Nissan VK56DE Engine

(This is a work in progress and by no means complete)
We have been thrust into the world of VK56 performance and though countless hours of gathering information I decided to try and collect it all in this post for my benefit and hopefully yours. If I have any mis-information please let me know so it may be corrected. Here goes:

The VK56DE is a 5.6 L (5552 cc) built in Decherd, TN.
It has aluminum-alloy block with ductile iron cylinder liners for increased durability. Crankshaft is triple forged steel with forged steel connecting rods and low-friction molybdenum-coated pistons. Cylinder heads are also aluminum-alloy. The valvetrain is a dual overhead cam (DOHC) design with later models (2007+) including a continuously variable valve timing control system (CVTCS) on the intake valves. It has 4 valves per cylinder featuring micro-finished camshafts.

  • 2004–present Nissan Armada, 317 hp (236 kW) and 385 ft·lbf (522 N·m)
  • 2004–present Nissan Titan, 317 hp (236 kW) and 385 ft·lbf (522 N·m)
  • 2004–2010 Infiniti QX56, 320 hp (240 kW) and 393 ft·lbf (533 N·m)
  • 2008–present Nissan Pathfinder, 310 hp (230 kW) and 388 ft·lbf (526 N·m)
The Titan, Armada, and Pathfinder power figures are for regular 87 octane fuel. The 320 hp (240 kW) Infiniti QX56 is tuned more for premium (91+ octane) fuel. Some VK56DE powered vehicles are E85 capable.

Development of VK56DE

The VK56 was an all new 5.6L DOHC V-8 engine developed for use on the 2004 full-size Nissan Titan and a full-size sport utility vehicle lines. It was derived from the existing VK45 engine that was originally developed for use in the infiniti Q45. This new engine has a larger bore diameter and a longer stroke than the base engine. The displacement was increased to 5.6 liters from the 4.5 liters of the VK45.

The VK56 retains many technological advancements originally engineered into the VK45. Super quiet chain system to reduce NVH, micro-finished camshafts and crank journals, and epoxy resin-graphite coated piston skirts are all VK45 derived.

Nissan needed a larger displacement engine with increased torque to move these heavy vehicles. Torque is what moves heavy trucks, especially when towing. This is why heavy duty Domestic trucks use massive torque producing diesel engines.

The easiest way to increase torque in an engine is to increase the stroke. In a longer stroked engine the crankshaft's rod journals are physically farther from the main journals. This further distance will give the rods increased leverage on the crankshaft and thus produce higher torque readings for a given combustion energy. The stroke of the VK45 was increased 9.3mm and set at 92mm. To achieve a longer stroke, the block height was increased 12mm to 232mm, and the connecting rod length increased 7.5mm to 154.5mm, thus changing the stroke to 92mm from 82.7mm. The resulting stroke/bore ratio was .94.

The aluminum cylinder block is manufactured using gravity die casting (GDC). To facilitate a larger bore diameter, the thickness of the aluminum between the bores was reduced from 14.2 mm to 8.8 mm. The distance between the cylinders increased from 14mm to 19mm allowing a bore diameter of 98 mm without changing the overall length of the cylinder block or the bore pitch.  The final displacement was 5552cc or rounded up to 5.6L.

The intake manifold design was optimized to the new longer stroked engine. After extensive testing the final intake manifold utilizes very long intake runners approaching 16 inches.  These long intake runners allow the engine to make 90% of its torque at 2500 RPM.

The VK56 essentially uses the same cylinder heads of the VK45.  The intake and exhaust valves were slightly increased and the shape of the intake and exhaust ports were optimized for better flow.

The compression ratio was set at a rather low 9.8/1.  This allowed the engine to operate with a lower octane gasoline, which in turn reduced its overall operating costs. The compression height is the same specification as the VK45 engine, at 31.63 mm, however the piston height measures 52 mm. The piston and piston pin combined weighs 531g per cylinder.

