2003 Corvette Z06 - Trailer Queen

A 2003 Corvette Z06 That Wears The Title With Pride

Chris Endres Apr 6, 2007 0 Comment(s)
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It's hard to say when or where the term "trailer queen" was coined. It could have been at the beginning of the restoration boom in the mid-'80s when the rare cars started trading for serious coin and were, therefore, deemed too valuable to drive. Or it could have been the advent of the Pro Street movement when the cars were just plain undriveable (thus giving birth to that most undesirable of subgenres: Pro Fairgrounds). Whenever and for whatever reason, the term "trailer queen" was birthed. one thing is for sure: once tagged, it is worn like a scarlet letter.

So why would VETTE so loudly and publicly call out Andy Morley's '03 Z06 as a trailer queen? We're simply calling a spade a spade, that's all. What you need to understand about Andy's Z is that it doesn't ride around on a trailer-it pulls one. Yeah, yeah, we can hear the gasps of horror and cries of outrage already, but it's not like he's using the trailer to drag home a load of sheetrock from Home Depot. In fact, he is carrying his race wheels and tires to his next road-course destination.

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That's right, Andy is actually using this Z06 as the engineers intended: thundering down the straights at Minnesota's Brainerd International Raceway and clipping apexes at Road America. What the engineers likely did not count on, though, is the beast now nestled beneath the car's Electron Blue hood. Gone is the comparatively tame 405-horse LS6, replaced by a Boos Performance-built 402-inch LS2 stroker. Shoving well over 500 hp to the rear wheels, this bullet has proved it has the power and reliability to power Andy's Z06 around the track-and down the highway-for hours on end.

Andy found the car after scouring the country for an Electron Blue Z06 with aftermarket heads and cam. He found the car he was looking for in Sacramento, and it was a healthy example, making 435 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. After a few conversations with the owner, a bunch of digital photos exchanged, and a one-way ticket to California, the car was his.

Even though the car had fairly extensive mechanical modifications, it still looked stock. He remedied that in a matter of weeks, lowering its stance considerably by dropping it on the stock bolts. He also mounted up a set of CCW 505A wheels, then promptly rolled the car into storage for the winter.

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Winters are long and cold in Minnesota, and by the time April rolled around, Andy was itching to pull his new Z out of storage. His first stop was John Boos Performance in Anoka, Minnesota (763-427-5402). He handed John Boos (pronounced "Bose") a laundry list of desired mods, including poly bushings, T1 sway bars and end links, a four-point rollbar, plus one more that was most unusual: a trailer hitch.

An accomplished road racer, John knows exactly what is needed to make a C5 competitive on a road course. When the car was ready, the first thing Andy noticed was the aggressive stance. "The negative camber on the front wheels with the lowered stance made the car look sinister," he says. A look inside revealed the black-powdercoated four-point rollbar. "The install was exceptionally clean, with no evidence that any of the carpet or trim had been removed from the car." John tells us that each bar is custom built and installed at the shop-no universal kits involved here.

And as for that last mod, Andy picks up the story, "Finally, I knelt down behind the car to look for the hitch that was installed. Without the tow ball it is very difficult to see . . . perfect! The big blue T1 sway bar, however, is a lot more apparent when viewing the car from behind. The sway bars and bushings made a huge difference to the handling of the car. There is barely any body roll. It seems as though I just need to think of the direction I want the car to go, and it is there. To adjust the T1 sway bars, John, who is a similar weight to me, sat in the car while one of his technicians adjusted the links and spring height. This was done under full suspension load to allow the car to sit flat with me inside.

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"Also waiting at the shop for me was a brand-new set of CCW Classic Race wheels with anodized black centers and a polished-aluminum lip. Mounted to these wheels was a brand-new set of Goodyear slicks with camber built in, as per the C5-R race cars!"

Andy's next stop was at the shop of friend Shawn "Pee-Wee" Hanna for installation of the Crow Enterprizes racing harness. "We removed the seat and made a few incisions in the trim to install the harness 'easy out' kit. The beauty of this installation is that I can attach the lap and submarine belts at the track and remove them after a day of racing. The shoulder belts always remain hanging out of sight, behind the driver seat," he says.

Satisfied that the first round of modifications had sufficiently enhanced the handling and safety aspects of the car, Andy loaded his new race wheels on his new utility trailer and pointed the rig north toward Brainerd for the annual Corvettes Do Brainerd event. "After a day of hot-lapping during the practice sessions on Friday, I was confident the car was going to be a good contender to win my class," says Andy. "It was fast enough that I had thoughts of even taking Fastest Time of the Day."

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Saturday was the Low Speed event, which involved a series of time trials run between Turns 2 and 9 of the course, with strategically placed cones designed to slow down the cars. Each car was allowed eight timed runs. Andy says, "The first six timed runs went well. By the end of the sixth run, I was within a couple tenths of a second for FTD, ironically right behind none other than John Boos. Not long into my seventh run, I heard a ticking noise from the engine, not unlike a leaking header gasket. As it only occurred under load, a couple of the guys agreed that it was likely just a gasket, so I set out for my eighth and final run. Just as the tach swung past 6,400 rpm-BANG!

"As I pulled the car off the track and jumped out to survey the damage, I noticed oil dripping out of the headers . . . not good. When 'Service Engine Soon' scrolled across the Driver Information Center, I could not help laughing to myself, 'No kidding!'"

From the track in northern Minnesota, the car was towed directly to Boos Performance, where the engine was pulled. Upon removal of the cylinder heads, the damage was clear: A dropped valve led to a broken timing chain, followed shortly by broken, well, pretty much everything. According to Andy, there was nothing salvageable but a few of the bolt-ons. "After some thought about what direction to take with the engine, I decided to build a forged LS2 stroker. The goal was 500-plus rwhp with lots of low-end torque to better pull the car out of the turns on a road course."

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Starting with an LS2 block, John added a forged 4340 Eagle 4-inch-stroke crankshaft and Eagle H-beam rods hung with high-compression, Ross-forged pistons. A pair of AFR 225 cylinder heads was prepared with 2.08/1.60 valves and Comp roller rockers. Boos spec'd the custom Comp XE-R hydraulic roller cam, but is not eager to share the particulars. Perfectly suited to the deep-breathing stroker is the FAST 90mm intake manifold, which was dressed with FAST's complimentary 90mm throttle body and SVO 42-lb/hr injectors. Kooks long-tubes and cross-pipe team with a GLH Magnum after-cat for cleanup duties.

"The LS6 head-and-cam package that was in the car was no slouch, but the power was very peaky. The stroker generates a lot more low-end torque, and the power delivery is far more linear, which is perfect on a road course," says Andy.

Because road racing is not quite as brutal on drivetrain parts as drag racing, only the clutch has been replaced on the Z06. "Prior to the engine swap, I ran the stock clutch and encountered most of its inherent problems," laments Andy. "The worst thing it would do is stick to the floor between shifts on hard acceleration. The problem was less apparent after removal of the clutch-assist spring, but [it was] still there. With the new engine, we installed a SPEC 3 clutch, which solved all the problems. It grabs hard and does not let go."

As luck would have it, work on the new engine was completed just as the Corvettes Do Brainerd weekend came around again, providing Andy with a great opportunity to again load his trailer and shake down the car. "The car was very strong, and together we walked away with the FTD on both Saturday and Sunday," says Andy. "All I can say is wow! What a difference the extra cubes and the right cam can make!" Overall car preparation was key as well. He says, "John Boos is a perfectionist, and the results are evident in the build of this engine and overall preparation of the car." We couldn't agree more.

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