When it comes to making horsepower, if you throw enough money at an engine, it's going to produce the numbers you want. If you look at any form of professional drag racing, the big-money teams are the consistent winners, but if you really pay attention, it isn't just about making power. Putting that power to the ground is an equally important part of the equation, and it's traditionally been a challenge for high-horsepower street cars. Jeff Cleary wanted a car that proved its performance on the racetrack, instead of a dyno sheet. And with 600 hp at the rear wheels and elapsed times in the 10.70s on regular street tires, it's apparent he succeeded.
Cleary bought the car as a bare hull, so before the purists gripe about heavily modifying a '67 Sting Ray convertible, understand that he started with a mere skeleton and built it into the machine shown on these pages. He received lots of help along the way, but his vision was carried through the entire process, and it resulted in a wickedly fast midyear that retains excellent street manners. First on the list of contributors is Mike Stockdale, owner and operator of SRIII Motorsports, a shop dedicated to making old Corvettes handle as well as (or better than) new ones. SRIII built the chassis-and-suspension setup for Cleary's car, using a round-tube frame that features double main rails and lots of additional supports and bracing.
For suspension, Cleary's car uses C5 Z06 front equipment, with the stock cast-aluminum control arms working in conjunction with a pair of adjustable QA1 coilover shocks. Braking power comes in the form of Baer Extreme binders, featuring massive slotted and drilled rotors along with a set of forged six-piston calipers. Bolted to those rotors are C6 Z06 wheels, measuring 18x9.5 inches at each corner and sporting Nitto 555 rubber, sized at 275/35R18 up front and 285/35R18 out back. The stance is just right, and the tire-and-wheel combination nicely complements the car's style.
Putting horsepower to the ground is left to the rear suspension, which features C4-spec equipment, including a stock-style Dana 44 center section that's been prepped for serious abuse by Mark Williams. Cryo'd C4 axle stubs send power to the aluminum halfshafts, while a host of tubular goodies from Vette Brakes and Products provide rigidity and adjustability. The short rearend ratio of 3.90:1 works well in combination with the highly modified T56 six-speed manual transmission. Inside the gearbox are a Viper-spec main shaft, carbon synchronizers and steel shifting forks, all assembled by Rockland Standard Gear in Sloatsburg, New York.
Neatly tucked under the '67 big-block hood is a very potent LS7 engine, built by John Walsh of J2 Race Engines in Chesapeake, Virginia. Cleary retained the stock rotating assembly and dry-sump oiling system, while adding a custom Peterson Fluid Systems tank. The LS7 heads are mostly original, but J2 updated the valvetrain with a set of PSI springs and Katech titanium retainers. A Katech Torquer camshaft moves the valves in an efficient manner, thanks to its 220- and 244-degree duration at 0.050-inch lift, and 0.615- and 0.648-inch lift. Up top is a custom Marcella sheetmetal intake manifold, which added a considerable amount of power over the stock composite piece. A steady flow of 93-octane pump gas comes from a Rock Valley stainless-steel tank, which features an in-tank Walbro pump.
1 Cleary's '67 is a genuine ZR1 killer on the strip, having run a best of 10.78 at 132 mp
2 We spotted the car at the 2011 Holley LS Fest, where it ripped up the track at historic
3 J2 Race Engines retained many of the LS7's original components, as it's a fairly strong