The Perfect Balance of Street and Track in a Corvette

Some of you might know how the “Grand Sport” name for the Chevrolet Corvette. If you don’t, let me explain. In 1963, Zora Arkus-Duntov was hoping to build 125 lightweight, high-power homologation-special Corvette Sting Rays so Chevrolet could qualify for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. GM smashed that plan to smithereens after Chevrolet had built just five of the so-called Corvette Grand Sports. All five were quickly spirited under the table off to legendary racers with last names like Penske, Foyt, and Hall. All five cars were raced without any factory support.

Since then, Chevrolet has revived the Grand Sport name twice – once in 1996 and once in 2010. Both of those times, the badge meant special editions with beautiful bodywork, but no massive performance gain, unlike the 1963 Grand Sports. The 1996 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and 2010 Z06 would still outperform the Grand Sports. Of course, the 2010 Corvette ZR1 was still the most serious Corvette of that generation of Corvette.

Of course, Chevrolet’s engineers went hog-wild with the C7 Stingray Z06. It’s a combination of a massively powerful engine that has been described as one of the best-sounding engines ever (I agree), absolutely brilliant suspension, and enough computing power to sequence the human genome. Yet, it’s so approachable for the average driver that it’s truly mind-boggling. It also costs around $80,000. It’s a true giant-killer, especially with a professional driver. Even without a professional driver, this is not a car you want to tangle with.

The Z06 is also quite unlike the Corvette Racing C7.R that competes in one of the highest echelons of motorsports – endurance racing. The C7.R’s that quite simply walked away with the win at this year’s 24 Hours of Daytona actually make less power than the Z06 you can get on your dealership’s showroom floor. There’s no supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V8 shrieking under the hood of the race-winning C7.R – those drivers have to make do with a 5.5-liter V8 sucking air through a restricted air intake the diameter of a garden hose. Because power is handicapped by a rule book (which didn’t stop NASCAR legend Smokey Yunick), the Corvette Racing team wins races with unworldly grip and highly aggressive aerodynamics. Let’s put it this way – their strategy works well.

It’s interesting that the new Grand Sport, which is the mid-range model, lives up to the “street-legal race car” cliche. It’s got some of the best street tires in the world, aggressive aerodynamics enhancements, and stock engine. Oh, and it comes with a warranty, something most race cars can’t brag about.

Let’s start off with the tires – Michelin Pilot Super Sports are standard tires, or even stickier Pilot Sport Cup 2s with the Z07 high-performance option package, which are the same tires you can get on the Z06. They’re much wider than the standard Stingray tires (40 mm wider up front, 50 mm wider out back), which means that Chevy had to put the Z06’s massive, bulging fenders to clear the massive tires.

GM’s truly brilliant Magnetic Ride Control is standard equipment, as is the highly advanced electronic limited-slip differential, as are the Z06-derived chassis sports custom stabilizer bars and springs. You can pair the brilliant 460-horsepower, 465 lb-ft, dry-sump LT1 V8 with a fantastic 7-speed manual transmission or a pretty darn good 8-speed automatic, both of which come with the Stingray and Z06. What does the Z07 package add? Carbon ceramic brakes, and even more aggressive aero, mostly.

Now, let’s move onto the beautiful bodywork. It’s mostly borrowed from the Z06 part bin. However, it’s got Grand Sport-specific front fender vent inserts. What about from the Z06? It’s got the Z06’s wider track (how far apart the wheels are from each other), an open-mouth front grille, and big differential cooling vents on the rear fenders. The Grand Sport has a Z06-spec front splitter, front splitters, and wickerbill rear spoiler, all of which are finished in carbon fiber in the Z07 trim. Chevy claims that they all create downforce, but the Z06’s clear plastic Gurney flip isn’t available on the Grand Sport. Oh, and then there’s a Heritage package, which adds the traditional front fender hash marks, which are now connected in a horseshoe shape. I somehow forgot to mention that Chevy has more than the entire rainbow’s worth of body, hash, and full-length racing stripe combinations.

Inside the Grand Sport, there is badging depicting the 1963 Grand Sport #002 (the only roadster out of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s original five Grand Sports) on the floor mats, headrests, and on a dash plaque directly ahead of the shifter. The brushed aluminum halo on the right of the center stack has a subtle racing stripe, which is created by rotating the brushing pattern on the metal 90 degrees during the polishing process.

Chevy says that the Grand Sport will hurtle it’s way to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, and blast through the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds. I’m going to say that’s probably because the Grand Sport has much better tires than the Stingray does.

The Grand Sport weighs in at 3,252 pounds, which is 98 pounds lighter than the Z06. Because there’s no gigantic supercharger, the hood is lower, affording much greater visibility of the road.

Even with the windows up, the A/C on full blast, and the engine contentedly burbling along at 1500 rpm in one of the Grand Sport’s many overdrive gears, you’ll still easily pull over 1 g without the car breaking a sweat. You won’t either.

