Race-prepared, stock 1990 ZR-1 Shatters a 50 Year 24-Hour Speed Record
Dateline: 5.22.17 (This story first appeared in the May 2017 issue of “Vette Vues”) – Racing Corvettes used to have a long history of durability issues. There are many reasons why Corvette racecars had durability issues, but one of the biggest is easy horsepower. It’s always been relatively easy to get a lot of power out of a small-block or big-block Chevrolet engine. If a builder is more oriented towards drag racing, the temptation for an extra 50-horsepower is just too tempting for many builders. That’s fine for drag racing where a car is stressed to the max for a matter a seconds. But in endurance racing, you have to finish to win.
From the perspective of the mid-1980s, the new C4 Corvette was light years ahead of the previous two-generation Corvettes. In the mid-1980s Corvettes were so fierce in SCCA Showroom Stock racing that after two years they were kicked out for being too fast! So, the factory-built Corvette racecars duked it out in their own series, The Corvette Challenge. Breakage with the C4 cars wasn’t much of an issue thanks to the much-improved structure and suspension, plus the cars weren’t powered by massive, torque-monster big-blocks.Continue reading “
Dateline: 7.19.11 Chevrolet didn’t make a C4 ZR-1 Roadster, but Metalcrafters of California got the job done and today, Michael Beal of Connecticut is still enjoying this unique high-performance Corvette!
For most Corvette fans, there was “that day” when a Vette stole your heart. For Michael Beal, it was the jewel-like LT-5 engine that powered the C4 ZR-1 Corvette. The beautiful LT5 engine may well be one of the most underdeveloped engines in Corvette history. While the numbers don’t look impressive by today’s standards, when the first 375-horsepower ‘90 ZR-1 was finally unleashed, heads spun faster that the rear tires of the new beast. By ‘93, Corvette engineers tweaked here and there and bumped the LT-5’s power output to 405-horsepower. It is worth reminding readers that in March 1990, a race-prepared, Morrison Motorsports ZR-1 shattered records at the 7.71-mile Bridgestone Tire test track in Texas with an AVERAGE 24-hour speed of 175.885-MPH!!!
And least you think this was a stripped down, lightweight ZR-1 – no, no. FIA rules mandated that the car carry spare parts incase of a breakdown. Consequently, the ZR-1 was carrying an additional 300-pounds of gear! And, to add a little “sauce for the goose” for the story, the track was just three lanes wide and had no guard rails! One of the team drivers was the famous Kim Baker. You’ll get to learn a little of what Kim is up to these days in the below story. There’s also some insight as to how much red meat Chevy engineers left inside the LT-5.
Too bad the ZL-1/LT-5 didn’t arrive two or three years sooner. Too bad Chevrolet didn’t make a roadster ZR-1. Apparently, ZR-1 fans asked the same question, and a few did something about it! Below is Michael Beal’s delightful story of how he came to own one of the few ZR-1 Roadsters, and his meeting with Corvette legend, Kim Baker. Here’s Michael.Continue reading “Michael Beal’s 1991 ZR-1 Roadster!”→