The C8 Corvette has been snatching up awards and accomplishments on both showroom floors and racetracks, and for those die-hard horsepower junkies, it also delivers on the dyno! GM’s new global architecture control unit used as the brain of the new supercar has tossed tuners a curveball since the ECU is “uncrackable,” and making any changes to safely use power-adders has been a significant hurdle.
Companies like FuelTech have been on a mission to figure out ways to utilize all of the technology included in the car’s build, but also build in a safe window for significant upgrades. FuelTech used one of its FT600 engine management systems to coordinate with the car’s direct-injection system. Designed as a stand-alone ECU, the FuelTech FT600 is now integrated alongside the factory C8’s control system. This allows the folks at FuelTech to integrate many of the additional controls and safeguards of increasing the boost while also being able to receive the necessary data to further develop the application.
“I’m not sure if we can claim the “highest horsepower Corvette,” but it doesn’t really matter. We’re just happy to develop this and having the opportunity to play with this stuff! – Anderson Dick, Founder FuelTech
The main benefit of the FuelTech FT600 on this application is the additional port-injection fueling system which adds the necessary fuel when under boost. All the while, the factory ECU remains unchanged and free to control the various areas of the car which it does so well. The port-injected system feeds a set of eight 1700cc injectors located in the custom-fabbed Late Model Racecraft intake manifold. An Aeromotive electric fuel pump located in the front-mounted fuel cell transfers VP Racing Fuels’ M1 methanol, which serves additional fueling duties and acts as a cooling agent to the intake charge, removing the need for intercooling.
The auxiliary port-injected fuel system integrates into the car’s electronic controls via a jumper harness. The PowerFT ECU controls the supplemental fueling, but also allows for data logging, boost control, various pressure sensors to monitor backpressure and turbo speed sensors. It also helps the car’s drivability by manipulating the torque output via boost control in certain gears and rpm levels. The auxiliary fueling works in conjunction with the factory ECU to create the perfect air/fuel ratio under all conditions.
Boosting the intake charge has been a preferred means of increasing performance for decades and even now, great strides have been made to make the most of this pressurized power-adder. Early on, the folks at FuelTech were only able to feed this C8 with four pounds of boost, which was still good for 750 horsepower to the wheels! At that point, the weakest link was the C8’s clutch assembly. The FuelTech C8 has since been upgraded to a Dodson clutch upgrade, which not only increases the clutch disc count (from six small plates and five large ones, to eight small and seven large), but also uses better friction material, enabling the C8 Corvette to transmit more power to the tires.
The engine has been upgraded to handle the power increase with a drop-in kit by Gwatney Performance. A set of Diamond forged pistons were added, as well as beefier connecting rods. Topside, a Late Model Racecraft intake mates to a pair of Garrett G35-900 turbos. With all the clutch’s new holding power, the folks at FuelTech were able to spin all the dials up and see what the upgraded LT2 could produce under boost. At 21 pounds of shove and a clutch made to handle the horsepower, the C8 laid down 1,075 wheel horsepower. More importantly, the FuelTech FT600 auxiliary fueling system regulated the additional fuel under boost to safely meter enough fuel to get the job done without over-fueling.
Reaching For A Record
The team at FuelTech have put about 4,000 miles on the car running a “clutch-limited” low boost (3lbs.) and used the time to integrate and develop a base for the OEM/FT600 marriage. With a new Dodson clutch and boost-happy pistons installed, it was time to see exactly what the horsepower market could bare by turning up the wick. FuelTech uses a Mainline Hub Dyno, so the car was raised and bolted into position.
Horsepower numbers for today’s cars have shot into the stratosphere with 800 horsepower being the new 500. Heck, at only four pounds of boost, this C8 was pumping out 750 horsepower! Now, the springs on those wastegates were cranked tight and as much air as possible would be routed through that LMR-built intake. From there, it was up to the respective injectors to keep each of their pistons safe.
With FuelTech’s founder Anderson Dick at the helm, the throttle blades flew open and the horses began to gallop. When the dust had settled and the hubs stopped spinning, the C8 churned out 1,075 whp and 888 lb-ft of torque at the hubs! That’s pretty impressive for a car so many thought would be “un-mod-able” due to the ECM being on lockdown. The bar has definitely been raised on C8 Corvette performance and the folks at FuelTech are anxious to get the car to the track and see what it does out in the wild. We’ll be sure to let you know when it does. We’ve got to wonder what milestone the world’s most economical supercar will cross next? At these levels, the increases may be smaller, but they’re definitely becoming more frequent!