R&D that went into the engine program) and compressed it into under two minutes of fun video in celebration of the 200th Ilmor 396 engine to come out of the engine assembly room.

The Ilmor 396 ARCA-legal circle track engine in all its glory. Besides being a dominant force on the circuit, it has also helped keep costs in check for teams.

About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent over a decade in automotive publishing as Senior Editor of Race Pages magazine. In his free time, he is a firearms instructor and volunteer in the police armory.
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