A Tragic Loss Saved By Vengeance Racing And A CTS-V

As gearheads, we tend to form unexplainable bonds with our cars. From the pick-up day to its first road trip, or even the initial track day experience, we quickly conclude that our cars are more than just chunks of metal transporting us from A to B. What delves us into an even deeper connection, however, is building a car from the ground up, setting performance benchmarks, and developing a track-devouring monster.

This is precisely what engineering consultant Ron Wise and the team at Vengeance Racing (VR) set out to accomplish. After purchasing a 2008 C6 Z51 Corvette in 2012, dubbed VR SLEPR, Wise began the execution of his vision to develop a street car capable of racing competitively with the team’s help at Vengeance Racing. After undergoing several build phases and upgrades, the C6 made its way onto the track to boast its outstanding performance.

VR SLEPR taking on the competition at the strip.

Wise participated in several events with the Corvette, including various index classes. The VR-modified C6 also saw itself flying down the half-mile at events hosted by WannaGOFAST and Shift S3ctor. The Corvette achieved outstanding results, boasting a win-loss record of 34-13 over the 2021-2022 seasons throughout 16 events. After feeling very confident in the car’s ability, Wise brought it to Darlington in October 2022, a day initially filled with excitement and satisfaction, but ending in despair.

The C6 ran in the 10.00-index class at Street Car Takeover. Wise and the VR SLEPR performed exceptionally well, achieving another class win, thus, bumping his overall season position from fourth to second. Devastatingly, Wise’s Corvette, Ford F-350 tow rig, and trailer were all stolen out of the hotel parking lot that same day.

This unfortunate event nearly led to the demise of Wise’s racing career. The abundance of hard work, dedication, and time invested into the C6 had all been lost. However, his wife, family, friends, and racing fraternity were not about to let that happen. The support was said to be “overwhelming,” and it wasn’t long before Wise began searching for the perfect VR SLEPR replacement.

The criteria for the new car was simple: have the same or better performance than his lost Corvette. Wise had more ambitious goals this time around, hoping to build a car that would perform even better in the index classes. Less than a month following the loss of his beloved Corvette, Wise took a call from a friend who shared the same first name, Ron Mowen. Mowen claimed to have the perfect replacement car for Wise and started describing a ready-built 2012 Cadillac CTS-V, and thus, the rise of Ron Wise in racing began anew.

And here we have it, Ron’s ticket back into the racing world. The CTS-V was ready and waiting for him at Vengeance Racing; he just didn’t know it.

Built by Vengeance Racing for fellow racing enthusiast Chris Couch, the CTS-V was developed with similar goals to Wise’s. Couch wanted a usable street car capable of an eight-second quarter-mile pass. Not only did the straight-line killer need to be fast, but it also needed to remain as reliable as possible, still able to visit cars and coffee meets while achieving leaderboard-topping times.

VR SLEPR’s replacement is looking angry and ready to attack.

In 2017, the Cadillac was making around 641 rwhp. After receiving a new cam, heads, ported blower, E85 fuel, and even a custom 3-inch exhaust system boasting Magna Flow mufflers, the car achieved an impressive 818 horsepower at the wheels until it succumbed to a broken transmission. Finally, after sitting for years, it was time for the CTS-V to meet its new owner, Ron Wise.

Wise took ownership of his new ride in December 2022, knowing he had made the right decision owing to the V-car’s similarities to the C6. Like his Corvette, the CTS-V received the complete Vengeance Racing treatment. At the heart of the street monster is a 400 cubic-inch LSX built by LME (Late Model Engines). Bolted to the V8 is a Magnuson 2650 supercharger, undoubtedly good for a few more ponies and boasting 22-23 psi of boost. Feeding this beast is a triple 450 intake fuel pump system by Fore Innovations. All the Vengeance Racing upgrades are controlled by a ProEFI 112 ECU producing robust performance and oodles of processing power, perfectly fit for builds such as this CTS-V.

