I gravitated towards a menacing 2016 C7 Corvette as I was walking around the NHRA Royal Purple dragstrip pits during TX2K in Houston, Texas. The multi-color camouflage wrap contrasted the similarly styled McLaren 720s pitted next to it, each car ready to battle.
The first thing that came to my mind? SICK – which is appropriately spelled out on the back license plate.
The owner, Ryan Lewakowski, was wiping down the Corvette after it’s long journey from Parker, Colorado when I interrupted him to geek out over his ride. Ryan told me he was not a massive fan of Corvettes, but he loved the C7’s styling, and it won him over.
While the livery doesn’t add any horsepower, it gives fellow drivers a warning to not mess with this Corvette. “There is a stigma of owning a Corvette,” Ryan said.
As observed, the Corvette doesn’t have a driver with New Balance shoes and a Hawaiian print shirt to fit that stigma, but rather it is a purpose built, street driven, race car. It is easily one of the best C7 Corvettes’ I have seen to date.
Like most TX2K participants, Ryan’s C7 Corvette is a street driven monster. “I love being able to fill it up with pump gas, and beat almost anything I come across,” he gleefully said.
The C7 sits on a set of Forgeline wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires which allow it to be a track ripper, while the factory GM interior gives the comfort of a street driven car. A pair of Nitrous Express bottles – a wedding gift from his wife – is mounted behind the seats.
The nitrous controllers and gauges are hidden behind the in-dash display, one of the smartest features of the build.
In addition to the unsuspecting stock interior, the engine, including its heads and cam, transmission, and driveline are all factory. I know what you’re thinking, why and how?
Ryan’s goal is to break a record as the world’s first stock motor C7 to hit an 8-second quarter mile. Ryan said he wanted to “blow some people’s backs out on the street that had full motor/elaborate builds and to do it with my stock motor and transmission car.” If that is not a perfectly good reason to build a car, I don’t know what is.
After popping the hood for me, I could see the nitrous kit neatly mounted with the purge pipes cleverly installed in the hood venting. This was also when I realized the Corvette had dual power adders as a huge Whipple Supercharger sat atop the engine huffing in air and nitrous oxide.
“The most difficult part of this build was trying to pioneer one of the first Whipple kits ever made for this car as well as adding custom spray bars to it,” Ryan told me. It currently has a 200 shot, but Ryan shared another hard decision he faced was how much nitrous to blow through the engine.
When building the C7 Corvette, Ryan was challenged with finding a tuner who was not scared of his goal and knew what to do. Consequently, Ryan turned to Brian Huntsbarger who tuned this Whipple Supercharged C7 to an earth-shattering 1,102 wheel horsepower and 1,356 wheel torque. Pretty impressive coming out of a factory engine.
Ryan shared that he has sprayed over 600-pounds of nitrous through the block and it has proved to be incredibly reliable.
“I am always out ripping while my friends are fixing their cars. As soon as they finish them up, they lose to me and then break again” Ryan said. This build really shows the strength of General Motor factory components and can serve as inspiration for someone starting a new build and considering a platform to start on.
Ryans’ C7 Corvette was entered into the street-legal drag racing class which sported over 50 high horsepower cars such as Supras, Challengers, and Mclaren’s. I spied on his C7 Corvette throughout the weekend at TX2K crossing my fingers I would see an 8 in the lights.
Unfortunately, no records were broken at this event, with the fastest time being a 9.2 but that won’t stop Ryan from pushing farther to get into the record books, “I am always messing with it and will continue to do so until another platform comes out that interests me, possibly the new C8 coming out, but we will see” Ryan said.
For now, the camo wrapped, Whipple supercharged, nitrous C7 Corvette will be breaking necks on Colorado streets defining Power & Performance.
Photography by Dimitri Lazaris