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."
Instead of giving in or remaining happy with his times, Mark dug deep and decided it was time to get serious. "On the long ride home from the Shootout we talked about the changes for the 2010 season and decided it was time to separate the men from the boys. We decided that we would go single turbo, air-to-water, stand-alone and a TH400. The rest was all just semantics really. We knew right then that in 2010 we would be the fastest and quickest IRS Corvette in the world." Normally, the dream and the reality take much longer to accomplish, but for IPS Motorsports, they had the twin turbo setup removed from the car quickly and fabrication was under way.
As we mentioned, the new turbo system was based around a 91mm GT55R turbocharger, which the crew at IPS mounted in the engine bay, to help decrease spool time and increase power output. A custom air-to-water intercooler chills the air, which is forced into a FAST LSXR intake manifold at 21 psi, before dropping into the ETP combustion chambers, which sit atop a Livernois built 427 LSX, stuffed with Callies and Diamond goodies. Behind the bullet sits an RPM Transmissions TH400, which receives over 1,300 lb-ft of torque from a Coan 5,500-stall converter. RPM also upgraded the rear with a set of 3.42 gears and a Quiafe differential, which turn a set of The Drive Shaft Shop axles, all items that are necessary at these ridiculous power levels.
Interestingly, Mark lists two sets of wheels on his tech sheet, and that's because, even though this is an 8-second record breaking race car, he also drives it on the street quite a bit. Which also means Mark has a set of serious brakes on the car, with stock six-piston Z06 front calipers up front providing enough braking power to slow Mark from his 173-mph blasts, even without his parachute opening. "I still pick up the kids from school and drive it around to car shows or out to the local cruise-ins. I could drive it pretty much anywhere I wanted to go. Racing is pretty simple with the RPM TH400. I just pre-stage the car on the first step and bump into the lights, push the transbrake and put my foot to the floor, let go of the button, and hang on." For Mark, the acceleration only lasts 8.15 seconds, making him the fastest late-model Corvette in the country on a factory-style independent rear.
For those still doubting the IRS, consider this: Mark's turbo powered Z06 blisters the first 60-feet in exactly 1.30 seconds, a time made even more remarkable when you consider it was done on a Mickey Thompson drag radial tire. But, that's not the end of it. "For 2011 we are prepared to raise the bar even more. We have decided that the little 91mm turbo won't be enough, so a billet 106mm is being built for us at TiAL right now. Goals for next year include holding on to the records we already set, hitting 2,000 hp and staying streetable, setting the all-time any-car IRS record, and in 2011 we also want to win the LSX Shootout. I have always been a GM enthusiast and I believe that the IRS record belongs at home attached to a GM car . . . I think mine will do."
Bold words? Maybe, but remember who we're talking about. Mark Carlyle is the man to beat going forward in the IRS game, and with his amazing crew, his terrific dedication, and serious work ethic, we wouldn't be at all surprised if the 2011 season is as good to him as 2010 was. Of course, only time will tell . . . for Mark, the number to beat is 8.15 seconds. Do you dare try and line up beside it?
CAR: 2007 Corvette Z06
Owner: Mark Carlyle
Block: LSX, 427 cid
Compression ratio: 9.2:1
Heads: ETP LS7 285cc, 2.20 intake, 1.60 exhaust valves
Cam: Livernois custom hydraulic roller, 236/236 duration at .050, .620/.620-inch lift, 114 LSA
Rocker arms: Stock (modified by Harland Sharp), 1.7 ratio
Pistons: Diamond, forged
Rings: Total Seal
Crankshaft: Callies Magnum, forged
Rods: Callies, forged
Throttle body: FAST 102mm
Fuel injectors: Fuel Injector Clinic 2150cc
Fuel pump: Twin Aeromotive Eliminators
Ignition: Stock coil-near-plug, NGK plugs
Engine management: AEM EMS, tuned by Eric Sgambellone at IPS Motorsports
Exhaust system: Custom stainless steel turbo manifolds, 5-inch downpipe
Turbocharger: Garrett GT55R
Wastegate: Twin TiAL 44
Blow-Off Valve: Twin TiAL Q Boost: 21 psi
Transmission: TH400, built by RPM Transmissions
Converter: Coan 5,500-stall
Driveshaft: The Drive Shaft Shop, aluminum
Front suspension: Stock upper and lower control arms, Pfadt coilovers, removed swaybar
Rear suspension: Stock upper and lower control arms, Pfadt coilovers, Pfadt swaybar
Rear end: Stock IRS, 3.42 gear, The Drive Shaft Shop axles, Quaife differential
Brakes: Stock 6-piston front, ECS spindle kit rear
Wheels: Weld Alumistar 17x4.5 front, 15x10 rear
Front tires: M&H 26x4.5
Rear tires: Mickey Thompson drag radials 325/50/15
Fuel octane: 116 (C16)
Best ET/mph: 8.15/173
Best 60-ft. time: 1.30