We’ll move onto the price now. The Grand Sport coupe starts at just a freckle under $66,500, which is a $5,000 premium over the Stingray. It’s also about $14,000 cheaper than a Z06. If you want to drop the top on any Corvette, plan to shell out an additional $4,000. Do you want the Z07 package? Give Chevy $8,000. Even if you buy the Grand Sport convertible with the Z07 package, that still gives you about $2000 to get some accessories, or haggling wiggle room.

The Z06 is a great car – don’t get me wrong. However, the Grand Sport was designed with a different purpose in mind. The Z06 is powerful in a way that you’ll rarely be able to enjoy. 650 horsepower is more than you’ll ever be able to use on the street – with one quick stab of the gas pedal, you’ll be well on your way to jail. On the track, it goads you into probing it’s incredibly high limits, all the while serving a main course of absolutely brilliant chassis tuning and suspension, with a side of driver aides for that moment when you push it too far. To do that on public roads, you’d better have a top-notch lawyer, a very good health insurance plan, and a glovebox filled with bribe money. OK, you can forget about the last part. Cops really don’t like it if you try and give them $20,000 in $1 bills…

The Grand Sport does something truly incredible. Chevrolet designed this car to have the same absurd limits as the Z06, but never leave you feeling like it’s a waste of horsepower because you can never floor it. While grip, balance, and power all work together, which is what makes low-power sports cars so fun, they become magical when you turn the dial up to 11.

What would happen if you put the optional Z06-spec Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires to your Corvette Stingray Z51? It’s obvious that sticky tires are key to making a good car handle well. However, good tires won’t work as well unless the chassis and suspension are dialed into those tires. Even if you somehow figured out how to make those tires fit under a stock Stingray Z51’s seductive bodywork (remember that the Z06 is three inches wider in the back), you still would have a lot of work to do. The ABS system wouldn’t be properly calibrated. Stability control intervention would be much more sudden, and the brakes would slow you down almost instantly because the Z51’s brake calibration is designed for less sticky tires. That means it would apply more brake than necessary. The electronic limited-slip differential wouldn’t perform as well, either. The suspension would also be woefully undersized relative to the massive amounts of grip that the tires generate, which would make the car feel sloppy.

What does this all boil down to? It’s more than a sloppy badge job, far more than a Corvette with some random Z06 parts, and more than a throwback to a legend. It’s the real deal, folks. This car isn’t tuned to within an inch of it’s life (and yours). This is a race car for the…wait, I don’t endorse illegal activities here.

The Best Way to Make a Mazda Miata Faster

Say you have a Mazda Miata. It doesn’t matter what generation Miata you own – there are many options to make your Miata into a track monster, a daily driver with some oomph, a canyon carver that will hang around with a Porsche 911 GT3, and anything in between. If you don’t have a Miata, I highly encourage you to get one. Hop onto Craigslist, type in “Mazda Miata” and see what comes up. You can get one for $1,000, but I wouldn’t recommend that, unless you know what you are going to do (i.e. yank out the engine, put on new bodywork, etc.). If you know what you want to do, get one for cheap. Otherwise, my rule of thumb is get the nicest one you can get. Paying a few thousand dollars more for one that’s been taken care of, has a paper trail, and no accidents will mean less of a headache for you down the road.

The Miata was designed with extreme abuse in mind, so keep in mind it’s pretty hard to break them. They are durable cars, and will hold up to more abuse than many new cars.

Here are some options:

  • Monster Miata: Ever wanted to stuff a V8 into a tiny roadster just for the hell of it? That’s exactly what Monster Miata did. The overall structure of the Miata is more than capable of holding up to the massive stress of a V8. It’s almost as if the Miata was built for it! Monster Miata certainly has the expertise – they have done over 100 conversions in the past 20 years. You can have Monster Miata do the conversion for you, or you can do it yourself through their incredibly detailed instruction manual. You can buy the kit (not including a motor) for $3,995, which includes everything you’ll need to shove a Ford 302 V8 into one. You can find a Ford 302 V8 from a 1980s-1990s Mustang for $1,000. Throw in the fact you can get well over 400 horsepower without having to put a supercharger or turbocharger onto the engine, figure about $1,000 for everything. What do I mean by everything? The car, the kit and the engine. That’s a really good deal, especially because the Monster Miata cars are designed to be daily drivers, but track cars, autocross cars, and weekend warriors all in one package. Check them out at monstermiata.webs.com Doesn’t look like it’s going to fit, does it?
  • Flyin’ Miata: Flyin’ Miata started modding Miatas when they came out in 1989. They have everything from V8 conversion kits to turbocharger kits. Flyin’ Miata stuffs GM’s wonderful LS-series engines into the tiny engine bay of the Miata. The car gains less than 200 pounds, 1/3 of which is on the rear wheels. Road & Track tested one in 2013, and it hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. That’s Porsche 911 territory. Automobile Magazine compared it to the Shelby Cobra. A Flyin’ Miata will be a bit more expensive, but it’s well worth it. Monster Miata only does NA generation Miatas (first generation) conversion kits. Flyin’ Miata does V8 conversion kits for all generations of Miata. I’d go for an NC generation Miata (third generation), just because I like them the most. Oh, you can also buy used ones from Flyin’ Miata. Don’t worry about repairing them – any engine, transmission, or rear end part can be bought at any GM dealer, and most other parts can be bought at your local Mazda dealer. Want to keep the little four banger but want near LS engine power? Not a problem! You can get a turbocharger from Flyin’ Miata, as well as all the necessary parts. It’s literally a bolt-on process.

