ZR1 / Viper Topgun Drags Shoot-out
LACR, Palmdale Ca

(C) 4/20/96
By: John Rovner, Team ZR1

What's " Team ZR1 " All About ?
Team ZR1 consists of owners of the Corvette ZR1, whose fundamental charter is to endorse the Corvette platform and Corvette related events in view of the general public to show the true capabilities of this one special model.
Team ZR1 operates on a no-dues, no elected official's mindset. They want to be distinctive and not into making profits from this car that already is in the automotive history books. There is a round table where the 6 cofounders review new charters, when other ZR1 owners want to start a local chapter. They also assure the ZR1 maintains a visible view to the public, and helps plan out Corvette events to allow owners to enjoy the car as it was designed.
This ZR1 / Viper Topgun shoot-out, was what Team ZR1 felt was needed to finally show the ZR-1 to the public, " live in action ", and what better way to allow other members of the Corvette family to see the ZR1 is finally out of the garage and firmly on the roads and on the tracks in force. Within the last two months, " Team ZR1 " has been to a car show, autocrosses, and drag strips. Slated for this year includes a high speed autocross on the one mile road course at the Buttonwillow track, Rodger Wards " Pony Express ", car shows, drag racing via National Auto Sports Association ( NASA ) and several autocrosses via American Autocross Series ( AAS ), which includes a dual with a Porsche club.
First Ever ZR1 / Viper Topgun Shootout

What better way to show that American made cars ARE as good or better then all others, then by getting the ZR1 and Viper together for a little friendly dual ( that's until the helmets are on our heads ).
People who understand Corvettes and the lack of correct performance results of the ZR1, enjoy helping grassroots groups such as " Team ZR1 " and are eager to step in and help " Team ZR-1 " put together top notch events. Those stepping in for this event are FastLane Goldstien, a local Palmdale ZR1 owner, who enjoys running his with ETs in low 10s, Bernie Longjohn, owner of LACR track, all of his team to help report this event, Mike Brudenell of GMs Corvette Quarterly, Jim Resnick of Chevy High Performance, Greg Pernula of Corvette Fever and Rich Lentinello of Vette magazine.
Rich goes one step farther, by convincing me to be their on site reporter and wanting a " Team ZR-1'er ", who does not write for a living, to give insight from the driver's seat, and view of how this great event progressed.

Preparing for Battle

To clean the winter rains out of our ZR1s, " Team ZR1 " heads up to Sears Point to do a little drag racing. My '94 turns a 12.82 ET at 117.5 MPH, not bad since I had the car turn only 2.2 seconds for the 0 to 60 foot time. It's clear the LT5 has the horsepower, by the MPH it clocked at the quarter mile mark, it's preventing the massive 315 GSCs from melting the staging lane, that is the real prestidigitation,
With all the work it takes to setup and encourages the public for this event, it is not until two days before leaving for LACR that I spend time checking out my 1994 ZR1. I notice my clutch fluid is low, yep my slave cylinder has the same problem as many ZF transmissions have had. Matt of West Coast Corvettes comes to the rescue and orders the replacement part, and replaces it within 24 hours.
The next morning I leave at 7:15 am, to be the point man, leaving one day earlier then the rest of " Team ZR1 " to check out weather, smokies, average trip speed, gas stations, places to wash our cars, and to meet Bernie the owner of LACR to check out his track. Of course leaving at rush hour was not the best way of starting this special event and to add to it, the sky was dumping tons of rain on the freeways, but with the ZR1 and the Goodyear GSCs, the ABS never even kicked in and the ZR1 kept saying " go faster ".

Traveling through the California hilly, windy mountain roads, it becomes clear the ZR-1 fears nothing and seems as the designers of this car know this ZR-1 model would always shine on these types of roads. As the car moves down the freeway at triple digits it feels as if it is on a rail going for a Sunday cruise. As I stop once mid trip for gas ( $1.79 a gallon ) in a little town, people swarm over the car and I am forced to answer many questions before getting back on the road. It always warms me up when I lift the clamshell and watch their eyes!

