It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so there's little doubt that the world-famous Chevy Corvette C6R racing team-Johnny O' Connell, Jan Magnussen, Olivier Beretta, Marcel Fassler, Antonio Garcia, and Oliver Gavin (along with the semi-retired Ron Fellows and erstwhile endurance-race driver Max Papis)-are accustomed to the adulation they receive when fans create tributes to their race cars. But as the accompanying photos attest, some of these faux track stars stand roof and fenders above the rest.
"I built my Corvette as a tribute to the 2006-2007 Corvette Racing championship team," Jaime Recabo, a motorsports attorney in Bronxville, New York, tells VETTE. "In fact, it's my second rolling homage to the team."
In 2003, Recabo bought an '04 Z06 Commemorative Edition and transformed it into a rolling panegyric to the "Les Bleus" Corvettes that raced Le Mans in 2003. "I obtained permission from Corvette Racing manager Doug Fehan to reproduce the full decal set from the No. 50 and No. 53 race cars and made my own C5-R replica," he says.
His passion for Corvette Racing continued to burn, and in 2005, he special-ordered a Velocity Yellow '06 Z06, with the dream of turning it into his second Corvette Racing tribute. "Even before the car was delivered, I had already obtained the full decal set from the No. 3 and No. 4 2005 C6.R race cars. When it arrived, I immediately transformed it into the tribute car, doing the full decal installation myself in my garage."
Due to the extreme cost of precisely duplicating a real C6.R, Recabo's plan was to mirror the championship cars in exterior appearance only. Accordingly, he sought some professional help from the Corvette aftermarket. "I obtained the carbon-fiber rear wing from LG Motorsports. Lou Gigliotti had originally run it on his World Challenge race car in Speed GT, and he sold it to me without any mounts. I found out it was originally manufactured by ACP Motorsports, so I contacted [company president] Kerry Hitt, who made me the endplates, mounting mechanisms, and duck bill, and refinished it. He also supplied me with an ACP World Challenge carbon-fiber hood, C6.R-style front-fender vents, rear-fender NACA ducts, and World Challenge carbon-fiber rocker panels." The parts were installed by Redz Auto Restoration in New Rochelle, New York, along with an MTI-sourced carbon-fiber front splitter.
Recabo says he would have been satisfied with a "good C6.R lookalike fashioned after the Corvette GT1 race cars," but his all-consuming devotion to Corvette Racing meant more needed to be done. That's when the real kicks began-with a capital "K," as in Katech Performance.
"I was a regular at Corvette Racing activities and often saw Jason Harding (Katech Director of Aftermarket Operations) and Ron Helzer (Katech Senior Engine Technician) at these events," Recabo says. "They loved what I had done but kept joking that I had to come to them to get a 'real' engine." In July 2007, Recabo obliged, tapping the company to provide one of its 550hp Street Attack LS7s-a streetable facsimile of the race-proven (and Katech-built) LS7R.
According to Harding, Street Attack 7.0L Serial #20 features a stock LS7 block stuffed with a factory forged-steel crank, factory titanium rods re-bushed with Katech solid bronze bushings, and Katech forged pistons. The stock CNC-ported LS7 heads retain their 2.200-inch titanium intake and 1.615-inch sodium-filled exhaust valves, but were outfitted with Katech high-lift valvesprings, along with PSI springs and titanium retainers. Directing the valvetrain geometry is a Katech Torquer LS7 camshaft with 220/244-deg duration at 0.050, 0.615/0.648-inch lift with the factory 1.8-ratio rocker arms, and a 110-degree lobe-separation angle. The compression ratio remains the same as stock, at 11:1, allowing the engine to run on pump gas.
While they were at it, the Katech crew also installed an Exedy twin-disc clutch and a B&B Bullet exhaust system featuring 3-inch stainless-steel pipes and round tips. They then upgraded the stock IRS with 4.10 gears and swapped out the factory suspension for a set of four Pfadt adjustable coilovers and "Pfatty" competition sway bars (1.5-inches diameter front, 1.25-inches rear). Though Katech doesn't perform header installs, Recabo also had the engine treated to Kooks long-tube headers with 1 7/8-inch primaries and 3-inch collectors.
Finally, at Corvettes at Carlisle in August 2007, the magic moment came. Recabo's C6.R tribute was delivered from Detroit and became the center display at the ACP Motorsports tent. "I didn't even see it come off the truck," Recabo says. "When I looked upon it for the first time, it was beautiful. The yellow valve covers with the black [intake] manifold was simply awesome."
The next year, Recabo added a set of CCW Corsair wheels wrapped in gummy Michelin Pilot Sport rubber. He also upgraded the interior using components from Caravaggio Corvettes (GT race seats and covers), DSVettes (leather door panels, steering wheel, and console cover), APSIS USA (carbon-fiber console, steering-wheel inserts, dash, and door-panel inserts) and Livermore Performance (Autopower four-point bolt-in race bar), performing the majority of the installation himself. Last fall, after seeing the 2009 Corvette Racing GT2 cars, he added a ZR1 carbon-fiber roof and halo, supplied by ACP Motorsports.
On September 25, 2009, at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, five senior drivers from Corvette Racing (O'Connell, Magnussen, Gavin, and Beretta, plus Fellows) autographed the C6.R clone. "I've known the drivers for so long. I was very excited to have them see the completed project," Recabo says. "Magnussen told me, 'Give me the keys, I'm going to take it on the track right now.'"
Though Recabo's tribute has never actually seen usage on a professional track, he thoroughly enjoys showing it off at events and sharing his passion for Corvette Racing with other fans. "Now I use the car mainly for enjoyment, occasionally taking it to car shows and summer cruises, and, of course, to some ALMS and Grand Am events, where it is a hit with both the race teams and the crowds. After trailering it to Petit Le Mans last year, I had a blast driving it through the paddock and parking at the Corvette Corral."
With two tribute cars in his garage, it's likely that Recabo will keep his eyes on Corvette Racing's future-generation race cars, and it's a sure bet he'll build a third tribute someday. "I'm looking forward to the C7.R race car sometime next decade," he says. "Luckily, I have car lifts in the garage, so I promise there'll be just enough room for my next tribute to Corvette Racing."