Rick Crawford is a mechanically-inclined person that oversees aircraft maintenance during the day. When Rick isn’t making sure airplanes stay in the air, he’s helping other people go fast in their land-based vehicles through his shop, Rick Crawford Racing. Rick’s supercharged 2009 Pontiac G8 GT could be the ultimate family car that car every gearhead in the world has dreamed of.
When Rick was a young lad, his father had a 1965 GTO that he was always wrenching on, and Rick was right there by his side holding a flashlight or handing him tools. It didn’t matter what the weather was, how grumpy his dad was, or how dirty the job, Rick was ready to help in any way he could. He would even sit in his dad’s GTO pretending he was banging gears and driving the car as fast as he could when no one was around.
“I used to get kicked out of our local convenience store — they’d tell me it wasn’t a library, because I would stand in there and read all the car magazines. I would even read a Chilton manual cover to cover because it explained how vehicles worked. All of that learning allowed me to teach myself how to do all kinds of things when it comes to cars. That desire to learn and try things, mixed with always pushing myself further, has put me where I am now,” Rick says.
All of the reading Rick did paired well with his natural mechanical aptitude, and that allowed him the ability to fix almost anything. When he turned 17, he borrowed $1,000 from his father so he could buy his first car, a 1970 Buick Skylark.
“The car was in more boxes and pieces than together. The 455 cubic-inch Buick motor was torn apart in the basement, but was fresh from the machine shop. It didn’t take long to get it running and driving. After owning the car for five years, it progressed from its humble beginnings to a nice street/strip machine,” Rick states.
Rick joined the Air Force when he graduated from high school and was stationed at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. The Buick was Rick’s only mode of transportation, and since he drove it everywhere, it grabbed the attention of a shop owner who had a nasty 5.0-liter Mustang. That meeting would present Rick with an interesting new opportunity in the form of a side job turning wrenches on performance cars.
“Every hot rod guy needs a second job to fund the hobby, so I started working as an auto tech at the shop on and off an did that for the next 12 years. I did everything from changing timing belts to installing supercharger kits and building different kinds of engines. On the weekends I would pull crew chief duty on the owner’s Mustang that we raced,” Rick says.
Eventually, his Buick started to turn from a street-driven race car to a race car that was being driven on the street, and that made it hard to enjoy. Rick was also having issues getting the Buick performance parts he needed, so he decided it was time to change things up.
“The performance-car world was going EFI everywhere you looked. It became apparent to me that if I wanted to use what I did to fund what I loved, then I needed to be able to tune an EFI system. At the shop, we used a bunch of canned tunes and modified parts as a workaround on EFI systems. We never really got into any tuning or chip-burning for different applications. I never liked depending on some generic canned tune when I was working on a car. The shop never wanted to get away from the canned tune solution, but I did, so I went out on my own,” Rick explains.
It was around this time that Rick started to hunt for a modern muscle car, and the G8 caught his eye. Rick was home visiting his family in Wisconsin around Christmas in 2008 when he stopped by a Pontiac dealership in Milwaukee. That’s when he first laid eyes on his G8. The car was the color he wanted and the price was right, so he pulled the trigger and purchased the G8.
“My poor G8 turned into a guinea pig and test mule for anything I wanted to try in a hurry. There have probably been over 50 different torque converters in the car from about anyone that made one for a 6L80 transmission. At the time, when the dyno was the iron rule, mine was the track, where I built my own set of rules of ‘worked and didn’t work,’ ” Rick says.
Rick’s excursion into the high-performance EFI world with his G8 and other vehicles has led to numerous records and wins at the track. Chris DeCortes was the first person to dip into the 9-second zone with a naturally-aspirated G8, thanks to the package that Rick put together for him. Rick has won two Heavyweight class titles at TX2K behind the wheel of his 2014 CTS-V that runs deep in the 8.70s. The G8 has run a best of 8.40 at 161 mph, so it’s safe to say that he knows how to make GM passenger cars go really fast.
The track is where Rick measures the performance of what he’s built.
“For me, racing is the final piece of the puzzle…it tells the story of what you have done. The track shows you how fast a car can go and what will it take to go faster. I enjoy track rentals where I can tinker with the car and work on laying down a new personal best,” Rick explains
Rick has put a lot of time and effort into learning the craft of how to extract the maximum amount of performance out of any vehicle. There are a few people that have helped him along the way, and he’s grateful for their assistance.
“Adam Cooper at ACE Performance has really been a big help with my program. Jeff and John at Menscer Motorsports have always been there for me. Chris and Brady at CircleD Specialties have provided great torque converter support. Tim Bradham at TBC Race Cars has been a vital part of what I do. Richard over at West Coast Cylinder Heads has helped me make lots of horsepower. And I also need to thank my wife, Jennifer Crawford, for all of her love and support,” Rick says.
Rick Crawford’s supercharged G8 GT is everything you’d ever need in a performance sedan. The combination has been refined to near perfection and the numbers it lays down at the track support this. Think about it — what’s not to love about a four-door family car that’s ripping off 8-second passes on a regular basis?
Car: 2009 Pontiac G8GT
Chassis: TBC Race Cars
Engine: 417 cubic-inch LS built by Rick Crawford
Heads: AllPro LS7 12-3
Crank: Wiseco 3.900-inch stroke
Connecting Rods: R&R Racing Products 6.125-inch aluminum
Pistons: Wiseco 6cc dome pistons with tapered HD pin
Camshaft: COMP Cams
Power Adder: 2300 LS9 with an LSA snout machined and modified for fitment
Transmission: Factory 6L80 built by Rick Crawford
Torque Converter: CircleD 258mm triple disc
Fuel System: Aeromotive
EFI System: Factory E38 ECU tuned by Rick Crawford
Rearend: Custom 9-inch
Suspension: Koza Automotive and Performance lower control arms, tubular front subframe, and Menscer Motorsports shocks
Brakes: TBM front and Wilwood rear
Wheels: RC Components