Drag racing enthusiasts are some of the most passionate enthusiasts there are. If you talk to any drag racer, odds are they love it and have been into it for a very long time. One of the things that makes drag racing so popular is that it is relatively accessible to get into. Sure, you can have a half-million dollar track-only car that only gets used a handful of times per year, but for every person with a rig of that expense, odds are they started drag racing with something much more affordable.
The accessibility of a sport or hobby oftentimes determines the longevity of the sport and how popular it is. Take for instance the popularity of skateboarding. Skateboarding has been around for years, and more importantly has remained popular for a wide age-range – in large part because anyone with $100 can buy a skateboard and get into the hobby that day. Drag racing is very similar because anyone who owns a car can get into drag racing at their local open track days or through numerous city-funded “street legal” drag events to keep racing off of public roads. The sport is very accessible for the entry level and once the driver catches the drag racing bug, the rest is history.
At the NMCA West-Coast Shootout held this past June in Fontana, CA, we had the opportunity to talk to a wide range of enthusiasts who came from all walks of life but had drag racing in common. Passion and enthusiasm was in the air at the event – as fans, drivers, and crew members alike all had to face the 100+ degree weather that mother nature decided to spring on them – so much for “June gloom.” The weekend was not lacking in the passion or temperature department, nor was it lacking in competition. A large number of competitors showed up for each of the main classes so it was not going to be a walk in the park for anyone.
The Red Z06
While walking through the pits, we stumbled upon a stunning 2007 Corvette Z06 that we had to stop and take a look at. Adorned with the number 10711 along with some various event stickers on the side of the rear glass, we knew the owner had to be a part of the action somehow. Even though the Z06 appeared to be relatively stock at first glance, as a Corvette enthusiast, you have to be somewhat taken aback anytime you see one of these beautiful machines in public – they just command your attention.
After a quick lap around the car, we wanted to meet the owner. With the car in as good of condition as it was and the numbers/event stickers on the windows, we fully thought that this was one of the racer’s weekend cars he or she would take to the races as transportation – boy were we wrong.
We were quickly greeted by Greg Peterson from Chino, CA, owner of the Z06 and a diehard drag racing enthusiast. As it turns out, Peterson, a contractor by trade, has a love of all things fast and has been involved in drag racing for quite some time. He was extremely welcoming as we started rambling off questions to him about his Z06. One of our first questions, was why the Z06 was even there – was it his transportation to the race, was it a show car, was it just his cruiser?
As it turns out, Peterson proudly responded that his pride and joy was there to be raced. We were a bit shocked because as it sat there, the Z06 looked so clean that it looked like one of those Corvettes where the owner takes so much pride of ownership that the car never gets used! With likely a very surprised look on our faces, Peterson smiled and stated that he didn’t want to miss the event with his other race cars being out of commission, so he brought out the Z06 to compete in the 13-second True Street class.
Peterson, an avid drag racer, has two other race cars that were not in attendance at the event due to various reasons. A 1972 Chevy Vega that his daughter used for her high school drags is one of them and it runs consistent mid-11s in the quarter-mile. He also has a 1964 Chevy Nova that runs mid-eights in Quick Street and B Gas. It is his go-to for high powered thrills. It started to become rather obvious that he was a big fan of Chevy performance cars – and really, who can blame him?
The Z06 was sitting there looking to be driven, and driven it was! Peterson explained that as the original owner, he purchased the Z06 in 2007 for $73,000. With a lot of different cars to choose from, he expressed that he chose the C6 Z06 because he wanted something nice, fast, and that he could just cruise in – a Z06 fits that bill perfectly! One of the things that Z06s and Corvettes have been praised for in the past is their ability to be a really fast car that is also very capable of being a comfortable daily driver. While we have heard this for years, it is seldom that you actually see someone doing both daily driving and track-racing in a Corvette, so it was great to see in person!
Being entered in the 13-second True Street class, Peterson informed us that his best time with the Vette is actually an 11.30 at 109 mph and that as tested, he has experienced 198 mph in the car. Our attention turned to mods as he walked us around the car. While the vehicle is primarily stock, he has done a few things here and there that could easily go overlooked to the untrained eye. First up was the motor. The stock LS7 power plant is potent enough for most drivers and since his main goal was keeping this car a cruise-friendly vehicle, the only thing he changed was the addition of a K&N intake kit. With two other race cars at his disposal, who can blame him for wanting to keep the motor fully covered under the factory warranty?
From under the hood, we moved into the interior where again, it appeared stock – but stock with some flair. The factory black seats with the red bolsters looked great with the bright red exterior. However, to spruce up the interior even further, Peterson added some color-matched red interior bezels that replaced the factory matte black units found in the center stack and to the left of the steering wheel. In addition, while the stock shift knob remained in place, he added a Hurst Short Throw shift-unit to reduce the throw of the factory shifter and to help him make faster shifts when it counts – at the track!
We also noticed that on the exterior of the vehicle, Peterson had added a few little touches here and there. For instance, instead of keeping the stock matte grey rear diffuser, he had a replacement made that is color matched in high gloss red – a subtle change that adds flavor to this rear end.
The Most Expensive “Mod”
Without a doubt, the single most expensive mod that was done to this 2007 Z06 was the complete reconstruction of the left front of the vehicle. As a very generous friend, Peterson allowed one of his closest friends to drive the car shortly after purchasing it – only this test drive did not go as planned. The majority of the population would want to try and accelerate hard when driving this car, even if only just once. Peterson’s friend was no different. With the traction control “off” and his adrenaline flowing, the friend, who will remain nameless, proceeded to accelerate hard on his test drive which in turn broke traction from the rear wheels. As the car slid sideways, a defenseless eucalyptus tree was there to help the Corvette stop.
Yes, as sad as it is, the Z06 smashed right into the eucalyptus tree which completely tore apart the left front of the nearly-new car. When we asked Peterson about the incident, he expressed how he really wasn’t even that mad at his friend – what a guy! With damage to the car and his friend’s pride, a meager $54,000 was required to put the vehicle back to its pre-crash, pristine state.
Peterson did express that he couldn’t be all that mad at his friend because the car is very powerful and the rear end does come out easily under hard acceleration – especially with the traction control off. Because of this incident, when racing the Vette, he does so with the traction control “on” just as an added security measure to keep the car in good condition.
With red being “The best looking color” according to Peterson, and a history full of memories, some good some bad, it sure seems like he enjoys owning, driving, and racing his Z06. To make NMCA Fontana even more eventful, when the weekend came to a close, Peterson won the True Street class – bravo!
Keep enjoying your Corvettes, folks! For more exciting car features, stay tuned to Corvette Online!