SHOPAHOLIC> Lambo Lords of the Underground

The name that KC and Kevin Howeth picked for their werksUnderground Racing – carries more than a whiff of irony today.

Like, how stealth can you be when two of the over-the-top, twin-turbo Lamborghini Gallardos you’ve built for your customers practically own the Texas Mile standing-mile shootout?  (Longtime customer Kyle Bennett did 241 mph last summer and Richard Holt’s lighter Superleggera killed the two-fifty mark this past March.)

While the West Coast members of our crew spent the weekend surrounded by Ferraris, MotorMavens sharpshooter James Evins and I visited Underground Racing’s Charlotte, NC headquarters last week. Immediately catching James’ eye was one of Underground’s signature twin-turbo dishes: a 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560 that produces 1150 wheel horsepower on 117-octane racing fuel and 850 wheel horsepower on 93-octane pump gas! That’s right, I said ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FIFTY horsepower.

The first time we laid eyes on this particular Lambo was at the 2009 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where it stood menacingly in the corner of the Mobil 1 booth. Taking four to six weeks to build, the gorgeous piping on this Gallardo’s turbo kit is made from mandrel-bent 304 stainless steel. You’ll notice a lot of HRE wheels on Underground Racing’s creations, and this satin black monster is no different.

Shop partner KC says that Gallardos boast great aerodynamics, and this gorgeous matte-black Gallardo underscores that point. He adds that Lamborghini’s drivetrain components make an excellent foundation for blueprinting and tuning.

While the mandrel bends of the turbo kit are manufactured elsewhere, all the cutting, forming and welding of each turbo kit is done at Underground Racing. All this highly polished go-fast hardware amounts to engine compartment bling that any SEMA booth designer would kill for.

[NOTE: SPECS UPDATED 6:09 p.m. Pacific]

We received updated details on Underground Racing’s two “Texas Mile” record-holding Gallardos this afternoon, so why not share the wealth?

Richard Holt’s  Orange 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera

Underground Racing Custom Twin Turbo System
• Custom twin billet 67mm Precision Turbochargers
• Mobil 1 15W50 Motor Oil
• TiAL billet wastegates and billet blow-off valves
• Custom fabricated stainless steel exhaust using aircraft quality metal
• Ultra lightweight stainless-steel mufflers
• Custom fabricated stainless steel air induction using aircraft-quality metal
• Custom Air/Water intercooler system with high-flow water pump
• Custom ice water reservoir
• High-flow intercooler water heat exchanger
• Crankcase ventilation system
• K&N air filters
• Show-quality polishing on turbo compressor, intercooler and charge piping.
• Custom heat shielding and high-quality heat wrap
• Exhaust Finish Options: high-temp heat coating or polished mirror finish
• High-quality silicone hose
• High-pressure T-bolt clamps for intake pressure tubes
• High-quality V-band clamps for exhaust connections

Underground Racing Custom Billet Short Block
• Full blueprint and balanced race short block
• Carrillo billet steel connecting rods
• CP custom reverse-dish aluminum race pistons
• CP spiral locks
• CP .180+ wall wrist pins
• CP oil-rail support
• Custom steel cylinder sleeves
• Main bearings
• Rod bearings
• Total Seal TNT file-fit rings
• Stage 3 Race heads
• L-19 head studs

Fuel System
• Two custom billet fuel pump hangers with high-flow fuel pumps
• Custom aluminum fuel rails
• All Aeroquip stainless-steel fuel line and aluminum fittings
• Aeromotive adjustable fuel pressure regulator
• Upgraded fuel injectors

Transmission
• Billet 1st-6th Egear gear set
• Custom high-MPH gear set
• Billet axles

Tuning
• MoTeC ECU
• Boost by gear
• Custom wiring harness
• Professional dyno and streetability tuning

Kyle Bennett’s Orange 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo

Underground Racing Custom Twin Turbo System
• Custom twin billet 67mm Precision Turbochargers
• Mobil 1 15W50 Motor Oil
• TiAL billet wastegates and billet blow-off valves
• Custom-fabricated stainless-steel exhaust using aircraft-quality metal
• Ultra lightweight stainless-steel mufflers
• Custom-fabricated stainless-steel air induction using aircraft-quality metal
• Custom Air/Water intercooler system with high-flow water pump
• Custom ice-water reservoir
• High-flow intercooler water heat exchanger
• Crankcase ventilation system
• K&N air filters
• Show-quality polishing on turbo compressor, intercooler and charge piping.
• Custom heat shielding and high-quality heat wrap
• Exhaust Finish Options: high-temp heat coating or polished-mirror finish
• High-quality silicone hose
• High-pressure T-bolt clamps for intake pressure tubes
• High-quality V-band clamps for exhaust connections

