photos by: HaFast/GAP Racing
GAP Racing Builds a Car Outside of Their Comfort Zone
When the C5 Corvette first came out on the scene in 1997, it was considered to be the next step to being more competitive on the world stage. The old school small-block was out, and an all-aluminum engine went in place. The chassis was completely revamped and we finally received a transaxle; essentially combining the rear differential and transmission into one unit.
This substantially made the Corvette far more competitive, better balanced and a better car to drive on the track, and on the street. By the time 1999 rolled around, there were a total of three different body styles of C5 Corvettte; coupe, convertible and hardtop, also known as the Fixed Roof Coupe (FRC).
Destined to be a more track-focused car, it sold in very small numbers, really only appealing to the more dedicated road racers. Looking to recoup some of the tooling costs, and to get more copies in the hands of enthusiasts, Chevrolet dialed the car up to 11 for 2001. A new LS6 powerplant provided 40 additional horsepower, up from 345 hp in the base car at the time, to 385hp (405hp in 2002-04). The brakes and suspension were improved, and brake cooling ducts were implemented into the recipe.
A few slight additional tweaks, as well as a name that would harken back to the road racing Corvettes of the 1960s; Z06, made the automotive world stand up and take notice. The Z06 would live on the sixth-, seventh-, and as of this writing, rumored to live on into the eight-generation Corvette. The car’s performance was outstanding, especially for the time, and it wasn’t long before the racers, hot-rodders and tuners got their hands on them.
Even today, we’re still seeing this generation of Z06 being scooped up by some of the biggest names in the game, including by our friend, Tim Palazzolo, owner of GAP Racing. Tim picked this car up a few years back with an idea of doing something different, for him and his business.
Tim’s personal background, in addition to owning a business that focuses on creating some of the most impressive pro-touring classic muscle cars on the planet, has always been centered on drag racing. It’s in his blood, as he’s been around it since childhood. But when it came time to take a road a little less traveled, he turned to the C5 Z06.
Now largely regarded as a budget-minded sports car found on the secondhand market, Tim wanted to take this example and turn into something you rarely see these days; a professionally built C5, that exemplifies top quality work using the finest hardware.
Under the hood is 417 cubic-inches of LS3, built by Late Model Engines (LME). Starting with a Callies Compstar crankshaft and connecting rods, the rotating assembly was assembled with high-RPM road racing in mind. A set of forged Wiseco slugs complete the bottom end for added durability, and helps provide a 14:1 compression ratio. An AVIAD dry sump pan and pump, and an Elite Engineering catch can keep the bottom end assembly lubricated for street and track duties.
Heading up top, is a Cam Motion hydraulic bumpstick, utilizing a 252/264 duration, a .526/.626 lift and a 111+4 lobe-separation angle. Trick Flow 255 heads make quick work of the spent fumes, and were assembled and milled by LME, with a competition level valve job thrown in for good measure.
On the induction side, a LME billet intake manifold, twin GM LSA 90mm throttle bodies, a card-style MAF sensor, and an Airaid C6 Corvette cold-air kit feeds the engine with fresh oxygen. As we all know, an engine is essentially an air pump; the more oxygen that you can feed into it, and force out of it, the more efficient it is. Getting air in is one thing, but if you don’t have the right exhaust system in place, you’ll be leaving a lot of power on the table.
That’s why the team at GAP Racing installed a set of LG Motorsports 1-7/8 long-tube headers, paired with GAP’s own custom X-pipe and Black Widow mufflers — all utilizing 3-inch diameter exhaust tubing. Each of these components do their job of providing the perfect balance of sound, performance, and optimum exhaust flow.
