Given that this feature centers around a successful female racer, one could probably waste a couple of paragraphs going on about women in drag racing or how women like Ashley Force Hood, Melanie Troxel, or Shirley Muldowney have spent years clearing the way for such racers. But we're not going to do any of that. You see, this feature isn't just about a woman who races; it is about a badass named Melissa Fiorello and the killer 10-second GTO she drives. And no, she doesn't just meander down the track on test and tune nights. Melissa actively bracket races her '04 GTO in several different series with a fair amount of success. Melissa has raced with Pinks All Out, the NSCA, and even qualified #1 at the Buckeye State Nationals. Still not impressed? How about the fact that Melissa was the first bolt-on LS1 GTO to break into the 11s and she now currently runs 10.89 at 122 mph using a pair of ported (243 casting) LS6 heads and a mild camshaft. Yeah, we told you Melissa was a badass.
"I strongly believe that in order to race a car well, you must first understand how it works. The best way to do that is by getting my hands dirty and cut up while wrenching on it side by side with Al. I may get a lot of broken nails and busted knuckles, but gaining the knowledge in return is well worth the sacrifice." And sacrifice she has. Believe it or not this GTO started out as a bone stock zero mile car, which Melissa found at a dealer after outgrowing her old '98 Grand Prix GTP. "Coming from a V-6, supercharged car, I didn't have many comparable options. Mustang? Nope. Vette? No way. GTO? Hmmm ... I wasn't too sure how I felt about the new incarnation of the Goat, but my husband suggested I consider it, and the rest is history."
And while Melissa's GTO has seen years worth of progress, the most interesting setup is the current one, which through careful modification has rocketed her GTO consistently into the 10-second zone. In reality, Melissa uses a fairly simple combination, with all of the hard breathing modifications sitting atop a stock LS1 short-block sans the stock camshaft, which has been replaced by a top-secret custom hydraulic roller. In fact, even the 243-casting cylinder heads are from GM, although they were ported and polished by Kaltech Tuning and Performance in Setauket, New York, prior to Melissa and Al bolting them onto the engine. Sitting atop the heads is a ported FAST 92mm intake manifold stuffed with eight 48-lb/hr injectors, which breathes through a 90mm Nick Williams throttle body and a Svede cold-air intake. No MAF here, Melissa and Kaltech Tuning ditched it to run the stock PCM in speed density mode, which makes the car deadly consistent on the track. After combustion, the spent gasses travel out a pair of Kooks 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers into a custom Mufflex-built 3-inch true dual exhaust system and directly out the back of her Torrid Red GTO.
Expecting some sort of exotic power-adder or another page worth of pricey modifications? You won't find it here, it seems Melissa doesn't need any more horsepower to run the number. And if you were impressed by the stock short-block you will be glad to know that Melissa still runs the stock 4L60E automatic transmission, which is spun by a Circle D Specialties 4C Plus torque converter and cooled by a Derale transmission cooler. As Melissa leaves the line, power is sent down a Drive Shaft Shop one-piece driveshaft to a-you guessed it-stock IRS housing that has had the stock gears exchanged for a much more aggressive Difftech 3.91 ring and pinion. The only other fortifying modifications are a pair of '05 GTO axles, which were upgraded with G-Force billet cages. For traction, Melissa relies upon a pair of 28x10.5 Hoosier slicks, which are wrapped around two 15x8 Holeshot wheels.