After the successful introduction of the Chevy Cavalier earlier this year into the high-performance world of NHRA Pro Stock drag racing, GM’s best-selling brand is making its debut in front-wheel drive competition.

The GM Racing Chevrolet Cavalier Drag Car, the newest addition to the GM Motorsports fleet, is equipped with a racing version of an Ecotec 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine, a technologically advanced, global powertrain that GM is offering on production Cavaliers beginning in 2002. In race trim with a turbocharger and intercooler, it will achieve over 650 horsepower and utilizes a six-speed sequential manual transmission.

"The Cavalier front-wheel drive race car offers a great way to showcase the new Ecotec 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine," said Josh Peterson, GM Racing program manager. "Our engine building team put in a lot of hours to produce a reliable, efficient racing powerplant, and each day we kept making incremental gains in horsepower."

Designed and constructed by Roo Man Motorsports in Brownsburg, Ind., the sleek, orange and silver Cavalier used in Chevy’s front-wheel drive motorsports program is powered by methanol. It has a 110-inch wheelbase, is 47.5-inches tall, 68.7-inches wide, and is 202-inches long, including the rear spoiler.

"The superior aerodynamic package of the stock Cavalier makes it a natural choice among drag racing competitors," said Mary Wernette, Cavalier brand manager. "Already this year we’ve seen the Cavalier as one of the dominant brands in Pro Stock. With its sporty, high-performance features, the Cavalier is a proven winner and a serious alternative for the front-wheel motorsports enthusiast."

Driving the customized Chevy Cavalier will be former Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Stephanie Reaves, the first woman qualifier at an NHRA national event in that category. Reaves has spent the past three years working with GM on various projects, including last year’s 78th annual Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, where she drove to an impressive third-place finish.

"I’m excited and proud to be a part of the Cavalier front-wheel drive racing program," said Reaves. "The technological and engineering support that GM Racing has put into this effort gives me a lot of confidence in the success of the program. Plus, after seeing the car, I know it’s going to be a lot of fun to drive."

To maximize safety, GM engineers have installed sealed steel firewalls, an independent fire suppression system and a Funny Car-type roll-bar cage on the Cavalier. Reaves will be outfitted with the HANS device, a six-point safety harness and a fresh-air system, steps GM hopes will help set the standard for safety on the strip.

The Cavalier race car also has a full tube frame chassis, carbon fiber body, carbon fiber race brakes, Penske triple adjustable front and rear shocks and a fabricated independent suspension with rising rate linkage.

Introduced in 1982, the Cavalier remains one of the 10 best-selling cars in the United States. With its sporty, clean, classic styling, dependable performance and impressive list of standard features, the Cavalier offers value to the small-car buyer. Chevrolet also is working with GM’s Service Parts Operations to develop a portfolio of accessories targeted at the youth enthusiast market.

Vehicle Highlights

* Turbocharged and intercooled 2.2-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine to achieve 650-plus hp

* Six-speed manual transmission

* Full tube frame chassis, full carbon fiber body with lightened mass

* Safety roll cage and six-point harness belts and HANS Device

* 28-inch Hoosier tires

* Open exhaust

* Fire suppression system