Prepping a first generation Camaro for pro-touring and autocrossing is often a matter of changing and/or relocating major components in the drivetrain. Moving an engine around for a weight advantage or clearance issues is not uncommon in pro-touring cars. As a matter of fact, many of the top car builders swap out engines to find the perfect power to weight ratio and chassis weight balance for competitive purposes.
Taking hints from the pros, we’ve done the same thing with our Blank Slate project car. Adapting a modern 502ci LSX engine into a purpose-built Chris Alston Chassisworks front clip with a full Chassisworks front and rear suspension, we were down to the final stages of assembly. The last major choice to be made was dry sump oil system or wet sump. We opted to install an Aviaid Competition Oil System‘s dry sump kit into our pro-touring beast.
When you look at a dry sump oil pan, it’s immediately obvious that the oil pan is much smaller. The sump does not have to be large enough to hold the engine’s supply of oil under the engine, which means that the main mass of the engine can be placed lower in the vehicle. Lowering the engine and chassis has the overt advantage of a lower vehicle center of gravity, but there can also be a major advantage in aerodynamics as well.
Power Automedia shop manager, Sean Goude, points out engine protection as another advantage. “The oil capacity of a dry sump system can be as big as you want because the tank can be placed anywhere on the vehicle,” Goude said about the oil supply.
When it comes to Autocrossing and road racing, the side-to-side turning, hard braking and rapid acceleration can cause the oil in a wet sump system to pool on one side of the engine. “This sloshing and pooling can add rotating weight by dipping the crankshaft into the oil as it pools, or it can uncover the pump’s pick up tube. Both of these are bad situations for an engine,” Goude added. “Neither of these conditions are likely to happen in a dry sump system.”
The bad part about having excess oil around the crankshaft in a wet sump oil system is the added weight to the rotating assembly. These long oil “ropes” that spin with the crankshaft can cut the horsepower that an engine makes. Some estimates range as high as a 15-horsepower loss, which means that you can potentially have a 15-horsepower gain just by switching to a dry sump oil system.
Let’s not forget about the aerodynamic gains as well. Lowering the engine and chassis to the ground prevents some air from getting under the oil pan and chassis. It also allows for a lower hoodline, even with power adders like turbo-chargers and super-chargers. These aerodynamic advantages add up to momentum on the road.
For many enthusiasts, the thought of adding extra components means increased weight and complexity to the oil system. There is a cost component for parts like the external oil pump and oil tank to consider as well – for many average street enthusiasts, cost is a main stumbling block.
Complexity of plumbing can be a problem with beginning do-it-yourselfers, who must understand that hoses have to be capable of withstanding vacuum without collapsing and pressure from the pump. Coolers, filters and the engine oil system must be capable of withstanding high oil pressure without bursting or failing. These failures could lead to engine oil starvation. Hoses must also be supported so they don’t chafe or rub against anything. It goes without saying that all hoses should be kept away or shielded from hot exhaust headers.
Despite these concerns, the cost and installation expertise is a small price to pay for such big benefits.
Why We Selected Aviaid’s Dry Sump Components
Aviaid’s 7.5-inch X 19-inch diameter dry sump tank kit (Part #110-57530), comes with a 3-gallon capacity aluminum dry sump tank with brackets, fitting and an extra baffle. The lightweight aluminum tank holds plenty of oil and comes with a price tag that is just north of four-Benjamins – which eliminates the concerns of cost and weight addressed above.
The Aviad LS-D oil pump system (Part #001-14122-10) are configured to the application – road race or drag race configuration – and are designed for all-out competition. Considering the gains and engine protection that it provides, we consider it cheap insurance against an oil starved engine.
The LS-D oil pump system comes with a choice of three-different oil pans; a modified LS2 cast pan, an ARE cast aluminum pan or a stamped steel pan with louvered windage tray. Going off the sheet, we opted to go a different route and chose Aviaid’s LS, 5-port, billet, dry sump oil pan (Part #152-52505) that gave us low profile and some options for future upgrades. The LS-D oil pump system also comes with an ATI LS Damper drive assembly and HTD belt to drive the oil pump. Pretty much everything you need for a dry sump system except hoses and fittings.
When it came to the hoses and fittings, we selected Earl’s. Armed with 12-feet of Earl’s Pro-Lite 350 AN-12 hose (part #352012ERL), 20-feet of Earl’s Pro-Lite 350 AN-10 hose (part #352010ERL) and several Earl’s AN-10 and AN-12 fittings, we plumbed our system.
Clean and Cool
The last steps in designing and plumbing a dry sump oil system should include an oil cooler and a remote oil filter mount. Our selection of Derale Performance‘s dry sump oil cooler kit (part #15451) was a no brainer. The Derale kit simplifies things because it includes an engine oil cooler and a remote oil filter mount. This is designed to reduce oil temperature which helps extend the life of lower end components. It also helps to reduce engine coolant temperatures. The universal kit is easy to install on most vehicles with a filter mount that uses Fram PH8A Oil Filter or equivalent – a common, off-the-shelf filter for easy and low cost replacement.
Our choice of going with a dry sump oil system for road racing and auto-crossing is going to pay large returns in the long run. While the initial cost can be considered a disadvantage by some, most performance-minded enthusiasts realize that the protection of the high performance engine is well worth the cost. The lifespan of the engine is improved to the point where the initial cost of the system is offset by the extra life and performance of the powerplant. In business, they call this positive return on investment.