The oil pan is a structural member of the engine.  It also utilizes a lower stamped steel pan in which the oil pickup is housed.

Even though the displacement was increased to 5552cc, the VK 56 actually weighs 18 pounds less than its VK 45 predecessor.

The 2004-2006 VK56 generates 379lb-ft/3600 rpm and 305 hp/4900 rpm. In 2007 Nissan introduced a CVTCS system (Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control) VK56 engine that generated 385lb-ft/3600 rpm and 317 hp/4900 rpm.

2004 Nissan Titan VK56DE Engine Specs

Cylinder arrangement V-8
Displacement cm3 (cu in) 5,552 (338.80)
Bore and stroke mm (in) 98 x 92 (3.86 x 3.62)
Valve arrangement DOHC
Firing order 1-8-7-3-6-5-4-2
Number of piston rings
Compression 2
Oil 1
Number of main bearings 5
Compression ratio 9.8.1
Compression pressure
kPa (kg/cm2 , psi)/rpm
Standard 1,520 (15.5, 220)/200
Minimum 1,324 (13.5, 192)/200
Differential limit between cylinders 98 (1.0, 14)/300

Unit: mm (in)
Surface distortion Exhaust manifold 0.3 (0.012)


Unit: mm (in)
Camshaft runout [TIR*] Less than 0.02 (0.0008)

Valve Lifter
Valve Clearance
Unit: mm (in)
Camshaft cam height “A” Intake & Exhaust
Cam wear limit 0.02 (0.0008)
Outside diameter of camshaft journal 25.953 - 25.970 (1.0218 - 1.0224)
Camshaft bracket inside diameter 26.000 - 26.021 (1.0236 - 1.0244)
Camshaft journal clearance 0.030 - 0.068 (0.0012 - 0.0027)
Camshaft end play 0.115 - 0.188 (0.0045 - 0.0074)
Camshaft sprocket runout [TIR*] Less than 0.15 (0.0059)
Items Standard
Valve lifter diameter 33.977 - 33.987 (1.3377 - 1.3381)
Valve lifter hole diameter 34.000 - 34.016 (1.3386 - 1.3392)
Clearance between lifter and lifter guide 0.013 - 0.039 (0.0005 - 0.0015)
Items Hot* Cold
Intake 0.304 - 0.416 (0.012 - 0.016) 0.26 - 0.34 (0.010 - 0.013)
Exhaust 0.308 - 0.432 (0.012 - 0.017) 0.29 - 0.37 (0.011 - 0.015)

Unit: mm (in)
Head surface distortion 0.03 (0.0012) 0.1 (0.004)
Nominal cylinder head height “H” 126.3 (4.97)

Valve head diameter “D”
Intake 37.0 - 37.3 (1.457 - 1.469)
Exhaust 31.2 - 31.5 (1.228 - 1.240)
Valve length “L”
Intake 96.21- 96.71 (3.7878 - 3.8075)
Exhaust 93.74 - 94.24 (3.6905 - 3.7102)
Valve stem diameter “d”
Intake 5.965 - 5.980 (0.2348 - 0.2354)
Exhaust 5.955 - 5.970 (0.2344 - 0.2350)
Valve seat angle “α”
45°15′ - 45°45′
Valve margin “T”
Intake 1.1 (0.043) 0.6 (0.024)
Exhaust 1.3 (0.051)

Valve guide
Outside diameter 10.023 - 10.034 (0.3946 - 0.3950) 10.223 - 10.234 (0.4025 - 0.4029)
Inside diameter (Finished size) 6.000 - 6.018 (0.2362 - 0.2369) —
Cylinder head valve guide hole diameter 9.975 - 9.996 (0.3927 - 0.3935) 10.175 - 10.196 (0.4006 - 0.4014)
Interference fit of valve guide 0.027 - 0.059 (0.0011 - 0.0023)
Items Standard Limit
Stem to guide clearance
Intake 0.020 - 0.053 (0.0008 - 0.0021) 0.08 (0.0031)
Exhaust 0.030 - 0.063 (0.0012 - 0.0025) 0.09 (0.0035)
Projection length “L”
Intake 12.6 - 12.8 (0.496 - 0.504)
Exhaust 12.5 - 12.9 (0.492 - 0.508)

