LS engines have become notorious for just how much abuse their stock bottom ends can take. If you don’t believe us, go check out some of the stuff that the Sloppy Mechanics shop is turning out. We last took a look at their virtually stock (minus a cam and valve springs) 250,000-mile, LQ4-swapped, 796 rwhp Chevrolet Colorado that makes its power through the aid of a budget snail. And while boost is great, there are cheaper alternatives out there. Mainly, nitrous.
The father-son duo of John and Jacob Perkins, of Perkins Performance Tunings (PPT), is all too familiar with the benefits of laughing gas. John (Jacob’s father) has been turning wrenches on racecars since Jacob was just a baby.
“I first got into drag racing back in the early ‘90s when I bought a Buick Grand National,” John Perkins wrote in an email. “My son Jacob used to crawl around under it helping me do maintenance and turn wrenches when he was just 4 or 5 years old.”
John knows how to start them out right, and eventual Jacob grew to be a talented wrench-turner in his own right. To earn extra money during college, Jacob learned how to tune cars using HP Tuners. His dad realized that they would probably need a car to showcase Jacob’s talents to bring in clients. They found a 2002 Camaro Z28 with a mere 19,000 miles showing on the clock. It came ready to rock and had already received upgraded rear suspension, a cam swap, headers, a built 4L60E, and a nitrous plate kit.
After picking up the car, they headed straight to Hub City Dragway where it went 12.0 at 114 mph on motor its first time out. But Jacob felt the F-body had more in it. After tweaking the tune, the car went 11.50 at 118 mph with no other changes. That’s when the father-son team decided to crack the valve on the nitrous bottle. After pulling several degrees of timing and retuning the stock computer, the low-milage F-Body blasted its way to a 9.87 at 133 mph.
After some tweaking and weight reduction back at their shop, the car—which they named Honey Badger—eventually went on to run a best of 9.30 at 149 mph; all while having to pedal the car to fight for traction. Tim Wilkerson just so happened to be at the track when that low-9-second pass went down. Needless to say, he was impressed and wandered over to the pits to see what kind of mods the Camaro had. He was astonished to find out the car was a stock-bottom-end (SBE) LS1.
Wilkerson had just purchased his own F-body, a 1998 Camaro Z28, in 2010 and was in the process of making it go faster when he ran into the father-son team. The car had been fitted with 3.73 gears, headers, exhaust, and a nitrous kit jetted for a 150 hit. The car had managed a best pass of 11.70. Not bad, but miles away from what Wilkerson had just seen the Perkins accomplish with a similar F-body. He chose PPT to guide him in his quest for basement 10s with the car.
Jacob and John took one look at it and decided a couple of items needed to be swapped or optimized in order for the Z28 to reach its full potential. They ordered a new camshaft, a Nitrous Outlet 78 mm plate kit, a TH350 transmission, a PTC torque converter optimized for nitrous, a Quick Performance 9-inch reared (stuffed with a 3.70 gear set), BMR adjustable torque arm, and BMR lower control arms, all of which Tim installed at his own shop. Tim also fashioned a rear sway bar out of the front bar off an S10 and slapped some 29×10.5-inch Mickey Thompson slicks on it. To wrap everything up, PPT reflashed the stock computer.
The car’s first trip to Memphis Raceway, and its first outing after the upgrades, resulted in consistent 10.0X at 135 mph time slips. At this point, Tim was hooked. He ran the combo for a while but eventually wanted to go faster.
Initially, weight reduction was the cheapest way to get the car into the 9s, so in went a BMR cross member, Aerospace Components lightweight front brakes, and the car was relieved of unnecessary items such as the rear seat. The car also received a bump in it’s nitrous jet sizing and went 9.50s at roughly 142 mph. With 8-second passes in sight, Tim set his sites on the SBE LS1 F-body record, set at 8.95 at 149.
To shave more than half a second off his ET, the guys at PPT and Tim knew they had to get serious with the build. An Edelbrock Super Victor Jr. intake manifold, fed by a FAST 4150 four-barrel 1375 cfm throttle body, replaced the LS1’s stock pieces. An Induction Solutions soft line fogger was used to feed the mill liberal doses of laughing gas. Trick Flow Specialties 225 heads, ported by TEA, cap off the combustion events and a Cam Motion nitrous cam, spec’d by Smallwood Race Development, tickles the valves. A PTC nitrous torque converter and Mickey Thompson 275 Bracket Pro radials plant all of the ponies and get the car rolling. A few more weight reduction mods bring the car’s overall weight to just under 3,000 pounds with its driver.
“It’s still a streetable car, but obviously some of the amenities have been removed to keep it light,” Jacob said. “We haven’t had it on the scales yet, but if I had to guess it is probably right around 2,900 pounds with him in it.”
After the new round of mods — and nick naming the car Gold Mouf — the guys headed to a local eighth-mile track where the car turned 5.70s on a “soft tuneup.” After it’s shake down runs, Tim and the guys from PPT knew the car had a record-beating run in it. They decided to put the car to the test on August 27 at Hub City Dragway at a no-prep event hosted by Scott Taylor (the owner of the track and “John Doe” of Street Outlaws New Orleans fame).
However, as luck would have it, temperatures soared to their hottest in weeks, leaving doubts in the team’s minds about whether this would be the night they would break the record.
“We made a test pass at about 6 p.m. and the track temp was 120 degrees still,” John said. “Tim pulled to the line, staged, and Gold Mouf launched hard when the light turned green, but spun the tires bad.”
Tim gathered the car up and ended up running a 9.24 at 155.
“We knew when we saw that slip; as soon as the track cooled down, that record was coming home to Mississippi and the team from PPT,” John said.
With air temps at 77 degrees and humidity hovering around 90 percent, Gold Mouf pulled to the line again. This pass rewarded the team with an 8.98 at 150 mph — excruciatingly close the record. They had time for one last pass before the track closed, this time with a bit cooler temperatures. Just 10 minutes later, after the car had a fresh bottle put in it and some adjustments were made to the progressive controller, the car was back at the line.
“When Gold Mouf left the line on that pass, we knew that was it,” John said.
They had officially done it. With a 1.28-second 60-foot time, the car had surged on to run an 8.94 at 151 mph, making it officially the world record holder for the fastest stock-bottom-end LS1 F-body ever.
“Our plan is to take advantage of the cool fall air and lower the record some more,” John said. “We feel like the car will go 8.70’s and we may even take a shot at the stock cube LS1 nitrous record of 8.75. Who knows how much this stock motor will take, but, we plan on pushing it as far and as fast as it will take us.”
Jacob added, “We are just waiting for that cooler air and then we are going to put more nitrous jet in it.”