Time flies when you’re having fun, and it’s hard to believe that the second annual Chevy High Performance Street Machine Challenge (SMC) has already come and gone. If you aren’t familiar with SMC, it’s an event where we test a variety of parameters with top tier suspension manufacturers’ rides, which are unequivocally dubbed as the modern-day Pro Touring street machines. Suffice it to say, these hot rods can do it all and we put them to the test, showcasing their abilities in the 60-to-0 braking, autocross course, and through the quarter-mile. New for this year was the Top Ride Shootout (TRS), which brought in a number of reader-owned-and-built rides, and they had no fear pushing their machines to the limit.
This year’s SMC lineup included Chris Alston’s Chassisworks with a ’69 Camaro, Detroit Speed with their ’69 Camaro and ’63 Chevy II, Fatman Fabrications with a ’57 Chevy, Granatelli Motorsports with an ’11 Camaro, and Schwartz Performance with a ’67 Camaro. For our TRS contenders, we had Adam Toney with his ’70 Chevelle, Terry Neuville with a ’67 Camaro, Tim McGilton with a ’70 Z28 Camaro, Erik Cederberg with a ’12 ZL1, and Brad Granger with his ’67 Camaro. Notice a theme here; sure are a lot of Camaro owners who aren’t afraid to flog their rides.
In addition to the roster with the TRS, we also moved our event from National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio, to Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia, also dubbed Georgia’s House of Speed! There’s a good reason for this since this was also the location of our first-ever national event, the Chevy High Performance Nationals (“Showtime!” Nov. ’12 issue), it only made sense to bring our event to the biggest all-Chevy party in the country.
Regarding rules, it was pretty simple—run what your brung as long as you’re on street tires with a minimum treadwear rating of 180. Easy, right? Not necessarily. This meant the performance results would not only require a well-sorted chassis, but drivers who could modulate the throttle over the aim and stab routine with a good set of sticky rubber.
Admittedly, it took a solid crew to set up the Jet-Hot High Performance Coatings autocross course and we enlisted the help of our friends from the American Street Car Series (americanstreetcarseries.com), the good folks who put on all of the Run (To The Alamo, To The Coast, To The Shore, To The Ole South, Thru The Hills) events, including the MotorState Challenge and Midwest Musclecar Challenge. Yancy Johns, Bill Howell, amongst others put together a tough course that offered intense speed runs with tight turns and challenging Chicago Boxes.
For the Street Machine Challenge, we designated as our key driver Nick Licata from our sister publication Camaro Performers. For the 60-to-0 brake challenge, Technical Editor Steven Rupp, also from Camaro Performers, took the helm of each ride. On the dragstrip, CHP Editor Henry D. made three back-to-back passes to get a better feel of each ride. When it came to the TRS rides, we had the owners handle each of the challenges, keeping the competition amongst their peers.
When the tire smoke cleared, it was Stacy Tucker from Detroit Speed, who earned the top honors in the Street Machine Challenge with her ’69 Camaro. In the Top Ride Shootout, Erik Cederberg took the overall win amongst his peers with his brand-new ’12 ZL1 Camaro. All said and done, we learned every competitor knew their cars inside and out; more importantly, we all walked away with a few more good friends.
The Chevy High Performance Street Machine Challenge & Top Ride Shootout
From The Driver seat
I’ll just start by calling Schwartz Performance’s Camaro what it is—a sweet, 12-second convertible that does it all. This was actually a substitute for what was originally on our roster, which was supposed to be a twin-turbo–packing Camaro. You could say this was one of his customer’s street rides, who was nice enough to come out and play for the weekend. The seats were covered in plastic to protect the white leather and you can bet all of us were doing our best to maintain its showroom-like condition. Would we change anything? No way, this was a fun car to drive, and I’d be perfectly content driving up the California coast and stopping off at Famoso Raceway to click off a few passes before continuing the cruise up to NorCal.