So down the road I go, a Lexus comes up to me and starts playing games, I speed up, they speed up, they keep getting caught with slower traffic and do foolish lane changes several times. I decide they are unsafe to others and slow down and hit cruise control at 80 MPH. The Lexus just continues to speed faster. Two miles later, a white unmarked smoky passes me on the left lane. As I look over at him, he shoots me a thumbs up and speeds away !
Five miles later, I notice on the shoulder the Lexus and this smoky writing out a ticket. Guess we know if he prefers American made cars over all others.

Twelve p.m. and 382 miles later, the ZR1 pulls into the hotel parking lot acting as if it didn't even have to breath hard the whole trip and saying "better rest up you'll need it tomorrow night at LACR for the tune and test session, but first get me washed up and ready for battle "

Friday Night at LACR

Four p.m. LACR opened its gates. This night was used for tuning and dialing in everyone's ET. Two lanes were reserved only for non ZR1 Corvettes and two lanes for ZR1 and Vipers. The temperature was great for making horsepower, about 60 degrees, but when the sun set the temps dropped to under 50 degrees causing real cold tires.
To further make it tough there was a 25 MPH crosswind. We had to remind everyone that the track was sitting about 2,900' above sea level. To compare ETs at sea level, we had to multiply by .9769 and to compare MPH, multiply by 1.0333. About 30 Corvette ZR1s were present.
Only one Viper showed for this tune-up event. The driver claimed his '93 was totally stock, but his ETs of 12.60 say it was not, nor the sound of the exhaust. Present for the Corvette crowd were, a Black Widow, a Callaway, different Rippie versions, and stock ZR1 Corvettes with slight modifications such as cold air boxes, 3 inch exhaust, extruded heads, and re-cal'd EPROM's.
ETs ranged from 10.6 by Lane Goldstien's ( Fastlane ) highly modified Linginfelter 383, to flat 13.0's by Pat Leonard's 1991 ZR1 and my 1994 ZR1. MPH averages were about 110 ( remember to use the sea level index for true times ) An example of that is if we take of my runs with a ET of : ( 13*.9769 ) = a ET at sea level of 12.699 and ( 111.96*1.0333 ) = 115.688 MPH.
With only the one Viper showing, the ZR1s had to run against one another and the one Viper lost in the first round. Overall the ZR1s were shaking the earth. With the cold temps, most smoked their tires through 2nd gear. I decided to test how the car would perform without the spare tire adding weight and with only about 6 gallons of gas in tank. Wrong !
For this weather, the 315 GSCs would not grab or flex at all and as the ZR1 made more runs and burned off gas traction got even worse. By the end of the night, Jim Van Dorn's drivers took first and 2nd place.of test session I made it through the fourth round but on my last run, tires had no traction at all, even with only 22 lbs of air pressure and I ended up in fourth place.

Saturday, Topgun Shoot-out

Gates at LACR opened at nine a.m.with the temperature again cold and windy. Even more ZR1'ers show up, to a count of about 40. Only two more Vipers showed up. One never even got on the track, leaving only the Viper that ran Friday night and the remaining one which was a Hennissey modified version. This so called high horsepowered Viper loses on the first run, leaving the Viper that ran 12.60 last evening.
This Topgun Shoot-out event has been in planning for over three months, I personally talked to two Viper clubs who made it clear they were coming and one club said they had been going to a track to practice for this event. Also they told me John Hennissey . was coming with their hottest modified Vipers. We were told at about noon on Saturday, John H. just sold the car, so that's why he did not compete. For a company that builds hot Vipers, this writer would think they had more then one car. This does not answer why the Viper clubs did not show or even call the track and inform anyone. I can only think then that they knew the ZR1 is a better sports car, and knew they would only fail in the Topgun Shoot-out part of this event. One Viper club president I talked to on the phone gave the excuse that since the car does not have a roof or windows none of his members wanted to drive more then 30 miles at a time. I again laid the gauntlet down by inviting them to our next " Team ZR1 " event on the weekend of May 25-26th which is a high speed Autocross event at Buttonwillow road course track near Bakersfield Ca. They declined saying it was too far too drive ( less then 400 miles from their local club ). I conclude that we Corvette ZR1 owners are the true sports car owners willing to show off the car's design to the public, no matter what type of event it is or where it is located.

