All cars start out completely stock. Beyond that, some don’t even make it to their original owners before being modified while others may languish in bone-stock form for years before the first bolt is removed. Zach Schmitz’ Corvette may have had a slow start, but thanks to its new ProCharger equipped 1,100 horsepower, it’s anything but slow.
If the impeccable detail work that has gone into Zach Schmitz’s black ‘07 Z06 isn’t enough proof, we’d like to go on record as saying that when it comes to cars, Zach sets very high standards. Sure, there’s the horsepower numbers eclipsing the century mark, and well, as anyone who has owned a black car will attest, keeping that car looking great is a testament to one’s persistence in itself. But beyond that, Zach also had a few other key elements that were non-negotiable when it came to planning out the build of this car.
Approximately two and a half years ago, when Zach first purchased his bone-stock Z-car, he already knew what he wanted once he was finished making it his own. He explains, “I sold my race car and bought this car to build something that I could win car shows with, take to the track and drag race and drive anywhere with all the factory creature comforts if I want.” Oh, and if the horsepower numbers are any indication, he’ll likely be one of the fastest ones there, whether on track or off.
When it all started, Zach’s Z06 was already a great driver with the LS7’s 505 horsepower, but that’s well within the realm of the “also-ran” by today’s horsepower numbers. So, he set out to do some modifications and his reaction time to hit the “Buy Now” button would make any bracket racer proud. It’s a story best told by Zach himself. “The car was stock when I bought it. I intended to keep it that way for a while, but I can never leave anything alone. Only eight days after buying the car, the heads were off and sent to Slick Rick Racing in Texas to get CNC-ported.” Of course, the first scratch is the deepest and with the “factory-fresh” seal removed, it was just another push of the button to upgrade to an MSD Atomic Air-Force intake, custom camshaft, swap to Texas Speed & Performance long-tube headers and a get a tune to make it all work together.
Enthusiasts like Zach have an insatiable appetite for performance, and even with the heightened horsepower levels of his newly-added components, Zach thirsted for more. Putting the stock-bottomed engine on spray thanks to Nitrous Express brought back that kick-in-the-pants smile all over again, but it also pointed out a few of the drivetrain’s shortcomings. The factory clutch wasn’t designed to hold the power levels that Zach was pumping through it and eventually, on an attempt to thin out the padding under the tall, skinny pedal, the magic smoke escaped. In its place went a McLeod RXT twin-disc clutch.
I plan on seeing how far the 6-speed can go. – Zach Schmitz
As Zach’s denim dyno began to grow accustomed to the car’s current power level, Zach began pondering how much spray the bottom-end could contain before it had a metallic bloom. He knew that everything has its limits, and if he was going to go big, well then, he should – go BIG. That’s exactly what he did, in the form of a beefy Dart LS Next block punched out to 441 cubic inches, which would handle about anything that a bottle could throw at it, and then some. And that’s exactly what Zach intended to do!
While Zach is quite the hands-on type of enthusiast (he did all the engine swaps in his two-car garage with the help of friends) he had the guys at Venom Racing Engines build the big-cube engine with Mast Motorsports Black Label heads and a Holley High Ram intake. The size of this engine dictated the need for a better breathing exhaust, and Zach gave it what it needed by ditching the smaller headers for a set of larger Kooks two-inch primary headers. Beyond that, he added a Kooks three-inch, off-road X-pipe and a set of modified, factory mufflers.
While he was there, he replaced the clutch again in preparation for even more power. He installed an RPS Triple Billet Carbon clutch assembly. As you can imagine, traction was all but a fleeting thought by this point, so he decided to add more tire to the track. That’s when the 15-inch rear Weld wheels came into play. And guess what, more power, more traction and a more unforgiving clutch meant that something had to give. After the rebuilt diff was re-attached to the RPM Transmissions upgraded trans, it was all shoved back up under the rear of Zach’s Z and he was again, ready for some action.
Many enthusiasts would be quite content with a car performing at this level, and for a while, so was Zach. But that’s when it seemed like all the available nitrous was being stacked waist-deep in dentists’ offices and there was a famine of go-fast gas for racers. Without spray, Zach’s engine felt disabled and he began looking for new ways of keeping horsepower high without being dependent on the bottle.
Beyond the incessant filling and hauling of bottles, one of the main differences between boosting and spray is that an engine can enjoy the benefits of boost within a wide rev-band, while shooting nitrous is a WOT-only endeavor for those wishing to drive home. That opened up a whole new area under the torque curve and Zach set out to grab as much air as he could.
It all started with a ProCharger F-1A-94 head unit, that as you could imagine, was dipped in black coating before being shipped. On a naturally-aspirated engine pumping out around 400-550 horsepower, the F-1A-94 supercharger is capable of boosting performance upwards of 1,200 ponies, so long as the engine can handle that kind of power. Capable of flowing 1,625 cfm with a max boost of 38 psi, the F-1A-94 is well equipped to take Zach’s ride to the next level and with such a stout bottom end, his engine was ready for the challenge.
To feed the additional air injected into the highly modified engine, the entire fuel system was revamped with a Fore Innovations fuel system to supply enough fuel and an AlkyControl methanol kit to keep deadly detonation at bay. As an added bonus, Zach switched the car over to run E85 fuel for its higher octane and detonation resistance and thanks to a GM Flex Fuel sensor, Zach’s car has a specific tune to run on E85 or pump gas. To help his tuner, Shane Hinds, keep every possible degree of timing, a custom intercooler was assembled just before the air flowed into the 102mm opening in the front of the Holley intake.
While it doesn’t make an inch-ounce of power, the level of detail work that Zach has put into the engine bay of his Corvette is the envy of many show winners. Everything has been coated in black and the entire install is both physically clean and tidy. Zach did a lot of the custom fabbing on items like the coil pack mounts that secure them well out of the sight of onlookers. Also, while most power junkies can’t wait to get parts bolted on, Zach was disciplined to ensure that everything received an ebony hue before being bolted on.
Where To From Here?
As you can imagine, Zach is pretty stoked about the car’s performance. Under a relatively low 16 pounds of boost, Zach’s Z churned out 1,112 rear-wheel horsepower. While that may almost be enough to spin the sun-dial back a degree or two, if history is any indicator, we’ll bet that Zach will be searching for some more in short order. He confirmed our thoughts right-away, “In the future, I would like to upgrade the suspension to help with traction. If I can increase traction, then I would like to turn up the boost and use the nitrous that is still on the car. Also, a stand-alone ECM with traction control would be nice too. Swapping to an automatic transmission would be ideal, but I plan on seeing how far the 6-speed can go.”
With that level of power, it’s just a matter of time before it goes. But in the meantime, Zach is busy enjoying the car, doing the very thing he set out to do. “I drive the car several times a week, almost everywhere I go on weekends, weather permitting. The tires don’t do well in the rain but if it is nice out and I’m not at work, it’s a safe bet I’m out driving or racing the car.” Which is exactly what he had in mind when he started the project. That makes this build an awesome success story, no matter how much horsepower it makes!