If you’ve been a reader of Super Chevy for any amount of time then you’re pretty aware that we’re big proponents of “drive your car!” Yep, while we love checking out a nicely done Chevy what really gets us rev’d up is seeing those cars in motion. Given this, we decided years ago to host an event and we knew it needed to involve driving our favorite Chevys… hard! The Super Chevy Muscle Car Challenge Presented by Falken Tires went off pretty smoothly in the warm and sunny Californian sunshine. Like last year our event was held at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA.
Our rules also stayed the same from last year. All the cars had to run the sticky Falken RT-615K+ 200-treadwear performance tires and the cars had to be licensed and insured for street use (and pass a basic safety check). As for drivers we didn’t care who you brought to the party, but the same driver had to pilot the car through all three events.
The challenge consisted of three driving events; road course, slalom, and 100-yard dash. The Total Cost Involved (TCI) sponsored road course portion took place at Auto Club Speedways’ infield course where each car will was given 5 chances to nail down their best time. The slalom was a zig-zag run through a 420-foot gauntlet of cones, which is harder than it sounds and is more about maintaining a consistent speed than accelerating through each cone. The 100-Yard Dash is set up to test a tires forward bite and how well the car launches from a stop. Think of it as a short “street style” drag sprint. Each car launched from a dead stop (just asphalt, no VHT) and blasted 100 yards through a set of timing lights. Between these three tests, the cars, and the Falken tires, were pushed hard in terms of lateral and forward performance. This is the first year we’ve been able to run Falken’s new + series RT-615K tires and we could certainly feel the improvement in traction.
The cars were divided in half with the first group going to the TCI road course while the second group tackled the slalom and 100 Yard Dash events. At lunch they swapped. At the end of the day points were awarded based on standings for each event (20 points for first, 18 points for second, 17 for third, etc). So, in theory there was a max of 60 points up for grabs. The bonus point for winning first place factored into the final results heavily with just one point separating first and second place! The winner, Chad Ryker in his Wilwood-sponsored 1968 Camaro nabbed first place in the both the slalom and road course events, but he struggled a bit in the 100-yard dash with sixth place finish for a total of 54 points. Second this year was grabbed by Efrain Diaz who finished second in the slalom, second in the 100-yard dash, and third on the road course. That’s a solid performance in all three events, but the bonus points for first place help Chad Ryker take home the trophy and the bragging rights this year. There was tie for third place with the nearly 1,000 hp chameleon-colored 1969 Camaro sponsored by Speedway Motors and driven by Ken Thwaits. Thwaits blasted to third in the 100-yard dash and second on the road course, but the slalom (remember how we said it was harder than it looked) tripped him up with a 10 place finish. Tying Thwaits for third was Chris Smith in his RideTech-sponsored 1972 Camaro. Smith had solid finishes in all three events which gave him the necessary points for a podium finish. Sadly on one of his final road course laps a fuel fire at the back of the car took him out of the competition. Fortunately the tracks safety crew, and Smith’s own fire suppression system, saved his car with only minimal damage. Fourth place went to the orange C2 Corvette sponsored by Baer Brakes and driven by Greg Thurmond. Thurmond killed the 100-yard dash with a first place finish and did well in the slalom. Unfortunately a suspension issue (which turned out to be a rear linkage bracket that had loosened up) killed him on the road course, but he was still able to get enough points for a solid finish. CPP’s freshly built (as in finished a day before the event) 1967 Camaro ran hard and, more importantly, consistently coming in just one point behind Thurmond and his Corvette.
The cars at our event were very diverse. We had everything from $100,000 builds to low-buck builds and 1,000 hp to 350 hp engine outputs. Given this, comparing the cars to each other really makes little sense. So, to give you a way to gauge the cars we compare them all to a baseline car. Our baseline car this year, a bone stock LT1-powered 2017 Camaro SS owned by Tim Lee of Don Lee Auto in Rancho Cucamonga, ended up finishing around mid-pack in terms of overall points. Driving the ’17 Camaro was Wilwood’s Mike Hamrick who had a best lap of 1:20.30 and set the benchmark for the rest of the cars to try and beat. Now the SS, with all the 21st century bells and whistles is no slouch on the track, so we’re impressed when any vintage Chevy iron can come close, let along best it, in performance.
Overall the day went well, there were few “off track excursions” and more than a few cones suffered on the slalom course, but aside from the small fire, and a few engine and parts hiccups everyone had fun wringing out their modified Chevys. And that was the whole point of the exercise. So, if you have a Chevy at home in the garage get it out and drive it! We don’t care if it’s at an autocross, road course, drag strip, or a cruise through the countryside, just drive it! You can thank us later for the advice.
We will have all the juicy details, including times for all the cars, in an upcoming story, but for now we thought you might like to check our 16 very cool Chevys getting put through their paces.
Photos by Steven Rupp, Taylor Kempkes, Nick Licata, and Robert McGaffin