If you have never openly dreamed of driving one of Corvette Racing’s Corvettes around the racetrack, you might as well stop reading here. BUT, if you are one of the millions of enthusiasts who have, your luck is about to change.
No, we’re not going to pressure Doug Fehan to turn his back for a few minutes so you can wiggle in behind the wheel for a few laps. We’re actually going to do a little better and let Katech’s Jason Harding introduce you to its latest track-monster C7 Z06 they are now building for customers who wish to have the ultimate track car. If the name Katech sounds familiar, you may recall they were the engineers behind the engines Corvette Racing used to dominate the globe’s racetracks in the C5 and C6 era, and in 2006, Corvette Racing’s Katech-engineered small-block V-8 won the Global Race Engine of the Year.
Katech has continued engineering products to improve Corvettes, and their latest offerings have supported some of the highest-horsepower LS- and LT-engines to date. But Katech is more than just engines and horsepower! They’re also designing products to improve Corvette’s performance as an entire package.
We came across this video of a Katech-prepped C7 Z06 track monster that has been modified for safety, performance, and severe track-duty. The car has the requisite suspension modifications and numerous aero and cooling components to make it much more track-capable; but the one thing that will have the folks standing at the pit wall when this car flies by is its sequentially-shifted manual transmission. Once reserved for only a select few who make it beyond Speed Doug’s glare, sequential transmissions employ all the magic of no-lift shifting without the help of a clutch pedal. With the addition of electronics, up-shifts and down-shifts are both possible, with rev-matching down-shifts negating the oft-maligned heel-toe procedure.
You can argue that the C7 Z06’s LT4 engine doesn’t need any power enhancements to make it track-worthy, but we all know that heat can be an issue. The owner of this C7 Z-car has his priorities in line and commissioned Katech to increase cooling and worry about additional power after he’s had time to assimilate to the car’s heightened handling characteristics. After that, rumors of a Katech Stage 3 or Stage 4 package and dry sump system upgrades have already been discussed.
An A-Track-Tive Package
Heat can cut anyone’s track day short, and the C7 Z06 has had its issues already. Katech has added heat exchangers out in front, with additional ductwork to move the air out through the wheel openings. Another GM-style pump helps keep coolant flowing and cooling like it should. There are also provisions for additional transmission coolers, should the need arise.
Additional carbon fiber on the car’s exterior help to move the air around the vehicle. A front splitter and rear diffuser ensure that turbulence is kept to a minimum while down-force is maximized. A track-engineered undertray with tunnel is installed, but a street version is in development.
Safety was also addressed by the addition of the rollcage and some ingenious engineering has kept it as ergonomic as it is safe. Mounting plates were added to the aluminum frame to allow fastening the steel roll cage to the vehicle. The bottoms of both doors have been trimmed to make way for the door bars while still affording an arm rest for comfort.
The roof of the Z06 was replaced with a carbon fiber outer shell that allows for raising the halo bar to allow for helmet clearance. Additional safety components include the fire suppression system, Schroth 6-point, cam-lock belts and OMP seats.
To take this Z06 to track-god status, a C6’s TR6060 gearbox is modified and inserted in the C7. Thanks to the Xineering spark-cut and rev-match box, the modified gearbox now allows for clutchless up-shifts and rev-matched downshifting – a true sequential transmission. There is a transducer in the shift knob that sends a signal to the box to cut spark to the ignition, allowing the next-higher gears to mesh without damage. Downshifting is still done with the clutch, but the electronics raise the engine’s RPM to match the gear selection.
With the full conversion completed, Katech was ready to try out their latest creation and thankfully, the video cameras were rolling. The lead video shows the components and highlights the build of the vehicle, but you would do well to treat yourself to the dyno vid at the end of the video. It may be perhaps the wildest dyno video where everything went right that we’ve seen in a LONG time! After that, the second video answers the question on everyone’s mind, “How does it do on the track?”
To answer that question, Katech brought their beast to M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan for a little get-to-know time. Doing more testing instead of timing, the owner of the car spent some time learning the course, and the mechanics of a truly-sequential transmission. He’ll have plenty of time to trim the apexes when he hits various tracks within the Great Lakes and Midwest Regions.
While no records were shattered, we do have some glorious sound bites as the Corvette bangs through some gears at full-song. Do yourself a favor and check out both videos, and if you’ve got a great set of speakers, feel free to crank the volume to eleven, your co-workers will thank you!