Up close look at Pro Line turbocharged engines

The quickest and fastest doorslammers in drag racing are those that fall under the Pro Mod class. The class allows cars to have engines built around three unique types of induction or power adders: nitrous oxide injection superchargers and turbocharging. The quickest and fastest Pro Mods in both quarter-mile and eighth-mile racing use turbocharged engines like those built by Pro Line Race Engines’ owners Doug Patton and Eric Dillard.

Pro Mods utilizing Pro Line turbocharged engines own all of the speed and ET records. Melanie Troxel recorded a 5.77 at 258.71 mph at Englishtown 2011 that is still the NHRA quarter-mile ET and speed record. Eric Dillard himself owns the eighth-mile speed and ET records at 221 mph and 3.56 seconds. The absolute speed and ET marks for the quarter mile is held by Turki al Zafari in a turbocharged powered Pro Mod at 5.461/272.83.

Pro Line's 24,000 square-foot shop in Ball Ground, Georgia.

When Doug Patton (49) and Eric Dillard acquired ownership of Pro Line in 2005, Eric was only 22 years old. He had started three years earlier under Doug as a helper.

“He doesn’t have any college training,” says Doug, “but he has a knack for running the business. We currently employ a workforce of around fifteen — seven or eight in the machine shop and seven or eight in the sales offices.”

Even though the machine shop maintains the same number of employees, component sales account for eighty percent of their business. How did this come to pass? As the Amish would say, it wonders me!

Establishing a niche — the turbo advocate

Pro Line specializes mostly in twin turbocharged technology, but more than this they specialize in the complete turn-key combinations, which include the race motor, EFI, fuel systems, ignition systems, transmissions, converters, in fact the full power train. The shop builds and ships everything from complete engines to the component parts all over the world.

In addition they set up and build turbocharged engines at the shop, plumb it, complete the wiring and start the engine to ensure everything works as anticipated. If required they take the car to a track and test it.

“Steve Petty is our tuner,” explains Patton, “and Steve is a big part of what we do here. We book his flights, accommodation and rental cars for tuning sessions. Though Steve can build engines his strong suit is tuning—both engines and chassis.”

Petty usually begins with a base tune-up and then progresses to running the car over 100-foot distance.