Camaro Autocross Update: Part 3 of 3 – Spoiler Alert, Rain, and Optima!

Where were we? Right, quiet exhaust, new tires, some suspension adjustments, and new brakes were all in place – it was finally time to go make some noise!

Our schedule for the first part of the year was relatively simple, and aimed at one goal: the Optima Ultimate Street Car event at TMS March 28th and 29th. First up was Equipe Rapide’s first event of the year in February.

The forecast was hit or miss all week, and as we got closer it was apparent that we would need some luck on the run order to get a dry session (as we all know, the best way to ensure perfect weather is to leave the car at home). Sure enough, our luck held true to form and we drew last group, which fell during the heaviest rain of the day.

How did it go? Read on to find out.

With no windshield wipers, and the goal being to learn a bit about the changes to our setup, it just wasn’t possible or logical to try to run the car, so we hopped into the Japanese branch of the Acme fleet, the 350Z, and splish-splashed some of the slowest, driftiest runs of the day.

The good thing in Texas is that there’s always a next one, and that came two weeks later.

All-weather Camaro

No windshield wipers hadn’t been too much of a problem up to this point. Drag Week was dry, and other than one accidental encounter on a Sunday outing it had never seen rain. Optima and autocross run rain or shine, so they moved to the top of the priority list.

The fiberglass hood has a lip all the way around that prevented the wipers from moving, so that was the first item on the list. To the bodysaw, again.

After a few times on and off, some extra trimming, and some detective work with a toggle switch to run the wiper motor, things were motivating properly. Seeing in the rain: check.

Watercross Part 2

Nothing like getting to test a new feature the very next trip! Our next event was NTAXS at Lone Star Park (our second home at this point).

The weather forecast, again, deteriorated all week, leading up to morning showers the day of the event. I was hopeful of getting some dry runs in, and thankfully the rain moved out and provided a mostly dry session in the afternoon.

The only minor issue was some tire rub on the drivers side front under load, but some, ahem, finessing, with a small crescent wrench and a big hammer between sessions seemed to solve the problem.

Don’t throw away your inner fenders, kids!

Tech inspection proved interesting, as we were asked “Where’s all the rest of the STUFF at?” when the inspector looked under the hood.

Still a lot of work to do on the driving front. I’m still overcompensating for the differences from the 350Z, which results in a lot of overdriving and anticipating some of the more evil things that it thankfully doesn’t do anymore.

The drastic increase in swaybar stiffness, combined with adjusting the uppers in the front has calmed the car down dramatically. There’s very, very little roll side to side, and it seems to have cured the front dive/rear end hike under braking as well. Much more responsive turning, and way more predictable through the corner.

Words are fine and well, but what did it look like? Here’s video of the fastest run, which was good for 3rd in class behind a Z06 and an M3 (We’ll take that!).

One more thing: Downforce!

The last (at least we think last) thing on the pre-Optima wish list was a spoiler. This was already in the plans for autocross duty, but with road course speeds that should top 100 mph, the notorious Camaro rear-lift was a bit of a concern. Plus, I will look cool.

During the off week before the NTAXS event we nabbed some surplus Parts Plus posterboard and started the mockup process.

This piece measures 8″ high in the center, and mounts on piano hinge with adjustable struts running forward about the way the tape is done for support.

After scrounging our scrap pile, we didn’t have a suitable piece of aluminum, so we hit up for a piece cut to our specs. This provided us with a square, straight-edged piece, and eliminated a ton of work – all for around $60. The material itself is .100″ thick 6061-T6.

We sourced two pairs of Wehr’s struts from Performance Bodies to provide the strength for the setup, along with some piano hinge from the Lowe’s cabinetry department for lower mounts.

Our secondary decklid was swapped on (more on this and the perils and buying stuff on eBay later), and the marks we made previously for the template were recreated.

Each mounting screw required a hole all the way through both layers, which was then opened to 5/8″ on the inside to accommodate a washer – 4 separate drilling tasks per screw.

Placement was determined in part by how the inner structure is made – we lucked out with the holes falling outside the weatherstrip for the most part.

With the hinges in place, the blade was sat in position and marked for some additional clearancing. We added a relief cut at each hinge, allowing the aluminum to sit down over each and flush with the deck.

Once everything was happy there, we marked and drilled holes for the hinges, starting from the center and working out.

Sometimes a bit of improvisation is required – this bungee-traption made life much easier

Finally, we placed the outside struts in about the spot that felt right and attached them to the blade, then moved to the bottom side of the decklid to evaluate our options. This ended up being our one ‘oops’, as they were a bit too short to make it where they needed to be on the deck. The secondary holes will be useful if we ever want to stand it up higher, at least.

Our original plan was to use 4 struts, but looking at the beefy hardware included and how busy things got with all 4 of them up there, we settled on 3. There is some give in the blade thanks to the tolerances of the rod ends, but nothing too bad.


The plan for the second decklid was to add a matte black stripe down the hood using vinyl wrap. A low cost (red flag), eBay (red flag) listing for wrap material was found, and ordered. After many days in limbo, the material arrived on Friday – a WEEK and 2 days from Florida, on 2-day priority. Thanks USPS!

Once the material was unrolled and the first section peeled back, problems were immediately apparent. Modern wrap material has a whole host of features that make it possible to actually wrap a car. This had none of those, as it was regular old sign vinyl (live and learn). Time is of the essence, so the spoiler will be permanent on the painted decklid.

Still pretty badass, if we say so ourselves.

IT’S TIME! Test n Tune & The Optima Search for the Ultimate Streetcar 

The work is done, it’s time to play! The North Texas Camaro club helped organize a Test N Tune day on Tuesday, and the fun starts bright and early Saturday morning at TMS. We haven’t been this excited/nervous/anxious/excited (did I already say excited?) since Drag Week. Think dry, fast thoughts for us!

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