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The Lifestyle

Driving Your Corvette In A Parade? Review Our Rules

by Keith Cornett on December 20, 2005

Many times as Corvette owners we are asked to drive participants in parades, homecoming football games and other pageants that require motor vehicles. Parade driving is a lot of fun IF you follow the rules. Unfortunately for a retired fire chief from Gastonia, North Carolina who drove his midyear Corvette in a Christmas parade, the rules did not include: Drinking Heavily Before the Parade
Running over the Feet of Spectators
Carrying a Handgun
Resisting Arrest
Yes, a retired fire chief with a .22 blood alcohol content was arrested for suspicion of drunk driving during a Christmas parade after he drove his classic Corvette over the foot of a spectator. Our fun-loving chief was also carrying a .22 pistol and yes, he resisted arrest. For most Corvette owners, these rules are no-brainers. But let’s review just in case we miss something. Don’t drink and drive in your Corvette. Driving a Midyear should be intoxicating enough without the alcohol. Stay in the center of the parade route. You are not a Shriner riding on a little motorcycle. You might want to consider declining the invitation to drive in a parade if it requires the driver to carry a handgun. Finally, should you be drink and drive, hit a spectator, be arrested on DUI and gun charges, make sure that when you resist arrest you do it in front of a television camera so the rest of can see what a dumbass you are.

Corvette Video Podcasts

by Keith Cornett on December 13, 2005

iTunes is much more than just an online music store. The site now offers video downloads, but more importantly has become a hub for publishers of audio and video content called podcasts. Edmunds.com is now offering through iTunes free downloads of their video podcasts of automotive reviews. All three 2006 Corvette models are currently available for viewing, along with 21 other models. The videos begin with a 15 second commercial and then go right into the review, which last about 2 1/2 minutes. What’s really cool is that you get to see and hear the Corvettes perform. With the Z06, they show the car on the highway as well as running on a track. The video for the Convertible was particularly enjoyable for its visuals and descriptions. While Corvette enthusiasts won’t learn anything new from the video reviews, they are entertaining to say the least. iTunes is a free download and works on both Macs and PC’s. The videos are available for free download, so there are no costs associated with viewing the content.

The Z06 on the Mother Road

by Keith Cornett on December 9, 2005

It’s a trip most Corvette enthusiasts only dream about. The Mother Road, Route 66, stretches more than 2,000 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica, CA. While I am too young to remember the television show, the dream of crossing half the United States in a Corvette is something that I vow will one day happen. Until then, I will just have to enjoy the exploits of those who have actually done it. Bill Baker of Edmund’s Inside Line recently took to the Mother Road in the Mother of all sports car, the 2006 Corvette Z06. Reading his story, I find myself imagining I am riding shotgun as he is crossing California’s Mojave Desert:

“… I could see the road ahead was empty to the horizon. I dropped the six-speed gearbox from 6th to 4th and floored it. Like a cathedral pipe organ playing Bach’s “Toccata” with all the stops out, the 7.0-liter, 505-hp LS7 V8 began to thunder and howl toward its 7,000-rpm redline. The dual-stage mufflers opened to release back pressure and a soul-stirring roar that echoed off the mountains. The head-up digital speedometer and tach display changed numbers faster than a premium gas pump totals dollars. 105, 118…think, look, stay on it. 139 — the front end is feeling light over the rough pavement. Stare at the horizon ’til your eyes harden — and keep your foot planted. 145…flick your eyes for an instant to check the HUD. 154 mph. Things are beginning to blur… there’s a slight rise loomin…”
Bill offers an excellent account of not only the Z06, but of Route 66 as it exists today. Today’s Route 66 features a mix of Historic signs, museums and restored buildings with their classic neon signs alongside towns with vacant store fronts and rusting relics. Bill, thanks for the ride… Click here to read the entire article. (Photo Credit Bill Baker)

Corvette’s Tom Wallace Q & A

by Keith Cornett on November 29, 2005

New Chief Engineer Talks About Racing, Restoring and Teaching Respect for Automobiles

