When you're one of the world's fastest rock-and-roll guitarists, you set your standards high and your action low. And when it comes time to pick a car to keep up with your fast-paced lifestyle, there's only one choice: the Corvette.
"I've loved Corvettes since I was a kid," axe-slinger Dan Fastuca says. "My parents had a '69 427 tri-power and an '82 L81. My brother had '77, '79, and '81 Corvettes, and at one point was president of the Three Rivers Corvette Club in Pittsburgh. In fact, my brother was so crazy about Corvettes that he had me hooked by default.My feelings were, if he thought Corvettes were cool, then they must be cool."
With the Corvette influence so dominant in Fastuca's genes, you'd think this rock and roll guitar-wielder would have owned his own Vette as soon as he turned 16. But with his sights set on a music career, Fastuca's love for Chevy's sports car would have to wait. At age 19, the guitarist relocated to Los Angeles, where an intensive recording-and-touring schedule further delayed his Corvette dream. It was around this time that a twist of fate found Corvette racer and carbuilder Dick Guldstrand entering Fastuca's life, setting the wheels in motion for the theretofore passive Vette fan to develop into a dedicated marque enthusiast.
A Chance Meeting
"I was in consideration for the lead guitarist position for Ozzy Osbourne, and I was writing and recording with some other big names. But with heavy metal losing its popularity, I was spending less time on the road touring, and more time at home working as a writer, producer, and studio musician for my band Jet Black. This afforded me more time to spend on my cars. I called General Motors and asked who the best tuner in Los Angeles was. A man at Chevrolet said, `Guldstrand Motorsports. Go see these guys--they can make anything faster.'
"When I arrived, I quickly realized all the mechanics had abandoned their projects for their lunch hour. The only man who remained was an older gentleman sweeping the floor. I asked when a mechanic might return. He said that it would be a while and asked how he could help me. After several attempts to keep him from getting too close to my car--a brand new '88 Trans Am--I found myself sitting in the passenger seat. `It's a stick shift. Do you know how to drive a stick?' I asked him.
"The man answered, `Yeah, I think I'm alright.'
"Well, he didn't seem alright," Fastuca continues. "He left the alley, spinning the tires in the first two gears. He appeared to have no respect for the speed limit, much less the laws of physics. At one point, I remember involuntarily screaming, `Shift!' as I watched my tachometer spike over redline for the first time. The man said, `The suspension needs a lot of work; we should look at it,' and immediately pulled the car over to the side of the road. As I opened the door to get out and look, he said, `Oh, close the door, we'll be off in just a second.'
"It was then I realized that up ahead was a freeway on-ramp that had a speed limit of 15 mph. He was revving the motor and looking in the side mirror, waiting for traffic to clear. Before I knew what he was going to do, he popped the clutch and hit the on-ramp at 110 mph, blipping the throttle and steering wheel in unison as my car slid through the turn, with me plastered up against the passenger door.
"I looked at him and said, `What the hell was that?'
"He replied, `I think I have just what this car needs back at the shop.'
"After driving back to Guldstrand Motorsports, I got out of the car and asked, `Who the hell are you?'
"The man who I thought was a janitor then stuck his hand out and said, `Oh, I'm sorry for not introducing myself earlier. I'm Dick Guldstrand.'"
Before long, Fastuca and Guldstrand had become close friends. Fastuca learned more about Guldstrand's passion--Corvettes--and Guldstrand developed an appreciation for Fastuca's passion--rock and roll.
"My motivation to get a Corvette really picked up when I questioned Dick one day about the '02 Z06 that was being introduced," Fastuca says. "Prior to this conversation, anytime I asked him about a car, he would tell me about the massive pile of work that would be needed to make it fun to drive. But this dialogue was different. For the first time ever, it was a very short conversation.
"I asked him, `What will I need to add if I buy this Z06?' He replied in four words: `Gloves and a helmet.' That was it, and that's how Dick Guldstrand talked me into buying my first Z06."
Enter Jim Gessner, founder of Corvette Race Car Registry, who Guldstrand asked to source a car for the guitarist. "He found an '02 Z06 in New Hampshire," Fastuca says. "It was truckedto Los Angeles, where, within an hour, it was up on the rack. Guldstrand looked it over inch by inch, turned to me, smiled, and said, `I'm so proud of you. You waited until we found the right Corvette, and this one's perfect. There's not a scratch, and it has all GM has to offer in a purpose-built race car. Now, let's tear this thing down and do it right.'"
Over the course of the next four years, Guldstrand transformed Fastuca's Metallic Silver Z06 from stock to stellar. Let's look at the resulting car and see why it's so special.
Guldstrand began by treating the stock LS6 engine to a fire-breathing head/cam package consisting of AFR 205cc aluminum heads outfitted with 2.02/1.60 Ferrea valves, Yella Terra 1.8-ratio roller rockers, and an LG Motorsports G5X-3 camshaft producing 0.600/0.610-inch lift on a 112-degree LSA. To maximize incoming airflow, he ported the intake manifold, port-matched the throttle body to the intake, and installed a Halltech cold-air induction system with a Blackwing filter. Other mods include American Racing long-tube headers, ARH high-flow cats and cross-pipe exhaust system, B&B bullet mufflers, and Pfadt solid motor and tranny mounts.