Underground Racing Custom Billet Short Block
• Full blueprint and balanced race short block
• Carrillo billet steel connecting rods
• CP custom reverse-dish aluminum race pistons
• CP spiral locks
• CP .180+ wall wrist pins
• CP oil-rail support
• Custom steel cylinder sleeves
• Main bearings
• Rod bearings
• Total Seal TNT file-fit rings
• Stage 3 race heads
• L-19 head studs

Fuel System
• Two custom billet fuel pump hangers with high flow fuel pumps
• Custom aluminum fuel rails
• All Aeroquip stainless-steel fuel line and aluminum fittings
• Aeromotive adjustable fuel pressure regulator
• Upgraded fuel injectors

Transmission
• Custom high-MPH gear set
• Billet axles

Tuning
• MoTeC ECU
• GReddy electronic boost controller
• Custom wiring harness
• Professional dyno and streetability tuning

Brothers Kevin and KC Howeth (pictured above) turned their hobby into a business six years ago. The name actually came from a secret, password-protected Internet forum that they created to bring North Carolina’s illegal street racing scene together and to organize racing events in their area. KC was pretty adamant about only giving the secret password to people he actually knew. That way,  friends would know where all the upcoming races would be held, but the police wouldn’t be able to find out. “It was all real underground,” KC explained, “in fact, that’s how the name of our shop came about.”

KC has a background that includes working with computers, so he thinks that electrical diagnosis and ECU tuning are easy. His older brother Kevin would buy cars, build them and then flip them … so when KC was in college and had a little money to play with, he would do the same. “We started out building Saleen Mustangs, then ended up branching off and tinkering with Corvettes, Porsches, Supras, Vipers, and then Lamborghinis.” KC explained, “The cars we built were the nicest-looking and fastest cars that showed up at the races in our area. They couldn’t be beat, so people started bringing us cars, saying, ‘Can you make mine fast, too?’ ”

The customers’ engines are often pulled within hours after the car arrives at the shop. These motors are just two in an entire lineup of Lamborghini Murcielago and Gallardo engines waiting to be blueprinted for more power.

Here’s a line-up of Gallardos at the Underground Racing shop. The day we dropped by, we counted at least 15! Keep in mind that when new, these “entry-level” Lamborghinis fetch about $200,000 each. So your extra hundred grand investment puts you at Veyron velocities – which surely will bug some Bugatti owners. (But, hey, the Veyron still has that outrageous rear wing and a lot more radiators.)

When customer Kyle Bennett latched on to his Lambo, he asked the Howeths to tackle his orange Gallardo. Kyle already had a couple of Vipers and an 800-hp Supra in his garage, so the brothers jumped at a chance to use a customer’s car as a prototype for success. This orange car — the first Lamborghini they ever built — ran 9s in the quarter-mile! (Its best performance to date was 9.30 @ 160 mph — on street tires.) The Gallardo will do 0-60 mph in 2.5 ticks and 60-130 mph in only 3.4 seconds!

A parachute is not a cosmetic add-on when you’re making 1500 horses! Thanks to Underground’s design and execution, Bennett says the Gallardo’s “speed finally matched the looks,” and it’s now his favorite car because he doesn’t have to sacrifice traction, horsepower or drivability.  Make no mistake: this is not a stripped-out race car. It may run a 9-second quarter mile, but all the Underground Racing Lamborghinis retain the stock seats, air conditioning and audio system. That’s a very good thing, because the Gallardo Spyder press car I had recently possessed a wonderful stereo that sounded great whether the top was up or down. I’m glad it’s important to Kevin and KC that their cars can run ridiculous amounts of power while still being streetable.

The only thing I’m wondering is, “What on Earth would I do if I had a 1500 HORSEPOWER street car?!” Whatever it is, I’d be doing it pretty darn quickly!

