If you’re in the car scene, odds are you have heard of the term “sleeper.” For those who haven’t, a sleeper is usually an unsuspecting car from the factory that’s been modified in the way of performance and horsepower. It’s fast, but its outward appearance is carefully curated to hide that fact. From 2006 to ’09, Chevrolet produced a sleeper in the form of the Trailblazer SS (TBSS). Typically, engineers design the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) to be the go-to vehicles for families, especially soccer moms and dads who need something more capable than a minivan with more room than a sedan. With some SUV’s based on car chassis and others based on truck platforms, Sport Utility Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes.
So what happens when the Corvette engine is placed in an SUV with truck-like suspension and brakes? You get a fun, proficient vehicle that everyone can pile into and go out and maybe even surprise a Mustang or two at the stoplight.
Enter Chris Becker and his 2007 Trailblazer SS. Chris took his SUV a few steps further than factory with the addition of a built motor, transmission, and a drag race package for better traction at the dragstrip.
Chris is no stranger to LS-powered vehicles — from a twin-turbo, LS-powered Nissan 240 to a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, he’s been around some fast cars. He states that his Trailblazer SS, which he dubbed the “Milk Truck,” has been the most fun he’s had with anything owned to date.
Chris has always been around cars and racing, and this hobby was passed down from his father. He didn’t grow up with much, so every time something broke, he had to figure out how to fix it. Things started getting serious when he got into the process of hydro-dipping. With business booming, Chris decided to open up a shop in Anderson, South Carolina called Better Built Customs. He then invested into Alignment Plus Automotive as a co-owner, also in Anderson, where they now have a dyno.
With the help of a friend in Connecticut, Chris found the 2007 rear-wheel-drive (RWD) Trailblazer SS, which had a bad motor and transmission that needed some help. He knew the potential of the truck, so he bought it, brought it to his shop, and with the help of his friends, was able to get the 13-year-old SUV back in tip-top shape.
People expect it to be slow, being that it’s a heavy SUV…. that is until they see it leave the line with both front wheels off the ground. – Chris Becker
“I’ve had more fun in my milk truck than I have ever had in any other vehicle. People expect it to be slow, being that it’s a heavy SUV…. that is until they see it leave the line with both front wheels off the ground. It really throws people off, and they love it,” he says.
From the factory, the SS came equipped with the heart of the Corvette: the LS2, rated at 395 horsepower. Chevrolet backed it up with a 4L70E transmission, which was offered it in both RWD and AWD models. Chris started his build by pulling apart the stock 370 cubic-inch LS2 and, with boost in mind, began ordering parts. He knew from experience that a positive displacement-style supercharger could not only make some power but also dish out some abuse. For this build, only the best components would do.
The stock block was machined and reused, but the displacement was increased by way of a Dart crank and connecting rods, along with Callies boost-friendly pistons. When it was all said and done, the factory 366 cubic-inch engine was punched out to 402 cubes. The guys over at Brian Tooley Racing got the call for a nice boost-friendly cam, and Chris opted for a stage 4 blower cam. Rounding out the long block, Brodix handled breathing duties with a set of its BR3 ported cylinder heads. At this point, just the long block alone had some potential for excellent power, but why stay naturally-aspirated when you can have boost?
Chris was able to get his hands on a 4.0-liter Whipple supercharger, complete with a Crusher intake elbow. This combination is good for over 900 horsepower and 950 lb-ft of torque on 25-pounds of boost at the wheels. The TBSS might be heavy, but with this kind of power, it’ll surprise some muscle and sports car owners.
Chris took care of all of the tuning duties of the beast himself on the dyno. The stock transmission was replaced with a much more robust 4L80e, with a Circle D 3800 stall, triple-disc converter to get the Trailblazer SS rolling.
Aesthetically, Chris didn’t change much on the outside other than a cowl hood to give the large Whipple some breathing room. The stance, on the other hand, has changed quite a bit. A set of Belltech KW coilovers were used to get the TBSS closer to the ground. The stock 20-inch wheels were replaced with a set of Weld Racing S77B 20-inch front runners, and 15-inch beadlock rears all wrapped in Mickey Thompson rubber. Chris decided on a set of 315/60r15’s on the rear to get the gearing right on the street, being his SS is a real grocery-getter. Inside, an RPM four-point, bolt-in roll cage was added in for safety. A weight rack was also integrated into the rollbar so Chris can add weight safely when needed, based on race rules or track conditions.
Chris loves seeing people at the track react to how well his Trailblazer runs. So, how does it perform on the track, you’re surely asking by now?. Unfortunately, the Trailblazer SS is untested on the new boost setting of 25-pounds, but the 5,000-pound SUV, on 16-pounds of boost, has run a 10.20 at 133 mph with a 1.38 60-foot — impressive for a vehicle its size and weight.
Chris likes to get out to the track as much as possible and can be found at races all over the East Coast. Like most though, his favorite events are the Street Car Takeover series, which he frequents. Be on the lookout for this monster of a grocery-getter at these events and more as he gets it completely dialed in on the new boost setting.
I’ve had more fun in my milk truck than I have ever had in any other vehicle. – Chris Becker
Chris would like to thank his wonderful wife and their two amazing kids for allowing him to do what he loves and joining him when he is trackside. As well, he gives credit to his father for getting him into racing at such a young age and giving him the passion he loves so much.