The Waiting Game, Thawing Out & Autocross School


So what’s new with the Camaro? Not a whole lot, actually. We’re currently in the midst of some time-space issues with our transmission order (currently 2 months into a 4-5 week delivery estimate), but we’re finding ways to pass the time as the weather gets better.

Texas Thaw 2014

With the shop car in pieces (and too new for the ‘Thaw) we took the truck out for some straight line fun. The stated goal of the trip was to go and have a good time – let it run what it runs, not work on it, and most importantly not get pissed if things didn’t go quite as planned.

We entered the Hot Rod (heads up, single green light start) and Bracket classes, and thankfully this year were parked by a speaker and could actually hear the calls over the PA. We proved to be a bit out-gunned in Hot Rod, doing well until meeting a particularly nasty yet totally unassuming Tri-5. The bracket race went better, with a few win lights on the day.

All-in-all, it was a bit slower than what we (well, your esteemed author, at least) had hoped, but it was consistently running high 7.90s and 8.0s – still not too bad for a truck with AC, a booming stereo, and the capability to road trip in comfort.

Most importantly, though, much fun was had with a huge turnout of both cars and spectators, along with many of our customers coming out. We didn’t open the hood once except to pull the air cleaner off, and tempers stayed even all day: Great Success.

         

Check out all 400 photos from Texas Thaw

Texas SCCA Autocross School

scca_solo_school

With the new focus on going around corners, the Texas SCCA Solo Novice Autocross school proved the ideal way to get Paul a massive amount of seat time with limited opportunities for embarrassment. This event is put on every spring, and is without a doubt the best way to get started in the sport.

The day starts with a short classroom session covering event procedures, basic driving techniques, and other essentials. Then it’s on to the seat time: a solid afternoon in the car with 1-on-1 instruction from many former regional and national class champions. At $85, this is the absolute cheapest way you will ever pick up speed on an autocross course.

After Paul got a significant amount of time in the car on Saturday, we co-drove on Sunday during the coldest autocross of the year (I say this having done an event in mid-January while sweating). The Hankook RS3s we currently have on the shop’s Japanese stepchild 350Z work fantastic in Texas summers thanks to their ability to resist heat buildup – this, however, becomes a MASSIVE hinderance when the mercury hovers around 45 and the sun is hidden by clouds.

The event itself was a bit of a struggle, fighting with the stone cold tires and wrapping our heads around the increased workload of two drivers, along with an extremely short and tight course. Definitely looking forward to warmer temps and some upgrades to the Z to get closer to the frantic pace of the very competitive STU class.

Oh yeah, Camaro Progress

We’ve also managed to get some time in the shop amongst the fun. Most recently, the 5.83-shod spool out back was swapped for the 4.86-equipped TruTrac helical diff. While we were there, a once-over was done on the axles and other wearable items, thankfully finding no surprises.

Thanks to some extremely good fortune (or flat out dumb luck), the previously mentioned RS3s and Enkei 18’s from the 350Z will also fit the Camaro with a bit of help from spacers. This means longer wheel studs were in order all around, along with a switch to the Ford car bolt pattern Wilwood generously provided (5×4.5 or 5×114.3) in the front hubs. We tackled this, along with bearing and other consumables inspection while everything was apart.

      

Finally, the freshening up of the 377 continues on. An initial leak down test found a few cylinders that needed some TLC, and further inspection after teardown revealed some rather startling valve spring/valve seal interference – an issue that was well on its way to flushing nasty bits through the bottom end and becoming a major, major headache. This motor has always been good to us – this might possibly be the biggest example of it.

A full bottom-up refresh is mostly done, and once the transmission (sore subject) finds its way to us, we’ll be set to start slapping pieces back together.

Some other odds and ends included cleaning up some of the scarring on the Fidanza flywheel and Centerforce clutch and pressure plate, along with some inspection to make sure it’s still got plenty of life to go back in. We’re also looking to alleviate some brake fluid seeping issues in the hoses running from the brake and clutch reservoirs to the masters, along with cleaning up the mess this has left under the dash.

      

The list is getting shorter (I think – wait, did we ever make a list?). The goal is to keep working on our driving skills in the Z as we reassemble the Camaro, and hopefully make it out to at least a few events with the Camaro for shakedowns before the summer’s over. We’ve been kicking ourselves that we couldn’t make the Ultimate Street Car Association event at TMS, and it is definitely high on the to-do list for 2015.

Boy am I ready to drop the clutch in this thing again. Patience is a virtue – and we’re accepting donations if you have any to spare.

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