This engine puts about 1500 horsepower to the wheels. The Howeth brothers say some are serving up close to 1800 horsepower. It has a basic bolt-in rollcage, just for passing tech, and a fire-suppression system inside the cockpit and engine bay. Underground Racing designed a custom billet conversion for the eGear and 6-speed transmissions featuring gear sets that allow top speeds in the 270 mph range. KC says the factory’s ratios limit stock Gallardos to 200 mph.

This particular LP 560 has a custom billet intake manifold that was designed at UGR and MoTeC engine management. Other notable big baller items on the spec sheet include Penske suspension and a Tilton clutch.

While Underground charges between $89,000 and $94,000 to boost Gallardos, keep in mind that these “entry-level” Lamborghinis, new, begin at about $200,000.

Underground likes Toyo Proxes R888 and ContiSportContact 3 tires. These may be ultra performance treads, but KC says as soon as you mention making 250 mph runs, tire company reps clam up.

This Florida-based customer’s Murcielago is getting Underground’s Stage 3 package. KC promises us that Underground’s force-fed bulls will run at the next oxygen-rich Texas Mile (the town where it’s held, Goliad, is 679 feet closer to sea level than Charlotte). Will the Ford GTs be back? Will Underground’s new F430 TT mix it up?  Stay tuned to MotorMavens.

:: Jeff Yip

MotorMavens Readers' Blog

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33 Responses to “SHOPAHOLIC> Lambo Lords of the Underground”

  1. James Evins says:

    Great write up, Jeff!

  2. omgodizlla says:

    Awesome article and James is killing it on the photography.

  3. Tamer Omran says:

    OmG loving the photos- great write up Jeff, and awesome photos James… Saw the LP-560 at last years SEMA.. such a beautiful car…$100,000 grand though? Thats a bit steep for my checkbook.

  4. kyusha kai says:

    great write up and photos!

  5. shockerjoe says:

    Great photos! Good write up!

  6. Eric Chandler says:

    Awesome photos as always and great story!

  7. ImprezaKing says:

    Doooopppppeee! Even I can appreciate Lambos upgraded to run Funny Car times – who wouldn’t? The pictures have me drooling all over my keyboard as I type this – those shots of the intercoller systems. They made the dudes at my office squeal like little school girls. Excellent write up and photography! And I HATE Lamborghinis!

  8. @ImprezaKing: I AGREE!!! Normally, I personally like Ferraris more than Lamborghinis, but DAMN! These cars are VERY different. Very bad ass!

    Good news though! Underground Racing is developing a FERRARI setup RIGHT NOW! =D

    @James Evins: Great job on the photos man!!!

    @Jeff Yip: Great job on the story!!!

  9. James Evins says:

    Thanks man – it was alot of fun working with Jeff, he is a great guy.

  10. Amir Rizvi says:

    OMG James love the pics i couldent take my eyes off any of them i love the story as well. But the pics really did it for me the whole time i was thinking they started just like Ameen and I. Love the feature!!!

  11. maydayDavidD says:

    Those pictures are NWS

  12. JDM Rob says:

    Now thats “What i’m After” to quote the LOTUG. Nice write up man

  13. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by NissanPacific, Kyle Shell. Kyle Shell said: "SHOPAHOLIC> Lambo Lords of the Underground – MotorMavens" http://j.mp/aRilfl [...]

  14. hechtspeed says:

    Cool story. I love looking at these “bulls” without the rear bumper covers. I love the comment about the tire company reps clamming up when hearing about taking their tires to 250mph! haha

  15. lolman says:

    LOL let a rad ride race in texas mille and we will see who is more faster, and don’t forget the vipers and hell supra’s passing at 230mph+, btw nice pics

  16. walperstyle says:

    FINALLY

    Thank you for finding out the information ‘car guys’ wanted to know. AKA, the pistons used, etc. I’ve been wondering this for some time.

    So many people post pics and never find out what makes it tick. Now I know I can go to CP and get the same pistons, aka, cut out the middleman.

  17. Kevin Truong says:

    Damn horsepower doesn’t come cheap! Nor does record breaking 250 mph runs on a “streetable car”. I’d take one any day.

  18. MaydayJohnP says:

    Killing it James~!

