• USA Wins SEMA Middle East’s 1st Annual Engine Build-Off

Redline Motorsports, a Florida based performance shop, just took home the top honors in SEMA’s first international engine building competition. The build-off pitted the Redline team against one of the best-known performance shops in the U.A.E.

Both competitors were selected to compete due to their extensive experience with tuning General Motors’ LS engines – the modern small-block V-8 that powers everything from trucks and vans to Corvettes and Cadillacs.

So the competition went down like this: whoever could build and tune the engine with the highest average horsepower over 10 dyno pulls won. Simple enough. Both teams received identical sets of parts, including new LS3 blocks bored out to 416 cubic inches, performance rotating assemblies, and ported LS3 heads; keeping the playing field level. Separating the teams were their choice of three available camshafts and how they tuned their ECUs.

The competitors were also handed the keys to nearly identical 2012 and 2013 GMC Sierra trucks. The single cab, short bed, 4WD Sierras were both fitted with the stock 6L80E transmission and 3.73 gears. With all the parts in place, the competition rolled into day one. Keep reading below

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USA Wins SEMA Middle East's 1st Annual Engine Build-Off
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The first day was all about tearing down and building up. The Sierras drove into the SEMA Middle East convention hall in Dubai with their stock engines in place. Both teams made short work of the removal, having the factory mills pulled in two hours. Despite the competition, both teams worked together, sharing friendly comradery between the booths.

Howard Tanner, owner and CEO of Redline Motorsports, said, “We went out there and built relationships. Even though we were competing against each other, we still worked together.” Tanner and his team had traveled some 14 hours and 8,000 miles to the event, certainly taking away any home-field advantage they might have had. Redline even lugged its own tools over the Atlantic Ocean. “Thankfully we didn’t have any major hiccups with the build, but Al did help us out with loaning a few small things we didn’t bring.”

USA Wins SEMA Middle East's 1st Annual Engine Build-Off
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USA Wins SEMA Middle East's 1st Annual Engine Build-Off
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USA Wins SEMA Middle East's 1st Annual Engine Build-Off
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The guy Tanner is talking about is Al Numairy, owner of Al Numairy Performance and Redline’s competition for this build. He runs his speed shop in Dubai and is one of the region’s authorities on GM performance. He’s even done outrageous LS V-8 engine swaps into Toyota FT-86s and building 1,000-plus horsepower, naturally aspirated V-8s is his specialty.

With the dyno day at hand, both trucks backed onto the rollers. The teams had 10 pulls to get the highest average horsepower. Both trucks laid down five pulls with the crowd circled and the competitors watching. “I knew the first pull was gonna have to be the important one,” Tanner said. “I knew we had decent fuel out there and I knew the setup, so I went in there with my best shot first.”

Tanner’s aggressive early tune paid off. Redline’s truck laid down 435 horsepower at the wheels while Numairy’s truck only managed 401 horsepower. “We were able to move the average up fast,” Tanner continued. “I made tune changes during the first two pulls and never touched the truck again. Numairy struggled to get his tune setup where he wanted.”

The second set of five dyno pulls happened without the crowd, giving the competition’s results a flair of mystery. That evening found both performance shops on stage for the ceremony. As it turns out, the game of averages can be unforgiving. Redline’s truck laid down an average of 452 horsepower while Numairy’s only managed 422 horses at the wheels, thanks in large part to the 34 horsepower gap set in the first pull.

USA Wins SEMA Middle East's 1st Annual Engine Build-Off
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With the victory in hand, Redline was set to win both engines, worth nearly $15,000, along with a one-off trophy and bragging rights. However, Redline passed up the opportunity of taking home Numairy’s engine, returning it back to the team. “It wasn’t so much that we won, but that we represented the U.S.,” Tanner said. “It was just awesome we got to help foster the growth of American car culture over there.”

Next year, Tanner and his team plan on trekking back to Dubai. “We’re going back to oversee the next competition,” he said. “But more importantly, we’re going as a support team for the community of LS guys.”

That American car culture Tanner talked about is certainly growing. Speed shops are popping up, along with plenty of car clubs. “There’s a ton of Corvette, Camaro, and Cadillac CTS-V groups that are feeding off each other’s knowledge.” Redline’s short time in Dubai has already netted the company several customers as well. “I’ve got cars already lined up to tune next year,” Tanner said.

Back home in Pompano Beach, the Redline team is already tuning some of the latest GM tech, including the new C7 Z06. “With that new eight-speed auto, guys are gonna be turning some real low times,” chuckled Tanner. Low times for Redline fall in the seven-second range down the quarter mile. The speed shop already has several records under its belt, and if Tanner’s demeanor and drive show any indication, they’re not slowing down.

Photos courtesy of Redline Motorsports

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
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