Cylinder head seat recess diameter (D)
Intake 38.000 - 38.016 (1.4961 - 1.4967) 38.500 - 38.516 (1.5157 - 1.5164)
Exhaust 32.200 - 32.216 (1.2677 - 1.2683) 32.700 - 32.716 (1.2874 - 1.2880)
Valve seat interference fit
Intake 0.081 - 0.113 (0.0032 - 0.0044)
Exhaust 0.064 - 0.096 (0.0025 - 0.0038)
Valve seat diameter (d)
Intake 38.097 - 38.113 (1.4999 - 1.5005) 38.597 - 38.613 (1.5196 - 1.5202)
Exhaust 32.280 - 32.296 (1.2709 - 1.2715) 32.780 - 32.796 (1.2905 - 1.2912)

Valve Spring
Free height mm (in) 50.58 (1.9913)
Pressure N (kg, lb) at height mm (in)
Installation 165.8 - 187.0 (16.9 - 19.1, 37 - 42) at 37.0 (1.457)
Valve open 314.8 - 355.0 (32.1 - 36.2, 71 - 80) at 28.2 (1.110)
Out-of-square mm (in) Less than 2.2 (0.087)

Surface flatness
LImit 0.1 (0.004)
Main bearing housing inside diameter Standard 68.944 - 68.968 (2.7143 - 2.7153)
Cylinder bore diameter
Grade No. 1 98.000 - 98.010 (3.8583 - 3.8587)
Grade No. 2 98.010 - 98.020 (3.8587 - 3.8590)
Grade No. 3 98.020 - 98.030 (3.8590 - 3.8594)
Wear limit 0.20 (0.0079)
Out-of-round (Difference between X and Y)
0.015 (0.0006)
Taper (Difference between A and C) 0.010 (0.0004)

Piston skirt diameter “A”
Grade No. 1 97.980 - 97.990 (3.8575 - 3.8579) —
Grade No. 2 97.990 - 98.000 (3.8579 - 3.8583) —
Grade No. 3 98.000 - 98.010 (3.8583 - 3.8587) —
Grade No. 0
98.180 - 98.210 (3.8653 - 3.8665) 0.20 (0.0079)
“H” dimension 39 (1.54) —
Piston pin hole diameter Grade No. 0 21.993 - 21.999 (0.8659 - 0.8661) —
Piston to cylinder bore clearance 0.010 - 0.030 (0.0004 - 0.0012) 0.08 (0.0031)

Piston Ring
Side clearance
Top 0.035 - 0.085 (0.0014 - 0.0033) 0.11 (0.0043)
2nd 0.030 - 0.070 (0.0012 - 0.0028) 0.10 (0.0039)
Oil ring 0.015 - 0.050 (0.0006 - 0.0020) —
End gap
Top 0.23 - 0.33 (0.0091 - 0.0130) 0.56 (0.0220)
2nd 0.25 - 0.40 (0.0098 - 0.0157) 0.52 (0.0205)
Oil ring 0.20 - 0.60 (0.0079 - 0.0236) 0.96 (0.0378)

Piston Pin
Unit: mm (in)
Items Standard
Piston pin diameter Grade No. 0 21.989 - 21.995 (0.8657 - 0.8659)
Piston to piston pin clearance 0.002 - 0.006 (0.0001 - 0.0002)
Connecting rod bushing oil clearance 0.005 - 0.017 (0.0002 - 0.0007)

