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Watch a Homebuilt V12 Push a Land Speed Car to 244 MPH at 9,500 RPM

This naturally aspirated V12 with 920 horsepower wasn't made by Ferrari or Lamborghini. It was made by two dudes in a shop.
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Greg Quirin

The feeling of accomplishment I have whenever I complete something as simple as a brake job is incredible. It’s almost addictive knowing I did something with my brain and my hands. However, that feeling must pale in comparison to the utter elation felt by Pete Aardema, Kevin Braun, and Cal Rothe after they hit 244 mph with their homemade V12 engine, breaking an El Mirage Dry Lake Bed record.

Aardema and Braun built this V12 engine specifically for breaking land speed records, making Rothe’s 244-mph run the satisfying culmination of years’ worth of work. Braun designed the block and cylinder head by buying old NASCAR and IndyCar engines, breaking them down, and studying their tech. It shows, as the 6.0-liter naturally aspirated V12 makes 920 horsepower and revs to an astonishing 9,500 rpm. I wrote a story on it last year when I first learned about the project.

The sound this sucker makes at full chat is like nothing else I’ve ever heard. It’s raspy and exotic, like a supercar’s engine, but there’s also a deep, roundness to it. The only somewhat close comparison I can make off the top of my head is to the McLaren F1. That makes sense, though, because guess what kind of engine that has? A 6.1-liter, naturally aspirated V12.

Greg Quirin

Speaking of the McLaren F1, Aardema’s and Braun’s engine would make Gordon Murray proud because it revs like a true race car. Even at just half throttle, it jumps thousands of revs almost instantly, and easily breaks traction at the rear wheels. You can see Rothe attempting to hang onto the land speed racer as it squiggles and squirms well past 100 mph. It wasn’t until about 150 mph when the car settled and Rothe was able to go full throttle.

But Team Aardema Braun isn’t done with this V12 just yet. The engine-building duo is working on adding nitrous in an attempt to hit 259 mph, breaking their own record. I bet they can do it—actually, scratch that. I know they can.