If you wanted to know where at least 10% of the population of the 2017 LS Fest was situated, all you had to do was ask one question: “Where’s Leroy?” You weren’t looking for someone, mind you. You were looking for the swarm of humans circling around 1320Video’s Garrett Mitchell (read again: Cleetus McFarland) and “Leroy the Savage”. Parked across from American Powertrain in the Manufacturer’s Midway for the duration of the event (minus a couple of passes on the strip and this quick foray into the grass just outside of the gate), Leroy was the star of an all-star show all weekend. How could it not be? At first glance, it’s hard to not bring up the other gutted-out and race-prepared Corvette, Roadkill’s “Vette Kart”. But whereas the Vette Kart is a road-race deal for the most part, Leroy is anything goes. Anything. From the hydro-brake lever for drifting next to the parachute handle and shifter handle inside of the car to the “twin turbskies” riding high like Harry Haig’s Drag Week Chevelle, Leroy the Savage is a full-on assault on all of the senses and the crowd at Beech Bend ate it up.
Leroy started life as a base-model C5 Corvette that was ordered and picked up out of the Bowling Green Assembly Plant. It is officially the last 2001 Corvette manufactured, built in July 2001 for a gentleman named Leroy. (We know this because the sill plates tell us so.) Unfortunately, Leroy had a rough life and wound up as a salvage-titled, naked skeleton after the Corvette had been rear-ended at 32,000 miles. This is where Garrett stepped in…wanting a build specifically for his YouTube work, the C5 was the perfect starting point for an over-the-top bonkers build. $5,500 changed hands and Leroy’s Corvette was on it’s way to becoming Leroy the Savage, with the introduction to the YouTube fanbase happening in March 2017. That’s right…in six short months, the Corvette has gone from a bone-stock skeleton to the mental patient you see here.
So, what exactly is it you are looking at? Let’s start with the party piece up front: that is a Texas Speed and Performance LSX build. It’s packing 427 cubic inches, has been fitted with Darton sleeves, a Holley Hi-Ram intake with a Shearer Fabrications Hi-Ram intercooler, and the twin Precision 6466 turbochargers, just for sheer freak factor. The turbochargers are monitored using a Turbosmart E-boost 2 system. That power the monster up front churns out runs back to an RPM Transmissions Level V T-56 transaxle and a Stage 3 differential and out to the Weld Vitesse rear wheels, while up front Weld V-series wheels are fitted, both sets wearing Mickey Thompson rubber. Profab Performance build the exocage, the wing mounts and was instrumental in fabricating the turbocharger setup. The entire build was overseen and tuned by Fasterproms in Lutz, Florida, and they’ve got the Corvette as dialed as one can expect out of this kind of situation.
So what is it like to drive this car? According to Garrett, it’s no different than a standard C5 Corvette, and hasn’t been since the day he forked over the cash. Now, that might be different once the boost really gets tipped into, but at the time we shot the photos, he was still on the learning curve with the car. With the kind of grunt that Leroy is pushing out (a touch over 1,000 horsepower and nearly the same in torque), taking it slow and figuring out the program beats the live-fast-die-young concept handily. That’s not to say that Mitchell hasn’t dipped his toe into the throttle just to see what happens, but when he made passes at the 2017 LS Fest, he wasn’t messing around…fire suit, parachute, and every precaution necessary was in place, and that includes the five-point harnesses that could keep a baby rhino strapped down to the seat.
If you want to see the story of Leroy in it’s entirety, you can check out the Cleetus McFarland YouTube Channel to see everything from the day the Corvette was bought to the moment I shot the photos for this story. To say that Mitchell nailed the idea of a YouTube star build car is an understatement…wherever Leroy was, there was a crowd, or a fan, or someone yelling out positive messages or simply a loud and genuine, “HELL YEAH, BROTHER!”
When you built a thousand-horsepower go-kart for the fans, that kind of thing tends to happen.