Customer Testimonial – Richard Buckle

Posted: 9th June 2010 by VettePro in Testimonials
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Here at A&A Corvette Performance, we have been asked a lot of times how the supercharged cars would handle in a road course. Would the car overheat? Will the increased power be to much in the turns? Enter Richard Buckle. Follow along on his journey over the past two years…

My wife and I had liked the look of the C6 Corvette from the moment they first started arriving in dealer’s showrooms, and had been contemplating trading our 2004 C5 Le Mans blue convertible for a new C6. We waited for the second year of production before actually doing the trade and early in the fall, drove off the lot in a 2006 C6 Le Mans blue coupe, with the optional Z51 package. It was one of the earliest six-speed auto coupes and came equipped with paddle shifters. We had our Vette almost two years before we became clients of A&A, in the summer of 2008.

Over dinner with a good friend Hal, who races a Mustang in the American Iron series with the National Auto Sport Association (NASA), it was suggested that we may want to try our hand driving the Vette around road courses. NASA oversaw a program called High Performance Driver Education (HPDE), and it would give us an opportunity to test our skills under the watchful eyes of experienced instructors. This was barely a year after we traded for the C6 Vette but it would be another year before we eventually made it to the track, and we have been accumulating laps at different Southern California (SoCal) circuits for the past three years including Buttonwillow, Willow Springs, and Cal Speedway.

The ‘Vette coupe began to fill many roles, as it wasn’t just our track toy! Not only was it the wife’s daily drive, but it was also filled in as a long-distance tourer as we commuted between our home in Boulder and our rented townhouse in Simi Valley. All of our early track experience has been gained on SoCal tracks but there’s now a new track in Colorado that we have learned to like. High Plains Raceway (HPR) outside of Byers, to the east of Denver, opened in 2009 and we have begun to work in time to participate at that venue as well. It was during one of the early trips back to Colorado, in 2008, and after a couple of weekends at the track, that we first began to see how much power we were forfeiting at higher altitudes. “Ever thought about installing a supercharger,” Hal inquired.

We probably wouldn’t have pursued this if it wasn’t for the fact that the following weekend, back in SoCal and pulling out of a shopping center, a new Lexus ISF simply blew past us! More power was definitely called for … so after checking through magazines and trolling the Internet, I came across Vortech. “No, we don’t do the installations, we just sell the equipment,” was the response from the Vortech salesman I called, but he then added, “you need to take it to Andy over at A&A Corvette Performance- he will do the installation for you!”

Each summer there’s a break in the NASA program as time is set aside for the NASA racers to participate in national championship events. With no immediate track weekend planned, we took the car to Andy and he went ahead with the installation of the complete A&A Corvette Performance supercharger package that included their proprietary air-to-air intercooler. The fuel delivery system was upgraded with Andy installing new gauges for fuel pressure and boost on the A-Pillar. Engines are nothing more than big pumps, so it made sense to upgrade the exhaust system and, taking advantage of the car being in the shop, Andy and his crew added American Racing 1 7/8” headers / 3” collectors, X-pipe, and 3” long pipes. However, and almost as a last minute decision, we elected to retain the standard C6 mufflers and tail pipes in order to preserve a stock appearance. Looking at the final set of figures from Andy’s dyno? Priceless!

Racers who saw our first appearance back at the track openly scoffed at us and made sure we were left in no doubt of how stupid we were. Track cars only ever need about 300 to 350 hp and you have 600hp! Perhaps more, given that you are pushing it all through an automatic transmission. Actually, Andy and his crew had tuned the Vette to give us just on 500 rear wheel hp with 466 rear wheel lb-ft of torque – more than 80% of the torque available well before 3,000 rpm, and from that rpm it was pretty much a straight-line between 4,000 rpm and 6,000 rpm. To put this in perspective, the August 2008 issue of Vette magazine ran a new 2008 Z06 up on a dyno and it produced 451 rear wheel hp with 419 lb-ft of rear wheel torque. According to Vette magazine, this made that Z06 the “the most powerful of the three Z06s we’ve tested since the car’s introduction.”

The workmanship of Andy’s crew was outstanding. When we drove into Buttonwillow that first weekend back at the track we had to pass “tech inspect”, and the technician who checked us out pulled and tugged at various fittings and came away highly impressed. “A supercharged Vette may overheat,” he advised us, “so be careful as they don’t take to the track all that well!” Nothing could have been further from the truth, however, the Vette’s coolant temperature gauge stood steady around 200 all weekend!

Surprise! Surprise! Not only didn’t the car overheat or show any signs of stress, we actually improved on our own lap times by the reckoning of those watching us. Sure, the big Vette could accelerate down the main straight like nothing else we had ever driven, but with the automatic transmission we could drive all day in 3rd gear with just the occasional shift to 4th for the “marginally longer” straights of Buttonwillow. When we turned up at Willow Springs a month later, we found that we could round half the track in 3rd with the second half of the track, including the main straight, in 4th as well! There was just so much torque available it made the gear selection irrelevant. The car couldn’t quite stay with the Z06s exiting corners, as their final drive ratios are a lot taller, but working on our turn-ins and nailing our exits certainly helped overcome some of our deficiencies in this area!

We routinely take the car back to Andy and his crew put it up on the lift to check it out, and everything has held together wonderfully well. The old adage that road course track toys don’t benefit from superchargers and only those who drag race should consider them, no longer carries much weight with us. The Vette continues as a daily drive for my wife, and shortly we will be driving it back to Colorado for another weekend at the HPR. These days we just sit back and enjoy the fun of the track! We truly have come to appreciate the quality of the work done by A&A Corvette Performance and we feel secure knowing Andy and his crew are fully committed to ensuring that we have the package we need, and stand by every change they have made to the car. The C6 Corvette coupe remains a great car but with what we have now, it would be a tough call ever considering changing it for anything else!

 

You can follow Richard at his blog here.