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Unleashing the Beast

Contributed By Nelson Racing Engines

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When professional car builders and car owners are looking to "push the envelope" of power and drivability, they call on NRE. Whether looking for 2,000hp+ race application, or a 1,500hp street application, NRE has been building turn-key solutions for super motors since 1995. Put simply - we are gear-heads. We love high-horsepower performance and always have.

More from Nelson Racing Engines

In the high-octane world of boat racing, where power and durability intersect, Tom Nelson of Nelson Racing Engines has set a new benchmark with his latest creation—a 260 cubic inch LS engine turbocharged to a staggering 1200 horsepower. This engine not only promises to enhance performance but also aims to withstand the grueling demands of competitive racing.

The journey of this engine, as detailed by Nelson himself, began with a vision to combine robust power with unmatched endurance. The heart of this beast lies in its twin-turbo LS setup, modified extensively to handle 5-minute prolonged full-throttle pulls intended to simulate the real stresses of a race environment.

Engine Design and Customization

At the core of the engine’s design is a commitment to strength and reliability. Nelson chose a GM LSX block for its enhanced structural integrity, featuring two extra head bolts per cylinder. This modification is crucial for maintaining head gasket seal under extreme boost pressures generated during the prolonged high-speed runs.

The pistons are a marvel of engineering. Custom-designed with a full skirt and a crown thickness significantly greater than standard turbocharged pistons, they are built to endure the severe heat and pressure of racing. The use of H13 tool steel pins and a big block Chevy rod adapted to the LS architecture further exemplifies the engine’s nature.

Innovative Cooling and Durability Features

Understanding the thermal dynamics of such a high-performance engine, Nelson introduced a novel cooling system aimed at targeting the pistons directly. By incorporating micro oil jets drilled through the main oil gallery, the system is capable of spraying oil underneath the pistons to effectively help manage the temperature during operation.

The strategic enhancements extend to the crankshaft design as well. Utilizing a billet Callies crankshaft with added counterweights and a knife-edge finish, the engine ensures optimal oil flow and reduced turbulence inside the crankcase, which is crucial for maintaining oil pressure and reducing wear on internal components.

Testing and Results

The true test of any racing engine is its performance on the dyno and subsequently on the track. Nelson’s engine underwent a series of rigorous tests, involving twelve five-minute full-throttle pulls to mimic racing conditions. The results were nothing short of spectacular. The engine not only sustained the harsh conditions but also showed little to no wear on critical components like the bearings, a testament to its build quality and the effectiveness of its cooling strategy.


Tom Nelson’s 1200 HP 260 CI LS engine is a cornerstone in engine racing technology. With its custom-built features and tested durability, it sets a new standard for what’s possible in motorsports.