Forty-eight hours. That’s all RideTech needs to strip down and build up a 1972 C3 Corvette from the bottom up to go racing. For just about everyone else, that’s how long it’d take just to sort through the parts.
They’ve done it before, back in 2011 when the suspension parts manufacturer revived a 1967 Camaro broadcasted over a live web feed from its headquarters in Jasper, Indiana. RideTech’s Bret Voelkel says the idea to do all of this developed pretty organically: A 2010 SEMA bench-racing session discussing the abundance of 1967-1969 Camaro parts soon led to his claiming that all he and his team would need to build one of those cars was a weekend. Voelkel probably isn’t the first person to ever say something like that, but as far as we can tell, he was the first to do it with the company’s now-infamous 48-hour Camaro build.
And now, RideTech’s done it again, demonstrating some of its new components for another chassis and defying the number of minutes a single day affords. “There was some discussion about repeating the process on a regular basis, maybe a couple of times per year with different styles of builds,” Voelkel says before admitting that doing that probably would’ve watered down the impact of that first Camaro build-up. Four years’ worth of customers asking about when the next clock-watching build would happen has a funny way of changing everyone’s minds, though. “When customers start asking for something,” Voelkel says, “it’s time to produce.”
Which is exactly what the people at RideTech did earlier this year. The company’s second build was broken up into three 16-hour segments because, well, turning wrenches for 48 consecutive hours will never make a whole lot of sense. On March 10, at eight in the morning, RideTech’s web stream went live and nine specialists swarmed upon the Corvette chassis. The swarm was entirely controlled, however, and was the result of months of planning, which culminated into three teams that’d each be responsible for their own piece of the build: one for everything under the hood, one for everything under the car, and one for everything inside. Team leaders divvied up tasks and sorted out solutions to any problems, and an overall team manager made sure any unforeseen parts additions were expedited, and if anything needed fabricating, it got done. Representatives from partnering manufacturers were also on site, like Racepak president Tim Anderson, who wired up the data-logging system himself, and Forgeline Motorsports president Dave Schardt, who delivered the project’s wheels. “We purposely selected products, companies, and people who were proven performers,” Voelkel says. “With such a compact timeframe, we had no time to experiment with new products or deal with delivery delays.”
Workflow charts and spreadsheets that split up shifts into five-minute increments meant nobody would be standing around wondering who was supposed to tighten what. The build’s components were also laid out and ready for installation before the clocks started ticking. But that was the easy part. “There were some tough choices to make,” Voelkel says about the number of manufacturers who’d hoped to take part. “We declined some really good companies and products to get our final recipe.”
Making the mistake of thinking that simply choosing the right parts would’ve led to success in just 48 hours would’ve only led to failure, though. All sorts of technical details had to be addressed, like making sure everything was being filmed and, ultimately streamed. “We actually had to slow some of the work down in order to make sure we got [it] on film,” Voelkel says. Enough bandwidth to stream all of this also had to be secured, camera gear and lighting had to be brought in and set up, and live chat rooms were staffed. Ask Voelkel, and he’ll tell you one thing: “Building the car was almost the easiest part!”
2010’s blueprint also helped and meant few changes were implemented the second time around but, according to Voelkel, 2015’s build was a lot more challenging than the Camaro. Here, he says, was a project that required “50-percent more stuff in a 30-percent smaller package.”
Which is partially what led to the team’s missing its 48-hour deadline by a smidge. You’d be a loon to blame them, though. By the time they were done with it, a 650hp Lingenfelter LS7 sat underneath the hood bolted up to a Bowler T-56 Magnum transmission. All sorts of suspension pieces were also added, like RideTech’s Level 3 coilover system, and Baer brakes, Forgeline wheels, and a MagnaFlow exhaust system are just a few of the other components that made up Voelkel and team’s formula. A complex build, this was, in which the team was tasked with integrating a dry-sump oiling system, LED headlights, and sophisticated data-logging all onto a 43-year-old car.
It only took them about 48 hours, but the saga continues. Voelkel also says that the most important part’s just begun: racing it at upcoming Goodguys and Optima events. “The performance of the 48-hour Corvette is what will truly set it apart from any other collaborative project,” he assures. It’s the cornerstone of what the build was all about and, if you ask Voelkel, he’ll tell you that’s exactly what makes it “the gift that keeps on giving.”
Words by Aaron Bonk