Car Features

Morris Malone Dishes On His Passion For Building Cars, Pushing Limits, And Breaking Records

“Don’t let anyone tell you something cannot be done. Put your head down, work at it and make it happen.” These encouraging words came from Morris Malone himself after he accomplished what others told him couldn’t be done.

Malone isn’t the type of person to give in to the opinions of others. When he was told that his methods wouldn’t work, that he could never run his built twin-turbo Corvette non-intercooled on methanol in a half mile and that he would never be able to put down enough traction to go that fast, the negativity fueled Malone to push the limits and prove them wrong.

After two years of hard work and putting together one of the most badass twin-turbo Corvettes known to man, he took those opinions and left them in the dust his first time out with the car at the Revvolution Shift-S3ctor Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack. Malone not only joined the 200-mile per hour club after years of chasing it, he broke the US Corvette Standing Half-Mile Record and came within just 1.4 mph of the Corvette Standing Half-Mile World Record with his 220.80-mph pass mid-day on the second day of competition.

We had the chance to sit down with Malone after his accomplished weekend at the Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack and talk about his passion for building/racing cars and pushing the limits.

What was the main reason you got into cars? Where did your passion for building cars and racing begin?

I have always been very competitive and into motorsport-related activities. Growing up, my dad would always tell me stories of his motocross racing career back in the 70s – he was a professional sponsored factory rider back then – and that carried over a lot to me. He had me riding a 70cc dirt bike just before I turned four before I could ride a bike without training wheels, so Motorsports was a giant part of my life from the beginning. Growing up and seeing the physical toll motocross took on my dad, I knew I didn’t want to do that, so naturally, cars were the go-to choice. I’m sure my story is similar to a lot of other guys out there. It all started in high school with your first car and wanting to mod it and rip around with your friends, to meeting up with the locals at meets and other get-togethers. Then onto the big and most fun one, street racing. That’s where a large portion of the racing and banter amongst friends and frenemies still happens. But these half-mile and roll race events that are becoming more and more popular – Shift S3ctor, in particular, being my favorite events; great organizers, fantastic events, and venues – make for a good place to get these ever-growing builds that are going faster and faster out there and really open them up without worrying about cops or failures on the street.

Tell us about your previous build(s), prior to the twin turbo Z06 Corvette

I have gone through a few different builds over the years with different intentions and purposes for each of them.

My first-ever real endeavor building a car was a 2008 Nissan 350z. I took it from a bone-stock NA 3.6L V6 to a bored- and stroked-out 4.1L with twin GTX 3076R turbos. Back then, the tuning solutions and most of the hardware on that platform was still not up to par with the power-making capabilities, and it led to a lot of lifted heads and long nights of work. It made 730-whp and 670-tq on a pump gas map. Never really cranked it up more than that back then, but it could have cracked the four-digit mark on some real boost and fuel back in its day (when a 1000-whp street car was still a big deal).

After that, I picked up a 1995 Nissan 240sx and swapped in a 383 LS6 with 12.5:1 compression and made a healthy 530-whp and 490-tq that I had built. It was mainly just a hoon-around car when I started the build with a t56 paired up to the 383. There were intensions of pulling that out and doing a glide or a TH400 and a 9” conversion in, but ended up selling it to fund the next build before any of that came to fruition.

Then there was the Zr1 that I purchased from a one-owner. It was a 2009 and it only had 5,000 miles on it when I snagged it up; it looked showroom quality. The intensions for this originally were just a fast, fun street car to run all the locals guys I’m always out with, but over the course of the build that soon went out the window. The modifying started out pretty simple on there – ported heads, cam, ported snout and blower, flex fuel, long tubes and exhaust. But that quickly grew and we ended up sending the blower out to Nitrous Outlet and doing a spray bar set up and a standalone fuel system for the nitrous. It made like 780-whp on blower and like 1030-whp on a 200 shot back then. It went through another stage where it got a set of medium-bore Mast Black Label heads, some more extensive porting, and a larger throttle body. I want to say it made 830-whp to the tires on that set-up, blower only, and 1080-whp on a 200 shot. I made a quarter-mile pass in 5400 DA on that setup and trapped a 152 mph on just the blower. I believe it still has the fastest quarter-mile trap speed of any LS9 blower-only car. Shortly after that, it got a rear-mounted Pro Mod 94mm turbo out back feeding a stock ported blower. I ran it as a compound system and it made 1530-whp at 36 psi of boost. I ran a 198.9 mph in the half-mile on that set-up, but the intake air temps were very high and held it back, or it could have gone a lot faster. I had already started the Red Z06 build at the time and didn’t have time, energy or funds to invest in making the changes needed for the Blue ZR1 to get it where it needed to be. I sold it shortly after the Oregon Shift S3ctor event to Brian Tooley, the owner of Brian Tooley Racing, and he has since made the air-to-water changes necessary to cool that thing down and go real fast. They just set the fastest 6-speed Corvette half-mile speed with it at 209.9 mph in it not too long ago.

We see that you have quite the history of building high-horsepower cars. Tell us about your current setup in the red Corvette Z06 that everyone has been talking about.

