When the eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette debuted back in 2019, it was said to be untunable due to its locked ECU. That hasn't stopped some people from trying, including YouTuber Emelia Hartford and her persistence has paid off. Barring the existence of an unknown C8 owner going fast while avoiding the limelight, she has the fastest street-legal mid-engine 'Vette in the world.
How fast are we talking? The aptly-named Phoenix with Hartford behind the wheel headed to Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California, with the goal of beating 9.95 seconds set in a boosted C8 built by Extreme Turbo Systems. She started the day with a mid-10-second pass, driving her C8 on a street tune burning pump gas. Runs continued to be in the low-to-mid 10-second range as additional tweaks were made, despite adding significantly more power. Switching to methanol race fuel, the 'Vette was laying down 1,000 horsepower but wheelspin was a problem in both first and second gear.
After a cooldown break and a re-prep of the track, Hartford ran 9.98 but the next run finally set the new record at 9.90. Feeling like the car still had more to give, the tuning continued and she stepped way up with a 9.47 on 11 pounds of boost from the turbochargers. With the previous record well and truly obliterated, track officials offered her "advice" to call it a day before breaking the car. In true racer fashion, she ignored the advice and finished with her fastest run of them all: 9.41 seconds at 144.84 mph with an impressive 1.41 60-foot time. The Phoenix is indeed a seriously fast car.
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Why is it called Phoenix? We reported on Hartford's C8 adventure late last summer when the first edition of her boosted 'Vette experienced major engine problems. The mill was completely rebuilt with a goal of handling up to 1,200 hp, and to address the locked ECU issue, the car actually features a separate, standalone Holley ECU for managing fuel, timing, boost, and other parameters. As such, the orange-trimmed C8 recently rose from the proverbial ashes with its refreshed engine, and this video from the drag strip chronicles its first proper evaluation.
We'd say it was most decidedly a success.