If you're old enough, think back to 1972 when Nick Arias, Jr. introduced his then cutting-edge Hemi-head conversion for big-block Chevys. Though the engine never really took off in the Top Fuel drag racing scene as intended, engine experts will tell you that it was more than a novelty. Great success in drag boats, tractor pulls, and many drag cars prove that point.

What most forget is that just a few years later, in 1975, Arias produced a clean-sheet design called the "10-Liter" for Top Fuel racers that would provide durability and efficiency, and subsequently more power. This engine's camshaft location was raised up in the all-new block casting by 5.0 inches to give clearance for a giant stroke and to clean up valvetrain harmonics with shorter pushrods. Sharing a shallow combustion chamber and similar valvetrain geometry to the 392 Chrysler, the 10-Liter caught on with some drag boats and tractor pullers but never really took off as a commercial success, so production was limited. Therefore, when you think beyond the Arias piston line and into Nick Jr.'s engineering talent, the Arias 8.3L engine (with a standard cam location and no water jackets) comes to mind as Nick's "successful" product.

Enter 1998. Nick Arias, III, then 36, was running a lakester with his buddies at Bonneville. Young Nick's car, powered by a Hemi Chevy combo (for a five-mile run, you need the water jackets), was a disappointment, and he asked his father, "What's a cool engine that can push us better and faster? Let's do something trick." His old man pulled the tooling for the 10-Liter out of mothballs, and here it is, making power like never before thanks to the wonder of electronic fuel injection.

We caught up with "the Nicks" and Mike LeFevers of Mitech Racing Engines to follow their thrash from concept to dyno room and onto the salt flats with this 636ci, 14:1 compression big-block. The results were mixed--hey, this stuff doesn't go fast in a few weeks time--but the parts and its potential are more than interesting. The goal of Arias is to promote this engine for the offshore boat marine and high-end hot rodding market. It's been FIA homologated, so it's APBA approved. But forget all that. The concept is cool and makes sense, so we think you'll see more of this engine in its "Back to the Future" approach from 1975.

As for this year at Bonneville (see PHR Dec. '00), Arias was forced to shut off both of his runs early, hitting trap speeds at 251 mph between the two- and three-mile marks, and 265 between the three- and four-mile timing sections. Nick felt it detonate and "clicked off" the motor (for once, say his crew guys), but the engine was dead. "At least it didn't kick the rods out," says Nick III, "because we've done that before. We're pretty certain that the EFI map was just too lean, and Craig Railsback at BDS is going to help us get the Speed-Pro computer worked out. Plus, we had the oil clearance in the main bearings too tight, so it might have burned up anyway. We had fun, learned a lot, and we'll be back at the next meet in the fall."

Nick III also asked if he could "pop" his sponsors, as they helped him get his lakester to the salt. No problem, man: Pennzoil, Champion, XRP, System One, Hedman, Speed-Pro, BDS, Mitech, Isky, Mondello Technical School, Center Line, ERC, Mechanix Wear, A-1 Automatics, Competition Dynamics, and Juxtapoz, in no particular order. "Oh yeah, and Arias! Gotta thank my dad for inventing the engine!"

No problem, Nick. You just did.

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