By Mary Lendzion
Photos courtesy of Kurt Anderson
Shawn Calabrese has one of the most eye-catching and enviable Firebirds in the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series.
The clean and competitive red car carries the wheels off the starting line and clocks low 10s at the finish line, and in it, the Orlando, Florida-based driver earned his first Chevrolet Performance Stock presented by Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center win last year.
To help the car, nicknamed Redbird, run even more remarkably than it already does, Calabrese delivered it to friend—and 2020 LME Street King champion — Kurt Anderson’s shop, Autokraft Race Cars and Customs in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, for some winter work.
Anderson fabricated an aluminum air box to complement the car’s sealed DR525 engine, and replaced the factory water pump with a Meziere electric water pump.
Because Calabrese has chosen to run Hoosier drag radial tires that are taller than the slick tires he had been running, Anderson replaced the gearing in the car’s TRZ Fab 9 rearend. He also sent the AFCO shocks back to the company to be rebuilt. While he was at it, he swapped the stock K-member with a chrome moly K-member by Midwest Chassis for a substantial weight savings.
Anderson also replaced the stock hood on the car with a fiberglass hood by VFN, and he painted it. A RacePak dash now adorns the car’s interior, as does a new steering wheel from Innovative Racecraft. Optic Armor was installed in the front and rear of the car, and stock carpeting was replaced with lightweight carpeting throughout the car.
A 12 volt lithium ion battery by Braille, which was lighter than the car’s previous battery, will keep things charged up.
“Kurt is like a brother to me,” said Calabrese. “He has taught me a lot of stuff, and he means the world to me, so having him perform all of this work on my car is special. He went above and beyond to be sure that everything he was doing would be of the highest quality.”
Calabrese also plans to spend some time in LME Street King with his other car, a Firehawk which motors to mid 10s with an LS3 engine. He’ll have support along the way from his wife, Amy, son, Nicholas and father, Tom Calabrese, who is a standout in Proform Rumble.
“We’ve only done routine maintenance on the Firehawk over winter,” said Calabrese. “We sent the rear shocks back to QA1 to be freshened, and we changed the oil in the engine. We should be ready for the 10.50 index.”
With all of that work wrapped up, Calabrese is counting the days before the long-awaited Whipple Superchargers NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines, March 18-21 at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida.
“I can’t wait to get back to the track with my family and friends,” said Calabrese. “My dad had open-heart surgery late last year, and the father and son time we have racing together is very important to me. Any winning we do beyond that is a bonus.”