I was fortunate enough to have an artist knock up some models for me to use in my application to make my podracers a little less abstract. I went ahead and linked up the spin to the power being applied to each engine to create a pretty neat looking effect. I also linked up particle emitters to each of my engines to kick up dust. I made it so that the dust appears just above the ground and I'm pretty happy with the result. I unfortunately don't currently have the time to order the particles based on depth so they don't always blend correctly. Depending on time, I might also try to smooth how they are then they spawn so they don't just pop into existence.
Even with the effect being simple, I think it's effective and makes the podracer look more like it's actually in the scene.