We’re constantly surprised at how fast time flies. It’s seems like it was only a few months ago that we were attending the inaugural Run to the Coast event here in sunny Southern California, and all of a sudden it was time to do it again. Like last year, this orgy of muscle car mayhem was organized by a group of gearheads from back East. Bill Howell, Yancy Johns, and Danny Thomas worked their collective butts off so that us Left Coasters could enjoy a kick-ass event like the ones that have become almost commonplace east of the Rockies. In the keeping with the theme of “more is better,” this year’s run promised to be bigger and cooler than ever.
Last year’s event was confined to just Saturday for the driving competitions with a short cruise on Sunday. Because it was only held on the one day, all 40 spots were sold out in a few hours. This year there were two days of track action, which allowed 80 cars to run. Even with all this added capacity, the available spots sold out in less than a day. It really warms our hearts to know that so many car nuts are getting into the act of driving their cars in addition to making them look great.
Like last year, there were three main driving competitions. The Detroit Speed Inc.–sponsored road course was shortened up a bit to accommodate the use of one of the strip’s hangars as a base of operations. The other two competitions were the Carbon Custom autocross and the Baer Speed Stop Challenge. Tire treadwear had to be 200 or higher, and the cars needed to pass a basic safety inspection. Points were awarded to the top finishers in each event. In addition, there was a 90-mile cruise on Friday that wound down the coast and through some rural twisties. Those that did the cruise picked up three bonus points in the competition, and in an event like this every point is important. The cruise ended at Spectre Performance in Ontario, California, where competitors were treated to some refreshments, a few chassis dyno pulls, and some friendly competition at the local indoor karting track. Later that night, Total Cost Involved (TCI) hosted a dinner for anyone interested in hanging out and talking cars. Put it all together, and it made for three days of automotive nirvana.
Orange County Race Craft once again ran the road course and made sure everyone stayed safe. There was a bit of rain on Friday, which made the course damp on Saturday, but the weather held, and by Sunday the tracks were bone dry. The cars competing ran the gamut from big-buck Pro Touring cars to ones built on a shoestring budget. But they all had one thing in common: a love of cars and a desire to have fun improving their driving skills and seeing what their rides were capable of.
Black Betty Track Report
By Nick Licata
Going into the ’11 RTTC event, I was optimistic about how well Black Betty would do. Being that it’s decked out with Global West suspension components, I left owner Doug Norrdin in charge of setting up and fine-tuning the suspension — a definite luxury most guys don’t have. Besides, if I start messing with the rebound and compression knobs, I’d probably just screw everything up.
The first competition of the day for my group was the road course. Being that it had rained overnight, the track still had some wet areas, but that didn’t hinder us from hitting the course hard. Besides, I was sporting a fresh set of BFGoodrich rubber, so I was confident the section on the course we jokingly referred to as “Splash Mountain” wouldn’t be much of an issue. Besides, I’ve been waiting a year for this event, so a little river running through the track wasn’t going to ruin my day.
After a few lead-follow laps with the track operators, I was able to get to know the course fairly well. So I hit the track like a bat out of hell on my first timed runs.
Once I got the tires up to temperature, it was apparent the suspension was dialed in. The car never felt loose, nor did it push on corner entry or exit. It just felt very well balanced.
Having recently upgraded to a Wilwood brake system, this was my first time out on a road course with the new brake setup, so I used the first few laps to get acquainted. I left in the BP-10 brake pads (recommended for street and light track use) for the first session and was impressed with how much abuse they could handle. The course wasn’t incredibly fast, but there was one section where I had to really hit the brakes hard, and after a few laps I could tell the pads were getting a little too hot. Fortunately, Wilwood was a major sponsor of the event and had brought along a set of their PolyMatrix H race pads for display, so Wilwood sales and tech consultant Dustin Burr suggested I give them a try for my afternoon session. The nice thing about Wilwood brakes is that changing pads is a very simple process. We borrowed a jack and some tools from our pals over at Chevy High Performance magazine to make the swap, and after quickly bedding in the pads, Dustin got me back in action. The H compound pads are designed for racing and enabled me to brake deeper into the corners.
I got down to a 1:11.8 lap on Sunday, which put me in the top third of the field. I felt pretty good about my times and how well the car performed overall. I have to say, driving on that road course was the most fun I’ve had in the car to date.
Speed Stop Challenge
The second part of the competition for our group was the Baer Speed Stop Challenge. I took my three runs and just hammered the car out of the gate the best I could while trying to keep tire spin to a minimum. Previous braking numbers showed the car has had a best stopping distance of 105 ft in 60-0–mph testing, so I figured at about 80 mph (my max speed during this part of the competition), I would slam on the brakes just past the 200-foot markers (you have to love ABS).
