Janet Dawes' '00 convertible has more horsepower: 405 to the rear wheels, to be exact, along with a six-speed tranny.Jim's '99 is the drag racer. Dyno tests reveal 345 rwhp. If that figure sounds tame, the best e.t. of 12.59 seconds definitely is not.
Jim Dawes remembers that fateful quarter-mile like it was yesterday. The place was Atco Raceway in New Jersey, where the atmospheric conditions were perfect. "It was the day before my birthday in 1998," he says. "I can remember distinctly because I looked at the timesheet and thought the guy handed me the wrong one. But I got a perfect launch-a perfect everything. I think the mph was 111, to boot. For a stock car with nothing but headers, that's a hell of a time."
"A hell of a time" is just what the Dawes have been having ever since Janet's Corvette joined the family.
The red '99 coupe was the first of the two, bought new in October 1998. Jim already had the Fikse rims waiting in the house. "We hated the wheels on the '99," he says. "They had to go immediately. We didn't drive it a week before changing the wheels."
Janet's silver '00 convertible came a few years later. The pair first went through a learning experience, finding out what they wanted and how they could enjoy the hobby together. Jim admits, "Originally I wanted to sneak around behind my wife's back and race it. So I put 3.42 gears in it. With an automatic, that's about a perfect combination. I put the headers on it, put aftermarket exhausts all the way back, and left the cats, though, for New Jersey inspection. The car ran in the high-12s and mid-12s in cool weather."
Drag racing can be addictive. The fascination is to go faster and faster. Jim admits, "I ain't going to lie to anybody. I was just about to the point of putting a Line-Loc on it when I stopped racing it. I already had a torque converter in it, 2,900 stall speed."
Looking back, he's thankful he didn't go quite that far. "Once you start butchering the car inside for stuff like that, you're over the edge. Then you might as well just keep the car and race it." Instead, Jim and Janet started tinkering with the engine, "making it pretty."
"Pretty" wasn't going so well with drag racing. "We noticed every time I'd run it at the dragstrip, it'd be filthy, I mean absolutely filthy," Jim says. "It'd take two weeks to clean it up." Drag racing and cleaning were joint efforts. However, with one person racing, only one person was having the fun. "So, we decided I'd quit racing and we'd start showing," Jim says. Eventually, the pair got the idea of getting another Corvette.
"She'd worked her rear end off and won quite a few shows, so I wanted to do something right for her," Jim says. "We had the room; we were setting the garage up for a four-post lift. We had the available space in the garage, so I talked her into buying the ['00] off Rich and Barbara Lagasse.
"They'd met the Lagasses at Corvettes at Carlisle. They had a 2,800-mile, '00 convertible. "She wouldn't actually do it without me forcing the issue," Jim says. "I just told her 'This is too good a deal to pass up.' "
Corvette fever had already struck Jim's better half. Janet recalled all the modifications and shows and detailing work. "I just got involved in it," she says. "Probably because I spent so much time on his."
Naturally, the '00 would be modified too, though not for drag racing this time. Janet has a lot of car person in her, considering she's always driven a manual shift. The six-speed hit the spot.
The silver '00 is probably the better prepped of the two, with the Dawes having the benefit of four years of C5 building experience. Janet had no objection to the 405 hp to the rear wheels. Jim explains, "We wanted to pep hers up a little bit. I put long tubes on it, then I put on the exhaust system. It has the Blackwing intake. We worked out a deal with the Lingenfelter people for the heads and cam."
This step up the performance ladder was no help in show judging.