The General's Rocket
The Ecotec Lakester set a land speed record in the 2.0-liter (G)/Blown Gas Lakester class at 179.381 mph in October 2004 at Bonneville.
It is a modern rendition of the original SO-CAL Belly Tank that ran 198 mph in 1952. SO-CAL founder Alex Xydias’ original tank was digitized and, under the direction of Frank Saucedo, GM designers created the new aerodynamic shape at their California advanced design studio. With a 119-inch wheelbase, the new Lakester is 11 inches longer than the original and incorporates both a stabilizing rear fin as well as a downforce-inducing carbon fiber undertray. Incidentally, the canopy is made in the same way and by the same people who make canopies for F-18 fighter planes.
The composite body envelopes a Top Fuel style tube chassis built entirely at SO-CAL peed Shop by Robin “Silky” Silk and Paul Rivera. The chassis features rack-and-pinion steering and full Formula-style independent suspension with cantilevered Penske remote-reservoir shocks, both front and rear.
The Ecotec Lakester is powered by a production-based, supercharged 2.0-liter version of the DOHC Ecotec with an integral intercooler. In production tune, the crate motor produces 205 horsepower with 50 state-compliant emissions, however, the motor in the Lakester has an off-road only calibration that in 2004 produced 250 hp. For 2005, there’s a new supercharger as well as a pulley and calibration change to increase the output to around 300 horsepower. Mounted north-south and driving the rear wheels, the Ecotec transfers its power through a Hewland 5-speed transaxle. Interestingly, the radiator is ounted on top of the motor and air is drawn in through the duct above the cockpit. Also, the motor plate supports the transmission and the rear suspension in such as way that the back half of the car can be easily removed should a motor swap be necessary. All of the body work and paint was executed at the SO-CAL Speed Shop and the car incorporates all of the latest safety features, including a Hans device - a feature that proved beneficial after previous GM racing ventures.