Big horsepower is addictive. Once you get a taste, it’s like any other drug where you always want a little more, and you crave the next big hit. Just like most drugs, the quest for more ponies can also prove to be an expensive habit with repeated fixes. For many Corvette owners, the over-the-counter C6 or C7 satisfies their needs; after all, the bang for the buck factor is hard to beat, but the potential rush of the addictive stuff is missed. The Z06, while a little more expensive, will give you a different high and kick things up to the next level. That’s why New Yorker James “Beau” Hurley decided to invest in an ’07 Velocity Yellow C6 Z06. He explains, “At the time, the Z06 was the best power per dollar vehicle available.”
While no stranger to fast cars, before buying the Z06 a 1968 Nova SS with a Pro Street 472-big-block was fulfilling his speed addiction. It was tubbed, blown, and juiced with nitrous. It was also not a car that you would consider user friendly. Beau’s other ride was a warmed-over BMW with some bolt-on performance parts. Bavaria’s finest just couldn’t cut it when it came down to planting serious power to the pavement.
At this point you know Beau dropped the cash on a Z06, but you might be wondering when he purchased it. It was in 2007, and it was new, and yes, he did void his warranty before the new-car smell evaporated. In a matter of weeks after bringing the Z06 home, the first wave of upgrades took place. He added a forced-air intake, exhaust, and a tune to try and increase the already respectable 505 hp being pumped out of the stock LS7. “There was a noticeable increase with the mods, but it wasn’t enough,” he points out.
Since he was after more power, uncorking it from the existing mill meant playing with some forced induction. Using the LS7 as the starting point, he consulted with Dave Kogan, the owner of Kogan Motorsports in Long Island, New York, as to what direction to take. The end result was a high-compression mill running a Vortech Si trim blower on low boost utilizing the stock block and heads. While it made respectable gains, Beau still wasn’t satisfied.
Undaunted in his conviction that a blown engine was the way to go, he embarked in a different direction. With the high-compression/low-boost combination not stacking up, reversing that recipe seemed like the right approach. Beau once again employed the services of Kogan Motorsports to handle all the machine work and some guidance.
After a fair amount of research and a wealth of knowledge gained from the previous attempt, the second effort started with an ERL Performance LS Superdeck six-bolt block with 1/2-inch ARP head studs, Callies stroker crank, Wiseco forged pistons, Compstar connecting rods, CNC-ported All Pro LS7 Retro heads, and an All Pro high-rise port-matched manifold, while the bumpstick was a custom-made piece by Kogan Motorsports. Using a Vortech Billet YSi blower assisted by an Alkycontrol Methanol Injection System, he cranked up the boost to 16 psi. An Aeromotive Fuel system with 1,000cc injectors was chosen to keep the thirsty LS7 fed at all times.
This was his foundation for some stout horsepower. The engine wasn’t the only thing that he focused on. Beau knew that as the power curve increased, so would the demands on the rest of the drivetrain. Shifting was reinforced with a Rockland Standard Gear Transzilla gearbox and an RPS triple-disc carbon clutch. Moving to the rear, he added a carbon-fiber driveshaft and 1,000hp-level axle/hub kit from The Driveshaft Shop. The rear was beefed up with a Getrag welded housing and an Eaton limited-slip differential. Letting this new combo breathe was facilitated by a set of American Racing long-tube 2-inch headers dumping into 3-inch pipes running back to a B&B Z06 Fusion exhaust.
At this point it is worth pointing out that Beau was doing much of the wrenching on the car, and it was all taking place in a one-car garage in Elmsford, New York. His background as an auto and diesel mechanic was put to the test with this build. Beau was also fortunate to have good friends with specialized skills to guide him along the way. His high school buddy Chuck Mosello, the owner of Corvettes of Westchester, was instrumental in helping him set up the rear differential. Additional upgrades were also done to the suspension. The Z06 has a reputation as an exceptionally capable track car; however, Beau wanted the Corvette to have more of a street/strip setup so he swapped out the stock mono-leaf and installed a set of Pfadt coilovers at all four corners, along with Pfadt sway bars. The last piece of the performance puzzle was the selection of 360 Forged wheels. The fronts measure 19x10 and are wrapped in Nitto Invo 285/30ZR19 tires, while at the rear, 20x10 wheels are shod with 345/25ZR20 Nitto Invos.
With the anticipation of the high-horsepower output, the safety aspects were also considered, and as a result, Beau installed a rollbar and also fitted a Safecraft fire suppression system.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the transformation has been the replacement of the Velocity Yellow paint. While some might look at his car and think along the lines of a Richard Petty STP themed car, or perhaps a hint of Gulf Racing colors, Beau points out that, “Originally we were toying around with a pastel grey color and bright blue accents.” This was a color combination that he had spotted on a few Lamborghinis, and carefully considered for the Z06. After buying a few diecast Corvettes and painting them in that color, he realized that palette of colors wouldn’t work. The blue and orange combination came about when he spotted a Porsche wearing that color pairing. The blue is a custom blend very similar to what was on that 911, while the orange is a derivative of ’69 GM Hugger Orange. The task of applying the new paint scheme was entrusted to Gregg Reith, at Auto Exclusive in Ardsley, New York.
As the car came together, finding that sweet performance spot where everything was in harmony was the goal. That meant getting a precise tune done on the engine. Chuck Mosello did the initial tune on the car, and then guided Beau as he picked up the tuning reins. With numerous tweaks, he has managed to deliver 1,000 horses to the rear wheels.
As is the case with most comprehensive builds, they don’t happen overnight and usually involve a number of people and businesses at a given point in time. He explains, “During the course of the build, I met people who became friends, and friends who helped me with the build.” Regretfully, his close friend Ron Casali never saw the car finished. His life was cut short as a result of brain cancer. On the shifter, Beau has placed a wristband with Ron’s name to serve as an homage and a reminder of his friend.
Since the Z06 has been a work in progress, it is likely that there will eventually be more changes made, and the power curve will again spike up. For now, Beau is satisfied with the result. He has achieved a balance that allows him to win trophies on a show field or a dragstrip.
In a matter of weeks after bringing the Z06 home, the first wave of upgrades took place. He added a forced-air intake, exhaust, and a tune to try and increase the already respectable 505 hp being pumped out of the stock LS7. “There was a noticeable increase with the mods, but it wasn’t enough,” he points out.