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2017: The Hemi Returns to NASCAR Competition

by Michael Volkmann

The NASCAR home tracks series are the place where racers cut their teeth. These series, like the K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified Tour, and NASCAR Pinty’s Series in Canada, are the highest level of racing that most racers can participate in without the multi-million dollar facilities and budgets of the pro teams.

Pintys series

Since 2006, NASCAR has allowed the use of a “spec engine” to manage costs in these touring series. Exclusively supplied by Robert Yates Racing since 2011, these are based on the GM LS series of engines.

Mopar Canada and Dodge Canada have been heavily supportive of the Pinty’s series for many years, and eight of the last ten series champions have driven Dodge bodied and branded late-model-style race cars.

In 2009 the spec engine was introduced to the Canadian series, and slowly became its de facto engine of choice. Unfortunately, many of these Dodge bodies vehicles had GM-based spec engines under the hood, because the package was roughly 120 pounds lighter than the Mopar LA-based engines.

The thought of GM power under the hood of race-winning Dodges was not palatable to Mopar; they needed a fresh, competitive package that was as economical as the spec engine to go under the hoods of their race winners…. and the Mopar M1 race engine was born.

Mopar has had a working relationship with Arrow Racing for many years. Last year, they began working with NASCAR on the M1 package for 2017. The fruit of that labor is an aluminum third-generation Hemi engine.

arrow hemi engine

Mopar worked closely with NASCAR to meet cost goals, which can be purchased through Arrow in two configurations. The “you build it” kit is priced at US$23,000; assembled with a dyno sheet, it costs US$27,000. Both prices include shipping, but without a 390 Holley Spec carburetor, which must be sourced from NASCAR. This pricing is in line, and in some cases considerably less than, the GM-based engine from Robert Yates Racing.

The engine was first used over Memorial Day weekend in the Pinty’s series, and Andrew Ranger scored a second place finish with it. In its first outing, a 1-1/16” restrictor plate was used, which put the engine at a slight disadvantage to the GM-spec engine, which used a 1-1/8” restrictor. As the year goes on, Mopar and Arrow expected the engine to share a common restrictor with the GM based spec engine.

Mopar - Arrow 5.9 NASCAR Hemi

If a legal Hemi engine in one of the major NASCAR touring series in roughly four decades is not news enough, Mopar is actively working with NASCAR to make it legal in every series the GM-based spec engine is used. Arrow will also be introducing third-generation Hemi crate engines in both cast iron or aluminum block variants, and in 392 or 426 cubic inch flavors. The crate engine will use the same front drive distributor system, forged internals, the NASCAR legal intake manifold, and Holley fuel injection. The first crate engine, a 392, is expected to debut in June 2017.

2017 Hemi NASCAR engine

MOPAR M1 ENGINE Specifications

DJK Ranger Hemi

To purchase the Mopar M1 engine, contact Arrow Racing Engines, 3500 Joslyn Road, Auburn Hills, MI 48326. Thanks to Rick Talbot of Arrow Racing Engines for pictures and detailed information regarding this very special race engine.  

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