2014 OUSCI Preview- Karl Dunn's 2002 Chevrolet Corvette
Karl Dunn is one of the more seasoned competitors in OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car (OUSCI) competition. This will be his third year in a row competing in the OUSCI (in three different vehicles) and he was one of the first competitors to figure out the C5 Corvettes were a very competitive platform in the GT2K (under 3000 pounds) class, locking up his OUSCI invite back in June at Road America. We caught up with Karl, hoping to get up to speed with his efforts in getting his Corvette up to speed for Las Vegas-
"After getting the OUSCI invite at the Road America event, we realized that the Z06 needed more power to be competitive on the road course," says Dunn. "The Corvette was strong in the corners, but we were getting blown away on the straights, so I took the Vette out to Cris Gonzalez’s shop, JCG Restorations Customs, for some upgrades." Once there, Gonzalez went to work moving the LS7 from the "Blu Balz Camaro" Karl ran in the 2013 OUSCI over to the Corvette.
With both vehicles under the knife, Karl took the JCG Corvette, a 1999 fixed roof coupe, nicknamed "Squirrelly," to the next Ultimate Street Car Association (USCA) event at Gateway Motorsports Park. "It is a fast car, and it won all three on-track segments of the event in the GT2K class, but it’s completely stripped, and it got hammered in the Lingenfelter Engineering Performance Design portion of the contest," says Dunn. "It was pretty funny funny when the judges walked up, looked at the car and realized that it was missing everything. I told them it got stripped while I was at a bar in East St. Louis."
Gonzalez had the LS7 into the 2002 Corvette for the next USCA event at Portland International Raceway and while it had plenty of power, the 16-hour drive up to PIR did a number on the suspension system and Dunn was having issues with the brake control module. Fellow competitor, Danny Popp overnighted a new BCM to keep the Corvette running, but Dunn still wasn't able to see the full potential of the car. "Still, PIR was a beautiful facility and I had a blast on my first trip to the Northwest," says Dunn. In addition to running USCA events, Karl also kept his driving skills sharpened by entering Squirrelly in some local autocrosses.
In addition to the LS7 engine swap, Dunn and Gonzalez have also been busy working on the suspension and aero setup on the car. "We’ve added Danny Popp’s killer R.A.F.T. Racing suspension and aero setup and JJ Furillo has been tuning the JRi shocks to perfection," says Dunn. "Both of which help us hook up the LS7’s massive and quick-revving power. Wilwood Disc Brakes is also helping us get this rocket slowed down with some of their powerful, lightweight stoppers."
Dunn has the luxury of prior OUSCI experience and knows how important it is to cover all your bases from a reliability standpoint. He knew the stock transmission was probably not going to last through the OUSCI, so he picked up a new one from RPM Transmissions, that featured slightly taller gearing and a 7.5-inch Quarter Master clutch. The last time Dunn had the LS7 on the dyno in the '68 Camaro, it laid down 540 horsepower to the wheels. The engine spins up faster now with the smaller clutch and even with the added aero components and oil cooler, Dunn suspects the car will probably only weigh about 3,050 pounds.
The road course at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be a new experience for Dunn, having only seen the layout posted by the USCA. Based on that photo, Dunn doesn't think the BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge will be an event that necessarily favors high-horsepower competitors. "I’ve heard the road course at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway described as being a big autocross track, so I’m gonna go out on a pretty big limb and predict that one of the autocross specialists will win the overall title at the OUSCI this year," predicts Dunn. Karl has spent plenty of time at USCA events this season, so he has as good a feel for the competition as anyone out there.
"There are so many fast cars and drivers in this year's OUSCI, that there could be some surprises when the event is over," says Dunn. "This may be the year that one of the AWD cars breaks through. They’ve been very fast at the events that I’ve been to and I could see a GT-R winning the road course, but their weight may hurt them in the RideTech Autocross and Wilwood Disc Brakes Speed Stop Challenge. The Evos seem strongest on the RideTech Autocross and the Wilwood Disc Brakes Speed Stop, but a couple were also really fast on the BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge at Gateway."
Karl is looking forward to the OUSCI, but not without looking back at all the folks who have helped him get there. "I have to thank my good friend, Cris Gonzalez, owner of JCG Restorations Customs, for getting the Z06 ready to compete this year and then adding the upgrades necessary to run with the top cars," says Dunn. "I'd also like to thank Danny Popp, the Corvette guru, for the suspension setup, the aero package and driver enhancements. JJ Furillo with JRi was also a big help in dialing in their awesome shocks and adding some extras. The great people at Wilwood Disc Brakes have given me the best brake setup I’ve ever had and Forgeline has provided me with some super-lightweight wheels." Although Falken is not a sponsor, Karl also wanted to acknowledge their super-sticky rubber.
"Finally, I’d like to thank and congratulate the USCA for putting on this fantastic series and all the sponsors for their support, including OPTIMA Batteries, Wilwood Disc Brakes, Detroit Speed and Engineering, RideTech, BFGoodrich, Jet-Hot Coatings, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, Holley, KN Filters, Showtime Motorsports, Snap-On, Intercomp, Advance Auto, Racing Junk Dynospeed Racing and Red Line Oil, for the support that makes this all possible," says Dunn.
We would tell you to follow Karl on Instagram, but he'd probably prefer that we tell you to follow Cris Gonzalez's Instagram account instead. We will tell you to be sure you buy your OUSCI tickets soon, because this is an event you won't want to miss!