So far, the C8 Corvette has been a nightmare for the enthusiast and the performance aftermarket. The GM encrypted code on the ECU has yet to be cracked, and companies are frantically working to solve this problem for tuning purposes. And while it looks like there’s not going to be a breakthrough any time soon, C8 owners have been working around the new Corvette’s electronics to push the limits of these killer cars. One team that’s been pushing the envelope with the new mid-engine platform is Emelia Hartford and crew. But, as with anything new, they’ve had their share of problems with the new Corvette.
Hartford has a YouTube channel where she continually posts content on her C8 and other cars the team builds. Ironically, she never planned to modify the new C8 at first. “I didn’t have any intentions of modding the car when I got it, but that didn’t last very long. After taking delivery last March, I stopped at the dragstrip with a nitrous bottle on my way home across the country and was immediately excited for the potential and puzzle of this new platform,” explained Hartford.
Photo By: Caitlin Ting
If you watch all of Hartford’s videos as the crew starts modding the C8, it’s evident that these cars are incredibly selective and don’t like to be modified. While some mods have worked better than others, there’s always a limit. After the use of a nitrous system, to which they found the limits, they then moved on to a twin-turbo setup. The team then found the ends of the turbocharged combination as they hurt the engine. With a new Texas Speed short block with forged pistons stuffed in the cylinders, the car was back together and ready to rock only to find more problems as more changes were made. A Peitz Performance controller was installed to manipulate boost, and a Holley Dominator ECU commands additional fueling and methanol injection while under boost. All of these modifications were necessary to work around the lack of tuning with the factory ECU.
With all of the new additions, the car finally seemed to be responding, and we may add quite well. Hartford’s C8 pumped a record-breaking 1,022 horsepower and 942 lb-ft of torque at the wheels. There was only one thing to do after the incredibly successful dyno session, which was to hit the drag strip. ETS has the current C8 1/4-mile record with a 9.95 and Hartford has intentions of smashing that time.
To ensure that the C8 had enough bite on the track, the Forgeline NW101 monoblock wheels were removed and replaced with a set of the companies GS1R beadlocks wrapped in Mickey Thompson ET Street tires. Forgeline developed the all forged GS1R line specifically with drag racing in mind making them the perfect choice for this outing. These wheels include a bolt-on beadlock ring machined from 6061-T6 aluminum, which secures the tires to the wheel to prevent tire slip during a hard launch.
On the first couple of passes, Hartford tried to burn off some of the 91-octane fuel left in the tank before switching to race gas. The C8 was looking very promising with a 10.40 et right off the trailer on low boost and the street tune. But after this pass, things weren’t looking so bright. Since the C8 is still utilizing the factory ECU in conjunction with the Holley Dominator, everything has to be perfect on the tune. If any parameter gets out of whack, the car will go into limp mode, thinking something is wrong. This setup gives the team a fine line to walk for successes if it goes well or defeat if it doesn’t.
With half of the day already gone, it was time for Hartford and crew to up the ante. First, they dropped the tire pressure and then upped the horsepower. However, the C8 spun the tires and only managed a 10.20-second pass. The track crew prepped the track before the next hit, which helped significantly as the Corvette launched better, putting Hartford in the 9-second range with a 9.98. The next pass would barely break ETS’s record as Hartford managed a 9.908 at 138 mph, but she was not done yet. The team added even more power to the car, trying to better the previous world-record-setting pass. You can tell something was different as the C8 blasts off in the video, looking to eradicate the record, which it did. The timeslip showed a 9.47 at 144.75 mph with a 1.3 60-foot time. Of course, Hartford and the team we ecstatic about this pass, but was there more left in it? The short answer to this question is yes. The last pass of the day netted the crew a 9.41, which is the new record for the fastest C8 Corvette.
“This journey has been a lot of ups and downs, but that’s what makes it so special. We’re treading new territory, so it’s very exciting when we feel like we’ve crossed another barrier. My original goal was to put the car in the nine-second range, but I feel confident that she will go eights. We’re going to have to find out.” said Hartford.
We figure that there’s going to be some backlash on this article because Hartford’s C8 “didn’t run an eight-second pass,” and we get that. But given the circumstances of this new car, there’s a lot to figure out. Remember, this car still uses the factory ECU that can’t be adjusted in conjunction with another ECU, making every modification incredibly complicated. Another thing to note, the 9.41-second pass was done on just 11-pounds of boost! As soon as they figure out how to add more, an eight-second timeslip will easily be within reach.
Congratulations to Emelia Hartford and her team on building the world’s fastest C8 and hitting several milestones along the way. We are looking forward to following along as she tries to push the Corvette closer to the eight-second range, which certainly seems possible.