Late Model Racecraft (LMR) builds a lot of hot Corvettes, and we’ve featured a number of them in these pages before. But when the Texas tuner first put a street-driven C7 into the 9-second quarter-mile range in early 2014, we started paying particular attention. Our only reservation was that the car in question achieved that number through the use of nitrous oxide, a notoriously finicky substance with a limited life span between bottle refills. Naturally we’d have preferred to see the LMR crew manage their impressive feat of acceleration by employing a more permanent solution. They did just that recently, and we were there to witness it.
I drove down to Baytown, Texas (near Houston), to take a look at two versions of LMR’s 800-horsepower C7 package, one with a supercharger and one with twin turbos. While these systems put out about the same power, they do it in different ways and exhibit different behaviors. In theory, the turbos should be quieter and more civilized than the centrifugal blower, but that’s not how things turned out when we met up at Royal Purple Raceway.
I started with John Horner’s Crystal Red 2014 coupe with the Z51 Performance Package. The only outward hints that this monster is packing almost twice the stock horsepower are a few tiny “LMR800” stickers. At low speeds it just idles along, with the A/C keeping the cockpit comfortable even on a typically murderous Texas summer day. The seven-speed manual gearbox is a delight to use, and the car even retains its stock clutch. (LMR cautions that an upgrade is a good idea for a car that sees frequent spirited use.)
Under the hood LMR’s techs add a proprietary centrifugal supercharger system based on a Paxton NOVI 1500SL setup from East Coast Supercharging. Twin air-to-air intercoolers maintain a clear path for airflow to the radiator. During testing, LMR found that modified LT1 engines can have problems with internal engine pressure, so it developed a custom breather system to address this.
Under the valve covers, LMR adds its CNC-modified cylinder heads, custom camshaft and cam-phaser kit, chrome-moly pushrods and heavy-duty hardware. The deep-breathing heads exhale through 1 7/8-inch stainless-steel, long-tube headers equipped with an X-pipe and high-flow American Racing catalytic converters. Other upgrades include a set of MSD plug wires and a hot-looking red-and-black engine cover made from carbon fiber. Add a custom dyno tune and kiss $20K goodbye…but say hello to 800 horses.
Horner is elated with his new toy, which replaces a C6 he loved dearly. In addition to the LMR engine package, he also had the suspension lowered an inch. After facing down and beating a life-threatening disease recently, he and wife Patty felt like he deserved a reward, and the maroon coupe is now put to good use carving up the famed “twisted sisters” roads located throughout the Texas Hill Country. Viper owners, beware.