On the first run, I went too deep and went about 5 feet beyond the stop box. Close, but a DNQ. I was able to stay within the box on the next two runs and ultimately ended up with a best time of 12.576 seconds. Right about then I was wishing I had about 200 more horsepower under the hood. But considering the First Place time was an 11.545 second run, I felt really good about how well the car did.
With 56 cars entered in the autocross, I was able to manage a 15th Place finish. Just like on the road course, I was happy with how well the car did. The suspension was really being taxed, but the car handled great and was very predictable on corner entry and exit. Even when I made a mistake, the car was very forgiving. As of now, it’s loaded with a stock rearend and 3.42 gears, so it’s a little sluggish out of the hole and tight corners. But as I type this little report, there is a Moser 12-bolt stuffed with 3.73s waiting to be installed. That should make a huge difference.
I had hoped to finish a little better on the road course and autocross, but one thing I didn’t count on was how much horsepower the rest of the competitors would be bringing to the table. Compared to many cars in the field, ol’ Black Betty was struggling to keep up in the power department. I just need to remember that this ’01 Camaro is my daily driver. I use it to pick up my boys from school during the week and beat on it pretty good on weekends. But seriously, this car has really performed far above my expectations. And if Project Orange Krate is ready by this time next year, I’ll be armed with well over 600 hp and one pissed off second-gen Camaro.
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!
Top 10 Baer Speed Stop Challenge Times
|Sal Solorzano||’68 Camaro||11.545|
|Kyle Tucker||’70 Camaro||11.561|
|Kyle Newman||’55 Chevy||11.785|
|Mark Gearhart||’00 Mustang||11.792|
|Brian Finch||’71 Camaro||11.900|
|Mary Pozzi||’67 Camaro||11.932|
|Deanna Marengo||’71 Camaro||11.932|
|Henry De LosSantos||’02 Vette||11.978|
|Jay Weir||’72 Nova||11.996|
|Brian Hobaugh||’65 Vette||12.016|
Top 20 Road Course Times
|Ryan Mathews||’69 Camaro||1:02.8|
|Jay Weir||’72 Nova||1:03.0|
|Brian Hobough||’65 Vette||1:04.0|
|Kyle Tucker||’70 Camaro||1:04.9|
|Brian Finch||’71 Camaro||1:06.2|
|David Pozzi||’68 Camaro||1.07.0|
|Kyle Newman||’55 Chevy||1:07.0|
|Todd Akes||’69 Camaro||1:08.1|
|Mark Gearhart||’00 Mustang||1:08.2|
|Sal Solorzano||’68 Camaro||1:08.3|
|Rick Klein||’68 Camaro||1:08.6|
|David Gordon||’68 Camaro||1:08.8|
|Tom Foglesong||’67 Camaro||1.09.0|
|Carl Cassanova||’68 Camaro||1:09.3|
|Chris McCrae||’69 Camaro||1:09.4|
|Mary Pozzi||’67 Camaro||1:09.5|
|Bruce Cambern||’05 Ford GT||1.09.7|
|Brett Campbell||’67 Camaro||1:09.7|
|Brandy Morrow||’70 Camaro||1:10.3|
|James Shipka||’67 Camaro||1:10.6|
Top 20 Autocross Times
|Brian Hobaugh||’65 Vette||37.000|
|Kyle Tucker||’70 Camaro||37.206|
|Mary Pozzi||’67 Camaro||37.679|
|Ryan Mathews||’69 Camaro||38.139|
|Jay Weir||’72 Nova||38.210|
|Brian Finch||’71 Camaro||38.215|
|David Pozzi||’68 Camaro||38.313|
|Bruce Cambern||’05 Ford GT||38.423|
|Kyle Newman||’55 Chevy||38.778|
|David Gordon||’68 Camaro||38.834|
|Brett Campbell||’67 Camaro||39.108|
|Chris McCrea||’69 Camaro||39.159|
|Deanna Marengo||’71 Camaro||39.283|
|Sal Solorzano||’68 Camaro||39.299|
|Nick Licata||’01 Camaro||39.366|
|Carl Cassanova||’68 Camaro||39.546|
|Gerald Lum||’71 Camaro||39.631|
|Steven Rupp||’68 Camaro||39.811|
|Rob McGregor||’55 F-100||39.892|
|Todd Akes||’69 Camaro||39.954|
Spectre Top-Speed Challenge
|Kyle Tucker||’70 Camaro||97 mph|
|Steven Rupp||’68 Camaro||96 mph|
|Tom Ciancitto||’37 Ford||95 mph|
|Ryan Mathews||’69 Camaro||94 mph|
Run To The Coast
Detroit Speed Inc.
Total Cost Involved