    This Miata is Flyin’ Miata’s test bed. They call it “Atomic Betty.” Several magazines have likened it to the Shelby Cobra 427.

Now, some of us might not have that kind of money. Don’t worry if you don’t – there are still plenty of options to make your Miata a speed demon!

  • Tires, tires, tires: I can’t say enough about how a good, sticky set of tires will dramatically improve the handling characteristics of your Miata. Get a set of really sticky summer tires, and if you daily drive your Miata, get a set of all-season tires that will last a while. This will mean a couple of sets of wheels, which I’ll talk about in a second. Just keep this in mind: the right summer/track tires can make the difference between winning and losing a race, but they come at an expensive price. Tires aren’t exactly the cheapest things on the planet, and considering that the Miata is a small car, you probably won’t have room to put four wheels (with tires on them), plus a cooler, tools, and whatever else you bring to the local autocross or track day. Think about towing the car if you can, or get a really small trailer. Lots of grassroots racers do that. Also, ask your friend if they will loan you their truck for a day, or ask a racing buddy who has a truck and is going to the same event if they can grab your tires.
    These might be all-season tires, but they are sticky all-season tires, along with wheels designed for the Miata.
    • Wheels can also make a big difference. A carbon fiber set of wheels will shave a good 20-30 pounds off the weight of your car. It might not sound like a lot, but consider this: lighter wheels + stickier tires = more smiles per mile. There are a lot of options for wheels, and tires.

      Like these wheels? How surprised would you be if I told you they were the stock wheels plasti-dipped, and with the center cap removed? That’s probably a modification under $100 for all four wheels.
  • Cold air intake: Want a bit more power out of your Miata, but not so much? A cold-air intake is a great investment. It works as a kind of ram-air system. They draw cold air from outside the car into the engine. Because of this, combustion requires less heat and fuel, which means a more efficient burn. Acceleration will increase, not dramatically, but you certainly will notice it. Your fuel economy will also increase, no matter how hard you drive the car. The engine note will be louder and more aggressive. It won’t bring the cops to your house at 1:30 a.m. when you’re revving it (good ones won’t), but it will have more of a roar then before. Get one from a reputable brand like: K&N (who promise, and deliver an extra 15 horsepower or your money back), Injen, Volant and Airaid. This is a great modification, and it’s pretty cheap too! One from, say, K&N, will cost about $300-400.

    Here’s an example of a cold-air intake on a Miata. Saves a lot of space in the engine bay and boosts performance!
  • Bigger brakes: If you’re planning on seriously autocrossing or tracking your Miata, invest in bigger, better brakes. You don’t need to go all-out and get massive 14-inch disc brakes – when you hit the brakes, the car will literally catapult you out of it! Step up about an inch or two in rotors, and don’t go above four-piston calipers. I’d go for EBC brakes. They provide great stopping power at an affordable price.

    EBC Brakes is a British brake company. Think of them as the working man’s Brembos.
  • Upgrade the suspension: Get adjustable coilover shocks, better struts, etc. They will make the ride a bit stiffer, but if you’re serious about driving the car hard, the added stiffness will pay off.

    Here’s an example of a suspension upgrade kit. This one is from Flyin’ Miata, and has just about all you need to keep your car a daily driver and be truly flyin’ at the track.
  • Racing seats: Most tracks will not allow you to track the car without a racing seat, a HANS device (I’ll explain that in another post), a five-point harness, a track suit, gloves and a helmet. Those are all great investments, and I’ll get to them in another post. They are a bit too much to explain how to get in this post. But, a racing seat is a great investment. Look at Corbeau, Recaro, and Sparco. They are all incredibly comfortable, and you can keep the stock seatbelts in the car, so you don’t have to buckle up into a five-point harness every time you have to go to get milk.

    Here’s a good example of a Recaro in a Miata, but just be careful of hitting the convertible top with the seat. Some seats are quite tall, and then it’s a bunch of hacking the floorpan to make it fit. The stock seat is the passenger seat, which the builder left in the car for comparison.
  • Rollcage: If you are going to track the car, definitely get one of these. A rollcage will protect you when you flip over at the track. Airbags will only do so much to save you. Not to say they aren’t great, because they are, but they won’t help very much when you flip going 110 mph. That’s where a rollcage will. The car will be damaged, but you should be able to walk away with only minor injuries. Go to a trusted and highly recommended fabricator. It should be a piece of cake for them. You should also get it padded, because a rollcage will seriously injure you if you’re driving without a helmet on. Most of the time, the padding can be removed if the track safety officials won’t allow it.

