Dart Drops the Big One

Dart’s New Race Series Tall-Deck Big-Block

It’s not coincidental that warfare is often a metaphor for racing. Like front-line generals, racers talk about an arsenal of engines, armies of mechanics and a race car’s firepower. While the consequences of losing a race are not as dire as the aftermath of losing a war, the incentive to succeed is the same in both venues. Losing sucks, whether on a drag strip or on a battlefield.

If the analogy of racing as combat holds true, then Dart’s new Race Series tall-deck big-block is the doomsday weapon in the rapidly escalating arms race among engine builders. This new block can accommodate displacements of up to 763 cubic inches, with the promise of even larger engines to come. Armed with features that give this heavyweight casting massive strength and unprecedented versatility, this Dart big-block is a warhead aimed straight at the heart of the big-inch competition classes.

The figure with his finger on the button to drop the Big One is Richard Maskin, Dart founder and president. Maskin’s “take-no-prisoners” style is well documented. He’s taken Dart from a part-time business in a two-car garage to a full-line manufacturer with nearly 100 employees. His complement of high-tech equipment rivals the Pentagon’s, and his capacity for strategic thinking would bring a smile to George Patton’s stern face. When Maskin perceives weakness in an opponent, he pounces, whether it’s creating raw castings from scratch or supplying state-of-the-art parts for thousands of racers. In the case of the tall-deck Race Series block, Maskin had a clear plan of attack to achieve his objective.

“When Dart opened for business, my long-term goal was to manufacture blocks,” Maskin explained. “The racing industry needs specialized, high-quality components. We’ve made the investment in equipment, people and technology to design and machine complex components in-house that are both affordable and adaptable to what racers really need.

“The trend in drag racing is toward bigger and bigger engines,” he continued, “and to do that you need larger cylinder barrels and you need to get the camshaft out of the way to clear a long-stroke crankshaft assembly. That was the thinking behind the Dart tall-deck Race Series big-block.”

A bit of background is in order. In the beginning, the original Chevrolet big-block was introduced in 1965 and produced with a 9.800-inch distance from the crankshaft centerline to the deck surfaces. Soon a so-called truck block appeared with a 10.200-inch crank-to-deck dimension. For decades, the truck block was the favored casting for big-inch engines, but its fundamental design still imposed harsh limits on engine size. The main oil gallery located in the left-hand oil pan rail restricted clearance for connecting rods. Furthermore, the truck block retained the original 5.150-inch dimension between the crankshaft centerline and the camshaft centerline. Racers devised inventive solutions to solve the inevitable problems produced by interference between stroker cranks and high-lift camshaft lobes, including cams with reduced base circle diameters, but these solutions presented their own set of problems with cams that had the torsional stiffness of an overcooked noodle.