The Ultimate Conquest: John Lazorack’s LS3-Powered ’88 Chrysler

The beginning of Superman shows feature the line, “It’s a bird, It’s a plane”….and then someone eventually figures it out, “It’s Superman!” John Lazorack has to go through a similar process every time he shows up at a track with his car.

“It’s a Mazda, it’s a Toyota,” John eventually helps them out: “It’s an ’88 Chrysler Conquest tsi.”

The car is a bit more than that: it’s the ultimate Conquest…one with a 2010 Corvette LS3 powerplant, and according to John, it is the fastest road course Conquest on the planet.

John is 36 years old, lives in Michigan, works for GM and has had this Chrysler Conquest since he was 16 years old. It’s his first car, a car he has built, rebuilt, torn down, and rebuilt again a total of five times. Every time he rebuilds it, it just gets faster and faster.

“Every part on the car was designed by me and fabricated by me,” John says. “Since I was 16, when I started working on the car, I had a lot to learn. So, this was the first car I ever welded on, which means those rookie welds are still on the car.”

John designed and built every aspect of this car, including the pronounced box flares which he said were based on the IMSA racecars of the 1980s. The flares are a key component to getting more rubber on the ground to support the LS3 power under the hood.

John always wanted to be a racecar driver. When he was financially able, he just built a racecar out of the car he had in the driveway: the Conquest. He put a 10-point roll-cage in it and started working on making the car faster. The first LS powerplant to end up in the Conquest, an LS1, was from a friend’s garage.

“My buddy had this LS1 sitting in his garage, I gave him $1,200 and a case of beer, and it was mine,” John shares. “The install wasn’t easy — the framerails in the engine compartment aren’t parallel, and I had to cut the center console to fit the transmission. These modifications were important because I wanted the engine in a certain position for weight distribution.”

After the LS1 came an LS3, which is currently putting down 515 horsepower and 499 foot-pounds of torque. The Conquest routinely bests new Chevrolet Corvettes and Nissan GT-Rs around road and autocross courses. The air intake is a custom aluminum piece with a K&N air filter.

People don’t recognize what kind of car it is because the Chrysler Conquest is pretty rare, and that uniqueness means it has almost zero aftermarket support. According to John the car is a “nightmare to work on” because nobody builds anything for it. This is the same story shared by Chris Rankin, who drag races a Conquest. John has had to send parts back and forth to companies to get specific things fabricated. He had to have headers specifically built for the car. But even with the headaches of having to design and build every aspect of the car, John says it’s worth it.

“It’s a great chassis and I hunt down modern Corvettes each time I go to the track,” he says proudly.

The aerodynamics package designed by John was created to ensure downforce everywhere, especially at autocross courses where speeds aren’t as high. He is considering updating it to make the car effective at bigger tracks, like the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

John’s Conquest is a street car and completely road-worthy, although it spends most of its time at the track. John has drifted the car, drag raced it, autocrossed it, run road courses in it, and competed in the Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car Challenge, where he has won the GTV class numerous times. He has also competed in the Global Time attack, Unlimited Class, earning multiple wins and podiums.

The car is always on rails — any understeer can quickly be balanced by using the throttle.- John Lazorack

“I enjoyed drifting,” John says. “I designed my own custom knuckles to get more steering angle.” John considered running the car in drift events, however, he didn’t want to see the car damaged by being struck by another driver. “I love sliding the car, but I just don’t want to risk it at a drift event.”

John has found a lot of success in the Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car series, winning numerous events in the GTV class. These events are for street legal cars that compete in design/engineering, autocross, speed stop challenge, road rally, and time trial. John’s Conquest has proven to be a well-rounded performance machine earning wins in these various challenges.

With a new son at home and a full-time day job at General Motors, John finds his only time to wrench on the Conquest is the middle of the night. Eventually, he goes to bed only to wake up a few hours later blurry-eyed to head in to work in GM’s advance design, clay and digital modeling unit.