    This is a padded rollcage for a Miata, but it still allows the convertible top to go up and down.
  • Less weight: Never really used the air conditioning in your car? Rip it out and there goes about 30 pounds. Keep the heater core and all of the defroster stuff. Rip out the soft top and get a hard top. There goes another 30 pounds. Remove the spare tire and jack from the trunk, and that’s probably a good 30 pounds. This will free up trunk space, and you can get a tire repair kit. That right there is 80-90 pounds.

    Ever wondered what a stripped-down Miata interior looks like? This. It’s still perfectly functional, but all the heavy carpeting is gone.

All of these options are great. You will love the added performance bonuses all of these options give you. Think about it this way: if you don’t want a massive V8 in your Miata, all of the cheaper options I listed will total about $10,000, which is about the same price as one of the V8 conversion kits (before the engine). Excuse me, I have to go onto Craigslist and find a Miata to do all of this to. As always, donations are gladly accepted. I have always wanted one, after all…Why not go all out and get one with a V8?

What to Do When You Wreck a Racecar

Not the best shot, but it was one of the few that didn’t include fire or tire smoke.

Racing a car or a motorcycle, while fun, is never quite safe. If you do it long enough, you will surely find yourself taking a vacation off the pavement. Before you end up hitting a tire wall or get your roof sanded off when you flip, you should know what to do in the event of a crash. This also applies to if you’re driving around in your daily life.

Stop the car as quickly as you can! If you’re in a drag car, pull the parachute or floor the brakes if you don’t have a chute. If you’re in a road course car, floor the brakes. If you know that you can’t save it, you might as well crash as slowly as possible. Brace your head against the head rest. Pull your thumbs away from the steering wheel so if it kicks back at you when you land or stop, you won’t have reshaped your knuckles.

As the dust settles, take a deep breath. Can you still breathe? If you can, awesome! Figure out where you landed, but you should figure out if you are on fire first. Normally, the safest place to be is in the car, unless you are on fire. Then you want to get the hell out of your car. If you aren’t on fire, you still have some choices. If the car is still moving, or able to move, try and get it off the track, or to a corner stand where a corner worker can help you out. If the car can’t move, cut the fuel and power, and wave your arms around so safety personnel know you’re alive. If you decide to drive the car off the track, make sure you don’t dump fluids all over the track. Watch your gauges, check your mirrors for smoke and other cars, and if you have a sneaking suspicion that something is going to leak or drag, just wait for the safety crew to come to you. Stay off the racing line or dragstrip groove if you can.

Off the track, things can be just as hard. You might have had a bad crash, but thankfully not bad enough to send you to the hospital. Somehow, the track crew was able to extricate your car from the catch fence or tire wall. Watch them if you can, so they don’t cause further damage. That sounds silly, I know, but it will be easier on you if you can rebuild the car. People don’t come to racetracks expecting to crash. Most tracks will allow owners to store the car for up to a week if need be. While all tracks are different, that’s usually what you can expect. For the most part, the track will cover the cost of repairing the broken tire wall or whatever you hit. Yes, it can be rough, but gather any in-car video or data and go home. The big decisions will come the next morning.

Expect to be sore the next day. Many people have more than just money poured into their race car. Damaging or totaling a car can feel like losing a dear friend or a family member. I know this because I still dearly miss my minivan. Just know that beating yourself up won’t fix the dents. Get out into the garage or driveway and take stock. If it’s just body damage, you can get back onto the track in a couple of weeks. If you damaged the chassis or suspension, you might want to look into a new car. Suspension can get replaced, but it can cause massive problems with the chassis. Depending on the value of your car and the frequency of your racing, check out racing insurance before you have to do a full rebuild.

Many racers say that the best way to get over a crash is to win the next race. It will remind you just how much fun it is to race. Just get out on the track and have fun.

Why Racing is So Dangerous

Racing is inherently dangerous. It always has been. Deaths happen. The racing community is sad for a while, but they move on after a year or so.

The tragic death of Justin Wilson, a driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series, shook the racing community. Justin used social media religiously, and many of his fans felt like family.

Social media creates an artifice of closeness. People feel like they are part of the lives of that particular driver. This makes it harder for some people to process the death of someone they felt close to. Fatalities are still very common in the racing world. It’s sad, but it’s true.

Justin Wilson was an incredibly kind, good-hearted person who deserved only the best things in life. However, every race car driver makes a deal with the devil. That deal is that you can get killed, but you’ll die doing what you love. Racing might be safer now than it was five years ago, but it’s still incredibly risky.

The recent deaths of Jules Bianchi, a young French Formula 1 driver, and Justin Wilson, the caring, charismatic British IndyCar driver, have left me wondering if the danger that served as motorsports’ earliest appeal has run its course. Do we, as an automotive enthusiast community, have the gall to handle even more deaths?

Race car drivers in the 1950s through 1970s were modern day gladiators. Part of the reason that people flocked to the races was because of the danger element. The living legends of that era are the ones that survived. Surviving might be a greater accomplishment than any of the wins or championships that they hold. People don’t seem to accept the risks of their sport like they used to. A football player in the 1950s knew that he was going to have a traumatic injury because of the lack of safety equipment.