Since there was only one Viper in the field, the ZR1'ers were disappointed and really used the rest of the event to race against one another and try different setups with their ZR1s. I used the weekend to test one of LPE's FX3 chips and learned a lot about weight transfer, which I need to understand for the upcoming Pony Express. By eleven a.m. the weather got better and traction increased somewhat, causing ETs to be about two tenths better then last night. There were two other staging lanes for all Corvette models and they were having quite a nice day.
To make some people happy we went ahead and did a Viper / ZR1 backet run with the one Viper and the remaining ZR1 who won his bracket. Both broke out of what they dialed in, but the Viper had 300ths of a second less breakout time so he won

The following are the Official winners, recorded by LACR.

All Corvette models, EXCEPT ZR1 Class

Model Year Dial-in ET
1. Herb Lumpp, San.Digeo Ca, 1976, 14.79 15.00@86.82, Winner

2. John Coon , Irvine Ca, 1994 14.45 14.44@96.99, Runner-up

3. Mike Magargal 1989 13.40 14.21@97.05, simi-runner-up

ZR-1 / Viper BRACKET Winners

1. Fred Custello, Navato, Ca, 1993 Viper 12.47 12.44@111.67, Winner

2. Dave Peters, Palm Desert, Ca, 1991 ZR-1 13.50 13.41@108.52, runner-up

3. FastLane, Palmdale, Ca, 1990 ZR-1 10.27 10.61@129.71, simi-runner-up

Topgun Winner, was ................................. Corvette ZR-1
Fastlane, 1990 ZR-1 Corvette 10.28@132.99
Lane broke his left ankle in four places three weeks ago. He has pins holding it together and a non-walking cast. He still was able to be the " Team ZR-1 " fastest ZR-1 around, and it's clear the Vipers knew they could not beat him even with a non functional clutch foot
ZR-1 Modifications versus ET / MPH

The following are just some of the examples how the ZR-1 performs, depending on model year and types of modifications used. As can be seen, it does not take too much effort to get these true sports cars to perform well under the numbers some members of the press are quoting to the general public.

Dennis Duchmann, San Jose, Ca,
'90, ECM special EPROM, 4.09 final gear ratio, 13.56@106.4

Pat ( PJ ) Leonard, Pleasanton, Ca,
'91, ECM special EPROM, extruded heads, watson headers, race tires, 13.02@109

Hal Dixon,
'92, Special exhaust, EPROM, and 4.09 final gear, ratio 12.96@112.6

Jim Van Dorn, Palm Desert, Ca,
'91, Doug Rippie, race prepared LeMans LT5, 11.90@120

Gary Leonhardt, Ca,
'92, Hoosier cheater slicks 13.21@107.7

Paul ( Buzz ) Marston, San Jose Ca,
'94, totally stock 14.1@102

Ron Ashcraft, Hercules, Ca,
'94, DRM EPROM, Autocross prepared, race tires, and Flowmaster mufflers, 13.6@107

John Rovner, San Jose Ca,
'94, EPROM, 3" exhaust after stock cats with a crossover, no resonator, 3" mufflers 13.00@111.9

Note : this is just one of their recorded times and they may have done better later in the day. The above cars were used to compare 375 and 405 HP based LT5s
Special Thank You, to the people who helped take the photos, so that I could fill the needs of the drivers, do the reporting and drive this great event.

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5/3/98 9:56:37 AM