Unit: mm (in)
Items Standard Limit
Center distance 154.45 - 154.55 (6.08 - 6.08) —
Bend [per 100 (3.94)] — 0.15 (0.0059)
Torsion [per 100 (3.94)] — 0.30 (0.0118)
Connecting rod bushing inside diameter*
(small end)
Grade No. 0 22.000 - 22.006 (0.8661 - 0.8664) —
Connecting rod big end inside diameter (without bearing) 57.000 - 57.013 (2.2441 - 2.2446) —
Side clearance 0.20 - 0.40 (0.0079 - 0.0157) 0.40 (0.0157)

Pin journal dia. “Dp” Standard
Grade No. 0 53.968 - 53.974 (2.1247 - 2.1250)
Grade No. 1 53.962 - 53.968 (2.1245 - 2.1247)
Grade No. 2 53.956 - 53.962 (2.1243 - 2.1245)
Center distance “r” 45.96 - 46.04 (1.8094 - 1.8126)
Out-of-round (Difference between X and Y)
0.002 (0.0001)
Taper (Difference between A and B) 0.002 (0.0001)
Runout [TIR*] Less than 0.05 (0.002)
Crankshaft end play
Standard 0.10 - 0.26 (0.0039 - 0.0102)
Limit 0.30 (0.0118)

Main Bearing Oil Clearance
Unit: mm (in)
Connecting Rod Bearing
Unit: mm (in)
Connecting Rod Bearing Oil Clearance
Unit: mm (in)
Items Standard Limit
Main bearing oil clearance
No.1 and 5 0.001 - 0.011 (0.00004 - 0.0004) 0.021 (0.0008)
No.2, 3 and 4 0.007 - 0.017 (0.0003 - 0.0007) 0.027 (0.0011)
Grade number Thickness “T” mm (in) Identification color (mark)
0 1.500 - 1.503 (0.0591 - 0.0592) Black
1 1.503 - 1.506 (0.0592 - 0.0593) Brown
2 1.506 - 1.509 (0.0593 - 0.0594) Green
3 1.509 - 1.512 (0.0594 - 0.0595) Yellow
Undersize Thickness Crank pin journal diameter “Dp”
0.25 (0.0098) 1.627 - 1.635 (0.0641 - 0.0644) Grind so that bearing clearance is the specified value.
Items Standard Limit
Connecting rod bearing oil clearance 0.020 - 0.039 (0.0008 - 0.0015) 0.055 (0.0022)

all readings in ft. lbs.

Intake Manifold -73 FT. LBS
Exhaust Manifold -21 FT. LBS

Step 1: 72 ft. lbs
Step 2: Loosen all bolts completely
Step 3: 33 ft. lbs.
Step 4: +60 degrees
Step 5: +60 degrees


Step 1: Main Bolts to 29 ft. lbs.
Step 2: Sub-bolts to 22 ft. lbs.
Step 3: Main Bolts +40 degrees
Step 4: Sub-Bolts +30 degrees
Step 5: Side Bolts to 36 ft. lbs.

Step 1: 11 ft. lbs.
Step 2: +90 degrees

Step 1: 65 ft. lbs.
Step 2: +90 degrees

Spark Plugs-18 FT. LBS
Oil Pan Drain Plug-25 FT. LBS

(not complete just some examples)

FIA GT1 racing
Sumo Power
Nismo produces a version of the VK56DE for FIA GT1 racing. In race trim, it produces 600 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque.
engine VK56DE
position Front, Longitudinal
aspiration Natural
displacement 5552 cc / 338.80 in³
power 447.4 kw / 600 bhp
specific output 108.07 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 480.0 bhp per tonne
torque 650 nm / 479.4 ft lbs
driven wheels RWD
front tires 31/71-18
rear tires 31/71-18
front brakes Carbon Fiber Discs w/6-Piston Calipers
rear brakes Carbon Fiber Discs w/6-Piston Calipers
front wheels F 45.7 x 33.0 cm / 18 x 13 in
rear wheels R 45.7 x 33.0 cm / 18 x 13 in
f suspension Double Wishbones
r suspension Multi-Link
weight 1250 kg / 2756 lbs
wheelbase 2780 mm / 109.4 in
front track 1675 mm / 65.9 in
rear track 1710 mm / 67.3 in
length 4730 mm / 186.2 in
width 2040 mm / 80.3 in
transmission 6-Speed Transaxle
tran clutch 5.5” Triple Plate Carbon

