Innovation is the engine that helps push drag racing to new levels. Racers are always looking for new ways to improve combinations and get their hotrod down the track faster, and some of the greatest innovations in drag racing happened in the 1950’s through the 1970’s. Racers were trying everything — chopping up wheel bases that led to the modern Funny Car, moving the engine behind the driver in dragsters for safety and weight transfer, and countless other ideas. One of the little known innovations, though, was the Hemi-Chevy that was developed by Nick Arias Jr and is now being used by Larry “Smokey” Allerman in his NHRA Heritage Series Nitro Funny car.
Nick Arias Jr. is an old school hot rod fixture that’s well known in the industry for a number of creations, notably including killer pistons. Back in the 1970’s Arias developed a unique Hemi head conversion for the big block Chevy motor. These conversions started out as 10 liter beasts that saw duty in pulling tractors and even drag boats, and later, Arias came out with a smaller 8.3 liter design that was used in Top Fuel and alcohol drag racing. Currently Arias makes hemi-style small block Ford and even GM LSX heads.
Smokey Allerman has been around all kinds of racing and brings his knowledge and unique style to nostalgia nitro racing. When most of his competitors are using the traditional 426 Hemi, Allerman bolts a set of the Arias heads to a Chevy engine. If that was not enough, Allerman has modified the Arias design to add additional strength, reliability, and power. In this great video from Les over at NitroAmerica, Smokey guides us through the technical side of this rare engine combination and all of the changed that he’s made. This entire video is a buffet of engine and nitro racing information that any drag racer will eat up.