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Sonny’s to Build Charity Engine for Sunnen Sweepstakes at PRI Show

Sonny’s Racing Enginesproudly celebrates 50 years in business in 2018. Longevity of this magnitude in any industry is uncommon and certainly a cause for celebration.

Sonny Leonard

From humble beginnings in December of 1968, Sonny Leonard rose in prominence thanks to his innovative engine designs and uncompromising performance. Sonny’s has over 100 national and world records on land and sea. In Mountain Motor Pro Stock alone, Sonny’s engines have amassed 17 World Championships across PDRA, IHRA and ADRL. A Sonny’s engine won the first Pro Stock Championship with Ricky Smith in 1987. Additional MMPS Championships have been racked up by customers Billy Huff, Doug Kirk, Tommy Mauney, John Montecalvo and Cary Goforth.

While many drag race fans are well aware of Sonny’s Racing Engines accomplishments on the eighth and quarter miles, they may be surprised to find out the company has had a broad impact on boat racing and truck pulls, as well. A Sonny’s Racing Engine has won five out of six National Championships in the NTPA 4-wheel drive truck pull category.

Sonny’s Racing Engines offers wedge and hemispherical configurations to accommodate 500 to 1000 cubic inch powerplants. The mainstay wedge engines have racked up a myriad of event wins and national championships. The more recently instituted hemi heads were designed in-house. Boose Foundry of Reemstown, Pa. cast the aluminum heads. 

Sonny Leonard has countless memories of helping customers achieve their dreams over the past 50 years. Customers that are now multi-time World Champions still speak of Sonny Leonard with awe and are humbled to now call him a personal friend, a relationship cultivated over years of doing business. 

Sonny also has connections to NASCAR. He recounts meeting Rick Hendrick. “I met Mr. Hendrick 20 years ago when we sold him cylinder heads and manifolds for his 600 cubic inch pleasure boat engines.” Last fall Rick Hendrick visited the Sonny’s Racing Engines facility in Lynchburg, Va. bringing along champion NASCAR driver, Jeff Gordon, William Byron – the new driver for the #24, and Liberty University President, Jerry Falwell. Sonny says he “was honored to have them come by.”

Sonny’s has been chosen to build a charity engine to be given away at the PRI Show in conjunction with the 30th Annual Sunnen Charity Sweepstakes. “This is a great way for us to celebrate 50 years in business,” stated Sonny. “We are building one of our Electronic Fuel Injected 727 cubic inch engines with our in-house design hemispherical cylinder heads. This EFI engine will be designed to operate on 92 octane unleaded gas for street use and will produce over 1300 horsepower that can be driven daily.”

All proceeds from the sweepstakes go toVictory Junction, a camp founded by the Petty family for children living with serious medical conditions. Tickets will be available this summer. The winning ticket will be drawn at the PRI Show in Indianapolis.

The charity engine is valued at over $60,000 and includes Sonny’s fully in-house ported hemispherical cylinder heads, Sonny’s Brodix 5.000 B.S. block with 1.000” raised cam with special hi-flow water jackets, Bryant billet crankshaft, and Carrillo steel billet rods, Big Stuff 3 Electronic Fuel Injection, and the best of components to build this engine

Over the past 30 years Sunnen, PRI and many well-known engine builders have teams up to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities within the racing community. To purchase tickets for the Sunnen Engine Charity Sweepstakes visit

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“We are extremely honored and proud to be chosen to build this year’s charity engine,” elaborated Sonny. “Victory Junction is an honorable cause and we hope this will make a lasting impact on the lives of those children. What better way to celebrate 50 years in business than by giving back?”

For more on Sonny’s Racing Engines visit


This story was originally published on September 5, 2018. Drag Illustrated

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