Lamborghini is doing its best to keep its supercar engines naturally aspirated, an asset that has defined the brand for six decades. In the world of drag racing, though, where the company’s V10 models make for one of the most popular platforms, twin-turbos are a necessity. And have you ever wondered what it takes to build a Lambo V10 that can deliver up to 3,000 hp?
To answer the question in the intro, we have to move from Italy to the U.S., as this is where people are eccentric enough to use Sant’Agata Bolognese machines to climb to the top of the street car-based drag and roll racing hierarchy.
For today, though, we’ll focus on the truly badass builds, the kind you see at street car racing events like the ongoing TX2K23 over in Texas. Many of these cars sit in the 1,500 to 2,500 hp area, while a few even travel north of the 3,000 hp border in the pursuit of jaw-dropping times and trap speeds.
A plug-and-play engine dyno
And one of the top tuners in the country, namely Dallas Performance (DP), works with Steve Morris Engines (SME), a Detroit-based engine builder whose hardware powers beasts ranging from this Bentley Continental GT drag car to his personal Chevy Caprice “Boostmaster Wagon 2”, a dad mobile with 4,500 hp on tap.
And, to complete all the builds for DP, SME uses an engine dyno that allows each long block to be tested in a manner that’s as plug-n-play as possible.
For the record, a long block engine adds to the parts of a short block (cylinder block and bottom end with the crankshaft and so on), including the cylinder heads, camshaft, valvetrain, water pump, oiling system, and others.
Interestingly, this means that the engine test stand at SME always holds the headers, intake, intercoolers, turbochargers, oil catch can, and wiring, along with four ECUs and sensors. So these key parts of the engine are embedded into the dyno, hence our title. Why are there so many ECUs? For multiple power levels: 1,200 hp, 1,850 hp, 2,200 hp, and all-hell-breaks-loose.
The idea is to test engines like the billet block 5.2L V10 in the video below while they’re out of the car. That’s because these tests, which check for leaks, excessive smoke, and other issues, can take weeks. And working to get the powerplants in and out of the car is also seriously time-consuming, so it’s much easier to perform all the checks this way.
It’s worth mentioning that components like the exhaust flanges are all symmetrical. This means that, on the engine dyno, they sit the other way around compared to how these are installed on the vehicle.
Where do twin-turbo Lamborghini V10 engines make their boost?
Given that the 5.2-liter displacement of the engine being dynoed here isn’t that serious—at least compared to some other engines SME builds—and the unit uses a pair of 98mm turbos, you’ll notice it barely makes any boost before 6,000 rpm.
However, once those turbos spool, they deliver the kind of power everybody came here for. The numbers for this billet block unit sit at 2,156 hp and 1,335 lb-ft of torque.
For the record, an ECU tuner Wayne Potts of Horsepower Lounge is in online contact with SME during the tests. And, once these dyno runs are completed, and the V10s get fitted into their Lamborghinis, Wayne does a final tune on a hub dyno, where the wheels are taken off the vehicle.
And all of the above is just a part of the magic (e.g., we haven’t discussed the block building today) that goes into Lamborghinis that fight for quarter- and half-mile dominance. In fact, at the 4:00 point of the video below, you’ll see a DP Huracan using the stock block configuration putting its 2,000 hp to work at the Texas Motorplex as part of this year’s TX2K.