When Dan Wheldon died in 2011, people walked around the paddock like zombies. People seem to forget that these cars are 200-plus mph death traps that can kill you at any time. People just don’t seem to comprehend it. These cars have become so safe that people have become desensitized to death, and for older race fans (baby boomer age), it’s just part of the racing routine.

Many race car drivers in the 1950s through 1970s didn’t start a family because they didn’t want to leave behind a widow or young children. If you made it to 30 as an IndyCar driver back then, it’s the equivalent of being a front-line soldier who’s been there for 20 years. It doesn’t make what happened to Justin or Jules any less painful, but I think what has happened is that the sport has become so safe that people forget how far the sport has come.

It boils down to this: the marriage of speed, humans, physics, and competition will always produce tragedies. It doesn’t matter what motorsport you compete in. It happens in every sport. Some are just very well publicized. The percentages of deaths in various motorsports may have decreased dramatically since the 1950s through 1970s, but we can’t ignore the fact that death is a foreboding cloud that follows each and every driver. It’s never accepted nor welcomed, but it’s never outside the realm of possibilities.

It’s quite possible that the worst cliche in the world is that a driver died doing something they loved. Duh. If they didn’t love it, they would be doing something else. Nobody holds a gun to their head and tells them to go drive a race car. It doesn’t work that way. They’d much rather die in bed with the spouse of their dreams, not hit a wall at 200 mph or get hit by a flying piece of debris. These drivers don’t have desk jobs.

Being a race car driver is one of the most dangerous jobs one can ask for. Yet, these drivers are at peace with the danger. If they are comfortable with it, then we should too. There’s a racer’s mentality: Racers race, then they mourn.

Yes, we all mourn the losses of Justin and Jules, and I especially mourn the tremendous losses to their families. Jules was just 25, and Justin was 37. Justin left behind a young family. That’s the thing every married racer fears: leaving behind a family.

We would be kidding ourselves if we think that motorsports will ever be 100 percent safe. It has the capability to, but it’s just like being a soldier: you willingly accept the risks associated with your job. You don’t need to fear the reaper if you become a race car driver. Just keep it in the back of your mind.

Some of the Most Amazing American Race Cars

Racing is in America’s blood. We started off racing horses, which is still one of the most profitable forms of betting to this day. We also love boat racing, whether it be sailboats or motor boats. We also love racing planes. It should only seem logical that we decided to race cars when they came out.

Our country has created some of the boldest, most successful and boldest racecars in history. These cars are some of my personal favorites, and they only scratch the surface of America’s storied racing heritage.