On Jan. 1, 2006, Tom Wallace will officially become the car guy with the best job in the world. On that date he will succeed Dave Hill as Corvette chief engineer and vehicle line executive (VLE) for performance cars. Wallace will become only the fourth person to carry the title of Corvette chief engineer in the marque’s history, joining an exclusive club whose membership includes Zora Arkus-Duntov, Dave McClellan and Hill. As the head of the Corvette Nation, Wallace will become the steward of the Corvette legend and the head of an extended family of Corvette enthusiasts, owners, collectors and racers. He is the right gearhead for the job, with more than 30 years of experience as a hands-on builder, restorer, race car driver, and all-around car nut. Wallace, 57, was born in Pittsburgh. He began his GM career as a cooperative student with Buick Motor Division in 1970. He held several engineering positions focusing on engine technology and played a key role in the development of the turbocharged Buick Grand National coupes of the early ’80s. Wallace most recently was vehicle line executive for Small/Midsize Trucks. After competing in amateur drag racing and gymkhana, Wallace started road racing with the Sports Car Club of America more than 30 years ago. He has competed in a variety of sedan and GT classes with raced-prepared Oldsmobile, Buick and Chevrolet models. He raced professionally in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) American Challenge series in 1978-79 in several endurance races, including the Sebring 12-hour and Daytona 24-hour events. Wallace now races regularly in the Detroit area and has twice won the GT1 championship at Waterford Hills Raceway. He has competed in the SCCA National Championship Runoffs six times. His sons, Brian, 35, and Tom, 38, are avid road racers who also have competed the SCCA Runoffs. In the following Q&A, Wallace discusses racing’s impact on both individuals and auto manufacturers. How does your racing experience influence your approach to your new position as Corvette chief engineer?

The one thing that racing absolutely drives is discipline in timing. When they call the cars to the starting grid, you can’t say, “Hold on, I need some more time.” You can’t let it slide; you have to look at the end point and plan your work to be completed before grid time. The second is the need for balance in the product. You can have a great motor, but if your chassis doesn’t work, it’s not a good race car. If you don’t have a good driver, a good crew chief and a good crew, it doesn’t work. If you run out of money and can’t buy tires, you’re done. You must balance all of the components. It really is critical to understand you can’t allow one thing to override the whole vehicle. Last but not least, you learn it’s no fun to finish second. Winning is everything in racing and in the marketplace we’re in today.
How does racing impact production vehicles?
Dave Hill and his team have done an awesome job with the sixth-generation Corvette. I’ve been fortunate to drive an early production Z06, and it’s one incredible vehicle. First and foremost, we’ll continue to build on this strong foundation by continuously improving the current vehicle and developing the next generation Corvette. I like performance vehicles, I drive them and I own them. I race fast cars so I understand what it takes to make a vehicle feel good, how it’s connected to the driver. I don’t mean we’re going to build race cars, but there is definitely cross-over from racing to production. For example, how does the brake pedal feel relate to how the vehicle decelerates? A race car has exceptional brake pedal feel, and the driver knows he has complete control of stopping of the vehicle. That brake pedal feel may be too touchy for the street, but you can start there and dial it back to where it’s right for everyday driving. Another example: good on-center steering feel is absolutely essential in a race car. To go fast in road racing you must hit the apex within inches every time. The only way you can hit the apex accurately is to have steering with such excellent on-center feel that you know exactly where the front wheels are. Customers who drive on the street also want great steering feel when they’re driving down the highway. The vehicle doesn’t wander, and when they see a pothole, they know exactly how much input they need to drive around it.
How did you start in racing?
When I was in high school, I loved racing and fast cars. I don’t know where that came from, perhaps from one of my grandfathers who was mechanically inclined. I was fortunate to get a degree in mechanical engineering from General Motors Institute and started my career at Buick. A few months after I moved to Michigan from Pittsburgh, I bought a ’67 RS Camaro. It didn’t have a radio or air conditioning, but it did have big disc brakes, a four-speed transmission and a 4:10 rear axle. I drag raced it for a while, did some gymkhana, and finally decided to go road racing.
What is the appeal of road racing?
When I was drag racing, I put in hours and hours of effort to make three or four 14-second runs. I didn’t like off-road rallying with a car, and I didn’t own a truck. Then I did some gymkhana races in parking lots, going around pylons, and that really interested me. My Camaro was 18 inches above the ground when I was drag racing, and then I had it slammed on the ground for gymkhana. This was my family car that I drove to the grocery store, and I torched the fenders and flared them to fit bigger tires. I liked that kind of driving, so I decided to try wheel-to-wheel racing. I went to a couple of driving schools and I got hooked. That’s what I’ve done ever since.
And you passed on this interest in racing to your sons?
I don’t know whether it was intentional, but it happened. When my sons Brian and Tom were young, they were interested in cars. They came out to the garage and helped me, and I started to teach them. By the time they were eight or nine, they crewed for me on the race car. Years later they went to Phoenix with me on a business trip and we found two rust-free Camaros that we could restore. We brought them back to Michigan and restored them as a family project, and to this day they both have beautiful Camaros.
What did you teach your sons through their involvement with automobiles?
One of a parent’s worst fears is that a young driver will be hurt in a highway accident. I didn’t have that worry because my sons had so many hours invested in their cars that they would never do something foolish. They had learned respect for their automobiles. They also learned that you have to pay attention to details and to strive for perfection if you want to be successful in racing. Those are traits that carry over into the rest of life.
What is it about Corvette that excites enthusiasts?
It’s the American sports car icon. There is some formidable competition, but Corvette has been around the longest, it offers the best value and the best balance. Corvettes are fast, and enthusiasts appreciate performance. When I attend races and see hundreds of cars in the Corvette Corrals, I’m in awe. I’m going to spend a lot of time with Corvette owners because they have red Bowtie blood in their veins. Corvettes have always raced, but Corvette wasn’t officially in racing until 1999. What’s the importance of having Corvette Racing competing as a factory team? Before the formation of Corvette Racing, much of the factory racing support had a very low profile. It was helpful, but it wasn’t as effective as a true factory-backed team. I think that today’s Corvettes are absolutely better because we are officially connected with the race team. I intend to do everything it takes to ensure that Corvette continues to be the icon for the American sports car.
Is being the Corvette chief engineer a dream job, something you imagined as a teenager?
Being a gearhead, Dave Hill and I had a great relationship. We’d bounce ideas off each other, and he’d ask me to drive an engineering development car for a few days and give him my opinion. Even before getting this job I was driving a Z06 because he knew I’d drive it hard. So yes, it’s a dream job, and it’s still sinking in how awesome it is.
What’s your current race car project?
I had a tube-framed GT1 Camaro that we raced in SCCA. My crew chief, Mike Begley, and I built it identical to a Trans-Am car, about 2300 pounds with 700 horsepower. I just sold that because we are building a new car, and just coincidentally, it’s a Corvette.
Will your new job responsibilities cut into your track time?
I certainly hope not, but if they do, so be it. It may take some time for me to get integrated with the Corvette group, but I’m not going to cut out track time completely from my schedule.

