First Blood For The Lingenfelter 406!



OK. People asked me to tell them when I stepped into it and who was the first kill of the IROC. Here it is.

Long day, I'd been at work since 6:00am. Data trunk still down at my project office, time sheets, etc. are due today and my users are having to travel 30 miles one way to get to the next nearest computer system to enter in all the data and then they're having to share time with the users at that location. No one's happy, least of all me! I leave work at 4:00pm, no lunch break, data line is in BellSouth's hands, nothing I can do about it.

I'm in the IROC. Julian has my Formula for the day (both of his sport bikes were stolen by a band of pro cycle thieves three weeks ago...) and so I 'grudgingly' agreed to drive the IROC to work and let him borrow the Pontiac for the day. What are friends for? Besides, I wanted to show it off to a couple of other die hard auto nuts at work (one who grew up in the sixties and had a honest to God brand new Baldwin Motion Chevrolet prepped Camaro Z28 (big block) when he was a teen. THAT car was bad, in it's day!).

So, I'm heading home, get off highway 49 N, take the off ramp, and hop up onto highway 59 west, heading to New Orleans. Crossing the overpass, I merge into the left lane because I see that there are cars coming off of Highway 49 south and merging onto highway 59 west with me. I see one of them is this new black Camaro, the one with the melted looking headlights that I'm only slowly growing to like...

So, I'm minding my own business, taking it easy, unwinding. I move over to the right lane again ("slower traffic keep right") and just cruise, ready to turn off in a mile and a half onto highway 98 west and the 30 mile trip home. Not a care in the world except to get home to Cindy and snuggle and relax and maybe ...



The black Camaro comes screaming past me, I glance over, it's a Z28! I look behind, see what he's running from, is there a problem, semi without brakes, highway patrol chasing him, etc.? Nothing. Scared me to death, I don't like when people come past me at 30mph faster than I'm going! Maybe they know something I don't and they're trying to get out of the way?!

The Z28 pulls past me, then starts to slow to where his bumper is at my nose. Then he slams it down hard and falls past me and behind me, downshifting. Again, WTF? Nothing ahead of me that he's trying to avoid.

Damnedest challenge I've ever seen, if that's what it is. This kid lacks any serious style.

Why can't it be like a Dodge Viper, or a Ford Rustang Cobra? Why does it have to be a GM, what is up with GM picking on GM? Why all of this 4thGen vs. 3rdGen rivalry? I don't understand it, but oh, well. If that's how it's going to be. Time for a lesson... Class is in session and Black Echo is the teacher.

Let's see if this IROC is everything that I was told that it was... Trial by fire. First kill, and it looks like some 4thGen bitch wants to step up and take his bitter pill. Let's see if I can hand him his butt and his ego on a hubcap. Or if he'll hand me mine on something similar.

Z28, six speed, not a SS model (might have been more fair if it was...). So, I know he's not making my kind of power, but I've got a worn out suspension, and my suspension isn't near what his is. Plus the LS1s are underrated...

We'll see.

The Z28 driver powers ahead half a car length, slows, pulls along side me, and I glance over. Some kid, teenager, backwards baseball cap (What is up with wearing your clothes backwards?! Sure sign of mental retardation if you wear your clothes backwards, but then I've said that before. My opinion still stands.) or maybe first year in college. Anyway, younger than I am by far. I couldn't afford a car like that when I was a teen, or in college, so maybe daddy bought it for him. Well, he looks at me, nods his head, drops his finger forward in a 'let's go' motion, and revs his motor.

I feign ignorance, copy his motion of using his finger to point straight ahead, and mimic his very move in a 'do you mean you want to race?' kind of hand signal. He smiles, says something that looks to me like 'f**k yeah! Let's go!' and does the finger pointing thing again. I look at his car (we're doing 70mph, side by side) and kind of make this sheepish "I don't know..." look. I do it so well... 

He points forward again and revs his motor, nodding his head for emphasis. While he's revving his motor in neutral, showing off, I smile, use my right hand to wave "bye bye" and stomp the IROC's accelerator to the floor for all its worth. Glad that firewall is pretty thick. I kicked this thing hard enough to almost dent it!

Instant throttle response from the 406cid. 

No downshifting. 

Nothing fancy. 

Point and shoot.

The sound that this IROC makes at WOT just has to be heard to be believed. The Z28's driver's expression was priceless! He thought he was picking on a L98 car! (The IROC is wearing the original factory L98 5.7 liter TPI badging, oh well... Wolf in sheep's clothing and all that... I'm thinking of changing the badging to just LB9 TPI insignia (no 5.7, so they'll think I'm a 305! Hahahaha! Bait!)

The IROC emits a feral howl and pulls ahead, hard. I'm at the perfect speed for the Super Ram to show its stuff. The tach swings up and starts climbing like the car was in 1st gear! The balance on this motor is unreal, what with the forged pistons and lightweight internals, it really spools up to speed quick!

