1984 Chevy Corvette - Bonneville Missile

The World's Fastest Corvette

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In addition to tightening up the suspension and radically limiting travel, the Moore & Stansbury crew has added a huge amount of ballast to the car. Lead filled steel tubing, steel plate, and even concrete-filled stock mufflers bring the Corvette's weight up to an astounding 6,000-plus pounds! "The extra weight accomplishes several things," explains Bobby. "It keeps the car on the ground when it wants to fly and helps keep it going in a straight line. Also, it goes a long way in getting the car's drive wheels to hook up. The salt can be quite slippery, and breaking the rear tires loose is counterproductive to say the least."

Besides the obvious problem of not accelerating if the drive wheels are spinning, loss of traction can also spell disaster for the engine and drivetrain. As the car hits bumps in the track and some of the weight comes off the rear wheels, and as the wheels hit wet and slippery patches of salt, they spin up very quickly. Correspondingly, the engine and drivetrain spin up very quickly as well, creating the constant danger that some components will be over-revved. To cope with this Bobby relies on an on-board Dyno Lab dynamometer. "The dynamometer has an accelerometer," he explains, "which tells me the rate that the car is accelerating or decelerating. Obviously, we also have an engine tachometer. If the accelerometer indicates that the car is slowing down, and the tach indicates that the engine is speeding up, I know the rear wheels are loosing traction. To get the car back I quickly stab at the brakes without letting up on the throttle. You want to keep your engine rpm up as high as possible, so you don't want to let off the throttle. At the same time, wheelspin can spell disaster, so you've got to get it under control. An old timer who has been racing here for decades taught me that trick. Just a few quick stabs at the brakes and the rear wheels bite in again."

There is a lot more to going fast than simply strapping a big horsepower engine into your car. The car must be extensively modified for safety. And depending on what class you are running in, it also may be considerably modified for improved performance. And the final component in the go fast equation is driver experience and technique. It may look like all the pilot is doing is mashing the throttle wide open and holding on for dear life, but in actuality he is making a constant stream of instantaneous decisions and adjustments that allow him seek glory on the Salt Flats, and live to tell about it.


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