  • Chaparral 2E: Chaparral’s 2D was a very successful racing chassis, the 2J earned immortality thanks to it’s snowmobile-engine-driven suction fans. The 2D was better than both combined. It ushered in the aerodynamics era thanks to it’s driver-adjustable rear wing (which was adjusted via a pedal in the cockpit) and it’s side-pod mounted water cooling system. It was pure Texan ingenuity. Every modern race car owes at least something to the Chaparral 2E.chaparral-2e-03
  • 1967 Gurney Eagle-Weslake Mk. 1: Dan Gurney was a true American racing pioneer. This is what I view to be his masterpiece. He also won a Formula 1 race in this car. That’s about as good as it gets, but I still love this car to pieces. The tiny 11,000 RPM V12 and styling that looks like a shark and torpedo are just icing on the cake.gurneyeagleweslakemk1
  • Lotus 56: It’s not just another turbine-powered IndyCar. It was a car that solidified the basic shape of most high-level race cars from 1967 on out. It sent the cigar shape packing. It also had a one-speed automatic and AWD. While turbines and AWD would be banned from future IndyCar seasons, the shape remained and evolved. Even though it’s got a Lotus name and Peter Chapman modifications, it’s still basically an all-American STP-Paxon car.lotus56
  • 2016 Ford GT GTE: There was no doubt in any car or race fan’s mind when this car rained on every other car’s parade at the Detroit Auto Show this year. It’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 has been proven in the TUDOR Championship series, Chip Ganassi Racing has had lots of success racing Fords and is ready for a new challenge, and what might be most important to those automotive fans who like to cook (like me) is the fact that the rear diffuser is big enough to chiffonade an acre of potatoes without trying. The fact that it is dressed up in a very patriotic livery makes it just that much more amazing.fordgtgte
  • Dodge Viper GTS-R Mk. 1: The original Dodge Viper GTS-R immediately proved that a big V10 is an essential asset in endurance racing. On it’s third outing at Le Mans, the SRT Motorsports team took a class win in 1998. Again in 1999 and 2000. You can’t forget the overall wins at the Nurburgring, Daytona, Spa, and the five (yes, five) FIA GT and two ALMS championships. Plus, the fact that it was incredibly intimidating helped.dodgevipergtsrmk1
  • Corvette Racing’s C5.R, C6.R, and C7.R: For 17 years, The Corvette Racing team has put three generations of increasingly amazing Corvette race cars on the track. All have had an “.R” designation, except the first, which was a “-R.” They have proved themselves multiple times. 1999 marked the first year of the C5-R, which snatched three class wins at Le Mans (among many other wins). The C6.R took seven thundering liters of American muscle around the world, and won many races. The C7.R just grabbed the GTE Pro class win at Le Mans, and that was one of it’s first races!corvettec5-rcorvettec6.rcorvettec7.r
  • Panoz LMP-1 and LMP07: Many, many years before Nissan’s GT-R LM caused folks to scratch their heads as to why a front-engine endurance race car is a good idea, Panoz’s LMP-1 Roadster S and it’s less successful sibling LMP07 proved to the world that an endurance racing prototype does not need to carry their engine behind the driver. Neither car was wildly successful, but the LMP-1 certainly got into a few good battles with the BMW V12 LMRs and Ferrari 333 SPs to snag the 1999 ALMS team championship.panozlmp-1panozlmp07
  • Ford 999: Henry Ford should go down in the history books as a stark raving lunatic (for several reasons) because he took the crude, incredibly dangerous 18.9-liter Ford 999 racecar to 92 mph (the equivalent of somebody taking a car to 300 mph today) – a world record – on a frozen lake. The frozen lake was the only place large enough to get the car up to that speed. It made a whopping 80 horsepower, a lot of noise, and had killed a man a year before. It was a brutish, outrageous car that put Ford on the map, even if he became known for utilitarian and economical Model T’s and the now-legendary 1932 Ford.ford999
  • DeltaWing: No other American creation has so upset the normality of what race cars should look like as the Ben Bowlby-designed, Panoz-managed, Gurney’s All-American Racers-built DeltaWing. The car drastically reduced frontal area to reduce drag and fuel consumption. It worked, and even sparked a copycat (the Nissan ZEOD RC), even though it didn’t achieve any incredible success.deltawing
  • Cadillac ATS-V.R: Cadillac attained massive success for ten years with the CTS-V.R in the Pirelli World Championship Series. Now it’s the turn for the ATS-V.R to take the reins. It’s got some big shoes to fill. It’s got a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 making somewhere around 600 horsepower that sits somewhere between the massive fender flares and the huge extractor hood. Between this car and the Ford GT GTE, it looks like most, if not all, future American race cars will have forced induction engines.cadillacats-v.r
  • Swift 007.i: The year 1997 was a lucky year. The team owned by Paul Newman and Carl Haas stopped running a Lola chassis, and switched to a chassis made by the American company Swift. The car had a Ford Cosworth engine, Goodyear tires, and an all-American driver in Michael Andretti. I should probably mention that it won it’s first-ever race outing. Talk about coming in with style. Oh, and I was born that year.swift007.1
  • Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe: This is quite possibly one of the most beautiful cars ever made, as well as one of the most successful. Carroll Shelby needed to make the already-successful Cobra 427 faster, but that meant he needed a more aerodynamic body. He brought on legendary designer Peter Brock, who helped design the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Brock designed a flowing, muscular body that still looks like nothing else on the track. The result was a smashing success. The car won the 24 Hours of Daytona, Le Mans, Spa, and countless other races.shelbycobradaytonacoupe
  • Dodge Daytona/Plymouth Superbird: Mopar’s “Winged Warriors” made aero cars illegal in NASCAR. That should be telling as to how good those cars were. They packed quite the punch with their 426 HEMI engines and special aerodynamics packages. NASCAR outlawed aero cars after 1970. Buddy Baker campaigned a Daytona through 1970, and Richard Petty had one of his most dominant years in 1970 with his Superbird. It’s also one of the most iconic race cars ever.dodgedaytonaplymouthsuperbird
  • 1966 Chevrolet Corvette: The 1966 Chevrolet Corvette is one of the best race cars Chevrolet ever had. It had a walloping punch with it’s 427 cubic-inch big block V8, with the code-name L-88. This engine made any car it was in a true monster. It’s still fast enough to show a modern NASCAR stock car how it’s done on a road course. It’s like carving a statue with a hydraulic shovel. 1966chevroletcorvettel88

NHRA Makes Biggest Changes to Pro Stock Class Since 1982

The National Hot Rod Association, or NHRA, recently made the most sweeping rule changes to the Pro Stock class since 1982, when they abandoned the pounds-per-cubic-inch format.

The NHRA’s rule changes are a two-phase process. The first phase of the rule changes will be implemented at next weekend’s race at Sonoma Raceway, where the NHRA Sonoma Nationals are to be held.

The changes effective from Sonoma onward are designed to increase spectator appeal, and to enhance the overall pit experience for fans.

NHRA mandated that teams must back the cars into their respective pit spots with the engines uncovered for better visibility for the fans. Crew members can no longer touch the cars during burnouts. The final change is that it is now mandatory for teams to create automobile manufacturer identification headers on the windshield of the car (not to be confused with exhaust headers) that can be sized between 4.25-4.5 inches high.

