We know, we know. A car like this-a perfect, single turbo, 1,500hp, 8-second, record holding Z06-is almost so awesome that it becomes unfair. Depending on your style, a car like this can almost be too much, something that seems smug and obnoxious. I mean, seriously, how much can you spend on a new Z06 to go racing? For most of us guys who are just happy to afford a set of heads or a new camshaft, seeing six figures worth of technology blast down the track or on the pages of a magazine is something we find hard to relate to. In all honesty, I almost felt the same way when I first laid eyes on Mark Carlyle's '07 Z06. Yeah, yeah, I thought to myself, another rich guy with too much money, no driving skill, and a fancy team of mechanics doing his bidding . . . big deal.
As for the car itself, it is as you would expect-perfect in every way. Under the hood is a Livernois-built 427ci LSX, a gigantic GT55R turbo, and enough IPS Motorsports custom plumbing to making Mario jealous. The drivetrain is similar, with an RPM Transmissions TH400 backing the monster motor, an upgraded Z06 rear transferring power to the tires, and a beefed up suspension with a set of sticky drag radials wrapped around a set of Weld Racing Alumistar wheels. In a nutshell, Mark's Z06 looks like something you would build with an unlimited budget. And even then, the end result is better than you could imagine.
Of course, remember that old saying, "never judge a book by its cover?" Well friends, this is one of those classic examples, a car and owner that remind us to never jump to conclusions. For me, I learned this lesson twice during my time with Mark, and honestly, it is something we should always try to remember. You see this Z06, while expensive to build, doesn't represent some fan-boy's dream car. In reality, Mark's Z06, which he still drives to school to pick up his children, represents a lifetime worth of all-GM love. Don't believe it? How about the fact that Mark has owned, at one time or another, over seven F-bodies, including a '67, '79, and '99 Firebird. He has also owned several Camaros, including a new 2010, which he claims is "stock as far as everybody knows" and a couple of regular GM trucks.
However, anyone can own a bunch of cool cars. What does qualify Mark, however, is his attitude and his sense of humble pride and dedication to the sport of drag racing. "I would like to say special thanks to IPS Motorsports. My crew, Tom Willing, Eric Sgambellone, and Mike Niehaus, for traveling to the races, working in the rain, heat, or whatever to keep the car going, and supporting me from round to round." And believe it or not, Mark's crew doesn't bring any fancy tools to the track; in fact, when we caught up with Mark at the LSX Shootout, his crew had little more than a small toolbox, some off-brand hand tools, and a case of yellow Gatorade-these guys are hardcore!
And support the effort they do, as this car started as a completely stock '07 Z06. As you may expect, Mark began his journey like many others, racing at the track with his stock Corvette and slowly making some changes. It took a couple of years to really get going, but it wasn't until a little friendly competition began, right here in the pages of GMHTP, that Mark decided to turn up the juice. With a modified APS twin-turbo kit, Mark ran "a 9.21 at 158. At the time, we were the fastest C5/C6 in the world, until we were beaten by a past feature car of yours ("The Face of Evil," March '10 issue). That did nothing but fuel our desire to go faster."