With Halloween only a day away, seven forced induction LS1s arrived bright and early at Englishtown Raceway Park for a full day of drag racing mayhem, Jersey-style. These 9- and 10-second ghouls and goblins hoped to take advantage of a sticky track and cool autumn air to surpass even their own best times. Unlike other shootouts, the rules were pretty much open to any LT1 or LS1-powered GM vehicle capable of running between 9.00 and 10.99 [equipped with some form of forced induction] in the hopes of bringing some badass rides out of the wood work. The result was a varied field of competitors and some damn impressive timeslips. Follow along to see which power adder of choice made history and which ones ended up being history.
As promised, the air was cool and dry while the track was warm and sticky thanks to mid 40- to low 50-degree weather and plenty of sunshine. The Englishtown staff did a great job in prepping the track, knowing the potential of some of these cars. And in return the shootout participants rewarded them by not oiling or watering down the track at any point during the day. Though the day was not without its mishaps, common sense prevailed and safety was kept a top priority. One such example was Chad Smith's stock cube nitrous Camaro, which managed to shoot across the line for the fastest e.t. of the day despite having several issues. The first run of the day had to be aborted due to a solenoid malfunction, which caused the nitrous mixture to go way rich because of excess bottle pressure. On the second run Chad forgot to lock the converter at mid track and the LS1 ran out of rpm by the end of the track, hitting the rev limiter as he went through the traps. On the third and final run, he heard a noise in the motor at the top of the track and shut down near the 1,000-foot mark despite still having good oil pressure. As it turns out he had blown a head gasket, and there was little danger of oiling down the track or causing further damage. Unfortunately he didn't manage to set any new records, but it was a good showing and he was pleased nonetheless.
Mike Romain got his mechanical malfunctions out of the way before the shootout, blowing up a torque converter a week prior. He marched on with a borrowed converter, which unfortunately was a bit too tight for the PTE 76mm turbo, making it difficult to build boost at the line. This caused his short times to be off by as much as a full tenth, though he was also running de-tuned on just pump gas throughout the day. Mike's Vette is a true daily driver, but normally runs on either race gas or pump gas mixed with methanol injection such as he did when setting his previous best times with a 388-cube motor. His 140-plus-mph trap speeds indicate that there's plenty more in the current combination.Despite a good track prep, Laura Bello was having some traction issues most of the day in her Trans Am. After borrowing a set of Hoosier drag radials from Wes Daniels and not only setting a new best 60 foot, but also a new best e.t., it was apparent something was awry with the slicks. Laura's first nine-second pass unfortunately came too late in the day (as the sunlight was fading), and she tried to best this effort before we were forced to wrap things up, but the motor was still heat soaked from the last run. Fortunately she was more than satisfied with making her first 9-second pass and finishing the race season without breaking anything--a welcome change from years past.
Things didn't go quite as well for Wes Daniels as he would have hoped, but the day was far from a total catastrophe. His Camaro had no problem hooking, and in fact it probably bit a little too hard. The posi was shot after three runs causing a premature end to the day, but he did manage to clip off a new best e.t. on his first run off the trailer (by nearly 4 tenths). The second run saw some sort of transmission malfunction as the manual-shift 4L80E went directly from first to third according to the data logger, adding just under two tenths to the e.t. On the last run the fuel jets on the nitrous system were upped a few sizes for fear of going lean. Meanwhile, a degree and a half of timing was added, but the first run was not to be topped.
With E-town's stringent noise requirements Noel Jusino (as well as many other contestants) was forced to switch to a more restrictive exhaust system than he normally runs on his WS6 TA. In an attempt to equal his previous best, he stepped up his nitrous from 75 hp to 150 hp and pulled out 3 degrees of timing. This made little change in the e.t., and, in fact, actually caused a slower trap speed due to a misfire. That finalized the day for Noel, who later learned that he melted three spark plugs.
Though he was a great sport about it, Tom Sabolevsky was perhaps the most disappointed of the shootout entrants. A failing posi in his Vette's IRS caused severely lacking short times--down from 1.49 to a best of 1.57. Most runs, however, were in the 1.60s or higher, as the clutch packs gave out and allowed traction to only one wheel. Throughout the day Tom tried going down a half pound from his usual 11 psi in the ET Streets and then went up to 12 psi, which seemed to help overall traction. Due to the heat and power level of his Vette, quite a few times Tom was also driving through the clutch. In fact, his best 60-foot time came on a run that the clutch was slipping out of second and third gear. A 129mph trap speed, and later a 132mph with Dave from Cartek manning the wheel, indicate that there certainly is plenty of power in the top end. Tom says he may be converting his Vette to an automatic to avoid this problem in the future.
