So you want to go fast? All the ads will tell you it's as easy as buying some manufacturer's product and bolting it on. But, as you might imagine, there's more to the story. Recently, we visited with Tony DeMambro in Falmouth, Massachusetts, to get the real scoop. DeMambro has been searching for more power for his '04 Z06 for some time now, and he's learned some important lessons in the process.
A few years ago, DeMambro decided it was time to get that one special car he he'd always wanted. He had an '02 Mercedes-Benz AMG ML55, but it just didn't deliver the bang for the buck he was after. When he decided to upgrade to the top-of-the-line SL, the M-B dealer experience sent him running to his nearest Chevy vendor. The folks at Walter Earl Chevrolet were much more accommodating and didn't mind letting their new black Z06 off the lot for a testdrive. DeMambro found the sound and feel of the car to be simply awesome. By the end of the ride, he was an official Corvette nut.
Once DeMambro got the car home, he began to feel that maybe it wasn't quite as exotic looking as he had wanted. Then, while browsing through an aftermarket parts catalog, he came across the Greenwood G5 body kit. A few phone calls later, and he'd arranged to have the kit installed in Greenwood's shop in Apopka, Florida. DeMambro and his wife dropped the car off with Tim and Joe Greenwood and went on to enjoy a week in the Florida Keys. When they returned, the car was ready to go. It was only the second full G5 body kit the company had installed.
The drive home proved revealing. On the trip to Florida, DeMambro had noticed some wind buffeting when he got close to large semi trucks. On the return trip, the buffeting wasn't there. Also, during a period of wet weather, he realized that all the drivers passing him were giving him the thumbs-up sign. Apparently, the rooster tail being raised by the Greenwood rear-valance air-management system was really getting their attention. This was obviously one aero kit that really worked.
Once the car was home, DeMambro couldn't resist taking it to a few shows. The most interesting event was an NCRS show at the Lars Anderson Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts. DeMambro wasn't sure what kind of the reception he might receive, as this was an official NCRS chapter meet. To his pleasant surprise, the organizers gave him a warm reception. DeMambro's car was such a hit, in fact, that another attendee decided to pop for the G5 package for his own Vette.
The next thing DeMambro noticed was that everyone wanted to race him. The first serious challenge wasn't long in coming. Shortly after the next show, as he was driving out of town, DeMambro heard a deafening roar as a Hennessey Viper pulled up beside him. With a few words, it was agreed that there would be a short "vehicle dynamics" test. Out of the hole, the Z06 pulled the Viper in the first two gears. Shocked at being ahead, DeMambro looked back to see where the Viper was and forgot to shift. The rev limiter kicked in, and the Viper jumped ahead before DeMambro could shift into Third. With the Viper ahead by three lengths at well above the speed limit, both drivers finally backed off.
Later, DeMambro figured out a couple of things. First, the Viper had been supercharged, giving it a huge power advantage in the higher gears. The other thing he remembered was that he hadn't put his car in Competition mode, so the dynamic stability system had been engaged the whole time. The traction-control component had helped him get all of the car's power to the ground. It had also helped him combat the small sand drifts that intrude on the edge of the highway. All of this made for an epiphany. Clearly, the car performed well, and the electronics were effective in getting power to the ground, but something more was required. The search for big-league performance-and the start of a few more lessons-had begun.