Championship Off Road Racing
(usually abbreviated CORR)
Carl Renezeder 

Menards built VK56 up for CORR:
The Titan CORR Pro-2 entry features a 715-horsepower, 5.6-liter V8 stock block engine with 510 lb-ft of torque at 6,000 rpm, redlining at 8,200 rpm. Unlike many race engines, the block, cylinder heads, cam covers, water pump, main bearings, rod bearings, and ignition coils are all stock Titan components. The engine was prepared by Menards Engine Development.

The stock VK56 produced around 340hp on our engine dyno before being rebuilt for the Titan with a long list of parts including some designed specifically to our specs and made by local and overseas suppliers. The end result on the engine dyno was over 610hp as the bellowing VK passed 8000rpm. Brutal sounds exit the custom 3” stainless exhaust with stainless extractors and fabricated twin-exit muffler. Driving the rear wheels through a manual Jerico 5 speed the VK hooks up to a fabricated Strange 9” diff, making a tough drive line for the demands of off-road competition.

This engine produced 710HP after some serious modifications. The stock compression ratio was raised from 9.8 to 14.8. Some other mods include CNC ported heads, larger valves, new crank in conjunction with better bearings. Very aggressive cams almost double the lift! Individual throttle bodies for instant response and a new dry sump oiling system converts the stock engine into a naturally aspirated monster.

Heart of a Titan
Competing At the Top Level of Short-Course Racing Requires One Major Component: Strong, Reliable Horsepower. For Nissan Motorsports, Making That Happen Has Taken Them Back to a Little Race Known As the Indianapolis 500.
Publish date: Oct 1, 2007
By:  Marty Fiolka

In no uncertain terms, 2006 CORR Pro-2 Champion and last year's Dirt Sports Driver of the Year will tell you a key to last season's success boiled down to his enviable link to Nissan Motorsports. Swimming headlong against an ever-competitive tide of snarling–yet, oh so familiar–Fords and Chevrolets, Carl Renezeder and his new Nissan Titan outsmarted and plain outhustled their way to the top of CORR's food chain, thanks in huge measure to the reliability and driveability of the specially prepared racing versions of the production Nissan VK56 (called the Endurance V8) found in the company's full-size Titan pickup trucks.

At the start of 2007, there were rumors circulating in full force throughout the short-course universe that the Nissan/Renezeder combination was getting ready to take on the even more horsepower-hungry Pro-4 Class. It was true that late in 2006 Renezeder had given his crew at American Flyer Racing the green light to build a lighter, more advanced chassis to replace the aging, heavier Chevrolet the team had been campaigning, but there was no clear commitment that the new truck would carry Nissan power or badging.

DIFFERENT BUT THE SAME: Separated by a decade of knowledge and experience, Nissan's impressive CORR and WSORR Pro-4 V8 Titan powerplant (top) and the first generation of Infiniti's Indy engine (this) share ancestral bloodlines.
Due in large measure to the success of Renezeder in 2006 and the unwavering commitment by Nissan Motorsports' Ron Stukenberg, by the time the World Series of Off-Road Racing (WSORR) hit Crandon earlier this year, the brand-new Lucas Oil bedecked Nissan Titan Pro-4 rolled out of the trailer and directly into the WSORR Crandon winners' circle. The event was a triumph of will, dedication and a huge dose of high-tech Nissan gadgetry found under the hood.

After the win, we began to inquire about the somewhat secretive, albeit highly successful, Nissan short-course engine program. Thanks to Dirt Sports' exclusive access to Nissan's official engine facility, we took a look at what made such a stunning performance possible. What we discovered was a program that not only combined talent, resources and experience only a true factory program could muster, but one with historical lineage stretching back to 1997, the start of the Indianapolis Racing League (IRL) and the world-renowned Indianapolis 500.


