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Light Speed LS1

An immaculately presented Holden drag tray-top that lets rip with around 1230hp (918kW)!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

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At a glance...

  • LS1-powered Holden tray-top with potential to run 8s
  • Standard cubic capacity
  • Dual-stage direct injection and fogger nitrous system
  • Currently around 1230hp (918kW) at the flywheel
  • A turbocharger yet to come!
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Take a look at one of the wildest LS1-powered vehicles in Australia – Trent Carter’s Holden one-tonner drag machine which pumps out around 1230hp (918kW)! It’s only a matter of time before this monster drops everyone’s jaw with an 8 second pass.

Trent – who has previously owned a string of 9 and 10 second road-going V8s – had the vision to create a high-end drag racing LS1. He knew he wanted more than ‘just’ 600 – 700hp (448 – 522kW) and realised that a tray-top would be best suited for the job – it’s relatively easy to cram massive rubber beneath a tray-back. With the decision made, a brand new VY one-tonner was purchased and within 24 hours it was stripped to a shell.

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Brisbane’s PowerTorque workshop had impressed Trent in previous projects so the bulk of the build-up was entrusted to them. PowerTorque is responsible for assembling the driveline, while much of the chassis fabrication and preparation handled by JD Fabrication and Holeshot Race Performance.

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The engine is tuned using a mixture of traditional go-fast hardware and a dual-stage nitrous kit. Interestingly, engine capacity remains near stock with the machined alloy block crammed with iron sleeves, Scat rods, Ross forged pistons (with a secret compression ratio) and JE rings.

The heads are professionally ported by Shane Alex and feature Ferrera valves, Crane double valve springs, Competition Cam retainers, Yella Terra 1.8:1 roller rockers and a hydraulic roller cam. A Rollmaster double row timing chain maintains cam timing at high rpm while an ARP stud kit keeps this big bundle of grunt together.

Supporting the engine is a huge oil catch tank, a standard LS1 oil pump, PWR aluminium radiator and an electric water pump. The removal of power steering and air conditioning systems means there’s only one belt between the crankshaft and alternator pulley.

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The intake manifold is an off-the-shelf FAST upgrade, which has the potential to generate big power numbers. A 90mm throttle body accepts induction air from custom forward-facing cold air set-up. Exhaust backpressure is almost nonexistent thanks to CES custom headers and a twin 3 inch mandrel bent system.

A MoTeC M800 programmable ECU provides the tuning resolution that’s essential when pushing the limits. A set of eight Bosch Motorsport injectors accepts C16 race fuel from an elaborate delivery system which comprises dual Bosch Motorsport pumps, dual Holley pumps, an adjustable regulator, swirl pot and a fabricated aluminium fuel cell. Amazingly, the ignition remains stock. The rev limit is set at 7000 rpm.

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The LS1’s dual-stage nitrous system is the subject of ongoing development. At present, the MoTeC ECU triggers a single 175hp fogger nozzle near the throttle body to aid launching. Once near the 60 foot line (as determined by rpm and ground speed), a second direct-injection nitrous system delivers a 300hp hit into the intake manifold. A Magnafuel nitrous distributor is employed to branch out the myriad of nitrous lines.

On PowerTorque’s engine dyno, Trent ’s mighty LS1 has delivered 688hp (513kW) at the flywheel with a mild tune, relatively small camshaft and not a whiff of nitrous. With a recent cam change, retune and fitment of gas we’re told that 1230hp (918kW) is a realistic estimate. A bit of fine tuning might see the magic 1000kW.

The first transmission built for the job died on the car’s second quarter mile pass, so a super-dooper heavy-duty Poweglide now does the deed. The new transmission has all the good bits including a Hurst shifter, front-mount fluid cooler, trans brake and a 4000 rpm stall converter. A custom tailshaft transmits the nitrous injected grunt to a Ford 9 inch diff running Strange 3.5:1 spool centre and 35 spline Moser axles with aluminium carriers.

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The diff is contained in a JD Fabrication 4-link rear-end boasting adjustable linkages and coil-overs. The rear tyres are as big as would fit without resorting to what Trent describes as “balloons” - 29.5 x 13.5 x 15 slicks are worn on Convo Pro drag alloys.

At the front, the standard suspension layout employs adjustable coil-overs while the brakes are standard except for removal of the vacuum booster.

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The body retains all steel panels with the exception of a custom aluminium tray, HSV nose and skirts. Original glass windows remain except for a Perspex rear window which allows part of the cage structure to extend to the 4-link rear. Trent says the 8-point cage is built to Pro Stock rules – it begins at the front struts, runs through the floor and roof and terminates at the diff. As a result, we’re told the car is remarkably rigid. Other exterior features include LED taillights, billet nitrous bottle cradles and a parachute.

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Inside is a pair of carbon fibre race seats, 5 inch harnesses and AutoMeter gauges hidden in the glovebox – only a monster tacho is in permanent view. The dashboard is stripped of all unnecessary ducts and accessories. Trent says the car currently weighs over 3000lb (1362kg) with him in the driver’s seat.

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We’re told that the car is very stable on the track but, as usual, there’s some time to be gained by fine-tuning the chassis. After only a handful of quarter mile passes, the car’s best ET is a 9.1 seconds at 157 mph. An 8 second pass is so close Trent can taste it and everyone is confident of running deep into the 8s with some more experimentation.

But it won’t end there.

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Trent says the engine is so reliable he’s willing to push it to the next level – turbocharging. A dirty big single turbocharger has been purchased and will enter the equation after everyone is satisfied with the achievements of the current set-up.

We can only dare to think what sort of times the car will pull with a big windmill blowing down its throttle body!


+61 7 3881 2379

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