Remember Dragzine’s Project BlownZ06 drag-radial C7 Corvette? Built by PMR Race Cars in California, the ‘Vette was built from the ground up specifically for small-tire competition, and right out of the gate it became the quickest centrifugally-supercharged radial car on the planet, dipping into the mid-3.80s. The car won an NMCA Radial Wars championship in 2018, and with that goal achieved and the itch to move on to other things, the car was sold.
Luckily, the car didn’t stray far. Eric Kvilhaug, a drilling and pump engineer from Southern California who ironically enough had also been a technical contributor to Dragzine in years prior, bought BlownZ06 to jump into the no-time racing scene on the West coast. With a ProCharger-boosted Hemi under the hood, an M&M Turbo 400, and all the best goodies, it was a highly-capable machine regardless of the venue.
Kvilhaug initially grudge-raced the car on 315 radials, but found the small, radial-construction tire to be a challenge to push down the surfaces at Sacramento Raceway and other facilities. A switch to big tires and some trial-and-error — some of it quite costly — revealed the true capability of the car, but as the number of racers and races in the region dwindled, Kvilhaug sought new arenas of competition. West coast icon Jay Boddie steered Kvilhaug toward the “Street Outlaws No Prep Kings” (NPK) series, and despite some significant hesitation — concerns about the travel schedule, the cost, and other factors that would effect his business and his family — he saw the series as a once-in-a-lifetime racing opportunity and went all-in. “So here we are, we went out to give it a shot. We’ll probably never do it again, so it’s either now or never,” he says.
While we won’t spoil the results of the impending airing of the series’ races on the Discovery Channel, we can tell you that Kvilhaug and the former “Project BlownZ06” will feature prominently on your television sets in the coming months.
To make the car competitive (and legal) in the no-prep racing arena, Kvilhaug has made extensive changes to the Corvette, most notably hanging an entirely new, factory C7 body with a VIN number on the chassis. From there, he put new front and rear shocks valved specifically for no-prep surfaces, changed out the transmission and torque converter, re-did the transmission tunnel to account for the ride height of the big 36-inch Pro Mod-style Hoosier slicks, fabricated new “zoomie” headers for improved downforce, and built a stronger rear wing with a larger wicker bill. The same basic Pro Line Racing (PLR) Hemi with a ProCharger rests between the framerails, and while Eric does buy parts from PLR, he’s handled all of the engine maintenance and assembly himself.
“I assemble everything — engines, transmissions, I tune it, I drive it, I assemble the motors, I wrench on it, it’s all us. We are one of the very few out here that are the involved in the entire car on the NPK circuit. I’ve never paid a dollar to have anyone tune my car, and that will never change. That’s the fun part for me…driving isn’t that fun, sitting in the 125-degree car for a half hour. But tuning is part of the fun, of figuring out how to go faster, beat the next guy, race the track, try not to burn it up. And that’s all me. And so the only person to blame at the end of the night is me, whether it works or it doesn’t, it’s my fault. That’s why I’m in this…to build it, to tune it, to race it. The buck stops with me,” Eric explains.
“We’re out there running with the best of the best, and I don’t have a tuner, a chassis guy, a setup guy, it’s just me and my all-volunteer crew. And we go out there and we get it done,” he continues.
Kvilhaug had never participated in — or even witnessed in person — no-prep racing before he arrived at the NPK season four opener at Columbus, Ohio earlier this year. There, he failed to race his way into the main program and “broke everything” in the process. But he quickly got his feet under him and within a the first few races, was enough of a threat to have the front-running teams making risky maneuvers to fend him off.
“We went from being ducks in Ohio to being okay, so that really revitalized the team to keep going,” Eric says.
“It’s been a crazy road, and off the trailer I’m not the fastest guy because I have to get a couple hits down to figure out every new track and new surface and change in the way they prep them that we go to,” Eric says. “All of these guys have been doing it for four years, and they’ve either been to these tracks or have seen different ways of prepping, but it’s all new to me so we just have to throw something at the wall and hope it sticks. We haven’t done well on Friday nights, but we’ve been able to look at the data and really turn it around for Saturday.”
The no-prep surface wasn’t the only thing new to Kvilhaug — he also had never before been in front of a television camera and recorded for millions to see on television.
“I’ve never been on any form of television or even on social media. I’ve shied away from all of that. I’m not there for the TV, though…I’m there for the competition and to win some money and pick up sponsors so I can keep racing, so the TV is something I had to get used to.”
Where things go from here depend largely on outside sources of funding to offset the extensive costs of campaigning a car of this caliber and the lengthy travel schedule traditional to the series.
“I’ve got a couple of sponsors here and there, but it’s mostly parts and things, so I won’t be able to do this series again, I don’t have the budget to do this year after year. The toll on the business, on everything, is nuts. The 13-race series is compacted, and it’s crazy. We’re just worn out. Our one and only goal is to win a championship, so I’ve got to keep my engine alive, keep the car alive, the crew, keep everyone alive so we can make it to the end.”