I hadn't known Travis Wester for longer than 20 minutes and he was already attempting to herd goats. Literally, Travis had jumped over a fence and was herding a group of goats towards his GTO, all so I could take a picture. To some people, Travis may seem insane, but here at GMHTP, we would call him dedicated, passionate, and a little bit crazy, which is why Travis is the perfect feature car owner. Of course, the fact that Travis owns and operates the first and only 8-second IRS GTO in the country doesn't hurt his case, but mainly he gets our vote for being so cool.
In his role as an actual goat herder, Travis wasn't very good (sorry Travis), but when it comes to the real car, Travis is the man. As a major force behind the IRS revolution and one of the fastest and most important faces in the GTO game, we're talking about someone who really cares about this hobby and its racers, a guy who almost singlehandedly puts on the East Coast Shootout every year and acts as a major contributor to the late-model GTO community. But, funny enough, the GTO was actually supposed to be a Monte Carlo.
"My first car was an '87 Monte Carlo. When the new model Monte Carlo SS came out in 2005, I wanted one." After doing some quick research, Travis stopped by his local dealer to check out a new Monte, only to be crushed when he found out it was front-wheel drive. "I didn't want a front-wheel-drive car, so the dealer asked me to test drive a GTO. Little did I know what I was in for." Within a month, Travis was already looking at little mods like cold air intakes and exhausts. "From there, it was downhill." Eventually, Travis would end up with a ProCharger P-1SC and fate would align him with Thomas Hendrix, Nick Williams, and Bob Wilkinson-the crew that would eventually put Travis' GTO in the history books.
"I took the car to Pinks All Out in Bristol, Tennessee, in 2007. I missed the field by .1 seconds, running 10.8s and Rich picking a 10.7-second class. My wife's mother said 'You need to go that fast!' That was all I needed and, coming from my mother-in-law, my wife was obligated to go along with it." Valid point, right? For Travis, however, that tenth of a second step became something much more. "Anyone that knows me well knows that I don't do things a little at a time." For those of you who are just getting on board, here is what that meant.
First, Travis decided to ditch his stock LS2 and ProCharger P-1SC for a new LS7 block and F-1C supercharger, a move that would end up costing him quite a bit of time and money, as the built LS7 lived for exactly one race before melting a piston. "When the piston broke, it scarred up the cylinder walls and I didn't want to make them any thinner than they already were." Wondering what has more potential than the LS7 and still comfortable at 427 ci? For Travis, the answer was a new World Products Warhawk block, which he stuffed with only the best parts from Lunati and CP Pistons. With the new bottom end, Travis also tweaked the top, adding a set of ETP LS7 cylinder heads, Jesel rockers, and a new Flowtech Inductions camshaft before stuffing the heart back into his beloved GTO.
With the new engine in place, Travis took the opportunity to upgrade the supercharger again, this time going with the world-renowned F-1R head-unit, a beast capable of feeding enough air to make well over 1,000 rwhp. Never one to leave well enough alone, the call was made to a man named Scott Grant, who would serve as the GTO's new lead fabricator. First up, Scott revised the ProCharger intake piping and installed a new custom Bell intercooler, which helps Travis keep air temperature under control, even during street driving on 20 pounds of boost. Secondly, after Travis re-installed his RPM Transmissions 4L80E, FTI converter and Hendrix Engineering 8.8 rear end, the two got to work on narrowing the rear end, a bold move in the GTO world. "Scott custom built me a rear end that would allow me to fit a 28x10.5 tire under the Goat, and thanks to that, we were able to run a 5.96-second eighth-mile on the second ever shakedown pass."
With the 5.96, Travis knew the 8s weren't far away. Wait . . . 8s? We thought Travis' mother-in-law told him to run 10.7s-we don't remember anything about running 8s! "Two years ago Thomas Hendrix told me that the car could go 8s with a little tweaking and I thought he was nuts. Two years later and a little more than a little tweaking, I can say he was right. I would have never believed it."
And you may not either, but Travis has the time slips to back him up, running a fastest ever pass of 8.95 at 154.2 mph on an amazing 1.39-second 60-foot, making him the first and only 8-second independent rear end GTO in the country. "Racing is pretty easy too. Just mash the gas, hold the hell on, and think 'this will only take a second or eight.'" Not only is he fast, Travis is humble, and included a two-paragraph letter thanking everyone involved in his build, from his close friends to his suppliers and even his mother-in-law! And that, along with the record-breaking runs, is what makes this car so special. In the coming year, we expect to see this GTO go even faster. And if you happen to live near North Carolina, you may even see Travis cruising around town, as he plans to do "a lot more street driving" in the future. How's that for the king of the Goats-taking it back to the streets in an 8-second rocket!
Car: 2005 Pontiac GTO
Owner: Travis Wester
Block: World Products Warhawk, 427 cid
Compression ratio: 10.3:1
Heads: ET Performance LS7, 2.20 intake, 1.60 exhaust valves
Cam: Flowtech custom hydraulic roller, 240/254 duration at .050, .650/.650-inch lift, 115 LSA
Rocker arms: Jesel 1.7 ratio
Pistons: CP, forged
Rings: Seal Pro
Crankshaft: Lunati, forged
Rods: Lunati, forged
Throttle body: Stock LS2, 90mm
Fuel injectors: 96 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Walbro, twin in-tank
Ignition: Stock coil-near-plug, Denso IT27
Engine management: Stock (E40 ECM), tuned by Nick Williams
Power Adder: Procharger F-1R
Boost: 20 psi
Intercooler: Bell custom air-to-air
Exhaust system: American Racing 17/8-inch long-tube headers, off-road 3-inch mid-pipes, 3-inch Borla XR1 mufflers
Transmission: 4L80E, built by RPM Transmissions
Torque Converter: FTI
Driveshaft: Driveshaft Shop 1-piece
Front suspension: Pedders 1-inch lift springs, stock shocks, bushings, control arms, removed sway bar
Rear suspension: Pedders drag springs, Koni shocks, BMR drag bags, stock sway bar, BMR subframe connectors
Rear end: Hendrix Engineering 8.8-inch IRS, 3.55 gear, 31-spline axles, Detroit TrueTrac differential
Brakes: DBA rotors, stock calipers Wheels: Hendrix Engineering 15x4.5 front, 15x10 rear
Front tires: Hoosier 26x4.5
Rear tires: Mickey Thompson ET Drag 28x10.5
Fuel octane: 116 (Q16) with methanol injection
Best ET/mph: 8.95/154
Best 60-ft. time: 1.39
Current mileage: 19,145