The Corvette C8 is hardly considered a dragstrip stormer, but that hasn’t stopped a brave group of fans from chasing glory in a straight-line frenzy. Recently, Steven Fereday of Late Model Racecraft has placed his name at the top of the list of the fastest Corvette C8s of all time as he rode his 2020 Corvette Stingray to a best speed of 8.83 at 160 mph during the Quick 30 Texas Speed Syndicate event in Houston. Park Raceways.
It could be argued that the mid-engine Corvette platform has brought some street credibility since its early days. Mark Carlyle pushed one into the 10-second zone within two weeks of the 2020 Corvette hitting dealer floors. He accomplished the task thanks to a bolt-on nitrous kit that upgraded the LT2 engine, a set of lighter wheels, and a pair of Mickey Thompson drag radials. Fereday’s endeavor was clearly much more complicated, as you will see.
Also, this isn’t the first time the Corvette C8 has been pushed into the 8-second zone; the honor belongs to Fereday’s friend Anderson Dick, who is the founder of FuelTech, a technology company renowned for its innovative engine management systems in the upper echelons of motorsports. The two collaborate on various R&D projects, and a pair of 8-second Corvette C8s prove that think tanks are better than going the solo route.
The ins and outs of the Chevy LT2 Small-Block 1,500-HP
In a world of 5,000 hp turbocharged engines, making 1,500 hp shouldn’t be that hard, right? One would think so, but the main challenge of the Corvette C8 is Global B’s electronic architecture, which includes encryption to prevent cyberattacks. This works fine for its intended use, but has wreaked havoc on the aftermarket’s ability to offer calibration updates to improve performance (more on that later). Let’s take a look at the hard parts of this turbocharged LT2 powerplant.
Fereday and his crew knew they needed to strengthen the LT2 engine platform, where he suggested increasing the pistons for an increase of more than 8-10 psi. He turned to Late Model Engines (LME), a company he’d worked with for nearly 20 years, to rebuild the newest small block Chevy engine. The factory block now houses a forged piston and a stronger connecting rod, which swings the factory crankshaft. The plant head was transported but the team chose to keep the stock LT2 camshaft.
When it comes to the intake manifold, LME designed it specifically for this application and built it using a solid piece of billet aluminum. Included in the new design is a key feature: an additional set of fuel injector bungs (more on that later as well).
The unnatural aspiration belongs to the twin turbochargers of the Precision Turbo and Engine, and Fereday joked about admitting the size, but he kept those specs like a true street racer. The Turbo is installed in the Late Model Racecraft kit available to customers. This setup features a top-mounted turbo that can be seen through the clear cover, and is also mounted to the factory exhaust system. In fact, the Late Model Racecraft offers its own brand of after-paint exhaust/muffler system (stainless steel or titanium) for those who want more power and better sound from their latest Corvette model.
The factory TREMEC TR-9080 eight-speed transmission is dual clutch and electronically locked, as is the engine control. The Group overcomes this challenge with a mechanical solution, and estimates the current limit at 1,500 hp.
Late Model Racecraft has dissected and studied the transmission for two years and used several techniques to work with its twin-turbo setup. Fereday admits it’s not perfect and says his goal is to make it act like the DCT setup on Lamborghinis and other exotics in the drag-racing and roll-racing scene. However, it gets the job done for these apps at current power levels.
The first step is to replace the factory clutch, filling the basket with as many Dodson clutches as the unit can fit. Further helping to increase clamping power to line pressure and shift pressure, two elements he admits to adjusting, though he’s been quiet about how the shop gets the job done. This upgrade kept the clutch working properly, but Fereday continued the R&D solution as the engine could produce 2,000 hp with more thrust.
The CV axle has been upgraded for added power and traction, which is on par with the previous Corvette generation at this level. This vehicle also benefits from drag racing wheels and tires, which are supplied from LG Motorsports. 15-inch wheels from Weld Racing, and radial drag rubber from Mickey Thompson.
Overcoming Electronic Limitations
As mentioned earlier, encryption in Global B electronics poses a major challenge for the automotive aftermarket. The walled ECU has held back the amount of modification and performance on the Corvette C8 platform, hindering the rapid development of parts in that segment. There has been some progress, and HOT ROD is currently working with the manufacturer to showcase those results, but most of the ECUs have been the limiting factor.
Fereday turned to the race car segment of the Late Model Racecraft business for solutions and stood there FuelTech, ready to help. The Brazilian engine management system has its roots in the United States as it has established itself as one of the leaders in the drag racing and other motorsports market. A collaboration with Anderson Dick, founder of FuelTech, resulted in a jumper harness system to adapt the FT600 engine management system to the LT2 engine platform.
The factory ECU operates independently, while the FT600 comes alive when the manifold sees a pressure increase. Remember the second set of port injectors on the LME billet manifold? The fuel cell is mounted in the front luggage compartment and the Aeromotive brushless fuel pump supplies additional fuel to the injectors—all controlled by FuelTech. The FT600 also handles boost controller and traction control while monitoring factory sensors. This technique is common with the 2,000+hp Lamborghini and Audi TT supercars running around events like the TX2K.
Fereday and Late Model Racecraft plan to hit the 2,000-hp level in the coming months as they work with clutch specialists to find a solution to maintain that kind of power. Once they unlocked the nitty-gritty of clutch durability, it was game for exotic hunting at the biggest event across the country.
Photos and Videos Courtesy of Late Model Racecraft