RPM Transmissions of Daleville, Indiana, was called upon to strengthen the T56 manual trans. The company treated the gearbox to its Stage 3 package, including a modified 1-2 shift fork, along with billet synchronizer keys and bronze shift-fork pads for all forward gears. Likewise, RPM upgraded the Vette's rearend with a 3.90 gear and 300M heavy-duty output shafts.
Upon Guldstrand's orders, the suspension was reengineered with Pfadt "Phatty" 38/32mm (front/rear) competition sway bars, adjustable endlinks, 7075 aluminum arms, a poly sway-bar-bushing kit, sway-bar pillow locks, and a Z06 camber kit. The interior, meanwhile, was treated to a Pfadt four-point rollbar system. According to Guldstrand, he set up the chassis with one purpose: "I wanted it to handle like a C5-R."
Final engine tuning resulted in a dyno reading of 456 rwhp. "Scott Brown tunes all of Guldstrand's Corvettes, and NASCAR cars when he has time. He was the perfect person to tune the Corvette. Even GM counts on him to tune its cars," Fastuca says.
In 2008, Fastuca put the final part--a taillight blackout kit--on his Z and celebrated the car's completion. But fate and compassion would not allow him to enjoy it for very long. "Two days later, my tour manager and best friend Joe Acevedo came to my house, all depressed. He explained to me that his son Cody had decided not to play little-league baseball that season. Joe had coached Cody's teams for years--it was his bonding time with his son.
"Several days later, I was at his house and saw a set of C2 valve covers hanging on the wall. When I asked about them, he told me that when he was a kid, one of his father's friends showed up with a '63 split-window Corvette. `I was only as tall as the fenders,' he said, `but I fell in love with that car at first sight. I knew I would never be able to afford one, so now I just go to swap meets and buy Corvette parts to hang in the house.'"
Fastuca was heartbroken. How could he enjoy his just-completed C5 after hearing his tour manager's story? "One of the most significant parts of my childhood wasthe time I spent with my older brother as hebecame a huge Corvette enthusiast," Fastuca says. "He was my hero, and he was absolutely crazy about Corvettes. Remembering these times made me realize that what Joe needed was something new he could share with his son.
"That's when I decided to give up the car. Now, Joe and his son spend hours working on the Corvette, going to runs and shows, and even to the track. It's these times spent that are so important.
"I lost two brothers last year to cancer--including the one who shared his Corvette time with me--and I can tell you that for me, the Corvette hobby goes way beyond lap times or horsepower ratings. It's about the relationships forged between father and child, husband and wife,and among like-minded owners that make this little plastic car . . . a lot more than just a little plastic car."
Within weeks, Fastuca found a new project: a Velocity Yellow '06 Z06 sourced from West Coast Corvettes. Using Corvette Racing's C6.R as his visual inspiration, Fastuca asked Guldstrand to create a street version of the legendary race machine.
"By this time, Scott Brown and I had also become close friends, so Scott had equal input and did tons of work on this car," Fastuca says. "[He and Guldstrand] used the same successful formula on my C6 that they did on my C5: a stock block, modified heads, a Quality Motorsports cam [Fastuca's favorite piece on the car], great airflow, and a purpose-built Pfadt suspension. Then, Scott provided the tuning to really make the modifications come alive. Thanks to the two of them, the C6 has about 75 more hp--and nearly as much torque--as the actual C6.R race cars."
With the drivetrain completed, Fastuca turned his attention to the car's looks. He added a race-spec rear spoiler, a Chaffey custom paint scheme, an LG Motorsports World Challenge hood, an APR Performance carbon-fiber front chin spoiler, and CCW C140 Corsair wheels wrapped in Michelin PS2 ZPs. Topping it all off is a full complement of authentic C6.R graphics.
"Through Guldstrand, I have become friends with some awesome people in the Corvette Racing program. Doug Fehan, Gary Pratt, Daryl Clasen, and many others have been very good to me during the build-up of these cars. With all they represent, how could I not pay tribute to them through the look of the cars?" Fastuca says.
Next came the interior work. Fastuca installed a carbon-fiber console, gauge-cluster plate, and chrome start button from TKO Performance; DSVettes colored leather replacements for the armrest, door grab handles, shift knob and boot, brake handle and boot, and steering wheel; Lloyd mats; and Jet Black logos for the seats and other surfaces.
After a year, the C6.R tribute car was complete, and once again, it was time to celebrate. "There'sbeen a common thread throughout my life: Never settle for the ordinary," Fastuca says. "I get bored quickly and expect more out of things than most people. With my guitar playing, I always wanted to be the loudest, most over-the-top player in the industry in terms of the music and my personal image. My goal with my two Corvettes was to have them represent my inner feelingsand be true statements of who I am. For that, it took Dick Guldstrand and Scott Brown.
"I just can't say enough about the goodness of Dick Guldstrand," Fastuca continues. "At the end of the day, when he's finished working on customer cars or limited-edition Corvette-based supercars, we end up at my house watching Corvette videos I've recorded. Pretty soon he'll start waving his hands--which means to pause the show--and tell a story about whomever or whatever the show just addressed.
"It's amazing to get a firsthand account of the actual happenings in the Corvette's history. I mean, when a guy sitting in your living room watches the video of the unveiling of the '53 Corvette at the New York Motorama and says, `I was there. Look right over there on the TV. That's where I was standing,' I realize he's been involved with Corvettes since Day One. For me, it doesn't get any better than that."
To see more images from our photo shoot, visit www.vetteweb.com.