What do you get when you combine a math teacher, a race car driver and a politician? I know that it probably sounds like a lame joke that you might have heard on a late night comedy program, but this improbable synthesis of vocations is embodied in one extremely, ahem, driven individual. Lou Gigliotti grew up in Geneva, New York, which lies on the northern shore of Lake Seneca in the picturesque Finger Lakes Region and only 35 miles from Watkins Glen International.
Master Of Most
After receiving a B.A. Degree in Mathematics and teaching certificate from Alfred University, Lou taught math for the next year and a half, while also coaching wrestling. By this time, cars had become his passion and he went in search of a racing sponsor, which found him after curb-hopping his Triumph TR3 around a road course in 1971.
After deciding to leave teaching, Lou started his own automotive shop – LG Motorsports – so that he could build his own race cars. In 1974, Gigliotti began racing a B Sedan Datsun 510, and that year achieved his first professional pole position at the legendary Mosport International Raceway about an hour east of Toronto, Ontario. According to Lou, getting to the next step would have been nearly impossible without his sponsor Barry Budlong.
The retail operations of LG Motorsports sprung from the old mantra, “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday.” By this time, Lou had begun racing in the Corvette Challenge, campaigning a two car team. 1991 was a pinnacle year, as LG Motorsports began racing in the World Challenge, eventually changing from Corvettes to the 4th generation Camaro.
Considering that few were having success with the suspension geometry of the new car, and Lou was, his business accelerated dramatically. Racers were inquiring about parts for not only their race cars, but their street machines. LG Motorsports was even requested to build World Challenge cars for competitors…and they did!
Gigliotti bridged the millennial transition by hopping back into a Corvette and having success in both the Trans Am and Grand Am racing series, winning The Rolex 250 at Daytona in 2002. During this time-frame is when LG Motorsports became renowned as the company from which to buy Corvette headers, bolt-on exhausts, and cams.
So, what has ol’ Lou Gigliotti been up to recently? Well, he is considering a come-back tour in the AMLS this fall and maybe another run for Congress next year.
Breaking In The Blue Devil
I however had the great fortune to find him and his 900HP ’10 ZR1 Corvette at the top of a hill in Virginia City, Nevada. No, he hadn’t fitted his ‘Vette with Super Swampers and a brush guard; he was here to run the 2nd annual Spectre 341 Challenge.
Last year was the first year back for what had been known as the Virginia City Hillclimb, and it was Lou’s first time on the 5.2 mile-22 turn menace known as State Route 341. Lou handled the track and the competition in 2010, winning with a time of 3:21.79. For that particular challenge, the car’s stock drivetrain had been upgraded with several performance and weight-saving modifications.
A set of LG Motorsports Super Pro long-tube headers added 30 horses to the already absurd 638, all the while cutting 27 lbs. from the nose of the car. A custom lightweight flywheel and a triple disc carbon clutch assisted Lou in getting all of the power to the ground while saving a massive 45 lbs. of rotating weight.
Speaking of the ground, the car is a full inch closer to it thanks to custom LG Motorsports Billet CNC Drop Spindles. The beauty of these pieces is that they don’t change the car’s original suspension geometry.
Considering that Lou races in the American Le Mans Series, it certainly seems apropos that he would apply what he has learned on the track and implement it into his “daily driver.”
The harder we work, the better we do, and one way or another, we find a way to win.
A Whole New Year
Flash forward to 2011 and Mr. Gigliotti and his mistress are back in the Silver State, on a mission to defend his title and go after the record, which is about eleven seconds faster than his winning time of the previous year.
This, too, was Lou’s approach, as this circuit will kill you, literally, if you don’t offer up a couple of sacrificial passes. By his third ascent toward greatness, though, Lou was up on the wheel and diggin’. Would this be the time to beat?
From my perch atop an old run-down building, I could hear what sounded like a demon being exorcised. The combination of the blown LS9, the open factory bi-modal exhaust and the ginormous cold-air trumpet inhaling massive amounts of alpine air were enough to send shivers up my spine. Surely he had to be shifting at nine-grand!
The car’s stock redline of 6500RPM was not exceeded, but the winning time from the previous year had fallen with a 3:14.449. There was some tough competition in the field. Come to find out, the car may have been injured on that last pass, as it was leaking oil.
After making my way back to the pits, I pondered. Had any of the performance mods proved too much for the stock internals of the engine? Lou had added about 100HP this year. For this years run toward magnificence, LG Motorsports massaged the heads, changed the cam, and put a smaller pulley on the supercharger.
“Tires are what win a race,” so upon a newly forged set of Forgeline wheels were mounted a set of Hoosier DOT-approved skins. The power, the tires, and a significant revision to the car’s aero balance, which included an extra 100lbs. of downforce, was what made the difference.
So, what was causing the car to barf oil all over the pits? It turns out, a seal on the OEM dry sump oil tank that is apparently known to be an issue on the production ZR1s. “We race to find the missing link,” said the driver. “The harder we work, the better we do, and one way or another, we find a way to win.”
And win he did, but by only 7 tenths of a second over local driver, Duck Fuson in his classic 911 turbo. With continued emphasis on finding every ounce of speed and grip, Lou Gigliotti will, undoubtedly, return to Northern Nevada next year having learned something from his racing endeavors that can be applied to his, and your street Corvette. A 3:10 flat up the Nürburgring of Nevada is achievable, and LG Motorsports will be the first in line next year to give it a whack!