After a successful Fast Toys event at Auto Club Speedway, Kevin Burke was loading his C7 Corvette Grand Sport for the drive home when he jokingly asked the owner of a Ferrari 488 Challenge what prize he’d receive if he could pass the team’s pro driver in the Challenge car.
“I’ll give you his helmet,” the owner responded, straight-faced and confident. Though Burke hadn’t intended to, he’d thrown down the gauntlet. He began unpacking his car and started pondering a way to get around this gleaming Ferrari.
Burke’s lightly modified C7, wearing well-used Nitto NT01 tires, wasn’t really in the same league as the Challenge car, but the scrub tires supporting the Challenge did level the playing field somewhat. Though the banked section of this roval would undoubtedly reward the 488 Challenge’s greater acceleration, Burke could bank on a few strengths of his own.
A Factory Corvette, Mostly
Interestingly, the Corvette is “nearly stock.” This 2017 Corvette Grand Sport (M7) 3LT has stock OEM Stage 3 aero, stock suspension, and at 3,430 pounds, hasn’t shed any weight from the time it rolled off the showroom floor. Compare that to the 2,700-pound Challenge car’s 560 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque—all harnessed by a quicker-shifting racing gearbox. In a straight line, there’s no competition.
The Corvette may be heavier and less powerful, but it compensates for its heft with an incredibly wide footprint. On this particular day, Burke had his 19-inch Forgeline wheels wrapped in 315/335 NT01 tires—enough for 1.88 G in some quicker corners. That level of grip is worth paying attention to as it brings the issue of oil starvation into the picture. Fortunately, the LT1 engine is dry-sumped and hasn’t had any issues with the regular abuse Burke puts it through.
Also, it’s fairly powerful. With a handful of modifications and a conservative tune, the LT1 makes a reliable 499 horsepower at the rear wheels.
-Halltech air intake system
-Katech Torquer LT1 camshaft
-Katech competition valve job and hand blending
-Katech CNC ported throttle body
-MSD intake manifold
-Katech AFM delete valley cover
-LS7 lifters, lifter trays
-Katech titanium valvespring retainers
-Katech valve spring locators
-GM valve seals
-Katech C5-R timing chain
-GM head bolts
The Corvette’s traction advantage gave it the edge through Auto Club Speedway’s slower corners, but Burke still couldn’t afford to make many mistakes. The Ferrari’s obvious superiority in a straight line meant Burke had to ensure he was in a striking position every time the two entered the banked section, lest the Ferrari sail off into the distance.
“The pro had been complaining about instability in the faster corners, so I made sure to position myself in his blind spot to fill him with doubt,” Burke describes. Good timing and opportunism put Burke in the right position when the Ferrari’s driver had to lift (5:20), and Burke pounced without any hesitation.
They never gave Burke his promised helmet, but he could leave the track that day knowing he’d bested a professional in a far faster car. In my book, that beats any piece of hardware—even a custom-painted carbon helmet.
To learn how to slide you car like Burke, your can learn more about his coaching services here.