2001 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 - The Adventures Of Buckwheat

This Rascal Runs!

Chris Endres Jan 1, 2009 0 Comment(s)
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We all know the guy who's just gotta make the proclamation: "I've got the fastest car in this here town!" And, chances are, being polite, we roll our eyes and quickly change the subject. But what if you're a bit less than polite, fiercely competitive, and have the know-how to put guys like that in their place? What do you do?

If you're Mike Murillo, owner of Mike Murillo Motorsports in San Antonio, Texas, you go out and get yourself a Z06. "I'd always wanted a Vette," he says, "and when an acquaintance offered his '01 Z06, I knew this was my chance." Shortly thereafter, one of Murillo's friends followed suit and bought his own '04 Z. The two spent many nights talking over plans for modifying their newly acquired Corvettes.

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A pair of Zex bottles are mounted cleanly in the trunk, away from prying eyes.

Eventually, though, said friend stopped showing up at Murillo's shop. "I didn't think much of it at the time, but then I ran into him at the track one night. As I was walking over to say hello, I could hear the rumpity-rump of a big cam from his car." When questioned, Friendo admitted he had gone to another shop across town, one whose proprietors also happen to refer to themselves as the "LSX Kings of San Antonio."

Never one to shy from a bit of smack-talk himself, Murillo says, "They have a habit of running their mouths via their keyboards on the Internet. As a matter of fact, their mouths run far faster than any car that has rolled out of their shop. Of course, this shop told the guy that 'Murillo doesn't know Vettes,' and he obviously believed them. That's fine, but I was determined to have the last laugh."

Murillo's name may be familiar to some, as he is a longtime Mustang racer with more than 60 national event titles and eight world championships to his credit. This includes the biggest Mustang race of them all: the World Ford Challenge in 2002. His championship-winning Mustang "The Star Car" is also widely known even to those outside the Mustang community for its Texas-state-flag-inspired paint scheme.

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The C5 Z06 cuts a clean profile, but it isn't one to intimidate most racers.

So what does one of the best-known names in Mustang racing know about Corvettes? Quite a lot, actually. "I know more than a little about tuning, power-to-weight ratios, and how to get the most out of any combination. I wanted not only to have the fastest Corvette in San Antonio, but in Texas as well. And I wanted to get there with just bolt-ons. I figured I'd have to make the car capable of high 9s to pull it off." The other part of his goal was to "stomp my former friend on the way every chance I got."

According to Murillo's calculations, it would take about 630 rwhp to run the number. "What I couldn't understand is all these guys on the Internet making over 700 hp at the wheels, yet they were only running mid 10s in the high 130s. It didn't compute with me, but hell, what do I know? I'm just a Mustang guy. I soon came to realize that getting a Corvette down the dragstrip quickly is harder than I thought."

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The illusion of a stocker is quickly dashed once the hood is open. The Zex nitrous system adds 200 hp at the touch of a button.

Power production is no problem for Murillo's stock-appearing Z, which is known around San Antonio as "Buckwheat." Though the short-block remains stock, it's stuffed with an LG Motorsports X4 camshaft. The AFR 225 cylinder heads have been treated to CNC-machining by Kotzur Racing Heads and teamed with 0.040-inch Cometic head gaskets. The 90mm FAST intake manifold is as it came out of the box, fed through an untouched, stock 90mm throttle body from an '07 Z06. Exhaust is handled by LG's Pro Long Tubes and x-style crossover, with sound attenuation by Borla. The rotating assembly, rockers, ignition system, and fuel injectors all remain as GM intended.

As you might expect, the big power boost comes when the Zex nitrous-oxide system is engaged. Murillo has it jetted for a 200-horse hit, which is good to spin his Mustang dyno to 630 rwhp and 615 rwtq. A custom Murillo Motorsports secondary fuel system uses a 255-lph pump to meet the needs of the big squeeze.

The drivetrain remains surprisingly close to stock, though there are some key supporting modifications that have gone into the car to get it down the track in a hurry. The factory six-speed was shipped to T56 Rebuilders in Houston for a freshening, while the rear was filled with 3.90 gears and fortified with a pair of hardened axles. A DTE strut brace was added when the transmission and rear were reunited.




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