Jeff Schwartz brought out one of his customers’ ’67 Camaros for the competition. I knew of the car since it had been featured in the Jan. ’12 issue of Camaro Performers magazine. Motivated by a fairly stout LS3, the car had plenty of power, and it took me a few laps around the course to become acquainted with the car’s personality. Featuring all Schwartz’s suspension goodies, the Pro Touring convertible maneuvered well around our short course. The car offers a great mix of handling, power, and street manners—characteristics most anyone would certainly appreciate in a vintage muscle car with a modern, tunable suspension. Admittedly, the car was set up and tuned to the customer’s specs and the hydro-boost brake system stops on a dime with very little pedal effort. Having said that, the brakes took a little getting used to, as it was super easy to lock up the tires in the braking zones of the course (sorry ’bout the flat-spotted tires, Jeff). The car was a fun ride, and it offered awesome seat-of-the-pants excitement on every corner. With a little more track time and tuning, this car would rock any autocross and raise a few eyebrows at any Porsche club autocross event.
’67 Schwartz Performance Camaro
Engine: Schwartz Performance LS3
Suspension: Schwartz Performance G-Machine bolt-in full frame
Brakes: front/rear Wilwood, 6/4 piston, front/rear 13-inch rotors
Tires: Michelin PS2, front, P255/35R18; rear, P345/30R18
’11 Wes Skipper/Granatelli Motorsports Camaro
Horsepower: 675 (rwhp)
Engine: Whipple supercharged LS3 with a Stage 3 Vengeance camshaft
Suspension: front/rear, Granatelli Motorsports 1g Suspension, Pfadt Race Engineering 1-inch lowering springs and sway bars
Brakes: Granatelli Motorsports; cross-drilled rotors with stainless lines
Tires: Factory, front, P245/45ZR20; rear, P275/40ZR20
From The Driver seat
Late-model cars have come a long way, and Wes Skipper, who was representing Granatelli Motorsports, had one well-sorted machine in a field of strong performance muscle cars. I’ve always thought the fifth-gens could stand to have a little more horsepower, and the supercharged combination on Skipper’s ride fit the bill. The bottom end torque moved the heavyweight with ease and the shifts were crisp with little drama whatsoever. To say that this could be the ultimate factory ride wouldn’t be far from the truth, and personally, every fifth-gen should come standard with a 700hp package.
When the fifth-generation Camaro first hit the streets in 2010, the most notable factor on the negative side was that it’s a bit on the pudgy side, and the extra weight would have a huge effect on its ability in keeping up with previous generations of the Camaro on the performance side. With that said, it wasn’t long before aftermarket companies began offering upgrades in both the suspension and horsepower departments. Wes Skipper took advantage of a performance suspension kit from Granatelli Motorsports and then bolted on a supercharger from Whipple for more power. The combination of the two did wonders to make Wes’ car feel a lot lighter and way more nimble in the corners. Yes, the fifth-gens are notorious for pushing (wanting to go straight during hard turning) in tight corners, and this one was no exception, but even on our short autocross course this car was a welcomed surprise and handled much better than I had expected. Skipper had informed me the car makes 700 hp and that it can be a handful. I actually found the horsepower to be very manageable, and the braking advantage offered by the ABS allowed me to take the car deeper into corners and throttle out quite efficiently. At 4,100 pounds, and on stock tires, this portly beast was a blast to drive. The car sounds killer with the exhaust cutouts open, but I can see where that would get old while driving on the street for a period of time. I’ve driven quite a few supercharged fifth-gens, and this one is right up there with the rest of them.
69' DSE Camaro
Engine: Mast Motorsports 416ci LS
Suspension: front, DSE subframe with splined antiroll bar; rear QUADRALink; DSE coilover shocks and springs with Detroit Tuned valving
Brakes: front/rear Baer 6S with 14-inch rotors
Tires: BFGoodrich KDW, front, P275/35R18; rear P335/30R18
From The Driver seat
I said it during last year’s SMC event and I’ll say it again; Stacy Tucker’s transmission of choice is a Rockland-modified Tremec and it practically shifts by itself. I’ve yet to experience any other car that will engage into gears like this one. The power is great, it’s comfortable, and it’s no wonder she took home the crown this year. On a more personal note, Stacy and I made a bet that whoever ran the quicket e.t. this year would have to buy the other an ice cream of their choice; let me just say on the record, Stacy, what flavor would you like?