Starting January 1, 2016, all Pro Stock teams will be required to equip their cars with electronically-controlled throttle body fuel injection. This will make the engines more relevant – some engines still use carburetors. To reduce and control the costs for the race teams, the NHRA is mandating a 10,500 rpm rev limiter be attached to the fuel injection systems.

In addition to this, the NHRA has required all Pro Stock teams to remove the hood scoops, and to shorten the length of their wheelie bars to a length that is specified by the NHRA Tech Department. These changes are designed to make the cars look more like their factory counterparts, and to boost spectator appeal with the unpredictability of the class, due to more “wheels-up” launches.

The NHRA has promised to work with their new TV partner FOX Sports to improve coverage of Pro Stock races, as well as team, driver, and technical features.

“Pro Stock racing has a tremendous history with NHRA and proves each weekend by the close side-by-side finishes that it is one of the most competitive forms of racing in all of motorsports,” said Peter Clifford, NHRA president. “Through these changes we hope to provide a platform so the Pro Stock class can evolve from a technological standpoint, yet reconnect with its roots by generating more interest and appeal among spectators.”

NHRA Pro Stock 1 NHRA Pro Stock 2

How the Lamborghini V12 Has Evolved Over the Years

Lamborghini is perhaps best known for it’s screaming V12-powered supercars that seem to defy physics. Here’s how these screaming machines have evolved.

  • 1966 Lamborghini Miura: The first Lamborghini supercar was the Miura, which debuted in 1966 at the Geneva Motor Show. It was the first of the big Lamborghinis. Of course, the big ones are the ones that scare you just by unlocking them. That’s how you know a car is fast. The Miura made 350 horsepower, which was more than enough to move a car that weighed under 3,000 pounds.

    It's one of the most captivating designs of the 20th century, especially in red.
    It’s one of the most captivating designs of the 20th century, especially in red.
  • 1969 Lamborghini Miura S: It was basically a facelifted Miura with an extra 20 horsepower. Oh, and Miles Davis crashed one when he was high on cocaine. A man very revered in the racing world, James Glickenhaus, pulled the high and bloody Davis out of his totaled Lamborghini.

    Lamborghini really delivered with this one...
    Lamborghini really delivered with this one…
  • 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV: The final iteration of the Miura brought the power up to a then-absurd 385 horsepower, and lost the frilly eyelashes that previously surrounded the headlights. Lamborghini also came up with what was then a novel idea, splitting up the lubrication for the gearbox and transmission.

    This was the best iteration of the Miura. The most power, lightest weight, and all of the kinks were ironed out.
    This was the best iteration of the Miura. The most power, lightest weight, and all of the kinks were ironed out.
  • 1974 Lamborghini Countach: The curvaceous Miura was replaced by the blocky Countach, a car that looks like it was designed by a high school geometry student. It was a good car, but it was not without it’s flaws. Visibility was like looking out of a concrete bunker 50 feet below the ground. Another complaint was that the car was a much better pinup than it was a car. Just about every boy in the 1970s had a poster of a Lamborghini Countach hanging on his bedroom wall. The first version of the Countach had no massive wing and 370 horsepower.1974 Lamborghini Countach
  • 1978 Lamborghini Countach LP400S: The LP400S lost 20 horsepower, but it also got wider wheels. The 1974-1977 models had skinny little wheels and tires that had no grip to them. That famous gigantic rear wing was an option that looked super cool, but cost you 10 mph.1978 Lamborghini Countach LP400S
  • 1982 Lamborghini Countach LP500S: Just about the only change to the 1982 version of the Countach was the introduction of a 4.7-liter V12.1982 Lamborghini Countach LP500S
  • 1985 Lamborghini Countach LP5000 QV: This is my dream Countach. The engine was a 455-horsepower 5.2-liter V12. Interestingly enough, when Lamborghini switched from carburetors to fuel injection on the very same engine, horsepower dropped to a still-impressive 414 horsepower.

    It should be obvious why this is my dream Countach...
    It should be obvious why this is my dream Countach…
  • 1988 Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary Edition: It was mechanically identical to the LP5000 QV, but it had a body that Horacio Pagani (yes, that Horacio Pagani) redesigned. It was a love it or hate it design, and most people fell on the side of hate. I don’t know why. It’s still blocky, but it’s a good looking car.1988 Lamborghini Countach 25h Anniversary Edition
  • 1990 Lamborghini Diablo: Marcello Gandini started the design, and Chrysler’s Tom Gale finished it. It had a 5.7-liter V12 cranking out 492 horsepower. It’s top speed was a then-diabolical 202 mph, which exceeded the initial target by six mph. It didn’t come with power steering.

