"Go out on top!" Although this is seemingly the mantra of successful pro-athletes, it also rings true for competitors of every generation. Case in point: after his last race at the 1984 NHRA World Finals in Pomona, California, Coleman Roddy of Port Arthur, Texas, saw the way that Competition Eliminator was progressing and promptly sold off his World Champion '84 Pontiac Firebird D/MP Competition Eliminator race car and all racing related backup parts. According to Coleman, "After winning the championship for the second year in a row, the first running a '65 Vette in E/Gas, the impact of the dollars necessary to remain a champion was taking its toll.
"No longer was it solely about competing for the love of drag racing, but it turned into constantly searching for sponsorship funds and scratching to make ends meet."
As the World Champ and the winner of the prestigious Quaker State Cup, there was nowhere to turn after being named the top Sportsman racer. After collecting his $15,000 check and liquidating the racing assets, Coleman went back to a more normal life and dedicated himself to the business along with his racing partner and dad, proprietors of R&R Auto Sales in Port Arthur. The race car was gone, but the memories of two Winternationals victories and being the first NHRA driver to win back to back Comp Eliminator championships never faded. Sure being a local legend alongside Port Arthur's own Janice Joplin and Jimmy Johnson was great, but it wasn't until 2003 when a lightly used '02 Z28 rolled into auction that the racing bug struck again.
With age comes wisdom and this time around a return to competitive action wasn't on the agenda, but rather building a quick and reliable drag car for the pure fun of dropping the hammer and riding out a pristine 9-second pass.
Purchased for resale by R&R Auto Sales, the '02 Z28 quickly became a favorite of Coleman and he enjoyed it so much that he started heading out to Ben Bruce Memorial Airpark Raceway in Evadale, Texas, to relax and let the Camaro run the quarter-mile. After only a few practice runs on drag radials the car posted 12.90 times, and soon thereafter the Z28 became a permanent fixture at R&R. Over the next couple of years the Z28 slowly transformed from weekend fun car to part-time racer. After more than 300 runs on the LS1 and low 10-second timeslips in his back pocket, it was time to step up the performance and build a more powerful engine combination. Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, remember that with a Competition Eliminator background and a slew of connections to the legends of drag racing, a few items would be consistent. First, as with his 280-cube, GMC-equipped '84 Bird that ran 9.15s with dual Quads, the engine had to be naturally aspirated and be capable of spinning to the moon. Sure, maybe it wouldn't cross the finish line north of 10,000 rpm like his Comp motors did, but it had to make power much as its small-block cousin, with a highpitched shriek and shrouded with otherworldly super-secret camshaft voodoo.