It’s no secret that DSE spends a ridiculous amount of time testing and tuning their cars’ suspensions. Stacy Tucker’s ’69 test Camaro has seen more miles than just about any vintage Camaro—street time and track time—so I had expected the car to do well on the autocross. The Mast Motorsports LS engine offers more than enough horsepower for most any autocross, especially the compact course we put together. With that said, the 335 rear tire is a tremendous help in managing all the torque this thing puts out, and with a 285 tire up front, the car was evenly balanced and enabled me to power through the slalom section and also on the long sweeping turn. Muscle cars tend to push in sweepers and tight corners when coming in a little too fast, but the big Baer binders promptly scrubbed off speed and made it easy to negotiate the corners and quickly get back hard on the throttle on the straights. This car was a complete joy to drive and it was obvious that all the testing this car has been through paid off greatly. The only thing I regret about driving this car is the fact that I wasn’t able to take it home with me.
’69 Littlefield/Chris Alston’s Chassisworks Camaro
Engine: Mast Motorsports Black Label LS7
Suspension: Chassisworks g-Machine Clip; front, Chassisworks Mini-Tub g-Link System; front/rear, double-adjustable VariShock coilovers
Brakes: front/rear, Wilwood 14/13-inch
Tires: Michelin PS2, front, 285/30R18; rear, P335/30R18
From The Driver seat
As soon as I heard 700hp LS7, I was already fiending to get behind the wheel of Bob Littlefield’s first-gen. Overall, the car felt solid, which incidentally, makes me feel a lot more secure. Once situated I started to realize that the plush seats had me sitting a little higher than I liked, making me tilt my head slightly with the helmet on—and I’m not that tall by any means at 5 feet, 11 inches. While that made the ride a little uncomfortable, the power was flat-out awesome and it pulled through every gear with minimal effort. The 120-plus miles per hour trap speeds were indicative of its grunt and there’s no denying that this is one fast street machine. It may be time to call Mast and order one of these gems for myself!
Going from car to car and driving each one in a performance situation can be a tricky transition. Generally, it takes a few laps to get used to the way a car brakes, accelerates, and grips in corners. Since four of the five cars in the competition were Camaros, I had a sense of familiarity between each one. I quickly felt right at home as I strapped into Bob Littlefield’s ’69. I had watched Jake Moreau drive the car hard all morning and figured it would be easy to drive. Assumption correct. Of all the cars I had driven, this one had a little slower steering than the others. Making an easy adjustment, I just turned into corners a little earlier than in the other Camaros. Not a big deal. By lap number two I had gotten comfortable with where and how the car liked to turn. It did so with ease. The car is decked out with a Chris Alston’s Chassisworks suspension and the rear is mini-tubbed in order to house the 335 rubber out back. This was another car that was easy to drive, and the suspension responded very well upon corner entry and exit. The LS7 had plenty of grunt to put together some great times on the course. This is one car that would have benefitted from slightly quicker steering, especially on such a short course. With that said, the owner’s preference might be to have a slower steering on a longer autocross or a road course where sharp turning is less of an issue.
Even on a somewhat bumpy course, the car felt smooth and even on the sweeper and through the slalom portions of the course. And when I came into a corner a little too hot, the car recovered rather quickly, accepted a fair margin of driver error without losing too much overall time.
With the killer stereo and speaker box on board, this is a great Pro Touring Camaro that I could see cranking up the A/C and going out for a really long drive.
