The key to this whole thing is to limit everything, including the engines. Once again think NASCAR. This Daytona Prototypes and Grand Am racing became a natural for Flis Racing. Troy Flis spent the past year as crew chief for the Powell Motorsports Grand Am Cup cars. These guys know the LS6 engine better than you know your way to the local mall.
What's A Crawford?When it came for the Flis family to purchase a car, the Crawford seemed the way to go. I think GM had more than a little influence in this decision since all the Crawfords this year are using Corvette LS6 power. Do I detect a really huge relationship between GM and Crawford?
The folks at Grand Am have a very strict set of rules about the cars. Only seven companies in the world are allowed to build them. If there's a part on these cars, there's also a rule about this part.
The idea is that if you pay $500,000 (okay, maybe $750,000) for a car, it shouldn't be obsolete six months later. The goal is that you can race this same car for several years. The accountants out there already know about amortization-so do the guys who can afford to race these cars.
Crawford, coupled with the Corvette Pontiac engine, seems to be the hot ticket this year. Max Crawford has spent most of his career working on Porsches. Then he spent some time developing the Taurus Aero Program for Ford. Once GM decided to get involved in Grand Am racing, a few phone calls were placed and Max Crawford was ready to embark on a brand new composite adventure. The best part is that the Crawford may be the nicest-looking car in the whole series.
The EngineThe engine rules are very simple. If it makes more power you can't do it. Grand Am approved the "LS6 V-8 two-valve push rod engine with a maximum displacement 5.5-liter (stock bore, 3.898, and a maximum stroke of 3.50 inches). The maximum rpm is 6,500. The maximum valve lift is 0.585-inch with a rocker arm ratio of 1.7:1. Only the stock LS6 single throttle body (2.992-inch diameter) on the stock LS6-approved intake manifold is approved, and 10.5:1 is the maximum compression ratio. The Grand Am rule book also says this engine may be branded as a Chevrolet, Pontiac, or Cadillac with visible Chevrolet, Pontiac, or Cadillac brand identification located on the intake or valve covers."
What we have here essentially the same engine that's in your Z06, with the intake manifold turned around. The power isn't even that much greater. The headers don't even add very much power. If the exhaust system was fully developed, Grand Am would simply find another way to lower the power on the engine. This could be done by restricting the air intake or limiting the rpm. One Flis crew member simply stated, "So what's the point of even trying to find more power?"
Racing has always been about who is fastest within a given set of rules. If the cars get too fast, then the rules are changed. The size of the rulebook varies, but the program is basically the same all over the world. Now you understand why GM is getting heavily involved in the Grand Am series. This is a chance to get the Corvette Pontiac some recognition.