It's a call that comes just after launch, as the space shuttle clears maximum dynamic pressure, the point where the atmosphere's density and the shuttle's increasing speed coincide. For the moment, the shuttle's Earth-shaking engines are cut back to around 64 percent of their rated power. Then, at around 35,000 feet and at a velocity of over 1,600 mph, the shuttle clears the last obstacle between it and orbit. Across the com crackle those four words, signaling that it's time to drop the hammer and let the rocket fly: "Go at throttle up."
Few get to experience genuine rocket-powered escape velocity. But fewer still get to experience throttle-up in a ground-based rocket putting almost 1,000 horsepower to the ground. For those dedicated few on a quest for ultimate power, willing to pay the price to feel crazy levels of acceleration pushing their eyeballs back in their head and making blood drain from its usual places, the gateway is appropriately called Next Level Performance (NLP) in Altamonte Springs, Florida.
Geoff Skorupa is the guy to see there. Geoff likes building exotic C5 and C6 Corvettes, and he's got a track record of success that caught the eye of Germany's renowned Geigercars, a dealer specializing in U.S. performance cars.
At the SEMA Show in 2007, the rep from Geigercars outlined the goals, the cornerstone of which was a staggering level of horsepower-1,000-virtually double the output of the stock 505hp Z06 engine. And it had to pass German emissions standards. Can you imagine?
But Geoff is the kind of guy who relishes a challenge. The project was on.
Dave Crume, NLP's in-house engine specialist, started with World Products' Warhawk engine block, which features reinforcements in critical areas and provisions for two extra head bolts per cylinder, a key factor in holding up under the extreme compression of twin turbos. The block, costing some $4,500 by itself, was loaded with a super strong Callies forged steel crankshaft, Oliver connecting rods, and coated JE pistons and piston pins with Total Seal stainless steel file-fit rings. Compression ratio was 9.3:1. Piston oilers were installed to help reduce heat load and prevent burning a piston. Coated Clevite bearings gave the rotating assembly maximum durability with minimum friction.
Aluminum cylinder heads, also from World Products, were lightly ported, then fitted with Ferrea stainless steel intake valves and Inconel exhaust valves to live under the turbos' extra heat. Operating the valves is a cam custom ground for NLP, custom Morel lifters, BLP chromoly pushrods, and Jesel shaft-mounted rocker arms. Competition Cams dual valvesprings keep the valves closed when they're supposed to be. Katech custom valve covers and coil relocation brackets were used to top off the cylinder heads.
To feed the beast, a pair of APS in-tank fuel pumps was plumbed with dual stainless steel braided fuel lines, billet fuel rails, 60 lb/hr fuel injectors, and an Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator.
Tucked neatly under the cylinder banks, well out of sight to the casual observer, is a pair of Garrett GT 3582R turbos, part of an APS twin-turbo system with twin air-to-air intercoolers to cool the intake charge before entering the engine. Besides keeping the engine compartment looking tidy and deceptively stock, mounting the turbos near the cylinder banks keeps them right next to the exhaust ports, where hot exhaust gases have all their heat energy to spin the turbine, making throttle response quick and positive. Maximum boost is way up there at 15 pounds.
Post-turbo is a 3-inch stainless steel APS exhaust system specifically tuned for the turbo system. For emissions compliance, NLP added a pair of stainless steel 3-inch catalytic converters.
To keep cool with all the heat and pressure, a pair of DeWitts electric fans works off a 160-degree thermostat.
The balance of the drivetrain had to be proportionally upgraded too. An RPS triple disc carbon clutch assembly transfers the enormous power through an LG Motorsports carbon fiber driveshaft with a solid aluminum rear coupler to an RPM Stage 5 Z06 six-speed manual transmission. Power then flows into a DTE Stage 3 Z06 differential with 3.42:1 gears.
A complete brake package, using Stoptech's huge caliper and rotor combination, slows things down.