’63 DSE Chevy II
Engine: Mast Motorsports 427ci LS
Suspension: front, DSE Front Frame with splined antiroll bar; rear, QUADRALink; DSE coilover shocks and springs with Detroit Tuned valving
Brakes: front/rear Baer 6R with 14-inch rotors
Tires: BFGoodrich KDW; front, P255/35R18; rear, P295/35R19
From The Driver seat
I won’t deny it; I’m a big fan of this Chevy II. It’s just a cool ride that looks completely docile until you step on the loud pedal. And with its nimble weight and 675 hp, it just keeps pulling through every gear. However, this year, DSE stepped up to an aggressive triple-disc clutch assembly, and I could have used a bit more seat time to get used to it. Off the line on the dragstrip proved to be a little difficult; even so, with a set of true stickies, I’m willing to bet it’s a solid 11-second runner.
Kyle Tucker’s ’63 Nova doesn’t have the amount of real estate within the fenders to accommodate the same amount of rubber as their ’69 Camaro, but as is the case with all their cars, this too has endured extensive track time during it’s short life as a test vehicle for their Nova parts. The LS7’s tremendous amount of horsepower was especially noticeable in such a light car, so with the limited tire size in both front and rear, per Tucker’s suggestion, I launched the car in Second gear and kept it there throughout the course. With the car being a bit “more free” in the rear, I was able to just “touch” the throttle and square up the car once it gave off an inkling it wanted to push while coming out of a tight corner. Due to the smaller-width tires and insane amount of torque, this car demands respect upon acceleration and takes a bit of skill to drive. After my second lap around the course, I became more confident and was able to modulate the car during both acceleration and braking. The car did a great job at giving driver feedback and let me know precisely where the edge was should I have gotten greedy coming out of a corner. It’s never a good idea to end up facing the wrong direction in any car, especially when it’s not yours. I can only imagine how fun this car would be to get out on a larger autocross, or even a road course.
’57 Fatman Fabrication
Engine: small-block 383ci
Suspension: Fatman X-member chassis; front, Fatman Stage III; rear, Fatman four-bar and Z-link
Brakes: front/rear, Wilwood six-piston with 13-inch rotors
Tires: Nitto NT05; front, P235/40R17; rear, P275/40R17
From The Driver seat
I have to thank Fatman Fabrications for bringing down their incredible ’57 Chevy. Due to weather conditions, they weren’t able to complete our event last year and were looking forward to this year’s challenge. Unfortunately, we had a situation with the head gaskets, preventing them from continuing on throughout the weekend. Still, the couple passes I had were solid and I’m glad I had the opportunity to try out their new Gear Vendor’s setup—this unit is trick. Rather than shifting into Fourth, I was able to hit the button on the knob at the top of Third and split the Third to Fourth gear, allowing us to gain a little more momentum on the big end. You can read all about the install on page 42. We’re looking to divulge a detailed autocross outing with the new combination in the months to come.
|Quarter-Mile Times • Street Machine Challenge|
|Position||Vehicle||Owner||e.t. & mph|
|1||’11 Camaro||Skipper/Granatelli Motorsports||11.83 @ 123|
|2||’69 Camaro||Littlefield/Chassisworks||12.24 @ 122|
|3||’63 Chevy II||DSE||12.26 @ 118|
|4||’69 Camaro||DSE||12.78 @ 114|
