After owning his '01 C5 for a little over a year, Austin Hickman decided to take the mildly modded Vette to a new level and employed Gary Harmon and Horsepower Engineering (HPE) in Houston to do it. HPE is well known for wringing maximum power out of LS engines, so the shop was well suited to the task of building a nasty LS7 stroker inhaling copious amounts of nitrous oxide.
The 440ci engine features Trick Flow GenX 235 heads that provide a compression ratio of 11.5:1. A custom Nitrous Outlet direct-port nitrous system is set to kill with a 300-horse shot and an FJO progressive controller. A look beyond the engine reveals adjustable QA1 shocks at each corner and a battle-hardened Dynotech Engineering rear that receives power via an RPM Transmissions Level 6 4L60-E automatic. On the dyno at HPE, the LS7 put down 550 rwhp on motor alone and a tad more than 850 with the juice flowing. Having already ripped off a 9.67 on drag radials prior to our event, Hickman's C5 looked like a real contender for low-e.t. honors.
Hickman started by setting the progressive controller on a 70-300hp ramp, dialing in the shocks (10 clicks up front and 5 in the rear), and launching at 1,500 rpm. The result was an impressive 60-foot time of 1.61 en route to a 9.69 e.t. at 145.73 mph. Hickman kept tuning the suspension and nitrous settings, and by the fourth run the car had improved to a 9.56 e.t. at 149.5 mph. The final run was the most aggressive of the day, with a 120-300hp nitrous ramp yielding a 9.54 e.t. at 149.55 mph.
Hickman had smashed his previous best while managing the impressive feat of getting consistently faster as the day wore on. With future plans calling for a dual-stage 500hp nitrous shot, this C5 should be a legitimate 8-second contender in better weather conditions.