Project Update: Track Attack gets Billet Specialties front-drive kit

If you’ve followed along with Project Track Attack, you’ve noticed that the project has been through a couple of brake upgrades, a couple of suspension upgrades, and a couple of rearend upgrades. I have even upgraded the transmission to a Stage 3 4L60E automatic from Silver Sport Transmissions. The piece of the puzzle that’s soon to be missing from this build is the one that has remained a constant: the old 318 Polyhead mill.

I have admitted that the A-engine is down on power, and if you do the math it doesn’t seem right that I have a sub-300 horsepower engine with a drivetrain that can handle more than twice that. This was all part of the plan from the beginning. I  wanted to show you one of the best ways to build a project car without worrying about breaking parts, or the bank: start with the rest of the car, finish with the engine.

So why install a beefy trans for a low-powered small block? It was all part of the plan, but planning takes time and I wanted to get everything in place before I upped the power levels.

Too often, a fresh engine gets dropped in and the rest of the drivetrain can’t handle the extra power. So parts begin to break, and that means more money, or more time sitting while you collect a couple more paychecks. Starting with an acceptable engine that managed to get things done while we built the rest of the car means we can drop in our new engine and be ready to roll after the last drop of coolant is added to the radiator.

It’s All About The Profile

The Poly 318 – a decent mill with lots of torque – was reliable, but I never felt it was potent enough, so I began collecting parts and searching for a block to begin the build. The only way I wanted to go was an old school small-block 360, with a 4-inch stroker crank. I also have a few surprises with the new engine, and for those plans I needed to rearrange the way the current front drive is set up. In other words, I need it to be more compact.

The factory alternator hangs off of the passenger side head, the power steering pump is in front of the driver side head, and if I want to add air conditioning – a definite plan for the cruiser part of the build – it would have to mount smack dab in the middle of the engine, in front of the thermostat housing. It’s not tidy, and it’s basically in the way.

A central bridge bracket mounts the components to the front of the block. All hardware is clearly marked, and following the instructions means that the install will go smoothly. Test fitting everything isn’t a bad idea; you’ll need to use thread sealer on some bolts, and thread locker on others, so be sure to stick to the instructions.

So I reached out to Billet Specialties for a solution to our front-drive dilemma, and found they have exactly what I need. My first goal was to find a front drive system that tucked neatly inside the front profile of the engine. The Tru Trac serpentine front drive kit does just that, and with minimal effort the installation can take just an afternoon.

The benefits of a serpentine system far outweigh the old V-belt front drive by not only providing a cleaner, custom look to my small block, but it also requires less maintenance and upkeep than a standard V-belt.  When it comes to tightening the belts, we’ve all been there before: you crank up on the alternator with one hand while trying to tighten the adjuster bolt with the other. It sometimes takes a couple of tries to get it right.

Each component is brand new and included with the Tru Trac kit. You won’t need to use any of the old front-drive components.

The Billet Specialties Tru Trac doesn’t require the kind of tension a V-belt requires; the included belt tensioner is all that’s needed to keep the single, 6-rib belt in place. With a choice of polished or black anodized brackets and pulleys, the Tru Trac will look great on the front of this small-block Mopar.

The Tru Trac is available for small- and big-block applications from Ford, Chevy, Mopar, and even Pontiac. The kit includes a 140-amp one-wire alternator for ease of installation and are available for systems with, or without, power steering or air conditioning

The brackets and pulleys are available in a black anodized finish or polished. Either way, they look great and will perform just as well.

All hardware is included, and complete instructions for assembling the kit onto your engine will make the install go by in a breeze. I did a little test fitting with my bare block and found it was a very straight-forward installation. And did I mention how cool it looks on an old-school engine?

For those who aren’t ready to step up to a full serpentine system, Billet Specialties also offers a V-belt system for the same applications listed above. The V-belt system will save you some coin over the Tru Trac, and still dress up the front drive system for those who like to maintain a factory-style setup.

The Tru Trac is compact and brings all of the components closer to a central location, while fitting within the profile of the engine.

As you can see, it’s a clean setup and gives me just what I need for our next upgrade, so be sure to stay tuned as I cover the bottom end, the top end, and the full Billet Specialties Tru Trac installation. Remember, this Tru Trac is part of my grand plan, and once this engine is built it will be broken in and then off to the next phase. Any guesses which direction I am taking it?

About the author

Michael Harding

Michael is a Power Automedia contributor and automotive enthusiast who doesn’t discriminate. Although Mopar is in his blood, he loves any car that looks great and drives even faster.
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