In a racing world filled with American V8 power, it was admittedly unusual to find a production-based import marquee like Nissan. (The production Titan is assembled in the good old U.S. of A. in Decherd, Tenn.)

PRODUCTION IS BEAUTIFUL: An important source of pride to both Nissan Motorsports and Menard is the use of many OEM parts, including engine blocks taken right from the production line.
We wanted to find out a little more about this brave new world, but in order to do so, we had to leave the comfortable confines of our California home office and travel halfway around the country to another bastion of American motorsports: Indianapolis, Ind. Our journey took us to a rather industrial looking business complex and one building in particular with the name "Menard" on the door. Yes, Menard, as in John Menard, a name familiar to race fans around the country as a race-team owner and cars sponsor–including Robby Gordon. That's right, the same Menard that graces a huge chain of Menard's home-improvement stores throughout the Midwest.

From where we were standing, it was only a few miles to the massive grandstands that live in the residential neighborhoods of Speedway, Ind., home of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. How perfectly appropriate.

SHARED VICTORY: For certain, the partnership between Nissan Motorsports, Menard's and Carl Renezeder's racing team is the key to success. There was no better indication of this than this giant victory telegram mounted on Menard's shop wall.
The story of Nissan and Menard actually goes back to 1997 when Nissan Motorsports was launching one of its most ambitious racing programs in its history–the Infiniti Indy program. Created to compete in the fledgling IRL series and its signature event, the legendary Indianapolis 500, the Infiniti Indy V8 engine was a purpose-built derivative of the 4.1-liter, dual-overhead cams, 32-valve V8 VH41DE engine used in Infiniti's flagship luxury Q45 sedan. At that time, the directive of the IRL was to encourage production-based engines using American aftermarket hot-rod parts, unlike the extremely expensive engines found in the rival Champ Car series. By chance, one of the most loyal supporters of the IRL at that time was team owner John Menard, who fielded highly competitive teams for the likes of Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon.

HEART OF THE MATTER: Like any modern racing engine, much attention is paid to piston size, shape and valve-pocket configuration. In order to optimize this crucial area, Menard's forges their own for the Nissan Pro-4 powerplant.
Racing is, in the end, racing, and the IRL series eventually moved away from the production-based concept into full-blown racing engines. In a sweeping explanation to a complex story, in order for Nissan to keep up with IRL rival General Motors, the company abandoned its American program in favor of England's high-tech (and high-cost) Tom Walkinshaw Racing, known as TWR. While that move landed Infiniti some hard-earned series victories, the pending advent of both Honda and Toyota (and their deeper motorsports' pocketbooks) into the IRL series spelled the end for Nissan in IRL racing. However, at the same time, production-based Infiniti V8s were being prepared by Menard's engine shop for the Infiniti Pro Series, a development class for the IRL. Around the same time, John Menard bought TWR and the circle was complete.

GREAT FROM THE START: Using all 715 horsepower and 500 lb/ft. of torque, Renezeder's Nissan sent a serious message to the rest of his competitors by taking him to the prestigious Crandon winners' circle right out-of-the-box.
In the end, Nissan and Menard's shared experience, talent and data on how to successfully race production-based aluminum-block, aluminum-head, overhead-cam V8 engines was the final piece of the puzzle that brought a decade of racing together. Now it was time to take that asphalt experience to the dirt.


For the past few years, those educated powerplant gurus at Menard's Engine Group have been manipulating those beautiful-sounding Nissan Titan V8s into championship form, admittedly tapping into much of their Indy experience to make Renezeder's program come alive.

SECRETS: Behold years of trail and error. Extracting the most power, torque and drivability from any high-performance engine is an endless search. Clearly, off-road powerplants are no exception.
A visit to Menard's Indy facility is like a visit to the inner sanctum of horsepower, a place where NASCAR, Grand-Am, CORR and other secret-engine projects live side-by-side in complete silence and secrecy. The guys at Menard's really like the unique challenges that running in the dirt provides them, and it is clearly a radical departure from the everyday workings here.