The Vengeance Racing crew knows how to make the supercharged LME-built mill look right at home under the hood of Wise's CTS-V.

The guys at VR mated a built 6L90E transmission to the LSX and installed a carbon-fiber driveshaft to get power to the rear and shave weight. With all of the powertrain upgrades installed and the Cadillac strapped to the dyno, the in-house tuner at VR tickled the keyboard to produce a healthy output of just over 1,000 horsepower at the wheels. 

With the VR name engraved on the heart of this CTS-V, there’s no doubt it’s a beast.

What’s the use of all that power with no way of getting it to the ground? Wrapped around the rear Forgestar F14 beadlock wheels are Mickey Thompson 275/60R15 ET Street Radial Pro tires, dampened by Menscer Motorsports double adjustable coilover shocks for perfect control down the strip. Further mods at the rear end involve TRZ lower control arms and trailing arms allowing for support of the 15-inch wheel conversion and DSS Level 5 axles. The rear wheels also require a special brake kit to support the smaller radius. For this reason, the Cadillac uses a Baer Brake Kit for 15-inch conversions while having larger Brembo Brakes installed at the front along with 18-inch Forgestar F14 wheels to match the rears.

The meaty Mickey Thompson drag radials are all business in the rear, while the 18-inch Forgestar wheels up front help show off the big Brembo brakes.

The interior offers the perfect blend of safety and functionality. Keeping Wise in place is aftermarket Speed V seats by RECARO, surrounded by a custom four-point roll cage fabricated by Vengeance Racing. Keeping him up to date and aware of the different happenings in and around the car is a ProEFI 4-inch CAN Display.

An interior fit for the strip and the street.

Arguably, the most important part of any car is its visual appeal. But as mentioned earlier, the V was initially built to race and look good at local Cars And Coffee meets. For this reason, the Cadillac employed a clean, dark Satin Nero wrap completed by Under Wrapz in Oklahoma City, with “Vengeance Racing” decals along the side skirts of the drag racing machine.

All of the details that go into a Vengeance Racing build are what set them apart from everyone else. It's the little things that make a VR-built machine more than just a high horsepower street/strip car.

Wise’s Racing Career Continues

If not evident, Wise gets quite the fizz from driving high-performance vehicles. He partakes in racing due to his love for competition and the communities around him. Wise has developed many friendships at the track, and unlike most who may see track days as an adrenaline rush, he considers the track a safe place to be calm and relaxed, as if it’s his second home. This fondness for racing dates back to 1978, whereby Wise took a shot at bracket racing with his trusty daily driver. It was instantly apparent that he had a connection to racing, and he set off to create a purpose-built race car to participate at NHRA Super Street.

From there, Wise went to Super Pro and Super Gas with a street roadster. He then took a rather long break from the racing scene, leading up to where he is today, and thanks to Vengeance Racing, Wise can continue to enjoy the track for years to come.

The only view Wise plans on giving the competition in 2023.

It’s no secret that Wise is eager to return to the tarmac. Plans are to be on the track with his new CTS-V as early as the beginning months of 2023. So we can expect him to show off his and his car’s talent any day now, and Wise warns us that it’ll be much faster than his C6! If all goes according to plan, Wise will run at least six events throughout the year, with the quarter-mile goal of achieving high 8s or low 9s for now.

Wise’s new race car looks good, is built to be competitive, and is ready to race. We cannot wait to see it tear up the strip throughout the year. His ambition and readiness to get back up when knocked down are precisely what racing is all about, and his hard work and dedication to the sport and his new car will prove to be worthy throughout his future of racing!

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About the author

Dylan Lumpe

Cars are my life, since before I can remember I was collecting Hot Wheels, reading car reviews and playing Forza. After turning 17 and getting my own cars, I’d never turn down a road trip or drive. I’m at my absolute happiest when behind the wheel.
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