  19. Jeff Yip says:

    Speaking of rad rides and Tejas speed, looks like Formula 1 is coming to Austin, Texas in a contract that calls for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix to be run annually from 2012 to 2021 … details at: http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2010/5/10824.html

  20. ImprezaKing says:

    @Antonio – I agree. Ferrari (and Aston Martin) just seem to be way cooler and more refined than Lamborghini – luxurious without seeming to be ostentatious. Something about Lambos makes me think of lottery winners who go from a job sweeping fries off the McD’s floor to wearing every designer label all at once. Or Maybachs. Or newly signed star pro athletes rocking “spinners”. Or rappers with $259,000 worth of dental work. Not a good look…

    @Jeff – I had a question about running these monster engines with monster intercoolers. Friction. How much heat does an engine like that generate and if tire manufacturers are clamming up about the performance of their tires at speeds over 250 mph, which oil manufacturers have oil engineered to handle it or could any oil do the job?

  21. James Evins says:

    As far as engine oil goes, Underground Racing uses Mobil 1 exclusively and have had excellent results with it.

    They said they even warranty their turbo kits for 2 years / 24,000 miles as long as the owner maintains the engine with Mobil 1 15w50.

  22. Mr.Cid says:

    Very nice writeup and photos! This is the better article of both MM and Speedhunters. Tho Linhbergh is a god with a camera, he’s still working on his storytelling skills and sometimes leaves you desiring for more information rather than one-liners.

  23. Jeff Yip says:

    Folks, Tuesday afternoon we received updated details on what goes into these top-speed terrors, so you might want to drool over, er, study the specs.

    @ImprezaKing — You’ve raised an interesting question re: the temps and I’ve asked Kevin and KC about that. Will follow up here, if/when they get back to me.

    Many of the major oil companies, and certainly Underground’s sponsor, Mobil 1, have been involved in auto racing for decades, so they know what it takes to make an engine bulletproof — from a lubrication standpoint. (There’s not much any oil can do when the blower on a top fuel or alcohol dragster or funny car lets go!)

    When folks like Toyota Racing Development, Michael Waltrip Racing, McLaren-Mercedes and Team Penske use their own blends of Mobil 1 racing oil in NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One competition, a reasonable soul could expect the 15w50 that Underground uses to be fine for all-out attacks on the standing-mile. Closer to home for the MotorMavens community, drifter Ryan Tuerck and Gardella Racing’s Pontiac Solstice is sponsored by Mobil 1. (Good thing, as Pontiac’s not even around any more!)

    Don’t think for a second I’m saying this just because Mobil 1 hosted our tour of Underground Racing (and the NASCAR Hall of Fame and All-Star Race). Many automakers, including General Motors and Mercedes-Benz, call for Mobil 1 motor oil from cradle to grave. And E63 AMG and Z06 owners don’t exactly baby their cars.

    The tire companies actually get nervous well below 250 mph! Who can blame them, when there’s always the possibility of a lawsuit and a public image disaster if something goes wrong? (Even when you sign a waiver and it’s on a race track or managed course.)

    So, sorry to say, I’m not holding my breath, waiting for a government-mandated speed rating that “blesses” 200 mph (and up) cruising!

  24. panda poo says:

    got my motormavens sticker in the mail today!
    thx again!
    love the write ups!

  25. GroduceJunc says:

    This writeup is miles ahead of the writeup on Speedhunters. Great to know that the guys at Underground are giving warranties on their work and extra cool to know that they want the best for their customers without any sponsorship from Mobil 1.

  26. [...] SHOPAHOLIC> Lambo Lords of the Underground – MotorMavens [...]

  27. panda poo says:

    damn you guys get such exclusive access to everything tight in this world!

  28. Avon says:

    Excellent write up Jeff. All the stuff I expect to read and so much more – LOL! I’m really looking forward to seeing more from you. And James, I loved the “drama” you captured in those pics of the matte black Gallardo – and all of the sexy engine bay shots – loved it. James, where’s my “special” shots from Brazil, man?

  29. James Evins says:

    LOL, look in the drafts, I’m working on it :)

  30. cornfed says:

    it’s only one word “DAMN”

  31. PHAS3D says:

    This is 30 minutes from my house and i’ve never even heard of the shop before. May have to take a trip down there sometime soon. :D

  32. TKO says:

    freaken nuts…

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