Department Of The Interior
At this point, Wheeler decided the Corvette's cabin needed to get up to speed with the rest of the car. To accomplish that goal, he added red-and-black Sparco Roadster II thrones mounted to Arizen Racing Sports mounting brackets and stock seat tracks. This installation method allowed him to retain the factory seats' power accessories and memory functions. While he was at it, he also installed a Brey-Krause harness bar and TRW SaBelt five-point camlock belts to give the Vette even more racing cred. Other accoutrements include an American Hydrocarbon carbon-fiber-and-leather-wrapped steering wheel with red stitching; a Breathless Performance Products shifter; a Vette Essentials hydrocarbon center console, radio surround, and gauge bezel; a Redline Goods carbon-fiber-look shift boot, armrest, and emergency brake; a Z06 shift knob; and Lloyd Z06 floor mats.
Pride And Handling
To make good use of his car's available horsepower, Wheeler retained the stock Z06 suspension but lowered the ride with cut front bushings up front and longer bolts in the rear. He also added AC Delco slotted-and-drilled rotors to enhance the prodigious decelerative grip of the Pirelli P Zero Nero 265/35ZR19 front and 325/25ZR20 rear tires. "I designed my Z06 to be the best of all of my past builds," he explains. "It's a brawler on the freeway like the high-horsepower F-bodies, but it handles and looks the part better than the little Esprit Turbo. So I feel I finally got it right. This setup shows exactly what a blown '01 Z is capable of with stock internals."
Wheeler tells us he's extremely proud of his service to our country, and that every new issue of VETTE makes his job a little bit easier. He says, "For the last 10 years, I've performed hundreds of full-honors funerals for fallen shipmates at Arlington National Cemetery. During a typical day at Arlington, we'll have several breaks in between funeral services. One of the things we do is head up to the Fort Meyer Military Exchange to grab lunch or a quick bottle of water before the next ceremony. The first thing I do every time I visit is check for the latest issue of VETTE.
"I tell my co-workers that one of these times, I'm going to pick up the magazine and see my Corvette featured. They usually ask me, 'Is it in there yet?' For me, it's one of the best moments of the day. I get to slow down and read the features and tech stories before heading back out for another ceremony. It's been a really long process for me to get my car featured in VETTE, and it's an achievement that I will always cherish."
So the next time you watch the United States Navy Band in action, pay special attention to the saxophone player. It's probably Andrew Wheeler, one of America's proud servicemen and owner of one of the nation's most sensational C5 Z06s. And when he's done performing, you may find Wheeler testing the limits of his wild red Z on the roads around the nation's capital. Now that's a tune we can all agree is music to our ears.