    I'm not sure I'd want to go 202 mph in a car with no power steering, especially with no electronic nannies to save me.
    I’m not sure I’d want to go 202 mph in a car with no power steering, especially with no electronic nannies to save me.
  • 1993 Lamborghini Diablo VT: The Diablo VT was the first AWD car from Lamborghini. It could send up to 25 percent of it’s power to the front wheels, which drastically helped it’s traction. It also had redesigned intakes to improve cooling, a new interior, and various cosmetic changes to differentiate it from the “base” Diablo.1993 Lamborghini Diablo VT
  • 1995 Lamborghini Diablo SV: The SV was supposed to be the most diabolical Diablo out there. Because of this, it had 510 horsepower and RWD. It was also the cheapest Diablo available, which really doesn’t make sense.

    Yes, those wheels are stock, and super cool!
    Yes, those wheels are stock, and super cool!
  • 1995 Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster: It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a Lamborghini Diablo VT with an electric folding carbon fiber top. Power went up to 530 horsepower for 1998.1995 Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster
  • 1999 Lamborghini Diablo: The 1999 model was the first year that the Diablo didn’t have pop-up headlights. Instead, the SV model, which was the base model, had the same headlights as the Nissan 300ZX. I’m not joking. It also got a new interior, ABS, and power was now at 530 horsepower. The Diablo VT got the same upgrades.1999 Lamborghini Diablo
  • 1999 Lamborghini Diablo GT: Talk about absurd. The Diablo GT was basically a race car for the road. It was stripped down, the bodywork was substantially different from other Diablos, and it had a new 6.0-liter V12 making 575 horsepower. It was incredibly fast.

    Looks can be deceiving. It might look somewhat similar to the 1995 SV model, but it is very different.
    Looks can be deceiving. It might look somewhat similar to the 1995 SV model, but it is very different.
  • 2000 Lamborghini Diablo VT 6.0: The final iteration of the Diablo got a redesign that made it look much smoother, thanks to Audi’s purchase of the company. The more subdued design, coupled with the engine from the Diablo GT made it a much better car to drive and look at.2000 Lamborghini Diablo VT 6.0
  • 2002 Lamborghini Murcielago: Yes, I know that it means “bat” in Spanish, but it is still a very intriguing car. Don’t let the name get to you. It was the first V12-powered Lamborghini to be designed and engineered in-house. It had 572 horsepower, and was only available with AWD. It also made extensive use of active aero and active cooling to keep the exterior of the car relatively clean-looking. It was also the first time that an automated manual transmission was offered in a Lamborghini. A roadster followed in 2004, with an overly complicated manual roof.2002 Lamborghini Murcielago
  • 2006 Lamborghini Murcielago LP640: The big Murcielago now made 632 horsepower from its 6.5-liter V12, and it had a slightly revised body. Carbon ceramic brakes were an option, just in case you really wanted to show how well your supercar could stop.Lamborghini Murcielago in/um Sant Agata_Bologna
  • 2008 Lamborghini Reventon: The Reventon was essentially a rebodied Murcielago LP640. It was inspired by fighter jets, and as such, had creases and angles galore. It had an interior like a fighter jet cockpit, which meant it was extremely cramped, but it had a unique TFT display, instead of analog gauges like the Murcielago. Lamborghini only built 21 coupes and 15 roadsters.2008 Lamborghini Reventon
  • 2009 Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV: The fastest Murcielago ever to leave the Lamborghini factory doors was the LP670-4 SV. It had 661 horsepower, a heavily revised body, a stripped interior, and came standard with a massive wing. The wing limited it’s top speed to 209 mph. The optional smaller wing brings the speed up to 212 mph, but also provides less downforce. You could get it with either the clunky automated manual or a true six speed manual. I really want to have one with the big wing and the six speed. Help me find one!

    How can you not want something like this, especially when it reeks of awesome?
    How can you not want something like this, especially when it reeks of awesome?
  • 2012 Lamborghini Aventador: The Aventador picked up where the Reventon left off. It’s all creases and angles, and is one of the most intimidating-looking cars in the world. The 6.5-liter V12 pumps out 691 horsepower, and sends power to all four wheels through one of the worst transmissions ever. It can never replicate the same shift. You either get shoved back into your seat, or you get an imperceptible shift. For something that costs so much, it should have a good transmission. A roadster is also available.2012 Lamborghini Aventador
  • 2013 Lamborghini Veneno: Like the Reventon, the Veneno is another extreme styling exercise. Lamborghini really went all out this time in terms of design and price, as the car cost upwards of $4 million. There are four coupes (one is in the Lamborghini museum), and nine roadsters.

    The styling might be quirky, but the performance is not.
    The styling might be quirky, but the performance is not.
  • 2015 Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SV: This might very well be the ultimate Aventador. It’s certainly the fastest. It proved itself by going around the legendary Nurburgring racetrack in 6:59. It’s just seconds off the Porsche 918 Spyder’s lap time of 6:57. The SV has 750 horsepower, AWD, heavily revised aerodynamics, and is 110 pounds lighter. And yes, Lamborghini has confirmed that they will make a roadster version of it.

    And there you have it. The latest in a long line of high-performance cars. This is the most diabolical, yet civilized of them all.
    And there you have it. The latest in a long line of high-performance cars. This is the most diabolical, yet civilized of them all.