Red is a color of many meanings. It is perhaps the most primal of colors, thought by Neolithic hunters to hold life-giving powers. In fact, various rituals were performed to extract those powers, including painting animals with red ochre or iron oxide. Red is also believed to be the first color perceived by man, a theory demonstrated by those with temporary color blindness first recognizing red upon restoration of their sight. In contemporary western society, we associate red with power, danger, and intense passion. And so it is no coincidence that without these three things, Eric Piner and his red SS would not be standing on the threshold of possibly becoming the fastest nitrous-powered LS1 F-body in the country.
This 39-year-old consulting firm owner has his sights set on a much more modest goal, though: to see if he can keep his 408 alive as he drops into the 8-second zone. Although it seems no sweat for a Gen III/IV to break into the 7s, or even the 6s, with a turbo or supercharger, nitrous is an entirely different animal. The measly four-bolt head-bolt pattern can hardly keep up with the immense cylinder pressure produced by the massive injection of laughing gas, so only a handful of nitrous cars have ever managed to run 8s. Fortunately, Eric has an ace up his sleeve. He enlisted the help of East Side Performance, who built three of the top nitrous LS1s to date. Ironically, they also indirectly damaged his last 408-ci motor, as he hurt it trying to keep pace with their car. But in the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" spirit, Eric is looking forward. This time, East Side's build will hopefully prove more successful in keeping the heads from lifting off the 408-cube iron block.
Among other methods, East Side employs Wheel to Wheel Powertrain 1/2-inch head studs to keep the "out of the box" AFR 225-cc heads clamped to the .030 over-bored and 4.00-inch stroked LQ9 iron. A Lunati forged crank and Pro Mod billet rods provide the extended displacement, giving life to a set of Diamond forged nitrous pistons. For the sake of retaining some semblance of streetability on the registered and insured street car, Eric went with a custom COMP Cams XE-R hydraulic roller, measuring 238/248 duration and .605/.615-inch lift. COMP Cams' hardened pushrods enact the roller cam's demands on Crane 1.7 roller rockers and AFR springs, to actuate 2.08 and 1.60 stainless valves. Connecting the exhaust runners to the atmosphere are Kooks 1 7/8- to 2-inch stepped long tube race headers, with 3.5-inch collectors and 3.5-inch inlet Kooks Quad Core mufflers. Meanwhile, the intake ports have the benefit of an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold, a fabricated aluminum elbow and intake funnel from IntakeElbows.com, and a 90mm throttle body from Geoff Skorupa's Next Level Performance.
In addition to fabricating the throttle body, Geoff Skorupa also built the stand-alone nitrous fuel system, with a Barry Grant low-pressure fuel pump to supply copious amounts of C16 to the Nitrous Express CF solenoids. The current direct port system was a joint effort between Rick Stancik of NX (who made the plenum-mounted spray bars for a second stage of nitrous), Nitro Dave (who plumbed the Edelbrock intake), and East Side (who put the rest of the direct port kit together). The thirsty 408 also uses 42-pound Ford squirters to hose down the combustion chambers, with a Walbro 255lph pump and an Aeromotive regulator establishing 58 psi of pressure. The LS1's efficient coil on plug ignition required no modification, aside from a set of colder NGK Racing plugs. With Ken Quartuccio of East Side stroking the keys on the tune, Eric should be able to hold it together for quite a few 8-second passes. The current setup has his SS putting out around 800 horsepower at the wheels on juice.
Having this kind of power makes Eric glad he enlisted the help of Madman & Co Racing to set up his suspension. Thanks to Madman, Eric was dragging his red SS's bumper in spectacular fashion, even when he had a stock short-block--in fact, he managed to crack the oil pan at an LS1Tech race in Atlanta. Since then, he has installed Madman SYA and wheelie bars to help prevent further damage. The remarkable weight transfer is enabled by QA1 coil-overs, Competition Engineering travel limiters, BMR A-arms and K-member, and a removed sway bar up front. The rear is planted with the help of stock springs, QA1 shocks, a Spohn torque arm, BMR Panhard bar, lower control arms, subframe connectors, and a Wolfe antiroll bar. The chassis is also tied together with a rollcage from Takash Racecraft of Winter Park, Florida.
A Currie 9-inch with an aluminum center section enables high rpm launches on Mickey Thompson 29.5x10.5 slicks, with 35-spline axles and a spool. On his first time out with the new setup, Eric used a 3.70 ratio ring-and-pinion on his 9.13 as a starting point, and has since decided to step up to a higher ratio. No changes need to be made to the Powerglide, which has performed flawlessly since its inception. With barely over 500 rear-wheel-horsepower, Eric was already hitting the 9s, which quickly made a believer out of him despite his initial reluctance. Ted's Transmissions in nearby Ocoee, Florida stuffed the Glide with a TCI manual valve body, transbrake, and plenty of other hi-po goodies. A Neal Chance 4000-stall non-lockup converter puts the LS1 into the powerband before liftoff, and the Glide's gears are grabbed from the Kirkey captain's chair via a B&M Pro Stick. To combat the immense twist from the high doses of nitrous, an Advance Driveline 3-inch steel driveshaft ties together the Currie rear and Powerglide. Other important safety items include an RJS harness, Aerospace Components front and Wilwood rear brakes, and a Stroud parachute.
A VFN Sunoco-style fiberglass hood, painted at a local shop in Connecticut while at East Side Performance's Wallingford shop, is the only addition to the pristine body of Piner's SS. The paint is in nearly the same condition it was when he found the car back in 2003 to be his daily driver and future project car. I'm sure the hardtop and automatic tranny were of much greater importance to Eric than the color; however, its red paint has since become quite symbolic of the power, danger, and intense nature of his race car. Hopefully it will also become symbolic according to Asian tradition, as a sign of good luck.