A Corvette Fit for a King
George Michel, a.k.a. King George II, has had a long lasting, love affair with Corvettes. He personally owns a small collection of Corvettes, some of which are registered with the prestigious Bloomington Gold Corvettes. This Corvette, however, does not share a place with the rest of his collection. Although it is black, his main color of choice, this corvette is a raw, pure bread, race car.
George has a bucket list with a goal to go well over 200mph in a Corvette. He figured, if he was going to do it, might as well try and break a speed record while he was at it. The answer - Speedweek at Bonneville Salt Flats. Years ago, George and a partner set out on a journey to build a car that to do just that. If you've never heard of the Bonneville Salt Flat races, you may need to spend some quality time on Google. This is an annual event that brings cars of all makes and models, from all over the world into competition. There are multiple classes which regulate engine size, aero, engine type, forced induction, etc. Teams prepare all year to come out and give it their all and go as fast as they can through 10 mile stretch of salt. George's Corvette is in the "B/GT" class which essentially limits the car to factory aero, naturally aspirated and nothing larger than a 440ci motor. The current goal is 239mph, which is a very tall glass to fill.
George first attended Speedweek at Bonneville in 2012 for competition with a 2001 C5 Corvette. He and his partner set out to get their license passes and proceeded to try to break the record. They made a few runs with a top speed of 214.736mph! Shortly after before another attempted run an SCTA Inspector noticed that the rear tires were too close to the fenders they had to be removed from competition until the problem was fixed. They returned home to correct some issues over the winter and try again in 2013. A few weeks before Speedweek 2013 his partner was having some difficulty with the engine & ECU cooperating with each other. George suggested to his partner that they should bring the Corvette to Carz Performance to see if we could help.
We first started working on the Corvette when we discovered that previous engine builder made a few errors causing a near catastrophic failure. Unfortunately some of these issues could not be corrected in time for George to compete in Speedweek 2013. Later that year we tore apart the engine and we found some issues with the camshaft gear as well as the crankshaft was flexing at north of 7500rpm. We rebuilt his motor using a GM Performance LSX block bored and stroked to a 434ci, along with custom Gibtec pistons, Carillo rods and a Winberg crankshaft. We also installed an AEM Infinty ECU to control the engine and protect it from any faults such as low oil pressure, low fuel pressure and lean conditions.
Speedweek was canceled in 2014 & 2015 due to inclement weather. We attended Speedweek 2016 were we ran into oil pressure problems that were unforeseen on the dyno but once the car exceeded over 200mph most of the oil was in back of the oil pan or up inside the engine, not down near the stock wet sump oil pickup tube where it was needed. Luckily, the AEM Infinity ECU performed as it was designed to and saved the engine! Back to the drawing board we go for the 2017 season.
The first task at hand was to refresh of the motor. Even though the cars aren't ran for very long, the salty conditions can corrode the cylinder walls. Along with the refresh, we will be adding in a Daily Engineering, 3 Stage Dry Sump kit. This will give us a all the oil pressure we need and more, with no worries of it falling off in the higher RPM range. We have a couple other things that need attention, such as a new AEM CD-7 Logger Dash, custom exhaust, new intake and some engine bay cleanup.
First step after getting the motor rebuilt and set into place was plumbing the dry sump kit. Due to the nature of the engine bay in a Corvette, there is a lot of room, but not the room that was needed to fit the massive Peterson Fluid Systems oil tank. We decided to move it to the inside of the cockpit and make all necessary brackets to hold it steady and at a safe distance from the driver. You never realize how much goes into certain systems like these until you are in the middle of it. The dry sump kit required massive, -16AN lines to be ran throughout the engine bay and back into the interior to ensure proper ventilation and oil supply. That room I had mentioned previously, ran out very quickly.
Previously, George's Corvette had two, straight pipes with turn-down style tips off of the headers. This exhaust posed a potential problem since it was adding extra pressure underneath the chassis. When you have a car going 200mph and above, any extra air under the car could cause in unwanted lift which could lead to some very nasty results. We kept it simple by rebuilding the exhaust to be 2, full length pipes that exited the rear of the vehicle. Now all those unwanted gases act as a extra propulsion making the car go faster... just kidding, although it does help with overall flow and cuts down on lift. Driver safety is always a number one concern, so to go along with the exhaust, we added in a roll-over kill switch. Not that a rollover is ever planned, but if it does happen, preparations will have been made.
Now that the tedious projects are completed, we get to move along to the more entertaining job, the AEM CD-7 installation. Previously this car was using an MSD Racepak for its data display. The system worked, but was not something that made you smile every time it turns on. With the release of the CD-7, this was a perfect car to try it out on as this car currently is on an AEM Infinity ECU. This dash was as "plug & play" as it comes. A four pin deutsch connector plugged right into our custom harness for the AEM Net provision. Not only does the CD-7 give the user a full display of every function that the ECU monitors, it is completely customized to the end users specifications and desires. Plus, you can add in your teams logo to the startup screen, WIN! As we were running low on time before this years event, we kept it pretty basic, monitoring the important sensors and the appropriate warning lights so George can see if anything is going wrong.
The last piece of the puzzle before getting this beast back on the dyno for finishing touches was the intake. Logan Kirk fabricated a "Twin-take" to George's request. It filled the forward part of the radiator nicely and brings in far more air than the factory style intake. Once completed, we moved fuel lines around, cleaned up some wiring and called it a day!
Finally completed, it is time to get this Corvette back on the dyno, touch up some things and get it ready to head out to Bonneville!
With the small changes to the intake and exhaust we saw an increase of roughly 60 wheel horsepower and about 50 pound feet of torque. Overall we are very impressed with the efficiency and power output of this motor. And since this post took me so long to complete, Bonneville has come and gone. Unfortunately, the salt was very poor this year and George was unable to put down a solid pass. Due to the soft salt conditions, George and his Corvette experienced a flat spin going 206mph at mile marker 5. But the good news is, he is okay, the car performed well, and it left intact. Now we wait until next year, and go hunt down the record yet again!
Details on George's C5 Corvette
- 434ci LSX Block 4.160" Bore
- Gibtec 15.1:1cr Billet Pistons
- Carillo H-Beam Rods
- Winberg 4.00" Stroke Billet Crankshaft
- Jesel Valvetrain & Manton Pushrods
- Competition Cams Custom Spec Camshaft
- GM Performance LSX Cylinder Heads
- Hogan's Sheet Metal Intake Manifold with 102mm Throttlebody
- American Racing 2"x 3"Headers
- Daily Engineering 3 Stage Dry Sump
- Machine Work Performed by Madcap Racing Engines
- Engine spec'd & assembled by Lucas Guadagni
- Lazarus Race Cars built Roll Cage
- Lazarus Race Cars built Parachute assembly
- Lazarus Race Cars Full Lexan windshield, hatch and doors
- Full Fire Supression system
- Custom chassis weights (approximate total weight with driver 5500lbs)
- AEM 708 Infinity ECU Calibrated by Lucas Guadagni
- AEM CD-7L Dash
- Rogue Racing Engine Harness