Gearhead Video: The Story And Cool Tech Behind The Arias/Fontana Hemi – Chevy Block With Hemi Heads On Nitro!

Gearhead Video: The Story And Cool Tech Behind The Arias/Fontana Hemi – Chevy Block With Hemi Heads On Nitro!

We love guys that take the unique path in racing. They are typically the ones that aren’t afraid to experiment or stick their neck out a little further in an effort to learn and potentially gain a leg up on the competition. A couple of years ago in the world of nitro racing Smokey Alleman was that guy when he showed up to the march meet with an Arias Hemi powered dragster. Basically a Chevy block with hemi heads on nitro, this is awesome.

It was the only car in the field not running an early or late Chrysler style hemi engine and it got Nitro America’s Les Mayhew’s attention as well because he caught up with Smokey Alleman to get the story on the engine. The voice you’ll hear asking Smokey questions is none other than Cole Coonce. Cole asks Smokey some great questions and he gives some equally great answers, especially to the last question thrown at him.

There are some important things to understand about the engine that we didn’t even consider before hearing Alleman talk about it. The first is that this is NOT an Arias 10-liter like those found in pulling tractors, boats, or other race cars. This is an old school Arias hemi that uses the same bore spacing as an actual big block Chevy. Rules state that a big block Chevy style head gasket must be used and Smokey tells Mayhew and Coonce that he’s running a cast (high performance) block to anchor the engine. He’s worked on the oiling system, reworked the intake manifold, and applied lots of other tried and true hot rodding tricks to this very powerful engine. It has been a very long time (we believe) since anyone has really put an effort forth in making one of these engines truly competitive in the nitro world. As this is a fresh effort, the car was not laying down world class elapsed times at Bakersfield but it was getting down the track and that’s job #1 at this point in the game.

We give Smokey Alleman all the credit in the world for taking this path and thanks to Coonce and Mayhew for having the presence of mind to make this video and delve into the awesome world of the Arias hemi engine!


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6 thoughts on “Gearhead Video: The Story And Cool Tech Behind The Arias/Fontana Hemi – Chevy Block With Hemi Heads On Nitro!

  1. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    As there’s no indication that this was a winning combo that set the world of Top Fuel racing alight, I’ll just put it down to a Chevy-obsessed delusional mind imagining that all the proper Hemi based motors would melt in awe.

    Thankfully in the real world Chevys have no place in Top Fuel….

  2. Happy Motoring

    That’s a little rough Geordie. I give much respect to somebody trying to sort out any combo on nitro with anything other than a Mopar-based Hemi. That has to be a tough (and expensive) undertaking and I think diversity in nitro or alcohol fueled powerplants is a great thing! While I don’t follow much on the NHRA scene anymore since they went to 1000 ft, I think I remember reading where they regulated out the Boss 429 program that the Austin Family was working on (on alcohol) a while back ( due to bore spacing of the Ford big block I think). God forbid having 3 different manufacturers engines in a class….

  3. Richard

    Can’t run a Chevy on fuel? Really? Chadwick, Bourgeois, Therwanger, Jungle, and dozens of others would differ. The Chevy RODECK block about 5 years sooner would have changed history. Denny Savage ran this hemi engine in the Powers Steel Camaro.

  4. steve walczak

    Today\’s nitro power levels demand billet blocks and heads. This puts the ARIAS heads at a disadvantage in that world. BUT in the sportsman alky ranks this combo would be killer. I run the ARIAS Hemi/Chevy in my 7.0 altered. It has been flawless and outperforms my old BBC combo. I believe it has a place in the racing world just not in the nitro world.

  5. Davey

    Keep in mind that Smokey runs nostalgia Funny Car and not the NHRA National Events. With rules restricting the blower, fuel pump and ignition… the Arias Chevy could be a very competitive option. You can’t compare Nostalgia to the National event stuff… apples to oranges

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