This prodigious power is transferred rearward with the aid of an RPS Stage 3 clutch and an RPS Synergy flywheel. The transaxle is bolstered by DTE transmission and differential braces, while an Elite Engineering trans-tunnel plate helps reduce cockpit temperatures and stiffens the car. Race-ready shifting is facilitated by the obligatory CAGS delete and a B&M Ripper shifter topped with a Delrin C5-R knob.
Track-day heroics come courtesy of an enhanced suspension system with road-race alignment. The setup includes beefy front and rear GMPP T1 sway bars with adjustable Heim joints and Pfadt coilovers. Originally the car was lowered and fitted with Bilstein shocks, but Ondrejcak found that as the monoleaf springs flattened out, the rearend became exceedingly stiff and unyielding. The transition to coilovers has made the car much easier to operate on the highway, while sacrificing nothing in performance. Falken Azenis RT-615 tires are wrapped around powdercoated black 18x10.5-inch C5 Z06 wheels for street driving. A separate set of stock Z06 wheels shod in Hoosier slicks is employed at the track.
In attempt to rein in the Z's newfound power, the factory brakes have been upgraded with Brembo slotted-and-drilled rotors and Performance Friction Z brake pads. While Ondrejcak believes there's still more power to be extracted from the Z, he feels the car's mildly upgraded binders are already near their limit at close to 150 mph on Sebring International Raceway's Ullman Straight. Before moving to the next level, he plans to install the Brembo big-brake kit currently reposing in his garage.
All exterior modifications have been carried out with function in mind and undertaken primarily to augment performance. The MCM carbon-fiber hood and hood seal reduce front-end lift at high speeds. A shorty antenna minimizes drag, and a set of RK Sport canards generate downforce in the front. All paint work was handled by Corvette Classics in Tarpon Springs. The ominous black faade is broken only by a violent red gash on either side of the hood bulge. The overall effect of the exterior is not to plead for your attention, but to dare you to turn your back on it.
Beneath the hood, even the engine compartment stands out for the fastidious attention to detail evident there. Abear Motorsports billet-aluminum valve covers-anodized black with chrome lettering-are exquisite to behold, and, unlike some aftermarket covers, do not require relocating the coil packs. Underhood carbon-fiber trim from Carbling adds a race-inspired touch to the presentation.
Inside the cockpit, the original black interior has been given new life with Torch Red upholstery inserts. On track days, the driver's throne is swapped with a Corbeau AFX racing seat. The interior is adorned with the requisite racing appointments, including a Hardbar harness bar and camera mount, RJS five-point harnesses, a fire extinguisher, and a Raptor shift light. The car also features an owner-installed Escort XR3 laser detection system to limit contributions to the constabulary.
The Z06 sees most of its track time at Chin Motorsports high-performance driving events at Sebring. While Ondrejcak doesn't obsess over lap times, the effectiveness of his Vette is evident in his victory in this year's YearOne Experience autocross competition at Road Atlanta. He has used the Z06 to teach his son about racing as well as mechanics. Although he only rides along now, Don Jr. will soon be attending a racing school in preparation to progress to autocrossing his own Camaro.
There's no question this '03 Z06 pays tribute to the Corvette's lineage with its blistering track performance. But perhaps more important, the project that spawned it has allowed Don Ondrejcak to share his automotive passion with his son, just as his own father did with him. "It is a labor of love for both of us," he says. Bursting with expertly executed modifications and a trunkload of open-track cred, this is one Corvette that lives up to the marque's legendary performance heritage.