Exhibition of Speed
By Steven Rupp
Late on Saturday, event organizer Bill Howell asked if Orange County Race Craft track manager Nathan Swartzbaugh could borrow our Bad Penny ’68 for an exhibition run around the track. Turned out that they wanted to give a ride to Andy Koury, one of the top guys over at BFGoodrich. We knew Nathan was a great driver (he’s competed in Rolex series stuff) so we tossed him the proverbial keys. Now at that point the fastest lap was in the 1:05 range, so we were curious what Nathan could throw down. Sure, he knew the track well, but he didn’t know the car and had never really driven Pro Touring cars before. Well, those who saw the run got a real treat. Nathan drove the car like he borrowed it. His first lap was a 1:05 followed by a 1:03.1, and a 1:03.5 on his third lap. When he came back in he seemed pretty surprised with our ’68 project car. After commenting that it sure didn’t handle like an “old car,” he went on to say that in the turns he kept pushing harder and harder all the time thinking, ’It’s going to break, it’s going to break.’ When we reviewed his track data it was clear that his aggressive driving style really paid off. Our Racepak data showed that David Pozzi had a top speed of 110 mph, where Nathan hit 117! In the first left-hand sweeper after the big straight, he logged a peak reading of 1.54g! Sure, that’s a peak, but it’s a record one for our car. The RHS 461ci engine seemed to have enough grunt with acceleration readings of .87g from a roll.
On re-entering the pits, we noticed smoke wafting off the front tires. Turned out that all the high-g maneuvers caused the Camaro to roll over more than normal and the front tires melted to the inner fenderwells. They were literally toast, but it was worth it to see Nathan fling the car through the curves and fry the tires all the way down the main straightaway. That night Matt Alcala hooked us up with two used tires and Jon Henson from Driverz Inc. got up at 5 a.m. the next morning to mount them for us so we could run again on Sunday. It was drier that day so all the times got faster. Nathan wanted the car back because he knew there was more in it, and he swears that he could have gone sub one minute. But we had to cut him off until we add stiffer front springs and a bit more clearance to our front wheelwells. Big thanks to Nathan of Orange County Race Craft for making our car look like a rock star!