|5||’67 Camaro||Schwartz Performance||12.94 @ 110|
|Quarter-Mile Times • Top Ride Shootout|
|Position||Vehicle||Owner||e.t. & mph|
|1||’70 Chevelle||Adam Toney||10.97 @ 133|
|2||’67 Camaro||Terry Neuville||12.104 @ 112|
|3||’70 Z28 Camaro||Tim McGilton||12.67 @ 119|
|4||’12 Camaro ZL1||Erik Cederberg||13.95 @ 112|
|60-To-0 Braking • Street Machine Challenge|
|2||’11 Camaro||Skipper/Granatelli Motorsports||116.6|
|3||’67 Camaro||Schwartz Performance||126.2|
|5||’63 Chevy II||DSE||136|
|60-To-0 Braking • Top Ride Shootout|
|1||’12 Camaro ZL1||Erik Cederberg||106.2|
|2||’10 Chevy II||Stacy Tucker||123.7|
|3||’67 Camaro||Brad Granger||126.7|
|4||’67 Camaro||Terry Neuville||128.4|
|5||’70 Camaro||Tim McGilton||135|
|6||’70 Chevelle||Adam Toney||168.7|
|Jet-Hot High Performance Coatings Autocross Times|
|Street Machine Challenge|
|2||’63 Chevy II||DSE||29.057|
|4||’11 Camaro||Skipper/Granatelli Motorsports||30.075|
|5||’67 Camaro||Schwartz Performance||30.089|
|Top Ride Shootout|
|1||’12 Camaro ZL1||Erik Cederberg||28.962|
|2||’67 Camaro||Terry Neuville||29.530|
|3||’70 Z28 Camaro||Tim McGilton||29.776|
|4||’67 Camaro||Brad Granger||30.098|
|5||’70 Chevelle||Adam Toney||32.371|
|Jet-Hot High Performance Coatings Autocross awards|
|Street Machine Challenge|
|1. Stacy Tucker, Detroit Speed Inc.|
|2. Wes Skipper, Granatelli Motorsports|
|3. Jake Moreau, Chris Alston’s Chassisworks|
|4. Kyle Tucker, Detroit Speed Inc.|
|5. Jeff Schwartz, Schwartz Performance|
|6. Brent VanDervort, Fatman Fabrications|
|Top Ride Shootout|
|1. Erik Cederberg|
|2. Terry Neuville|
|3. Tim McGilton|
|4. Adam Toney|
|5. Brad Granger|
|First-gen: Jake Moreau at 28.580|
|Second-gen: Brett Smith at 31.477|
|Third-gen: Brady Wood at 32.392|
|Fifth-gen: Erik Cederberg at 28.962|
|Fastest autocross time amongst peers|
|Jake Moreau at 28.580|
|Best looking rides|
|Brag Granger, ’67 Camaro|
|Terry Neuville, ’67 Camaro|
|Kyle Tucker at 28.793|
Tim McGilton ’70 Z28
Horsepower: 513 (rwhp)
Engine: Kurt Urban Performance LS7
Front Suspension:DSE Hydro-formed subframe with JRI shocks;rear,DSE QUADRALink with JRI shocks
Brakes:Baer 6R brakes with 14-inch rotors
Tires: BFGoodrich KDW, front, P295/35R18; rear, P335/30R18
Terry Neuville ’68 Camaro
Horsepower: 410 (rwhp)
Engine: LQ4 W/LS3 heads, 232 duration 0.590-lift cam
Suspension: front, RideTech control arms with RideTech triple-adjustable coilover shocks with 600-pound springs and Hotchkis sway bar; rear, DSE QUADRALink, minitubs and subframe connectors; RideTech triple-adjustable coilover shocks with 250-pound springs
Brakes: Baer 6P with 14-inch rotors, front/rear
Tires: BFGoodrich KDW, front, P245/40R18; rear, P335/30R18 with Forgeline SP3P
Brad Granger ’67 Camaro
Horsepower: 600 (crankshaft); 500 (rwhp)
Engine: Southern Performance Systems, LS3, Magnuson supercharger, 6-psi boost
Suspension: front, Chassisworks with splined antiroll bar; rear, Chassisworks g-Bar, four-link with Helwig sway bar. All shocks and springs are Chassisworks.
Brakes: Baer 6S with 14-inch rotors, front/rear
Tires: BFGoodrich KDW, front, P255/40R17; rear, P335/30R18
Adam Toney ’70 Chevelle
Engine: GMPP 572, F2 ProCharger with 10 psi
Suspension: front, Global West Negative Roll Control Arms, QA1 dual-adjustable coilovers, Hotchkis sway bar; rear, BMR (boxed lower control arms, adjustable, upper, and sway bar), QA1 coilover springs, QA1 dual-adjustable shocks
Brakes: front, Baer 6S with 14-inch rotors; rear, Baer 12-inch
Tires: Nitto NT05, front, P245/40R18; rear, P295/35R18