Ever wanted to get in your Vette and just let 'er rip, to go as fast as you could in a straight line, no holds barred?
Art Barrera has. He purchased an '07 Z06 new five years ago and "drove it around" for a couple of years, just enjoying it. Then the high-speed fun started. Barrera got involved with the Texas Mile, and that's where we met him earlier this year. The place was Chase Field, outside the small town of Beeville.
Vettes were all over the place. We saw a highly modified midyear run about 150 mph, and spoke with a C6 ZR1 owner who said he'd hit 171 mph. (He further claimed he'd seen other stock ZR1s top out in the low 180s.) As with most motorsports, weather conditions played a big role in determining the cars' ultimate performance.
We struck up a conversation with Arnold Schoech, owner of Arnold's Vettes, who told us his C6 Z06 had run 197.6 mph at the event the previous October. This time around he was helping his friend Barrera run flat-out in his own Z06. The two were expecting to hit the magic 200-mph mark, thanks to a few horsepower modifications.
"We added about 80 hp over my Vette, so right now Art's car is running 750 [hp] at the rear wheels," Schoech informed us, adding that the car had already posted a 191-mph run earlier in the day.
Schoech popped the hood to reveal a near-show-quality engine compartment. Lines from a Nitrous Express system were one indication of the car's potential, but other than that, the LS7 didn't appear that far from stock.
"We added forged pistons, a camshaft, and the nitrous, plus we milled the heads for about 12.1 compression," Schoech said.
The transmission and differential remained unchanged, though the car had been lowered and sports a set of Pfadt shocks.
Schoech has considerable experience with Corvettes at the Mile. He says stock Z06s tend to run about 165 mph, while stock ZR1s are around 10 mph faster. As speed increases each additional mph takes more horsepower than the previous one. He has come to believe that a C6 Corvette needs an extra 250 hp to bump its standing-mile terminal velocity from 190 to 200 mph.
Taping the body helps with aerodynamics. The advantage comes from preventing air from rushing into the openings between the fiberglass panels. Simply put, a smooth body has less drag.
Schoech confirmed this, adding that, "Air under the hood will also cause the front end to raise a little bit."
Tires are another important consideration. We noticed that the ones on Barrera's Vette were of a road-racing design and had no tread pattern. Although fitted to the stock 18-/19-inch (front/rear) wheels, they were sized about 20mm wider than the factory rubber.
Inside, the driver seat had been replaced with a Corbeau bucket fitted with a Simpson shoulder harness. (The passenger seat remained stock.) Barrera wore a helmet and a full racing suit for his pass. He sat behind the wheel, looking straight ahead, unable to turn his head to hold a conversation as he waited his turn to approach the starting line.
With the rear hatch open, we could see the Pfadt four-point rollbar and the nitrous bottle. Other than that--and the aero-enhancing tape--the car didn't look that much different from stock. And yet here was Barrera, poised to bust the 200-mph barrier in a scant 5,280 feet.
The next run proved a disappointment, as the lights flashed 176 mph at the end of the mile. Back in the pits, we learned the reason why: a nitrous solenoid had failed, preventing the car from getting a full dose of the power-enhancing gas. While Schoech fixed the mechanical glitch, Barrera explained why he went with nitrous as a power adder.
"Nitrous provides instant torque. A supercharger or turbo might build a lot of horsepower quickly, but the torque lags behind. You need a lot of torque to get to 200 mph." With the full 100hp shot of juice, the modified LS7's torque measured a massive 740 lb-ft at just over 5,000 rpm, a figure that would take an extreme build to match, blown or not. Using nitrous meant Barrera could keep his Z06 friendly on the street, yet potentially capable of a 200-mph blast in the Texas Mile.
And yet it was not to be. Over the course of the weekend, Barrera made a total of six runs, none of which yielded the desired result.
"There were three runs at 193.8, one run at 191, and the nitrous failed on two others," he told us. Still, Barrera is sure he'll top the magic 200-mph mark one day. For now, he wears a T-shirt that boasts of his membership in the "190+ MPH CLUB"--not bad for an '07 Z06 with a few mods and a shot of nitrous.