There are two ways to increase on-track performance: improve your driving technique; or improve what you're driving. For one Texas race-driving instructor, that second step involved a second-hand Corvette: the Machine Silver '06 seen here.
Stephanie Cemo is an instructor at Texas World Speedway and is the C6's current owner, buying it from friend Jack Salvaggio about a year ago. "I'm actually the godmother of Jack Salvaggio's baby," she says from her Houston home. "He had made me three offers to buy the car, because he wanted to keep it 'in the family.'" That third offer turned out to be the charmer that enticed Stephanie to sell her old Z06 and buy this modified '06 coupe, which is the third Corvette that she's owned.
We say "modified"-but that's putting it lightly. Previous owner Salvaggio commissioned Houston's Late Model Racecraft to build a nitrous-urged 438-cubic-inch LS engine, plus he had the chassis updated with dual-purpose street/track modifications like coilovers all around. The result is more than just a dual-purpose Corvette, according to Stephanie. "This car is way more of a show car, but it's super, super fast," she says when asked to compare it to the Vettes she owned previously. "It's way faster than my old Z06, which had bolt-ons and a 150-shot (of nitrous oxide) for weekend fun stuff."
Stephanie's definition of "weekend fun stuff" may differ from yours-if yours doesn't include a significant amount of track time. She recounts the last time she had this C6 on the track, at Texas' Motorsports Ranch Houston, at an event that she was instructing at, and she'd invited one of her fellow Texas World Speedway instructors to bring his Vette. "He and I are around the same lap times, and I couldn't believe it-it was like the first time I'd taken the car to the track," she says. "He would get close to me in the corners, and then as soon as I would get back on the gas after the apex, I'd look up and he would be like a speck of dirt behind me! He has a stone stock C5 Z06, and it dawned on me that this is how people get faster lap times, by having super, super fast cars. I'd thought it was all driving skill."
Stephanie does see one area on this Vette that she may improve, in her view: the clutch. "It has an RPS triple-disc carbon clutch, which is not very streetable," she says. "It either wants to grab or not. So, when you take off in first gear, you hear all of those discs turning. It's kind of obnoxious, but it's the only thing I'd consider changing."
Changing a stone-stock example of America's Only True Sports Car into a road-course carver is one way to improve your lap times. Stephanie has some suggestions if you're so inspired. "It depends on what you want to do," she says of the choice of hardware-and the choice to keep it dual-purpose or make it track-only. "When it comes to upgrading, definitely if you're doing track you might want to put coilovers and T-1 bars on. I don't think you need big brake kits. What we call "NAPA disposable" rotors and some race pads, and obviously a good seat, helmet, and harnesses, are definitely needed.
Stephanie sums it up by saying about Vettes in general, "The Corvette, out of the box, is the best car performance-wise for the money," and about hers in particular, "This car is just insane!"
Data File: '06 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Owned by: Stephanie Cemo, Houston, Texas Modified by Late Model Racecraft (LMR), Houston, Texas
Production C6 Corvette Z06
Paint: OEM Machine Silver basecoat/clearcoat; Bodywork, paint preparation and applied by GM's Bowling Green Assembly Plant
Frame: OEM C6 Corvette with hydroformed side rails
Suspension: OEM C6 Corvette independent short/long arm with OEM front and rear composite leaf springs, Pfadt coilovers and QA1 anti-sway bars
Steering: OEM C6 Corvette rack-and-pinion, power-assisted
Brakes: OEM C6 Corvette 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Wheels: (Street) CCW 505A, 18 x 9 1/2 inches in front, 19 x 12 inches in rear (Track) OEM C6 Corvette
Tires: (Street) Michelin Pilot Sport, 275/35R18 in front, 345/35R19 in back (Track) Kumho V710, 295/35R18 in front, 335/35R19 in back
Modified GM Powertrain LS7 aluminum-block V8
Built By: A&A Corvette, Oxnard, California
Installed By: Late Model Racecraft, Houston, Texas
Modifications: Block bored to 4.125 inches, Wiseco pistons, Callies 4.10-inch stroke crankshaft, Manley double valve springs
Displacement: 438 cubic inches (7.19 liters)
Compression Ratio: 12:01
Cylinder Heads: OEM LS7 aluminum
Ignition: OEM GM electronic coil-on-plug
Induction: Hand-ported OEM LS7 intake equipped with LMR custom direct port nitrous oxide injection system and LMR custom stand-alone fuel system for the nitrous
Camshaft: Hydraulic roller camshaft (.650-inch lift/244 degree duration)
Exhaust: Kooks' 1 7/8-inch headers with 3-inch mid section, high-flow catalytic converters, OEM C6 Corvette cat-back exhaust with open/closed control switch
Nitrous Oxide Induction System: One-off custom system by Late Model Racecraft with dual-bottle set-up, heaters, purge kit and stand-alone fuel system. Adjustable to 500 horsepower; set for 250 hp shot.
Horsepower: Rear wheel (Without nitrous) 600 @ 6,800 rpm; Horsepower, Rear Wheel (With nitrous) 585 on 250 shot (Engine built for 400 shot, netting 1000 RWHP)
Modified 6-speed manual transaxle with DTE Stage 5 Positraction differential
Modifications: RPS carbon-on-carbon twin disc clutch
Final Drive Ratio: 3.73:1
Modified OEM C6 Corvette
Modified By: Caravaggio
Seats: OEM 2006 Corvette
Carpets: OEM 2006 Corvette
Instrumentation: OEM C6 Corvette (0-200 mph speedometer, 0-8,000 rpm tach with 6,300 rpm redline, plus ammeter, oil pressure, oil temperature, coolant temperature and fuel level gauges), in dash, plus auxilary AutoMeter pressure gauges (for fuel and nitrous oxide) in console next to shifter
Sound System: OEM C6 Corvette
HVAC: OEM C6 Corvette