There’s a certain level of passion that is required to go drag racing on a regular basis. Let’s face it, you’re plunking down a lot of money to spend the shortest amount of time possible on the track and win — so passion is a requirement. When you connect a white-hot passion for going racing and an attention to detail of a true craftsman you get a man who has an appetite to go fast and do it in style.
Rodney Massengale’s weapon of choice over the years has been the iconic Chevrolet Corvette, and his newest ride is without a doubt one of the best looking cars ever to bolt on a set of radial tires in our opinion.
Eclipsing the level of desire for racing and speed that Massengale possesses is nearly impossible for most mortal men. Every facet of life for Massengale revolves around speed, including his job as owner and head evil genius at RPM Transmissions, located just outside Indianapolis. At RPM, Massengale has created a reputation for building some of the strongest transmissions around and has also been a pioneer for upgraded driveline parts for his beloved Chevrolet Corvettes.
Massengale’s current current twin turbo terror is just part of a long line of jaw dropping Corvette builds. Previously, to help showcase RPM’s products, Massengale built a 2007 Z06 that wore a coat of yellow paint that could be seen from space, fitted it with a D1 ProCharger and ran deep into the single digits on a stock LS7 engine. After campaigning the Vette in the NMCA’s LSX Rumble class for a few years, Massengale’s need for speed motivated him to build another Corvette to run in the cut-throat LSX Real Street Class. That nitrous-huffing red 2001 Z06 was no slouch either, running as quick as 7.95 at 175 mph and picking up a few wins along the way.
The current K&K Advanced Door Car Technologies-built 2009 Corvette ZR1 Massengale pilots is the biggest and gnarliest of the bunch, and he’s perfectly fine with that. “We purchased the car in 2014 to step up and run Radial Wars in the NMCA along with Duck X Productions’ Radial vs. World and Pro Drag Radial races across the country,” says Massengale. “Since early 2014 we’ve made the conversion of this car from Outlaw 10.5 to Radial Wars trim.”
After purchasing the car, one of the few things Massengale and his crew, consisting of Kenny Johnson and Wes Cross, did not touch was the powerplant under the hood. To keep up keep up with the top racers in the radial racing world, the ‘Vette is equipped with a 670-inch big block with a CN billet block from Proline Racing Engines with a 4.700-inch bore and 4.875-inch stroke. Filling all of this big-boosted, big block billet goodness is an amazing rotating assembly that has uses a Sonny Bryant crank for a spine, while BME 426 connecting rods ride on that crank and wear a set of double diamond coated Diamond pistons.
The quality of this build keeps on rolling when you move to the top end of the motor engine. Resting on the billet block is a pair of Sonny’s one-piece billet five-inch bore space wedge heads that have been assembled in house at Proline Racing Engines. Inside the heads are Inconel and titanium valves and on the outside are some 1.85:1 ratio. Jesel rocker arms. The custom spec solid roller camshaft from Proline is top secret but is healthy, to say the least. Keeping everything lubricated inside the engine is a Moroso five-stage dry sump system that sucks up oil from a Moroso dry sump pan.
The extreme quality of components used in this engine continues with a custom billet intake built by Proline. A single Accufab 105mm throttle body moves all of the air inside the engine as a 5 bar BigStuff3 map sensor keeps tab of all the boosted air as it flows inside the engine. The 325 pound-per-hour Moran Billet Atomizer Injectors pump in the fuel that comes from the Waterman fuel pump and is monitored by a Weldon fuel pressure regulator. Another change Massengale made was to install a new Davis Profiler system. The rest of the ignition system is all MSD with an HVC 2 coil, belt drive distributor and 8.5 plug wires. Everything is controlled via a BigStuff 3 computer that is tuned by none other than Patrick Barnhill of PTP Racing.
The start of the boost process begins with a set of K&K Advanced Door Car Technologies-built 2.25-inch custom headers. To step up the ponies Massengale swapped the twin 94mm turbos with a pair of 98mm Precision Turbo units. Boost from the twin snails flows through 3.5-inch hot side piping and four-inch cold sized piping while a Vortech mondo blowoff valve and twin Tial 60mm wastegates help to control the upwards of 49 lbs. pounds of boost pressure.
A trick water-to-air intercooler setup keeps the incoming air charge as cool as possible during a four-second eighth-mile pass. When you add up all of the parts of this combo it makes an estimated 4,000 horsepower and close to 3,000 foot-pounds of torque at the tire — not your standard issue numbers from GM by a long shot.
Since Massengale is a transmission builder by trade, making that part of the combo work for him was easy. “The torque converter had to be changed and we sold the Rossler two-speed transmissions in favor of building our own three-speed transmission,” says Massengale. He went to work building his own three-speed Turbo 400 that’s paired with a Pro Torque converter. A Precision Performance Products shifter takes the input from Massengale and transfers it through the driveline to the four-inch carbon fiber driveshaft to the rear of the car.
Massengale made wholesale changes to the suspension of the car to help his quest for radial tire glory. “We changed the four-link bars to work with the radials first,” says Massengale. That four-link connects to a Mark Williams modular aluminum floater that uses a 3.70:1 gear ratio along with a Mark Williams spool and 40-spline floater axles. Front dampening duties are handled by a pair of Santhuff struts and AFCO springs. Attached to the Mark Williams rear end housing are a set of Menscer Motorsports-massaged Afco three-way adjustable shocks with AFCO springs.
Adding to his own personal touches on the car, Massengale installed black Weld Racing Alumastar 15×4.5 spindle mount wheels up front with Mickey Thompson 26×4.5 rubber. Out back, Weld Racing 15 x 15-inch Alumastar wheels with Pro Mod solid centers were bolted up wearing Mickey Thompson 315/60/15 rubber. Braking duties are taken care of by a Mark Williams floater set up in the front and Mark Williams four-piston units in the rear.
The Jet Stream Blue ZR1 is really a quality piece. Inside the 6.50 certified chassis is enough pretty polished aluminum to make any show car guy jealous. Adding over 200 pounds to the car was required to make the 3,200 pound race weight for Radial Wars. Inside the cockpit, Massengale monitors the vitals of the Vette via a Racepak IQ3 display.
Since making all of the changes to the car, Massengale has run a best of 4.25 at 193 mph in the eighth with a 1.13 sixty-foot. “The car is a beast when the boost comes in around 60 feet out. Nothing sets you back in the seat like it,” says Massengale on what it’s like to wheel his Radial Wars animal.
Massengale pulls no punches when it comes to his intentions for the 2015 race season, telling us, “Our goals for this year are to win a race or two and get the car into the coveted three-second zone on radials. Getting this car to make this much progress at such a quick rate was not easy.
“I would like to thank Patrick at PTP Racing for dialing in the tune, Mark from Menscer Motorsports for getting the suspension dialed, Shannon Davis for his help with the Profiler, and Kenny Johnson and Wes Cross for being the hardest working crew guys,” says Massengale.
The passion that Rodney Massengale has for drag racing and building quality race cars is obvious in everything he’s ever touched. His Corvettes that have seen competition at the track are always at the top of the qualifying sheets on race day and his new ZR1 is no exception. The attention to detail and quality in his Radial Wars ride is what makes it stand out in a crowd and above just about everything else out there.