Owner: Chad Smith
As the owner and operator of Nightmare Motorsports, Chad was more than happy to come out and show what he's capable of. His little-known shop has been open for the past three years specializing in late model GM EFIs, and he hopes to prove he can hang with the big guns. With 15 years of racing experience, this native of Frederick, Maryland, has a shot with his black 2000 Camaro. It marks the fifth 4th Gen he has owned, including two LT1s and two LS1s. The 32-year old loves his new school toys (even diesels), but he hasn't forgot about his 2nd and 3rd Gen roots.
Owner: Mike Romain
One look at Mike's hulking mass and it will come as no surprise that he's a professional bodyguard (he has worked for Sylvester Stallone for 12 years). He's also a stuntman and actor in over 15 feature films. His FRC C5 is no slouch either, laying claim to the first C5 to run 9s with three different combinations (410ci with nitrous, 441ci naturally aspirated, 388ci turbo); first rear mounted turbo to run 9s; and first to run 9s on motor on IRS without C5R heads. His latest combo now features a Cartek-built turbocharged 427, which is still being dialed in.
Owner: Laura Bello
Laura is a relative newcomer to drag racing. Her addiction to speed began four years ago shortly after purchasing her 2002 Trans Am brand new. The Bernville, Pennsylvania, native is a grandmother of two, believe it or not, and works at a library--an unlikely environment to find someone with a 9-second nitrous musclecar.
Owner: Wes Daniels
In this group, Wes had the fewest years of experience under his belt (three), but you wouldn't know it to look at his low 10-second timeslips. When asked where he purchased the Z28, Wes made no bones about the fact that he stole it from his wife and then implanted a nitrous-enhanced ARE 347. The former Marine sergeant works for a consulting firm that is currently under contract with the government. This is how he supports his extremely fast lifestyle.
Owner: Noel Jusino
With 15 years of racing under his belt, Noel was the seasoned veteran of the group. He first got his start with a 1989 GTA, but has since moved on to this rare SOM WS6. Aside from tuning and building the motor, virtually all of the work was done by Noel. Through various sets of gears and tire combinations, his WS6 has been known to run at least 11.50 on motor--and possibly high 10s with the latest combination. Thankfully the native of Wallkill, New York, also has a healthy dose of nitrous to supplement the stock bottom end LS1. Much respect goes to Noel as being one of only two in the shootout to row his own gears.
OWNER: Thomas Sabolevsky
Tom is a resident of Red Bank, New Jersey, and a former motocross racer. When he's not flying his Vette down the 1320 at E-town in the East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge, he pilots private planes in his spare time. He's been racing for four years, ever since realizing his dream of owning a Vette. Despite its low mileage Tom has driven the C5 as far as Toronto, Canada, for the Dream Car Garage Party.
This shootout accomplished exactly what we hoped when we set it up: to attract the full gamut of modifications to run impressive times. Perhaps the only gripe is that, due to some last minute cancellations, there was no representation from the LT1 crowd. But we did manage to attract Chad Smith's LS1 racecar, which may very well set a new stock cube F-body record come next race season. On paper he had probably the largest advantage coming into the shootout, so it wasn't much of a surprise that he wound up having the fastest e.t. despite blowing a head gasket. Mike Romain's Vette wasn't far behind though, and with methanol injection and the right torque converter he could have surpassed Chad. Unlike every other contestant besides Tom Sabolevsky, Mike actually drove his car to and from the shootout. So consider that in-and-of-itself a moral victory, even though they were NJ locals. Laura Bello and Wes Daniels should also be commended for setting new personal bests, and some darn fast e.t.'s. These full weight F-bodies tipped the scales at 3,500 or over with driver, and they still managed low tens and high nines with stock cubes.
Noel Jusino embodied the spirit of this shootout the most, perhaps, for laying it all on the line for the sake of your reading pleasure. In an effort to stay competitive he upped the nitrous to an untested quantity and paid the price. To those not regularly involved with 9 and 10-second capable cars it may seem like this shootout had nothing but problems given how many people broke. However, this is an inevitable phenomenon with cars this fast and powerful (especially forced induction motors). It wasn't that the drivers were racing with reckless abandon--there were no wrecks or massive cleanups on the track. This is a testament to the quality of character displayed by the shootout entrants, the quality of the track prep, and also a little bit of luck. That being said, it was truly my pleasure to host such a great group of guys and gals.
GMHTP would like to thank all of the shootout entrants and the staff at Englishtown Raceway Park for their hard work in making this shootout a success.