“I work with a lot of talented people at GM,” John shares. “Any time I have an issue, I know I have people there I can talk to who can help me figure it out.” With all of that support from the General, John’s Conquest uses a stock GM engine management system. The car also has a stock GM TR6060 transmission with a Centerforce DYAD twin-disc clutch and Centerforce flywheel.

To slow down the LS-powered Chrysler, John uses 14-inch, six-piston, Wilwood brake calipers up front and 12.5-inch, four-piston, Wilwood brake calipers at the rear. To put power down John runs 315/30R18 Falken RT615k+ tires on 18- by 12.5-inch wide BCForged MLE 52 wheels.

John is never perfectly satisfied with his Conquest — he sees it as a canvas to continually keep painting on. For next season he is updating his coilovers with custom pieces by BC Racing. The Global Time Attack Super Lap battle is heading to the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in 2020 for the GTA finals. John ran the Conquest at Circut Of The Americas (COTA) and realized quickly his car didn’t have enough fuel capacity for the huge race track.

“The Conquest is sucking down so much fuel I started having starvation issues.” John explains. “I will need to update the car’s fuel system and the aero package for COTA.”

The interior of John’s Chrysler Conquest is all business for racing. It has been completely redesigned using carbon-fiber, suede, and aluminum. John uses Autometer gauges and a Samsung In-Dash display for data.

The car was pretty advanced for its time. These cars came standard with heated mirrors and digital displays way before other vehicles did. – John Lazorack

With all of the modifications John has done to the Chrysler, some of the components are still stock. “The entire rear of the car is totally factory,” John says. “The rear differential is stock Mitsubishi.” Mitsubishi? Yes, the Chrysler Conquest and the Mitsubishi Starion were the same car. Essentially, the Chrysler was a rebadged Mitsubishi-designed sports car in the 1980s. “The car was pretty advanced for its time,” John adds. “These cars came standard with heated mirrors and digital displays way before other vehicles did.”

John says he has “exhausted everything the car can do,” which means he will probably rebuild the Conquest for a sixth time. Aero upgrades, new coilovers, and tuning will step up John’s game for the 2020 racing season.

John’s Conquest has put up some very impressive numbers, especially on 200 treadwear street tires. The Conquest has run the 1/4-mile in 12.1-seconds at 118.7 mph. He has run the car around Buttonwillow Raceway (Clockwise 13 configuration) at 1-minute, 56-seconds. According to John, “the car is always on rails — any understeer can quickly be balanced by using the throttle.” While on-track, John puts on a crowd-pleasing show, tossing the rear of the car around and smoking the rear Falken tires. “It is an absolute blast to drive in anger,” he says. “The more you push, the more it pushes back. The car loves it.”

The amount of aero work already put in place and designed by John is impressive. This street-legal track monster is a nice balance of power and design. John even painted the car himself using a factory Chrysler color: Rio Red.

As noted previously, the connection between John and his Conquest began long ago.

“I was at a used car dealership looking for a car when a girl pulled up in a shiny red sports car,” John explains. “Knowing nothing about it, I asked if it was for sale. It was. I took it for a test drive and had to have it. It was cool and made all sorts of turbo noises. Essentially the car found me.”

John has owned the car for over 20 years and admits he has had a lot of “firsts” in the car.

John wants to move from autocross competition to more full-track style events. John said, “I enjoy chasing down fast cars on the track. It’s a rush.”

With a solid platform in the Mitsubishi/Chrysler Starion/Conquest chassis and a proven engine, with a 2010 Corvette all-aluminum LS3 powerplant, John’s Ultimate Conquest is a proven track beast with many wins under its belt, from autocross to Optima Ultimate Street Car and Global Time Attack. With John’s ability to design and fabricate to improve the car, the sky is the limit for how many more events this Ultimate Conquest will win.

About the author

Rob Krider

Rob Krider will race absolutely anything. He is a multi-national champion racing driver and is also the author of the novel, Cadet Blues.
Read My Articles

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