For Nissan, and especially Stukenberg, the fact that Nissan's short-course effort revolves around production-based Titan truck engines is a source of pride. "To the best of my knowledge, the Toyota [in Johnny Greaves' Pro-4 Tundra] is the only one to use production blocks and cylinder heads," explained Stukenberg. "Everyone else has racing-specific knock-offs of production pieces. This puts a lot more emphasis on us massaging production pieces to make sure they hold up under racing conditions."

ALL ABOUT AIRFLOW: Four-valve combustion chambers is one area that requires heavy development to maximize power. Formerly ported and polished by hand, these Nissan production cylinder heads are now CNC-machined for more precise airflow.
While the initial plans for the Nissan motors called for different variations in the Pro-2 and Pro-4 configurations, the fact is, now both engines are virtually identical, with engine-accessory packaging mandating slightly different oil sump/pump parts between the two units.

Another interesting discovery we made was the need for power (both from a competitive and driveline perspective) dictates that the new Pro-4 will use a five-speed manual transmission, like Greaves' time-tested set-up, instead of the more traditional automatic the Pro-2 utilizes. The reason? In order to stay competitive, Renezeder cannot suffer the loss of power found in an automatic/torque-converter set up, nor does the traditional route offer close-ratio gearing to take advantage of the higher/peakier powerband found in the Titan race engine.

LONG-TERM PROJECT: The increasing popularity of short-course, off-road racing in America is a good sign for Nissan's long-term factory participation. In fact, the 5.6-liter Nissan Titan V8 racing engine by Menard's is now available to any racer who wants high-tech horsepower.
For the always-racy Renezeder, actually shifting gears is a very different, but fun, new twist to his competitive mind-set, "It took a little while getting used to, but the fact is that shifting gears and actually controlling shift points and power application is really a cool deal," he enthused.

And yes, as stated, there are lessons learned from all those laps around the nearby Brickyard. Last season, some of the stock valve-train drive mechanisms didn't work, but the team came up with pieces directly taken from the IRL program. "We learned a lot about how to keep the chains in them at higher rpms," explained Todd Rezac, product engineer, Menard Engine Group. "The valves themselves have also been upgraded, and they are now as big and light as we can make them [read, titanium valves]."

BEAUTIFUL AND FUNCTIONAL: When we visited Menard's in May, one of the most crucial pieces being worked on was this beautifully machined oil pan assembly. Accessory packaging in Renezeder's new Pro-4 dictated changes from the previous Pro-2 unit.
"It's true that the Nissan package is 100-cubic-inches smaller than the competition and about 100-peak horsepower down to the other guys," he continued. "But these races are really about lowering weight and having reliability–both of which we are working on in spades."

The engine control unit (or ECU) is another holdout from the Indy car days, a Pectel unit that Rezac describes as a "blank slate," which allows Menard's world-class computer technicians–also known in the motorsports world as DAGs or Data Acquisition Geeks–to create and fine-tune any type of fuel/air/spark/timing they desire. In fact, the system is so accurate and influential in the search for power that various maps are being created for different tracks according to the power-band and torque curves Mr. Renezeder and company feel is the most optimum. Fuel injection, according to all involved, also reduces the number of moving parts–again, at least in their minds–adding to the package's overall reliability.

THE LINE-UP: One thing was very apparent in our visit to Menard's: modern motorsports is all about constant development of parts and pieces. This line-up of Titan cylinder heads is testament to a highly competitive environment.
Not everything is like the old days, however. Today, Menard-produced components, like connecting rods and pistons, replace those of yesteryear. Recently, the production cylinder heads went from being hand-ported and polished to CNC-milled.

For Renezeder, Stukenberg et al., the results are the same: it's all about winning on the race track. From the 2.4-mile oval at Indianapolis to the undulating dirt of Crandon, taking Nissan to victory never, ever gets old.

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