Airflow is only one-third of the equation when it comes to a well-performing engine; there’s also fuel and spark. The former is handled by a quadrant of 95-lb injectors and a high-flowing fuel pump, whereas the latter is balanced out by JDP-spec Taylor 8.2mm Thunder Volt spark plug wires with heat socks and NGK TR6iX plugs. The total package cranked out 679 horsepower and 531-lb ft. at the rear tires. With the engine sorted out, let’s turn our attention elsewhere…
Backing the stroked LS3 is a MGW-shifted Tremec 6-speed gearbox, that is the perfect complement to the car, especially when paired with a 3.90-geared IRS. The rear axle has been tweaked with a pair of G-Force Renegade axles, that keeps cool with the help of a Doug Rippie differential cooler. These mods may not be that necessary for a stock, daily-driven Vette, but if you’re creating a lot of heat in your drivetrain from extreme [ab]use.
Despite being known for its handling and braking, this C5Z has been outfitted and updated with Wilwood‘s road race brake kit to help bring the car to a halt much quicker than its stock binders ever could. To keep it planted in the turns, Pfadt front and rear splined sway bars, PAC front and rear springs, JRi double-adjustable shocks and LG Motorsports bushings help the stock front and rear upper and lower control arms with handling duties.
Rounding out the package are front and rear aero modifications, a carbon fiber hood and a set of Forgeline GA1R wheels, measuring in at 18×11, squared, at all four corners. They’re wrapped in sticky Bridgestone RE71R rubber, sized 315/30/18 all the way around. The rolling stock looks great and really ties in the whole package together aesthetically, as well as provide functionality.
Despite all of these amazing updates and improvements, Tim has sold the Corvette, since the car was captured on camera. But that’s not to say that the car will fade away into oblivion, in fact, quite the contrary.
The Corvette is now owned by Chad Farischon of Oklahoma, and he’s been campaigning the car in various autocross and road course challenges over the last year. It may not be the latest Corvette to come out of Bowling Green, but with the help of speed shops like GAP Racing, it’ll do more than hold its own for years to come.
- CAR: 2001 Corvette Z06
- OWNER: Chad Farischon
- ENGINE BLOCK: LS3
- DISPLACEMENT: 417 cubic-inches; built by Late Model Engines
- CRANKSHAFT: Callies Compstar
- PISTONS: Wiseco; forged
- CAMSHAFT: Cam Motion; hydraulic, 252/264 duration, .526/.626 lift, 111+4 LSA
- ROCKER ARMS: Stock LS3, w/Steve Morris trunnion upgrade
- CONNECTING RODS: Callies Compstar
- CYLINDER HEADS: Trick Flow 255; milled and assembled by Late Model Engines with Competition Valve Job
- COMPRESSION RATIO: 14:1
- IGNITION: JDP-spec Taylor 8.2mm Thunder Volt wires w/heat socks, NGK TR6iX plugs
- INDUCTION: LME billet intake manifold, twin GM LSA 90mm throttle bodies, card-style MAF sensor, Airaid C6 Corvette cold-air kit
- OILING: AVIAD dry sump pan and pump, Elite Engineering catch can
- EXHAUST: LG Motorsports 1-7/8 long-tube headers, GAP Racing X-pipe, Black Widow mufflers, 3-inch diameter exhaust tubing
- FUEL DELIVERY: 95-lb/hr injectors
- TRANSMISSION: GM/Tremec T56, MGW shifter, Doug Rippie cooler
- CLUTCH: Monster; twin-disc and flywheel
- DRIVESHAFT: Driveshaft Shop; 4-aluminum
- REAREND: GM IRS, 3.90 gears, G-Force Renegade axles, Doug Rippie cooler
- SUSPENSION: Pfadt front and rear splined sway bars, PAC front and rear springs, JRi double-adjustable shocks, stock front and rear upper and lower control arms w/LG Motorsports bushings
- BRAKES: Wilwood; road race brake kit
- WHEELS: Forgeline GA1R (bronze) 18×11 (front and rear)
- TIRES: Bridgestone; RE71R 315/30/18 (front), 315/30/18 (rear)
- HP/TQ.: 679/531 (at the wheels)
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of GMEFI Magazine, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.