I've got the accelerator to the floor, watching the clocks spin like crazy.    One thing was for sure. I wasn't looking back and that's where Kid Z28 was! I put him behind me and just hung him out to dry.

Trans does the standard up shift and I'm five car lengths away and still pulling away from him at a fast walking pace. Motor is screaming like some raped banshee. He gets into his LS1 for all its worth but it's just not there for this kid. I walk away from him like he's standing still!

I think the guy almost killed himself when he got out to check under the hood to see why his car had stalled on him!


This IROC pulls like a mother! No lie! And I don't power shift at all, just leave it in OD and let everything work out how it wants to go on its own. Still getting the 'feel' for this power combo, learning it's sweet points, where the power comes on, where it flows, etc. I close the distance to my turn off pretty dang quick, and when I start to slow down, slamming down on the four wheel discs, I'm doing north side of 150mph according to the calibrated 220mph speedo the car is equipped with, I get back to 70mph, and it takes this kid 4 seconds more to catch up to me! I counted! One thousand one. One thousand two. Etc.

There is a very big difference between a car that will run very low 12s all day long, and one that on a good day, might break into the high 12s with a skilled driver. Night and day difference. There is a big difference in a second or more of speed between two bodies in motion. It's unreal. I felt sorry for this kid, who thought he could pick on some 3rdGen with his new toy that daddy bought him. Well, Black Echo is nobody's bitch. And this IROC has some serious legs under it, and some seriously sharp teeth!

I slowly merged into traffic on 98 West and the black Z got up beside me at the next light. The IROC is idling, loping, bouncing slightly. (I'm working on getting the exhaust MP3 done, because it is nothing short of primal! If you sit at a light in this car, it will vibrate your bones, it has a very deep bass throb to it that just pulses in and out, like some giant beating heart. Whuub whuub whuub whuub is as close as I can get to using words to describing it.)

Anyway, this kid looks over at me, shaking his head and mouthing some words that I can't hear. I've got my windows down (both of them and still beat him) and he turns and shouts to me:

"Shit, man! What you got in that thing!?"

I reply:

"Something bad." and ignore him the rest of the drive.

After that, heading out to home, on the road I live on (I live in the country, so neighbors are few and far between, I like my privacy...), I come to a stop on the two lane, and it's that old gray asphalt, not the shiny black type. Old two lane country road stuff. I'm listening to the engine purr, and then I just nail it. No fancy stuff, no power braking, no power shifting, just leave it in OD and move foot from brake to accelerator.

The race with the Z28 has gotten my blood hot in a good way this afternoon. First time from a dead stop since I've owned the IROC and probably the last one for a while until I get it tuned and some serious rubber on it. I don't abuse my cars, but I like to know what they'll do.

There's a big difference.

Car slowly slides left and right on the road, I keep the wheel straight, but the rear end is swinging left and right, like a pendulum on a grandfather clock. The posi can't make up its mind which tire has the most traction, and I guess it's switching back and forth, testing in some way.  Both tires are spinning and I'm fighting it like it was Monday Night Nitro or the NWO!  The IROC-Z's front end is trying to head for the sky while the rear end is trying to dig its way to China. The exhaust note at WOT and the scream of the dying tires is music to my ears.

The IROC-Z is sliding like it's on ice!  Tire smoke everywhere.  The rear street tires are almost bald, but the car still won't hook up below 2500rpm!  I watch the tach is hovering around 2000rpm and slowly climbing, but the speedometer is barely moving, I'm moving forward, but not that much, and I'm really doing nothing more than sliding around and destroying rubber.

I'm getting squirrelly, and knowing the condition of the rear set of meats, I let off the throttle some, before I destroy them completely.  The IROC catches, and the front end tries to rise off the ground and the rear end tries to scrape the asphalt as I'm planted in my seat and this baby is gone! I lay off of it about 90mph which means that I wasn't in it very long, but I realize that for the first 30 mph, it was nothing but rubber dying and it was a horrible death from the sound of it.

I take it easy for the rest of the trip, just listening to the motor purr, the wind in my face, and some tunes on the stock radio, thinking how lucky I am. This is the car I've been waiting for all my life and here I sit in it. And you can bet damn well I'm going to make this engine even faster!

Getting home, I look at the rear tires and realize I'm going to need tires all around real soon.  There is a feeling, a primal urge of good nature that comes from seeing all the disintegrated rubber dust and stuff that's been thrown around in the tire wells and across the muffler / exhaust and baked on.

I hate that the first kill was another GM and another black Camaro Z to boot, but he asked for it.  John Lingenfelter once said; "it's amazing how going fast can make you feel so good."

I agree.  High performance and the sound of a strong motor is better than penicillin sometimes.