NCM Modified Corvette Exhibit

by Keith Cornett on November 27, 2005

The kick off of the National Corvette Museum’s 2006 display season will feature a special “modified Corvette” theme, recognizing Corvettes that have been externally modified. The NCM is looking for members who own modified Corvettes to contact Betty Hardison at: betty@corvettemuseum.com or 800 538 3883 x141 for more details on submitting a Corvette for this special display. Visit the National Corvette Museum.

Corvettes on TV

by Keith Cornett on November 21, 2005

Thanksgiving always brings back memories of hitting the road (over the hills and through the woods) to visit family and partake in Thanksgiving feasts and this year will be no different as my family heads out on a nearly 2,000 road trip from Florida to Kentucky. Unfortunately, no visit to the NCM will be made during this trip, but we will be attending the UK vs Tennesse football game on Saturday in Lexington. While I’m gone this week, I won’t be doing any posts to CorvetteBlogger.com, however my TiVo will be very busy. SpeedTV is offering several shows that focus on the Corvette or muscle cars in general. Here is what is on my list: Old School Corvette Racer
SpeedTV – Thurs, Nov. 24th
Tom, Peter and the rest of the Dream Car Garage crew build a vintage racer from the junked remains of a ’69 Corvette and go racing. Small Block Shootout
SpeedTV – Thurs, Nov. 24th
From the producers of Dream Car Garage, Small Block Shootout features four small block pony cars, representing the street versions of the legendary Trans-Am cars that battled it out on road courses across North America during the 1969 and ’70 seasons. American Muscle Car is running a marathon on Friday. Two of their shows include: The Mako Shark and Beyond
SpeedTV – Fri, Nov 25th – 1pm
America’s first sports car is 47 years old and still going strong. Okay, so the program is a little dated, but that is the beauty of classic corvettes – they never change! The Man Who Invented the Small Block
SpeedTV – Fri, Nov 25 – 10PM
Ed Cole’s quest to create Chevy’s first V8 engine transformed Chevrolet’s from low-buck transportation into the raciest cars ever made in Detrot.

What Would Jesus Drive?

by Keith Cornett on November 18, 2005

Okay, I admit that Jesus probably wouldn’t be driving a Corvette. And even if he did it would probably be a Convertible, not the 505 Beast. I see him more as a sedan type fellow anyways. Maybe toolin around town in an Impala SS. Hey, gotta have some room for the flock, right? I came across the Church Sign Generator while visiting Joe Sherlock’s The View Through The Windshield. And while the Z06 reference is the first thing that came to mind, I am sure that by tomorrow I’ll come up with half a dozen more. I hope I don’t go to hell for this post so I’ll try to make it a little fun. Leave a comment on what year/model of Corvette you think Jesus would drive and why. The one I like the best wins a free Corvette Price Guide – A $15 Value!

