What's A Crawford?
When it came for the Flis family to purchase a car, the Crawford seemed the way to go. I think GM had more than a little influence in this decision since all the Crawfords this year are using Corvette LS6 power. Do I detect a really huge relationship between GM and Crawford?
The folks at Grand Am have a very strict set of rules about the cars. Only seven companies in the world are allowed to build them. If there's a part on these cars, there's also a rule about this part.
The idea is that if you pay $500,000 (okay, maybe $750,000) for a car, it shouldn't be obsolete six months later. The goal is that you can race this same car for several years. The accountants out there already know about amortization-so do the guys who can afford to race these cars.
Crawford, coupled with the Corvette Pontiac engine, seems to be the hot ticket this year. Max Crawford has spent most of his career working on Porsches. Then he spent some time developing the Taurus Aero Program for Ford. Once GM decided to get involved in Grand Am racing, a few phone calls were placed and Max Crawford was ready to embark on a brand new composite adventure. The best part is that the Crawford may be the nicest-looking car in the whole series.
You'll notice that the intake...
You'll notice that the intake plenum is backwards on this motor. Or, is the engine backwards on the intake plenum? At any rate, swapping the intake plenum end to end is about the biggest change from this motor to the one found in your Corvette. While the headers look wonderful, they aren't even close to being optimized for this engine. If GM put a better set of headers on the car, the Grand Am tech people would simply find another way to restrict the power output. This is racing in the world of restrictions. Or, as others point out, it's sports car racing in the world of NASCAR. Whatever, it's working.
The engine rules are very simple. If it makes more power you can't do it. Grand Am approved the "LS6 V-8 two-valve push rod engine with a maximum displacement 5.5-liter (stock bore, 3.898, and a maximum stroke of 3.50 inches). The maximum rpm is 6,500. The maximum valve lift is 0.585-inch with a rocker arm ratio of 1.7:1. Only the stock LS6 single throttle body (2.992-inch diameter) on the stock LS6-approved intake manifold is approved, and 10.5:1 is the maximum compression ratio. The Grand Am rule book also says this engine may be branded as a Chevrolet, Pontiac, or Cadillac with visible Chevrolet, Pontiac, or Cadillac brand identification located on the intake or valve covers."
What we have here essentially the same engine that's in your Z06, with the intake manifold turned around. The power isn't even that much greater. The headers don't even add very much power. If the exhaust system was fully developed, Grand Am would simply find another way to lower the power on the engine. This could be done by restricting the air intake or limiting the rpm. One Flis crew member simply stated, "So what's the point of even trying to find more power?"
Racing has always been about who is fastest within a given set of rules. If the cars get too fast, then the rules are changed. The size of the rulebook varies, but the program is basically the same all over the world. Now you understand why GM is getting heavily involved in the Grand Am series. This is a chance to get the Corvette Pontiac some recognition.
I happen to think that running the same engine that some of you have in your Z06 Corvette is a good thing. Even better, it sounds just like a loud version of your car. Anytime I can go to a race track and listen to an open exhaust on a Corvette, sorry, Pontiac, it's a good day.
Richard Newton's most recent book is 101 Projects for Your Corvette 1984-1996. He has also written two other best-selling Corvette books. One deals with the 1968 to 1982 Corvettes, How to Restore and Modify Your Corvette 1968-82, while another deals with the Sting Rays from '63-67, Corvette Restoration Guide 1963-1967. All of these books are available from MBI, visit www.motorbooks.com or call (800) 826-6600.