More times than not, we find the many cars we feature here while enjoying a car show or hitting up a cruise-type event. While this has certainly worked in our favor, it neglects to include some of the most incredible cars out there – those that drag race, auto cross, and road race. Ed Crowe’s 1998 Corvette is such a car.
Discovered this year at an event at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, this gnarly C5 is well worth an in-depth look. Sporting twin turbochargers, a shot of nitrous and an astounding amount of horsepower, Crowe’s Corvette is a force to be reckoned with on the track. But it’s not just the car’s power and performance that got us interested. Rather, it’s the story that ties it all together.
A Corvette Enthusiast In the Making
Having gotten into the automotive hobby by a fluke (Crowe’s parents had bought a ’59 Vette new that his mother got in their divorce, although neither parent really had any interest in cars), Crowe has always been a Corvette guy. Upon graduating from high school in 1972, Crowe received his parents’ vintage ’59 Corvette, complete with white exterior and a red interior, and just 40,000 miles on the odometer.
After a car accident claimed the ’59, one in which Crowe was thankfully not hurt, he bought a ’58 for $1,000 before selling it to purchase a ’67 with a factory L88 engine and 4-speed transmission. Painted yellow with black stripes, the car became known as the Yellow Jacket Corvette, helped along by the “Yellow Jacket” moniker painted on the side.
Unfortunately, after just a month of ownership, Crowe’s Corvette sucked the air cleaner nut and bolt down the intake, cracking the block on its way down. To remedy this, Crowe, who had become a certified mechanic by this time under the instruction and support of Union Oil gas station owner Harley Parks, bought a new L88 open-chambered head long block from the dealer and had it blueprinted and balanced by Townsend Racing Works in Tuscon, Arizona.
Once fitted with the new engine, Crowe’s Corvette was the fastest street car in Tuscon, running a 12.2 quarter mile. Still to this day, people remember Crowe’s old Yellow Jacket Corvette.
Jumping To The Present
Just like with many enthusiasts, there comes a time when owning a “fun” car isn’t practical. Crowe ended up selling the ’67, moving back to California, getting married and having two daughters before purchasing another Corvette – a used 1989 C4. After putting 115,000 miles on the car, Crowe then traded up, purchasing a ’98 C5 with only 11,000 miles on it in 2000 for $38,000. Thus began the immense project of creating Crowe’s potent track car.
“I wanted to build a street car that ran on pump gas and [went] as fast as possible, be reliable and keep it able to be driven anywhere,” Crowe told us of the build. The result is what you see here.
Now, if you’re under the impression that all drag cars look significantly different than their street-running counterparts, Crowe’s Corvette has already proved your theory wrong. Having had no body modifications what so ever, Crowe’s car even sports its original white paint all in the name of being inconspicuous.
Chassis modifications on the car are also virtually non-existent, though the parachute mount, required for NHRA competition on any car topping 150 MPH, is a bit of a giveaway to this car’s speed potential.
Inside, the car is just as the factory intended minus the full cage, which is tucked up so close to the removable roof and A-pillars that it takes a trained eye to spot it, and the parachute lever. Driving down the street, the only indication that this Corvette is not your ordinary street car is the aforementioned parachute perched on the back.
Power to the Pavement
With Crowe’s Corvette looking strikingly stock, where the real magic happens is under the hood. Popping that puppy up, you’ll find a 427 cubic inch short block, ERL-built LS3 with a Callies Dragonslayer crankshaft, Manley Pro Billet H-beam rods and Wiseco 9.6:1 pistons, featuring Swain ceramic coated tops and skirts. Adding even more oomph is a hydraulic roller camshaft from COMP, custom ground by Jim Voyles at Cal Speed, a FAST 102 LS7 intake, Nick Williams 96mm throttle body, West Coast Cylinder Heads All Pro LS7 style heads, and a Nitrous Express plate with a 150 wet shot activated off the line.
Mounted in the rear of the car are a pair of 70mm P-trim Magnum turbochargers. On 16 pounds of boost, the car cranks out 1,068 horsepower to the rear wheels. Since putting in the setup, Crowe has upped the boost to 19 PSI, and guesses that the car makes well over 1,100 RWHP now.
Supporting the powerhouse under the hood is a highly modified 4L60E transmission built by RPM and a Yank Pro Series 3,400 stall converter. The transmission is attached to a stock-style driveshaft, pushing power back to the RPM-built rearend with a Quaife center and 3.73 gears. Helpful suspension components on Crowe’s car include poly bushings in the control arms and QA1 single-adjustable shocks.
For wheels and tires, Crowe runs a number of combinations. For street use, the car gets the factory wagon wheels wrapped in Nitto 555 rubber. On the track, Crowe runs Rich Bogart 17×5-inch rims with 17-inch M&H Front Runners on the steering end. On the back, the car uses a pair of 16×10-inch Centerlines wrapped in either DOT Hoosier Quick Time Pro rubber or Hoosier slicks.
With the car expertly set up, Crowe has gone on to win the 2012 NMCA True Street class at Pomona, winning the award of all awards for a drag racer, a Wally. He also won at the 2012 True Street Finals at Famoso with an 8.98-second quarter mile at 157 MPH. To top it all off, Crowe’s car has been featured in two issues of National Dragster, two issues of FSC Magazine and an issue of Chevy Performance.
Congratulations goes out to Crowe for owning such an amazing car. Of course, Crowe mentioned that none of it would have been possible without the help of Cal Speed owner Jim Voyles and Crowe’s wife Mary, “for putting up with my addiction to Corvettes,” said Crowe.