Part 1: Bondurant to Gridlife C5 Corvette

New year, new me. Twenty something years young, but in mid-life crisis mode due to Vette ownership. The New Balances are in the mail and my fresh jorts will be arriving any day now. Welcome to the next step in my Corvette story, covering things that I did to get ready to turn some laps in ole Bonnie. This process is called Phase 1. You may be thinking that there is a reason for this name, but nah, it’s just what I wrote down on my spreadsheet. Let’s dive in on what I felt was needed for this thing, shall we?

Safety is the most critical element when working on a new build. With the “cage” that was in the car, my head could easily come in contact with steel if I were to have an accident. Actually, I’m just being nice. It’s way worse than that. My head actually rested on the side of the cage. Sitting in the car for just a few minutes made me think, “would you like to die? Because this is how you die.” I broke out my old but trustee Milwaukee Sawzall and partook in one of my favorite activities, cutting unwanted shit out of a car. There’s something so elegant when hearing a blade cut through metal. It should be noted, I didn’t cut the entire cage out. I kept the rear main hoop and harness bar so that I could have a secure way to install a 6-point harness.

Now that the front half of that terrible cage was gone, this left me with a ton of room for activities. I took the opportunity to grab a Sabelt Taurus seat, Sabelt 733 Steering Wheel, and Sabelt Enduro 6- Point Harnesses in red. Why red? Because fuck you, that’s why. Another benefit of a good seat is being able to feel everything the car is doing. It’s one of those things that helps with confidence in yourself and getting the car dialled in. Unfortunately, the steering wheel may be too small. The 330mm diameter could make the car feel more “twitchy” than it actually is, but I’ll have to see how I feel about it on track. The steering wheel is mated with the basic NRG quick release that everyone and their grandma has.

I mounted the Sabelt seat with AMT Motorsports C5 specific mounts. I usually don’t really care about seat mounts but these things are freaking nice! They have a sub-harness bar that bolts into rails since the C5 floor is kinda weird. The floor pan is basically Balsa wood that’s sandwiched between two composites. I am confident that these are the best seat mounts you can get for a C5 Vette. Pull your face closer to your screen. Look deep into my soul, these are the BEST!

Wrapping up the interior, I also installed the AMT Motorsports Gas pedal. I’m kinda trash when it comes to heel-toe with regular pedals. With any car that I plan on tracking, I search high and low for the best pedal set that I can get. Luckily for me, AMT had one in stock when I was ordering the seat rails. That fuzzy stuff is what I assume to be carpet insulation. All that covered the floor and trans tunnel when I pulled the carpet back. This sucked on a whole other level to remove. Hours of my life were wasted, but then I realized it was a perfect time to listen to our podcast Hypercritical (shameless plug, I’ll admit).

Moving on to the mechanical bits, there are a few things that are needed to be addressed oiling-wise with the LS6. The LS engine family is known for oil starvation on long sweepers. My home track, Gingerman raceway, has a sweeper that would cause my S2000 to smoke because oil would get in the intake manifold before I had added a catch can. Fun fact, don’t do that. I am addressing this with a Radium Engineering catch can and an oil accumulator. The oil accumulator is a band-aid compared to a full-on dry sump, which is considered a must for any tracked Corvette according to the community. For now, this band-aid will have to suffice as the budget isn’t unlimited for this build.

The next piece of the oiling puzzle is keeping oil around the pickup. That is done with bolt-in baffles from Improved Racing, as well as the factory 2-piece GM “Batwing” oil pan that can be found in the later C5’s (02-04) and all Z06s. These baffles have been proven to help keep oil where it is needed to be able to sustain lateral 1.4G turns. As a matter of fact, the data can be found here on the Improved Racing Website.

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