Boost is an amazingly standard means of making horsepower. It effectively increases an engine’s size by forcing more air into the cylinders than the atmosphere could possibly ever imagine. Just like the statement, “bigger is better!” boost can be applied to almost any internal combustion platform with benefits—so long as you can keep that fine balance of air and fuel.
Many enthusiasts have been wondering what boost can do for the all-new, 2020 Corvette, but they’ve always bunched up behind the performance pace car tuners like to refer to as, “cracking the computer.” The new architecture implemented by GM in the new Corvette is the stuff of legends, so far as security is concerned. With numerous twin-turbo systems coming together to “boost” the performance of the new C8, there have already been folks who have found the downsides of a lot of air, with not enough fuel.
FuelTech is a world-leading company in engine management technology. It has a proven record in a wide variety of racing classes such as Sportsman, Pro Drag, Circuit, Off-Road, Rally, Motorbike, and Marine applications. Seeing how those who wish to wrangle more performance from their new Corvette could benefit from its 17 years of experience, the team at FuelTech began testing on a C8 Corvette. The plan was to figure out a way to utilize one of its engine management systems to safely and effectively boost the LT2 engine.
The company just released a video highlighting their twin-turbo, 2020 Corvette churning out an amazing 750 rear-wheel-horsepower on the dyno. While the numbers themselves are astounding, the way in which they achieved those lofty digits is both old-school and high-tech. During the “good-old-days” of tuning EFI – you know, that glorious time between when computer capabilities to accurately control fuel and spark came of age and the level of “intellectual property” lockdown that we are currently experiencing – the factory ECU held all the keys to opening the door to performance. It still does, but someone has changed all the locks!
As performance EFI was just beginning to spontaneously generate its way out of the EPA’s mileage-focused ooze, early adopters fabricated assemblies that worked outside of the OEM’s gray boxes but manipulated each of the required systems to safely coordinate fuel, spark, and boost into a tasty seat-of-the-pants treat. As ECUs, PCUs, and a bevy of other modules came online, the heavy-lifting of horsepower came on-line and internal. Sure, there were still security measures to ensure that no one messed anything up, but the stakes never reached the realm of personal information and online security, as we’re seeing today.
As society becomes more apt to key-in gate codes, contact lists, and a mass of private information, there is a strong case to be made in protecting one’s information. Today’s gates into our car’s operating systems have become quite secure and highly encrypted, leading those who desire to modify their rides with fewer options. The FuelTech C8 uses a tried and true means of “piggy-backing” onto the factory ECU to control fuel and air, while also enlisting today’s high level of technology.
FuelTech is working on a C8 Corvette-specific jumper harness which would allow easy installation of any FuelTech PowerFT engine management system. The additional system would work in conjunction with the car’s factory controls and allow enthusiasts to retain the factory electronics while also broadening the scope of operation to safely operate under boosted levels. The FuelTech engine management offers sequential fuel-injection and ignition, O2 closed-loop operation, data logging, a delay box, boost, and nitrous control, and the ECU box doubles up as a touch-screen LCD display, showing real-time data and allowing the user to make adjustments without a PC connection.
In stock form, the FuelTech test car put down 458 horsepower to the hubs on FuelTech’s dyno. From there, the car was upgraded to a pair of Garrett G35-900, mirror-image turbochargers, which are part of a custom-built kit. Additional components from Late Model Racecraft were utilized to help the engine on its way to achieving 1,000 horsepower one day.
You don’t aim for such a lofty goal without the internal fortitude to withstand the forces inside the engine. For that, a set of Diamond pistons and rods were added, as well as a pair of robust GForce Performance Engineering axles. At this point, the car’s dual-clutch system seems to be the limiting factor, as the FuelTech team reports 750 horsepower seems to be it for the factory unit. A new design is in the works and hopefully will carry the car over the 1,000-horsepower threshold soon enough.
The piggy-backed FT600 ECU controls a supplemental fuel supply, as well as other engine functions, to manipulate the stock ECU readings ensuring that each cylinder gets the proper amount of fuel for each firing cycle. Two wide-band 02 sensors are used to ensure a finely-tuned balance of air and fuel, which is added by an auxiliary set of 1050cc/min fuel injectors (one in each port) and an independent Aeromotive fuel system—complete with its own fuel cell, fuel lines, and brushless 5 GPM spur gear electric fuel pump. The factory computer continues to control the Direct Injection, with certain sensors being manipulated by the FT600.
The Corvette runs VP Racing Fuels MS100 unleaded gasoline in the factory tank for the Direct Injection. Since there is not an intercooler, FuelTech is using VP Racing Fuels M1 to supply the additional fuel under boost and to act as alcohol-injection to cool the inlet air temperatures. Keeping the boosted beast in the safety zone is the responsibility of the factory ECU, the FuelTech FT600, and the wide-band oxygen sensor system.
Check out this video highlighting the latest advancement it 2020 Corvette performance. We find it quite interesting that some of the best ways of overcoming obstacles back in the day are still beneficial in our tech-savvy present day. What’s old HAS become new again, and we’re seeing astronomical performance because of it!