A ZR1 was never part of the original C6 plan, but, at an early program review, the Z06′s proposed aluminum frame, carbon-fiber parts, and LS7 engine so impressed CEO Rick Wagoner he casually mentioned aloud, “Geez, if that’s what you can do with $60,000, I wonder what a $100,000 Corvette would look like?” With no more formal authorization than that, Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter and his team launched a skunkworks effort dubbed “Blue Devil” — a nod to the boss’s Duke alma mater.
The power behind this tire-burning, road hazzard is the new LS9, a supercharged and intercooled, 6.2-liter version of the famed small-block V-8 that is assembled by hand at GM’s Performance Build Center in Michigan. The LS9 uses a new, sixth-generation Eaton supercharger that expands the effectiveness of the compressor, helping give the engine terrific low-end torque and high-rpm power. The tremendous power boost of the “blower” allowed the engineers to spec a “smaller” cam than we use on the Z06’s LS7 engine, giving the ZR1 exceptional drivability. You can drive this car to work every day and it doesn’t beat you up, yet you can drive it to a racetrack on the weekend and “school” the competition.
In-car video of Jim Mero’s smokin’ lap of Nürburgring below the jump