Nearly any racer will tell you there is nothing better than the feeling of a big engine under the hood. However, the components within all those cubic inches must be able to withstand the engine’s extreme capability.
Chevrolet Performance is well aware of this concern, and the result is the CT525 Circle Track Crate Engine Enhanced with Forged Pistons*.
“Experience is a good teacher so we found a couple areas we thought we could improve on,” said Chevrolet Performance Associate Marketing Manager, Bill Martens. “For 2020 and beyond, every 525 is scratch-built. We hand-fit a tri-metal bearing package, it has ARP rod bolts and now it has forged pistons … This [racing] environment is very harsh so we had to change things to accommodate that. We’ve changed the clearances, we’ve changed the content to where now we feel these motors will certainly go a couple of seasons. And I’m not talking about a major refresh. It’s an $8,000 engine instead of buying a $30,000, $35,000 or $40,000 dollar engine and spending $8,000 to refresh.”
The CT525 is based on the LS engine family and is similar to the 6.2L LS3, but has been adapted for circle track racing. The 376 cu-in power plant is designed for high-rpm operation within Late Model and Modified racing on dirt and paved tracks across the nation. It is rated at 533 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and makes 477 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm.
The engine utilizes an aluminum block with cross-bolted six-main caps and high-flow LS3 rectangular-port cylinder heads. It also features a carbureted intake manifold and six-quart racing oil pan. It comes with coil-on plug ignition and an SFI-certified balancer.
The lightweight and durable forged aluminum pistons that now come standard in the CT525 are an exact duplicate of the stock versions built for the LS3 crate engine. In the CT525 they are coated with a dry-film lubricant to reduce friction and provide initial startup protection. The pistons can also easily be installed in an existing CT525, thereby creating a power plant with the same internals as the updated version.
“They are available in sets of eight if you want to upgrade an existing engine, and frankly, if you wanted to build an engine from scratch you could use these pistons,” Martens said.
Martens notes that the engine provides enough power to run on a heavy, wet dirt track, but also will not overpower the surface as it gets dry-slick throughout a race event.
“It’s going to fall in the upper-end of Modifieds, Late Models and Super Late Models,” Martens explained. “We’ve even had a great experience running it against the 305 Winged Sprint Cars in Knoxville. I mention that because it’s a great testament to the long life and durability of the engine. Knoxville [Raceway] is a very, very tough test on engine longevity. It’s a sticky, long and banked track so you’ve got all the conditions for maximum output.”
Although the CT525 is currently primarily utilized in the dirt arena, it was developed on asphalt and is a good choice for Late Models competing on pavement as well.
As long as racers don’t overextend its capability, it is a very cost-effective option in headlining classes at local tracks and on regional tours.
“This is a new concept for a lot of people,” Martens said. “It’s a very economical option. “There’s a certain level of expectation that a motor making this much power is going to cost many, many times the cost of this engine.”
“It’s definitely a step up both in the power/torque range level and it’s just flat-out a racing motor,” Martens said. “Once you hear one you’ll catch on real quick.”