While Quarter-Mile timeslips suffice for many Corvette enthusiasts, there's a new type of hobbyist who firmly believes that 1,320 linear feet is far too short a distance to experience the true performance potential of these world-class sports cars. These men and women are called "runway racers," and they rent out deserted, retired, or private airfields to push their Corvettes to the limits-and beyond.
Joel Feingold, a vending-machine-route owner in Mar Vista, California, is one of these new-breed, high-speed warriors. He owns a custom-painted '98 Ruby Pearl Mica Corvette, which he ordered new with the sole intent of transforming it into an 850hp supercar-and taking on every exotic in Southern California.
After subjecting his C5 to the mods necessary to more than double its horsepower (a 414ci LS3 stroker built by QMP Racing Engines; a Paxton Novi 2000 supercharger set to 15 psi; a custom, oversized air-to-water aftercooler with two heat exchangers; an Alky Control meth-injection kit; and a set of Tony Mamo custom-ported AFR 225 heads), Feingold decided it was time to test his Vette's upper limits. "I remember the first time I saw the needle cross 180 mph," he says. "It was definitely something I wanted to do again and again. It was probably not too long after that first time that I started thinking of how and where I could do it and minimize risk factors."
It took weeks of calling around and chasing leads in Southern California before Feingold found the perfect setting: the 2.3-mile-long, 200-foot-wide main runway at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. "There are not many safe places to go 190 mph on the street or track, so what better place to go wide-open-throttle in a Corvette than an airfield runway?" he says. "It would be long enough to get up to speed and still have a safe distance to slow down, and wide enough for at least two cars to comfortably run side by side."
His plan was to video a small group of Corvettes and exotics on the runway, then put posts on Internet forums to see if anybody else was daring enough to join in. Eventually, a list of cars came together, including six Corvettes and a bevy of exotics whose owners were brave enough to take on Chevy's finest. (See the accompanying chart for a list of all the cars, horsepower ratings, and terminal velocities.)
On May 29, 2009, the cars assembled at Mojave, along with a Hollywood video crew led by Craig Lieberman of ImaginateMEDIA. "Craig's job was to place cameras on the cars and bikes, and at different spots on the runway, then put it all together into a compelling story on a DVD," Feingold says. "Filming cars was not only a love of his, but something he excels at. He had done quite a bit of work on some of the Fast and the Furious films, and had a real eye for this sort of thing,"
The races were all filmed and include the blown '98 against a Ford GT40, a Ferrari Scuderia, and a Ferrari Enzo; a 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 against a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, the GT40, and an '07 Z06; an '08 coupe against an '08 Z06; an '05 convertible against an '08 BMW M6; a supercharged '03 Z06 against a Ferrari 430; and much, much, more. To document terminal velocities, a trained radar-gun operator clocked the vehicles at somewhere between three-quarters and one mile on the runway racetrack.
From 16 cameras and more than 20 hours of total footage, ImaginateMEDIA produced the approximately one-hour high-definition DVD, appropriately titled Runway Titans Wide Open Throttle. The video features all six Corvettes and the exotics in scene after scene of action-filled runway racing. It also showcases a handful or two of gorgeous non-automotive eye candy, thanks to the Torco Racing Fuel models, furnished courtesy of www.modelmayhem.com.
"I was extremely happy with the way all the participants performed, especially the Corvettes, [which held] their own against the much more expensive exotics. Craig Lieberman did an outstanding job from start to finish, and the results are amazing," Feingold says.
While Feingold is certainly not the first to put together a group of fast cars and race them down an airfield runway, he may have started a trend that is infinitely safer than the alternative for most, which is the street. The advantages of going wide-open-throttle down a 2.3-mile runway are huge: no other cars or cross traffic, no traffic lights or turns, and no worry about law enforcement. So, could these high-speed blasts down empty airstrips be the drag races of the future? If Joel Feingold has his way, we wouldn't be surprised.
Runway Titans Wide Open Throttle retails for $11.95 is available by visiting www.jbsblownc5.net. And be sure to pick up future issues of VETTE for information on Runway Titans Wide Open Throttle, Take 2, in which 10 of the best tuner-modified Corvettes on the West Coast go up against 10 exotics in a no-holds-barred runway shootout.