For many Corvette enthusiasts, there's nothing quite like the thrill of pulling back the car cover, dropping the top, and taking a relaxed cruise in a treasured, factory-stock car. For others, it takes a medium-speed blast through a parking lot full of orange cones to get their blood pumping. And then, there are guys like Peter Nakhla, who are only happy when the rear quarters are covered in burnt rubber, the sticky race tires are halfway melted into the pavement, and the call to pit road is crackling over the PA. These guys push their cars to the very edge every time they get behind the wheel, and love them or hate them, they help define the outer limits of Corvette performance for the rest of us.
If you're going to be that kind of Corvette hooligan, what better platform is there than a C6 ZR1? Carbon brakes, a 6.2-liter supercharged engine, a race-ready driveline, and enough meat stuffed under the widened rear quarters to provide ample traction in almost any situation make the ZR1 one formidable performer. Nakhla actually stepped up to the flagship Vette after heavily modifying a C6 Z06, the car that first hooked him on big Corvette power and on-track thrills. But whereas the latter car made 525 rear-wheel horsepower with a couple of well-planned modifications, the ZR1 was putting down 535 rwhp as delivered from Bowling Green. Which should have been more than enough, if Nakhla wasn't slightly insane. "I drove the car till about 1,000 miles, and I was definitely bored with the power, so it was time to start the modding adventures," he notes.
First up he plucked the low-hanging fruit, adding an upper supercharger pulley from Lingenfelter, a Bassani exhaust system borrowed from his outgoing Z06, and a custom dyno tune from Mike Carnahan at Vengeance PCM. Those three simple modifications were enough to boost output to a staggering 623 rwhp and 644 rwtq, "at which point I went directly to the strip," says Nakhla. The resulting 11.23-second quarter-mile pass at 129.19 mph on the stock street tires wasn't quite fast enough, so the next step was to add a little bit of methanol injection. After correcting a belt-slip issue via a couple of pulley modifications, the LS9—now ingesting almost 16 psi of double-cooled boost—pumped out 641 rwhp and 685 rwtq.
"At this point it was time to throw some turns at her," says Nakhla, who went directly to Talladega Gran Prix Raceway in Oxford, Alabama, to see what his boosted ZR1 would run around the tight track. "The car was fast; there was no doubting that. I had a Z06 owner riding with me, and coming down the back straight, I was starting to push it. I braked, and there was nothing. I pushed harder, and still nothing, and we were quickly approaching a 90-degree turn. So I…started to pump them. Well, they slightly came back."
Nakhla managed to keep the ZR1 out of the wall, but several sessions later, "I had another C6 owner riding with me when alarms and lights started going off everywhere," he says. "Temps were out of control, and the car was telling me to kill the A/C, even though it was already off. I shifted up to Sixth and let her cool. The rest of the day, I had to be a gear or two higher to keep temps in control."
That overheating issue wasn't acceptable in this hard-charging Vette, which meant Nakhla and Vengeance Racing needed to come up with thermal-management game plan. Up top, they chose to ditch the factory hood "window" for an ACS Composites vent system, which would pull heat from the supercharger out of the engine bay. Next, Vengeance installed one of its proprietary ZR1 heat-exchanger systems, which would allow the supercharger's coolant to control temperatures better under heavy-throttle conditions. Finally, Nakhla changed out all of the fluids in the ZR1, adding Redline ATF to the transmission, Castrol SRF to the clutch and brake systems, and Water Wetter to the newly super-cooled intercooler system. The exhaust manifolds were even ensconced in DEI Titanium heat wrap, after which Nakhla was ready for two days of abuse at Road Atlanta. "The car performed great!" he reports.
At this point you might be wondering what else could possibly be done to this beast of a ZR1? Well, how about a little bit of nitrous oxide, just for good measure? And by a little bit, we mean a lot. And by a lot, we mean enough to help Nakhla's ZR1 lay down 769 rwhp and a stupefying 1,063 rwtq of torque.
At this point the real question is, is this one of the coolest ZR1s in the country right now, or is Peter Nakhla just a maniac who's trying his best to ruin a perfectly good car? Wherever you stand on the matter, just keep in mind that you'll have to catch him in order to share your opinion.
Good luck with that.
|Owner||Peter Nakhla; Atlanta, Georgia|
|Block||Stock LS9 aluminum|
|Heads||Stock LS9 aluminum|
|Valves||Stock 2.160-in titanium/1.590-in sodium-filled|
|Camshaft||Stock hydraulic roller|
|Rocker Arms||Stock 1.7-ratio|
|Pistons||Stock forged aluminum|
|Crankshaft||Stock forged steel|
|Rods||Stock forged titanium|
|Oil System||Stock dry-sump|
|Fuel Pump||Stock in-tank|
|Power Adders||Stock TVS 2300 supercharger with 2.35-in upper pulley, Nitrous Outlet nitrous system|
|Engine Management||EFI Live tuning by Mike Carnahan, Vengeance PCM|
|Exhaust||Stock manifolds, Bassani 3-in system|
|Transmission||Stock TR6060 six-speed manual|
|Clutch||RPS triple carbon|
|Rearend||Stock with 3.42 gears|
|Brakes||Stock carbon-ceramic, front and rear|
|Wheels||Stock ZR1; 19x10 (front), 20x12 (rear)|
|Tires||Stock Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 ZP; 285/30ZR19 (front), 335/25ZR20 (rear)|