The Sonic headed to the OUSCI is Ljubica Basica’s ride to High School. LJ is an honor student and cheerleader at Our Lady of the Hills High School in Kerrville, Texas. Her father (Peter Basica, President of Pedders USA, LLC) couldn’t leave his daughter’s car stock. LJ’s is a bit worried about her Sonic and has asked John Buttermore (Lead Development Engineer for the Chevrolet Sonic) tobe careful with her car.
The Sonic headed to the OUSCI is almost stock. A bone stock Sonic turns 1:47 at Gingerman. When the Motor State OPTIMA ran at Gingerman this summer the fastest drivers were Danny Popp 1:28, Todd Rumpke 1:30and Mark Stielow 1:30. Those drivers and cars aside, a stock Sonic would have been competitive: with the right driver behind the wheel. Engineers who also work on the Corvette tuned the Sonics' ride and handling, giving it a more direct feel, while balancing the vehicle for the broad range of driving conditions in North America. We have lowered and corner weighted her on Pedders GMPP Xa coilovers. Reducing the factory under steer is important for an event that includes road course and autocross. Using rear coils that are much higher in rate than our street Xa kit does just that. The engine cradle and the overall structural integrity of the Sonic create a great platform so it is no surprise that the Sonic responded exceptionally well to the suspension upgrades. We are running SRF brake fluid with Carbotech front XP 8 pads with stock rotors, rear drums and shoes.
The Ecotec 1.4L turbo’s power ratings are 138 horsepower (103 kW) and 148 lb.-ft. of torque (200 Nm) between 1,850 rpm and 4,900 rpm. The wide rpm range for the maximum torque - a specific trait of turbocharged engines - helps the engine deliver a better driving experience and performance. The 1.4L’s turbocharger is integrated within the exhaust manifold, for reduced weight and greater packaging flexibility. A reinforced crankshaft and stronger connecting rods deliver additional strength to support the engine’s pressurized power and torque over a wide rpm band. LJ’s Sonic was with an Advanced Racing Dynamics tune with 150 FWHP and 170 TQ. Track ready with driver and fuel we are just under 3,000 pounds. Boerne Stage Kustoms did the Corvette Grand Sport stripes and Victory red accents. Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position tires give the Sonic better grip.
John Buttermore is GM Engineer by profession and a racecar driver by passion. Pete and John met years ago through SCCA racing. John and I became friends. John and Pete work together well. Having John behind the wheel of a Pedderised car makes for a great day at the track every time we go to the track. John is a tremendous asset behind the wheel. His consistency lap after is remarkable. When I suggested to John we take a Sonic to the OUSCI, he did not think we had the slightest chance of going. I do not think he believed we had an invitation until I sent him a copy.
John is the reigning Back-to-Back T1 SCCA Champion in his Corvette. He knows that it takes to o fast and be fast. When Pete suggested we take the Sonic to the OPTIMA I knew we could open some eyes if we could get an invitation. The Sonic is not a traditional candidate for the event. It will be fun to run a car you can buy and build for about $20,000, and get 40 MPG during the road rally against these very different types of cars. The Sonic is the only car in its segment to achieve an overall five-star safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is a great small economical car that is fun to drive.
Our best modification is our driver John Buttermore. John is listed as our builder of record, which he deserves as the Lead Development Engineer for the Sonic. Pedders coilovers are a GMPP part so the Sonic is 100% Chevrolet. The level of competition is higher than last year, according to Pete. At the OUSCI, we will be up against the best and fastest streetcars in North America and outstanding drivers. Mark Stielow and his new 850 HP ultra lightweight custom built Camaro, Danny Popp (last year's OUSCI Champion,) in the Lingenfelter L/28 and Raymond's Performance Camaro are going to be very strong. Pete worked with Bruce and Mike on their Camaros all year. He knows exactly how good they are. So John and Pete had a conversation and decided to bring a sling shot to a battle of giants.