The late fitness guru Jack LaLanne once said: “Keep yourself young by having a good, sporty car like a Corvette. It keeps you on your toes.” LaLanne, a loyal Corvette owner who devoted his life to maximizing the potential of the human body, would have loved what John Hennessey has just accomplished with Chevrolet’s eighth generation of the model.
Like a star athlete’s personal trainer, the Texas-based aftermarket specialist and his team have managed to get even more performance from the car. They recently pushed their tuned 2020 C8 Corvette past the 200 mph mark—205.1 mph, to be exact, which is a speed record for the latest iteration. For Hennessey, the model certainly merits his attention.
“The new C8 Corvette delivers so much value, and it’s an incredible road trip car,” says Hennessey, who took delivery in March. “I drove our first C8 from Detroit to Houston—over 1,300 miles—with my daughter, and we did it quickly and comfortably. It does so many things, so well.”
No stranger to conjuring more from a Corvette, Hennessey souped-up a C7 version to 700 hp and personally piloted it to 200.6 mph in 2013. This time, however, he turned to the chief engineer of his Venom F5 supercar program, John Heinricy. Aptly nicknamed “Heinrocket,” having been named Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National Champion a total of 15 times, Heinricy was the one behind the wheel of the C8 when it made the milestone run at the Continental Tire Proving Grounds, an 8-mile oval in Uvalde, Tex., roughly 230 miles from Hennessy Performance Engineering.
The modified ‘Vette’s winning recipe is based on two key ingredients: a nitrous oxide system that boosts total output to approximately 650 hp, and new exhaust componentry. “Our stainless-steel exhaust system is going to do very well,” notes Hennessey. “It’s like a piece of jewelry, and it picks up another 20 hp while weighing 11 pounds less than stock.”
And there’s further room for improvement. “Right now, the biggest challenge is that we cannot calibrate the ECU computer in the new C8—at least not yet,” admits Hennessey. “Once we do, we will be able to unlock a lot more power, over 1,000 hp. We will also be releasing several wheel and tire upgrades soon. More grip, lighter weight and always a unique Hennessey design—including a carbon-fiber rear wing and front splitter—that says: ‘We are the fastest!’” It’s a mission statement for both the car and company that may, as Jack LaLanne noted, keep Mr. Hennessey forever young.