Factory Five Racing GTM - Row, Row, Row This GTM
Gary Cheney's FFR GTM
June 17, 2008
By D. Brian Smith
Photography by D. Brian Smith, Tom Grassi Of Image-Tech
At the largest automotive...
At the largest automotive aftermarket show in the world, SEMA, Gary's GTM was awarded the Best Domestic trophy from Sony Playstation. Each year, five SEMA vehicles receive Sony Gran Turismo awards. The grand prizewinner will get featured in the next version of Gran Turismo, the driving/racing simulator game. Gary's wife, Tatiana Cheney, from Moldovia, which is next to Russia, graciously agreed to be the Supermodel next to their Supercar. The car's almost as photogenic as she is!
Any automotive industry guru will tell you that the SEMA Show is a spectacle. SEMA, which stands for the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association, has served and facilitated the growth of automotive aftermarket companies since 1963. Held annually in Las Vegas in November, the SEMA Show is open to all its members. When we car magazine scribes attend/cover the SEMA Show, we're supposed to wear our magazine's uniform. In my case, it's an official KIT CAR shirt, black slacks, and black shoes (with preferably matching socks so I don't look like a car geek). Realizing I'd be doing miles of walking of the Convention Center floor and surrounding parking lots, I snuck off to Footlocker weeks before the spectacle and purchased some comfortable black tennis shoes.
Well, KIT CAR fans, I'm hear to tell you that the new shoes weren't detected as being in violation of the company dress code, so I'm good to go for SEMA Show '08. What's even better, the sporty shoes brought me some good karma. On the taxi ride over to the Las Vegas Convention Center, I selected the companies I'd visit first. I arrived at the SEMA Show 1.5 days into the spectacle and began my race walk of the main exhibit halls.
Factory Five Racing was one of my first pit stops. There I spied two GTMs, Dave Borden's jet-black beauty and Gary Cheney's Mercedes-Benz-Graphite-over-Lamborghini-Orange Supercar. I spoke with FFR's lead engineer on the GTM project, Jim Schenk, about talking to Gary for a feature photo shoot of his sleek graphite, carbon-fiber, orange, electronic paddleshifted, LS6-powered vehicle. We'd already run a story on a black GTM, so the juicy orange sports car seemed well-suited for KC.
As luck would have it, I discovered I had arrived a day late and one fun feature photo shoot short. Mr. Schenk explained to me that other magazines had expressed interest in photographing and writing about the car. Well, I jotted down Gary's phone number anyway, and thought I might contact him in the future. I reasoned that maybe we won't be the first magazine to do a feature story on his car, but we'll do the best job that we possibly can if we cover it second.
Time passed and I didn't contact Mr. Cheney. Not too long ago, I received a call from him as well as from FFR's Director of Marketing, Mark Weber. They both asked KIT CAR magazine to do the article on this brilliantly executed GTM. I humbly told both Gary and Mark that KIT CAR would be honored to feature the car.
The '02 Z06 LS6 engine from...
The '02 Z06 LS6 engine from a T1 Corvette track car provides at least 405 hp, which is likely a conservative rating. This is the first FFR GTM with a Porsche G50-20 six-speed manual transaxle that's shifted via electronic MasterShift paddleshifters. After everyone finds out about Gary's MasterShift-equipped GTM, it will become the first of many.
Of the eight Factory Five Racing cars that Gary has built over the years, this is his first GTM. A home contractor by profession in New England, his most exemplary FFR construction project to date is this GTM. That's saying something, since he has built two street roadsters (one of which was the commemorative 100th FFR kit in '96), two Type 65 Daytona Coupes, and three spec racers. Gary performs 80 to 85 percent of the construction of his FFR creations himself, but he farms out the finish bodywork and paint to World Class Collision, as well as any custom upholstery to Turner Upholstery, two local automotive artisans in the New England area. In terms of custom fabrication, Steve Knowlton, owner of Knowlton Racing Enterprises, helps Gary with some of the meticulous custom fabrication work that his FFR cars always seem to include. Mr. Knowlton actually matriculated through a private fabricating class with another custom fabricator you may be familiar with, Jesse James. Steve is adept at doing any sort of mechanical work, as well as the fancy, high-end custom fabricating Gary likes to show off in his FFR cars.
The owner filled the dash...
The owner filled the dash with an Aim digital gauge cluster. Whenever Gary goes into reverse, the TV screen in the center console activates and reveals the view to the rear, made possible by a back-up camera installed in the rear valance. A Polk Audio sound system offers stereo sound, just in case you don't wish to hear the LS6 mill work its magic.
KC conducted the photo shoot at American Supercar Company, in Fallbrook, California. They're the manufacturers of MasterShift, the electronic paddleshifting product that's sweeping the automotive enthusiast/aftermarket landscape. Once we'd completed snapping photos, Lou Zember, ASC's astute and entrepreneurial owner, took me out in the GTM. I was too busy having the thrill of my life to glance at the speedometer to see how fast we were traveling. Let's just say that it's a good thing there were no gendarmes in the vicinity.
The car rides smooth, is lightning fast, down or upshifts in electronic nanoseconds, corners confidently, and is easily the swiftest Supercar I've ever been in. I felt as if I were the No. 1 pro tennis player in the world, being chauffeured around in one of my many Supercars to my next tennis match. I wouldn't want to further aggravate my tennis elbow on the MasterShift paddleshift system by driving. But, on second thought, this daydreaming episode should have had me in the pilot's seat performing my own effortless MasterShifting and racing to the next match. I'll have to get back to Lou at ASC and see if Gary would mind me driving his wonderful Superkitcar creation, the only FFR paddleshifted GTM in the world as of this writing. If I get to take a spin, I'll write about the thrill behind the wheel of Gary Cheney's eighth and finest FFR creation in these very pages and perhaps also on KC's Web site. Stay tuned, kit car auto enthusiasts!
In our book, engine under...
In our book, engine under glass beats pheasant under glass anyday.
World Class Collision, of...
World Class Collision, of Bristol, Rhode Island, performed a universe-class two-tone paint job on the Supercar. They used Standox paint in Mercedes Benz Graphite over Lamborghini Orange.
From the profile, the carbon-fiber...
From the profile, the carbon-fiber roof scoop with ram air induction to the engine is apparent, as are some of the companies that have components in Mr. Cheney's GTM, notably: Hella, Momo, K&N, Auto Meter, AP Performance, Koni, Wilwood, Pirelli, MasterShift, IForge, and GM Performance Products, among others.
Billet aluminum 5 logos mount...
Billet aluminum 5 logos mount the rear wing. Within the billet fascia that surrounds the "200MPH" license plate, the back-up camera is installed. By the way, the license plate probably reads low.
Carbon fiber is used extensively...
Carbon fiber is used extensively on this GTM, including the headlight buckets and the Le Mans brake louvers.
The front 18x9.5 and rear...
The front 18x9.5 and rear 19x11.5 IForge wheels are shod with 245/35/18 and 305/30/19 Pirelli radials, front to rear respectively. They offer a surprisingly comfortable ride, even over uneven pavement.