The Automotive Industry is full of stereotypes. For example, Subaru owners all vape, Cummins owners are their own biggest fans, Porsche owners are all dentists, and Chrysler 300 owners are still saving up for a Bentley. While these stereotypes are funny and mostly accurate, none of them compare to the Corvette owner.
A ’Vette owner can be spotted at any cars and coffee event sporting jean shorts with a brown braided leather belt, a Hawaiian floral shirt that emphasizes their white chest hair, white tube socks outstretched to the knees, gloss white New Balance shoes with hook and loop velcro, and aviator sunglasses topped off with a stylish Disney golf visor.
Fortunately, there is a new wave of Corvette owners on the market, and they are a different breed than the past. This group likes to cut holes in the hood for exhaust pipes, turbos, Hi-ram intakes, all in the name of speed.
Brandon Hurdle, a body shop foreman from Kernersville, North Carolina, is one of these owners that breaks the mold. The 23-year old had his eyes set on a gorgeous, low mile 2005 C6 Z51 package Corvette complete with the basic bolt-ons back in August 2016. After chatting with the owner, he fell in love with the car and drove down to Georgia from North Carolina to pick it up. His initial goal for the car wasn’t much considering it was super-clean, low-mile, tastefully modified Corvette. Of course, like all gearheads and speed addicts, that didn’t plan didn’t last very long.
Brandon grew up with a thirst for speed, always tinkering and modifying to get every drop of power from whatever he was driving. Although he had never owned a faster street car at his age, he was accustomed to speed as he had been racing his 1960 VW beetle at the local 1/8-mile strip. His local track, Farmington Dragway, had been hosting Friday night test and tunes for years, so he decided to start taking his new ride to see what it could do.
We all know what happens when a gearhead gets bit by the bug.
At first, Brandon just wanted 400 or 500 horsepower at the wheels. As he kept meeting people with faster cars, his competitive side started to kick in and spiraled out of control. Like most of us, he went from having a weekend hobby to an obsession.
Brandon began spending countless hours in the shop working on a new goal, which was to be the fastest stick-shift LS2 Corvette in the country. With help from his friends, he was able to achieve that goal, going 5.94 at 121 mph with a 60-foot time of 1.29 seconds — of which was accomplished with a stock bottom end LS2, stock T-56 transmission, and stock rear end. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. The stock long block had seen enough abuse from the combination of the East Coast Supercharger system and a Nitrous Outlet wet 100 horsepower shot, and it was time for Brandon to regroup and rebuild the Z51.
Being a skilled body man by day, plus countless hours tearing into the car already, Brandon and his racing family started taking the car apart in his garage. The plan was to build a much faster, lighter, stronger platform out of the C6. With a mission to go deeper into the 5-second range, many of the basics were already onboard from the previous build. LG Motorsports supplied the billet spindles needed to convert the rear for 15-inch wheel compatibility, and an RPM rollbar kept him safe. The cage needed some extra bars added to meet tech, so Brandon called on Jonathan Haymore at JonnyBFab to take care of the cage work. The stock Corvette suspension worked surprisingly well, so it has stayed virtually untouched, with the exception of Viking double-adjustable coilovers front and rear.
The worn out mill was sent over to TKM Performance where it was punched out from the factory 364 cubic-inches to a larger displacement of 403. The new 4-inch bore was stuffed with a set of 11.5:1 compression Diamond Racing pistons, 4-inch Compstar rods, and a K1 crankshaft. TKM then topped the o-ringed deck with a set of Procomp 64cc aluminum heads ported by Brandon. The intake and exhaust duties are handled by a set of Manley valves and a custom Stage 4 Brian Tooley Racing (BTR) turbo cam. A Holley Hi-Ram intake manifold and a stock ported and polished 92mm throttle body finish off this combo nicely. The thirsty mill is quenched by a set of 1700cc Bosch injectors driven with a MagnaFuel 750 external fuel pump with an AEM regulator. Ignition is all taken care of by MSD, and the stock ECM still controls the ‘Vette.
The ESC supercharger system wasn’t going to cut it for Brandon’s new goal, so he decided to call Sticky’s Dyno and Performance to custom build him a turbo kit not only to meet, but exceed his goal. The turbo kit itself was built around a BorgWarner S488-SXE turbocharger. It featured all 3-inch stainless mandrel bent piping for both the hot and cold sides of the turbo system and connects to the ECS intercooler. Gasses are emitted via a Precision wastegate, while a Tial blow-off valve handles the boosted air discharge.
For the exhaust, Brandon decided on a 4-inch stove pipe straight off the back of the turbo and through the hood. He fabricated the hood for the turbo to peek through, along with the exhaust to exit straight up and out of the way.
For tuning, Brandon turned to Steven Shoaf, owner of SSLSX Tuning and Performance. The new engine combination made a conservative 1,150 horsepower at the wheels and 948 lb-ft of torque with 22-pounds of boost. Steven says there is more power on the table with boost even before the 100 horsepower shot from Nitrous Outlet is even used.
The overworked stock transmission was also due for a reboot. Tick Performance is well known for building bulletproof manual transmissions, so it just made sense to have them beef it up. They installed a G-Force gearset and hung an RPS billet carbon triple clutch and flywheel off the input shaft. An MGW shifter was used to make for quick, precise gear shifts.
Brandon looks forward to competing to be the world’s fastest stick shift Corvette. He can’t thank his family and friends enough for the support and help. He would also like to thank the companies that have stepped up to lend a hand as he looks to continue to pursue his goals with the car. You can find Brandon supporting his local stick shift classes along the East coast and also at some Street Car Takeover events this season.