The red Z06 was a ground-up, half-mile-dedicated build from the get-go. We gutted that thing and started with brand-new components on everything. I took everything I had learned during the builds of these other cars and attending these half-mile events and pooled all that knowledge into speccing and building this thing out. At the heart of it is a LME-built 400 ci Dart LS Next LS-based bottom end with Edelbrock LS-R canted valve heads and a custom Mast Motorsports cast lower intake manifold with a billet LME top hat. I wanted to do an oversquare set-up on this with a large runner and a very efficient chamber on it so we could turn a lot of rpm on it and throw as much boost as needed at it. Feeding the 400 is a pair of PTE Pro Mod Gen 2 88 mm turbos, direct into the motor with no intercooler. We are fueling this thing on methanol as a means of cooling to eliminate the added weight of air-to-water coolers and to have a stable fuel at the power levels we plan to run this thing at when we get everything dialed in and turned all the way up. The fuel system on it is pretty simple; it’s a Waterman Lil Bertha mechanical pump with an inline electric priming pump. Drive train behind the motor is pretty simple as well and proven; we are running a package from RPM Transmissions with a custom torque tube and a rear-mounted TH400 to a 9” IRS rear end with Drive Shaft Shop supporting axles. Joe over at Pro Torque supplied us with the converter and got us dialed in with an EV1 unit. We knew from the beginning that traction was going to be the biggest struggle with this thing and that the suspension was going to be a very crucial part of the success. Penske was the only choice with the task at hand of getting a quality shock to get all that power down on an unprepped runway, so they custom made and valved a set of coilovers for us. Caliber Customs out of Madera, California, did all of the fabrication on this thing and it couldn’t have come out any cleaner or more functional from the turbo kit to the roll cage, motor plate, mid plate, TH400 conversion, sealed underbody and aero. All components are very functional, serviceable and aesthetically pleasing to those who like quality craftsmanship.

For engine management and boost control, we are running an M150 Motec, set up and tuned by John Reed from John Reed Racing. The best, most functional solution in my opinion, in the hands of John to anything else on the market for engine management. Boost control is done with C02 to the gates controlled by the M150 unit.

Prior to the Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack this year, the Corvette created quite the buzz on the internet. Were you pleased with how the car performed on the fresh build its first time out? What were your expectations coming into the event? 

There was a lot of hype on the car to live up to after all the internet chatter on it and everyone telling me the goals we were shooting for were not accomplishable; we could never run it non-intercooled on methanol in a half mile, we would never be able to put down enough traction to go that fast, etc. On our first real event out on the car, in a handful of passes we were able to take the Corvette US half-mile record and come within 1.4 mph of the Corvette world record. To say the least, I am extremely happy with how it performed even with the new build quirks, and very much look forward to the next event out where we plan to go considerably faster.

Tell us about any issues you battled at the Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack. What changes did you have to make throughout the weekend?

With it being the first real event we got to open the car up and make multiple passes, we ran into a couple issues. We found our charge pressure on the transbrake with the external pressure dump-open was too high, causing our converter to still be too tight trying to leave from the dig, which caused a tremendous lag on the hit of the car and ate up a lot of runway and speed. It took 9.2 seconds to 0-60 mph out there, for reference; it was terrible! That has since been addressed. M&M Transmissions makes an external governor dump with a 6 AN dump line that will get the pressure down where we need it to be and loosen everything up to spool on the transbrake.

The other issue we ran into was with the fuel system. We have our mechanical fuel pump front-mounted and running belt-driven off the front of the crankshaft. Once the car spooled and started accelerating it was pulling too much g-force and the fuel was moving away from the pump towards the back of the car and dropping fuel pressure due to lack of fuel fed to the pump. We tried a number of different solutions, but this was sadly one we could not address at the track. It limited our speed to the 220.8-mph pass. If we turned up any more than that, it was just too much acceleration and it would drop fuel pressure even more and trigger our safeguard in the M150 unit to abort the run. Even with the serious converter lag we had out there, if we didn’t have this fuel pressure issue we think we could have made a 230-mph pass out there with ease. To solve this issue before the next event, I’m going to rear-mount the mechanical pump right below the fuel cell and run a cable drive to the front drive pulley. Then gravity will be our friend and keep the pump primed and we won’t have any fuel pressure issues.

How did it feel to break the 200-mph barrier and then go on to break the U.S. Corvette half-mile record in the same weekend?

It was awesome, exciting and relieving all in one. I have been chasing that 200 pass in the blue ZR1 for about two full seasons prior to this and it was always an elusive number. We didn’t expect to knock out a 220 on the first real event the car was at. We figured a low 200 with a lot of data gathering and testing the car out was what was in the cards that weekend at the event. Sunday morning, when we started cracking off the 216, the 219 and the 220-mph passes, we couldn’t have been happier. Two full years of build time and gathering information and testing things and applying it all to this thing all paid off and worked almost flawlessly. It performed better on the first outing then I think any of us expected and gave us a very promising look to the rest of the events coming up this season, and just a taste as to what is to come for the rest of the competition in RWD at these roll and half-mile events.

What are your future plans for the Corvette, now that you have the US half-mile record?

The plan is the same from the get-go – to go as fast as we possibly can get this thing sticking and going. And chase down some of these GTRs and Bulls out there in a RWD car since no one else has been able to yet. Given what we have seen at this past event in Colorado, I think it’s a very real possibility with the combination we put together and were going to be coming up fast behind them here in the next couple events.

Are you more of a roll racing, drag racing or street racing kind of guy? Which one do you prefer and why?

As it sits, I guess I would have to say street or roll racing, as it has always progressed from street racing to these style of events for me. There was never a time in between where I sat down and did a purpose-built quarter- or eighth-mile drag car with all the necessary NHRA certified safety requirements. But that might change here in the near future. I have an Art Morrison tube chassis, a full ‘69 Camaro stock-style carbon body and components from Greg up at Ultra Carbon, a tall deck RHS aluminum block with some All Pro heads and a LJMS cam built down at LME, a Pro Torque billet converter, and a TH400 from RPM Transmissions all about to go down to Caliber Customs with the Intention of doing some drag racing here very shortly.

Video by 1320Video of  Morris Malone’s record weekend at the Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack

Photo Gallery 

Photos by: Kevin Cox and Joe Weaver

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