LS7 Factory Tour

by Keith Cornett on October 20, 2005

Tony V. (aka Mr. Zippy on DigitalCorvettes.com) recently shared his thoughts with us after visiting GM’s Powertrain Performance Build Center in Wixon, Michigan. The center is where the Corvette Z06 LS7 V-8 engines are assembled. Tony was actually the first 2006 Z06 owner to visit the plant and during the tour he met the technician responsible for his engine assembly. One of the cool things we’ve learned about the LS7 is that one technician is responsible for the entire engine assembly. Following testing, a small plaque with the engine builder’s name is affixed to the LS7. According to Tony, you can find that plaque at the inboard side of the #8 cylinder head closest to the firewall. The plaque is under a hose that runs along side the head. Gently move the hose out of the way to view. A photo of Tony’s tag reads: Performance Build Center
Wixom, MI.
Assembled with Pride by
Dale Swenson During the build process, the technician has a number of sub assemblies ready to bolt on to the engine block. The heads already have valves, springs, etc. as received. The tech installs the head assembly to the block and a special computer controlled tool runs the bolts in and then torques each bolt. This is recorded on a file for quality control. The technician watches a display screen showing “green” when each bolt is correctly installed and torqued. Each engine is run on a test stand to check for leaks. After shipping from the PBC, each engine is “hot tested” at an outside facility to ensure the HP, Torque and again check for leaks. The assembly process has 10 stations. Each completed engine is subjected to a 20 minute loaded hot test. The block is deck plate bored & honed. Fully CNC ported cylinder heads, with titanium intake valves. These heads are a work of art! Here’s a quote from the PBC Site Manager: “We’re all very proud of the fact that the LS7 engine is the first engine in the history of the Performance Build Center. We understand how important the small block engine is to Corvette owners. We want Corvette owners to know we’re just getting started – we expect many more great things ahead.” On a related note, Motor Trend magazine editors Frank Markus and Todd Lassa visited the Performance Build Center and actually assembled an LS7 engine. Click here to view the video at Motor Trend.

Jeff Gordon’s Z06 TestDrive

by Keith Cornett on October 19, 2005

Get those TIVO’s and DVR’s ready. SPEED Channel will be putting four-time NASCAR Cup Champion Jeff Gordon behind the wheel of the new Corvette Z06 at Road Atlanta on Test Drive, SPEED Channel’s popular program featuring host Tommy Kendall. The show is set to air Saturday, October 22 at 6pm EST.

“I had never been to Road Atlanta and I got the opportunity to drive one of the best Corvettes they’ve ever brought out,” Gordon said on SPEED’s NASCAR This Morning. “The Z06 has a lot of power, handles fantastic and looks great. I had a blast.”

Footage was also shot at the famed Le Mans road course in France with Corvette factory driver Johnny O’Connell.

“This program brings together two great Chevrolet champions – Jeff Gordon and Corvette,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. “There is no better example of the interaction between racing and production than the advanced technology that is shared by the championship-winning Corvette C6.R race car and the award-winning Corvette Z06, a 505-horsepower supercar that you can drive every day.”

Information about the Z06 TestDrive program can be found at SPEED Channel.

 

Corvette Racing Scores 1-2 Win

by Keith Cornett on October 16, 2005

The C6.R Corvettes roared through the final race of ALMS Racing Series at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and finished with a 1-2 victory to give Corvette Racing the GT1 Championship for the 2005 series. Drivers of the Number 4 Corvette Oliver Gavin and Oliver Beretta won the race for the win and GT1 Championship over teammates Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Conell driving the Number 3 Corvette. The 2005 ALMS season saw the Corvette Racing team sweeping the GT1 manufacturers championship, the drivers championship, the team championship and the pit crew championship, as well as victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Petit Le Mans. “It was one of the best races of the season, seeing five GT1 cars all on the same lap and battling it out through the Corkscrew,” said Gavin, who ran the fastest lap of the race en route to his 15th ALMS victory. “The Corvette C6.R has come out of the blocks flying, and today it was untouchable. I’ve been working for this for the last three years, and finally won the drivers championship. I’m very pleased.” Corvette Racing’s next event is the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in Sebring, Fla., on March 18, 2006.