Indy car racing, much like all other forms of motorsports, has transformed into a multi-million dollar industry, and if you consider the high tech machines from the F1 series in the “Indy car” world, then you’re looking as some big time dollar signs. As a throwback to the good ol’ days of Indy racing, Corky Coker has revived a legendary power plant, which he calls “an Offy on steroids”. It’s called the Lencki Six and it’s an updated version of an Indy racing engine that debuted in the 1939 Indy 500.
And while Indy car racing was a high dollar sport back in the ’30s and ’40s, it was a much simpler time and constant innovation kept the sport very interesting from year to year. Engine technology, suspension technology and tire technology played a part in the progression of these racecars, and the Lencki Six was in the mix during the height of the Indy car days. So, what is a Lencki Six, and why is it cool?
The Lencki Six was the brainchild of Joe Lencki, the man behind Lenckite micro-lubricant (now known as zMax). Joe Lencki had a large interest in Indy racing, and worked with famed engineer Leo Goosen to develop a dual overhead cam inline six cylinder engine. These plans were put into motion at Offenhauser Engineering in 1938, and the engine made its debut in the 1939 Indy 500. The engine feature a mono-block design, meaning that the cylinder block and cylinder head are all one piece. This allowed for a very high compression ratio without the chance of blowing a head gasket or “lifting” the head.
The Lencki Six featured a very strong block with bulletproof internals, and the new version is very similar. The engine now has a moderate 10.5:1 compression ratio, so it has more manageable horsepower. The dual overhead camshafts are have custom specs, and they are driven by a 13-gear drive, which is covered by beautifully polished aluminum covers. Originally, the Lencki Six was carbureted, but was switched to Hilborn mechanical fuel injection in the ’50s. The original Hilborn intake manifold was retro-fitted with electronic fuel injection for the new Lencki Six build. The EFI is controlled with a FAST module.
And though many aspects of the engine changed, the Lencki Six still carries itself as a historic Indy engine. Mike Cunningham led the build team on the new Lencki Six engine, and the team plans to build a number of these engines for high end hot rods, vintage race car restorations and even wooden boats. It’s an incredible engine, and it was debuted at this year’s SEMA show, with a crowd of on-lookers (and listeners) as Corky fired the engine for the first time. We’re proud to have been a part of this great build, and hope you enjoy seeing this piece of Indy racing history here on our blog!