Rick Bell stands beside his '98 Corvette, and you can't help but notice the similarities. Both man and machine are modified to display tremendous feats of strength.

The Breathless Performance heat-extractor hood issues the warning: "N2O 383 700 HP." The label on the hood makes a clear statement: Don't mess with me. As for the owner, no such warning is necessary.

In 2000, Rick won the Mack Truck World's Strongest Man competition, aired nationally on CBS. At 31, he's a professional strongman, and he holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. "I hold a couple of world records in strength," he says. "Some of them are for tearing phone books in half; I own the world record for that." This is what strongmen do for kicks. He ripped apart 19 Charlotte, North Carolina, phone books in three minutes. Each book had 1,494 pages, and the grand total was 28,386 pages.

Originally, Rick flexed his muscles on the gridiron. However, he missed his window of opportunity to play in the NFL when, at Syracuse University in New York, he lost his scholarship to a blown-out right knee.

A sports guy into cars? One has to wonder, how rare is that? Rick, however, is no ordinary competitor on the field of athletic endeavor. His latest concern is blowing out rearends in his '98 C5. He's already grenaded one differential on the track, courtesy of slicks. He estimates the 383 Stroker will turn a 10.7-second quarter-mile at 132 mph on street tires.

For an athlete of Rick's caliber, success is built by setting goals and trying to break them, which he extends into Corvette ownership. The 6-foot, 4-inch, 296-pound strongman combines his physical attributes with his love of Corvettes. Rick's Web site (http://www.villagephotos.com/pubgallery.asp?id_=37332) has pictures of what he does, like pulling a tractor/trailer rig up an incline or pulling a fire truck.

"I have a couple of unofficial world records for pulling fire trucks for distance, speed, and stuff like that," he says.

Last year, Rick helped raise over $20,000 for charity, such as the Special Olympics. To draw a crowd for fund raising, he'll go to a Corvette car show, display his '98, and "pull a tractor/trailer or something crazy like that."

We met him at the Corvette Forum's fourth annual Cruise-In in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Since going wild over the C5, he's become a frequent poster on the site.

Rick first leased his '98 because he didn't know how much he'd like the newer style. For the first 211/42 years, the car remained stock. But once he turned the lease into a purchase, he "dumped obscene amounts of money into it."

There's no telling how far he'll go with the car. It's already become a terror on the street and strip, and is also a driver. Rick broke in the new 383 Stroker on an 1,100-mile round trip from his home in Charlotte to the Forum's Cruise-In Nationals in Bowling Green.

"I've been into Corvettes my whole life," he says. "I bought my first, a '93 Anniversary Edition, when I was 23 years old."

But the C4 was mostly classy transportation. Rick's ultimate goal with his C5 is threefold: run mid-10s in the quarter; lap Road Atlanta at a quick pace; and win at a car show.

Strong goals for a strong man; we think he'll attain them.

Tale Of The TapeSpecifications* Forged 38-inch Stroker race motor at 11:1compression ratio* CNC Stage III heads* RM Racing custom nitrous-oxide system by Nitrous Express* BPP Vortex Ram Air induction* ATI underdrive pulleys* Z06 intake manifold* TPIS long-tube headers* RT Hi-Flow cats* Corsa Indy racing exhaust* B&M Ripper shifter* Cartek dual pressure clutch* 4.10 rear differential* Bilstein Sport suspension* Z51 springs and bars* Chassis lowered 2 inches all around* 14-inch Baer EradiSpeed +1 cross-drilled and slotted rotors* Z06 calipers with SS lines

Appearance* Custom Paint, Ferrari Red* Vette Essentials custom Italian leather interior with carbon fiber* Custom Black XMS race wheels* BFG g-Force tires* ACI front-nose splitter* ACI rear-deck spoiler* BPP heat extractor hood* WCC carbon-fiber engine bay* Mid America carbon-fiber blackouts* Stripeman accent graphics* Z06 rear-brake cooling duct

Performance* 689 rear-wheel horsepower* 726 rear-wheel torque* Quarter-mile: 10.7 at 132 mph* Top Speed: 208 mphNumbers vary depending on traction of street tires and drag.

All major engine work by:More Performance Inc.Charlotte, NCOwner: Mike Osh

All major exterior work, including paint, by:Worship One Inc.Huntersville, NCOwner: Dave Heidrich