Winter Project: Better, Faster Camaro


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It’s been a while since an update on our project vehicles. The summer was a success, with the Camaro running most of the bracket racing season without issue, falling into a consistent rhythm for much of the year. Our quiet goal when we rolled off the trailer in the spring was to make the Bracket Finals, and at the last points race leading up to them we made it in.

But there’s no rest for the weary (or is it the wicked?), with winter come winter projects, and we’ve found a few things to keep us busy. A few maintenance items were up first, along with some performance items to hopefully get us a bigger cushion on the bump spot in the Quick class. So off we go on our quest for a better, faster Camaro in 2013.

Step 1: More Gear

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Lightened ring gearThe upgrades actually started before the end of the season last fall with an upgrade to 5.83 gears from 4.86s to optimize for 1/8th mile. The new ring gear was lightened in our Hydraulic Line & Cylinder shop’s lathe, and installed on a lightweight spool for less parasitic loss.

It now crosses the finish line at redline, has a bit more grunt out of the hole, and hits the 2-3 shift point at half track instead of nearing the lights, all of which help the cause…unless you want to take it into town to get groceries, that is.

Step 2: Maintenance

Since we missed a few races in the middle of the season and generally didn’t make as many passes as in previous years, maintenance issues have been fairly light. The most involved was a new set of valve springs, which take the place of the original used set that were first put on the trusty 377 during the initial build some 300-odd passes ago. Yeah, ‘them’s some good springs’ I’d say.

Next up is a once-over on the trans including a fluid change, and we should be ready to rock.

Step 3: Weight Reduction

IMG_3407IMG_4653The biggest part of our winter upgrade plan involves doing more with less – that is, removing weight wherever we can on the car. When we were assembling it back in 2008/2009, it sat at a shade over 3000 lbs with some things still left to bolt on.

Our focus on simplicity and lightness throughout the build has made this process somewhat of a puzzle (short of spending large sums of money on more exotic parts or taking the plasma to some pipe), but after some consideration we’ve found a few areas to focus on:

  • Rear end – Strange aluminum housing and lightweight internals
  • Manual Steering gear – 10+ lbs lighter than stock + power steering pump & reservoir delete
  • Shorty exhaust with Schoenfeld IMCA mufflers in place of the full Spintech and X-pipe setup

All totaled, we are close to 100 lbs. down, with a few more ideas up our sleeves. It will, however, be keeping all the street car necessities as another Drag Week is still hot on our minds.

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Step 4: Suspension

From the start, our Frankenstein truck arm/coilover setup has worked well in most any weather at most any track, but there has been one nagging issue – an initial flat level launch morphs into a left-side kick, as evidenced here.

In an effort to combat this, we picked up a Competition Engineering rear anti-roll bar kit. This thing is super nice, light (right at 10 lbs total as installed), and was a breeze to install in just one weekend (!!!!).

Competition Engineering rear anti-roll barThe goal here is multi-pronged: flattening out the launch will calm things down and hopefully help us pick up a little in the short times, as well as making things more predictable on marginal tracks. Second, a more composed launch will give the truck arms a better shot at hooking up more horsepower after the next set of upgrades down the road.

Last but not least, a bit of lowering is in order. The car has always run quite nose-high down the track. We’ve never had a chance to play with tying the front end down to see if there are gains to be had, so now seems like the perfect opportunity.

The plan is to squat it 1/2″-3/4″ in the back, and 1″-1 1/2″ in front, pull in in the limiters up front, check the alignment and adjust where necessary, then see what she’ll do. This (along with just flat making it look better) will hopefully gain some aerodynamic efficiency vs. the 4×4 approach it currently has.

IMG_3707-1024x768We might be doing more harm than good with all these changes, but, idle hands and all that. All the baselines have been recorded, so it will be a few adjustments away from being back in order should it prove to be a problem.

2013 Racing Season

With some shakeups taking place at our home track, it remains to be seen where we’ll be heading once the season starts. The year will most likely be a mix of brackets and 7.00 index racing, but time will tell on that.

So that’s our plan for a new and improved Camaro in 2013. Which just leaves one question..is it time to go racing yet?

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