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1998 Chevy Camaro Z28 - Twice As Hard

Jul 1, 2008
0807gmhtp_01_z 1998_chevy_camaro_z28 Passanger_side_view 2/8

Anyone familiar with the Ohio Boys knew it was only a matter of time until they had one of the fastest LS1 F-bodies in the country. Mike Brown and his partner in crime, Steve Turley, have put together several 8-second turbo cars in the past few years, including Turley's '96 Formula, which met its demise in March 2006. At the time, Brown had just purchased a '98 Camaro (rolling chassis) in Florida that he had planned to stuff an engine and trans into and make a few quick dollars. Given Turley's recent trackside wreck with the Formula, it was decided that the Camaro would be the perfect home to whatever parts could be salvaged off the Formula.

0807gmhtp_02_z 1998_chevy_camaro_z28 Caring_down_the_dragstrip 3/8

The fresh chassis gave the Ohio Boys the chance to upgrade from a mild steel 10-point rollcage to a full 25.5 chassis, which was soon to be necessary given their intentions. Wheel to Wheel Powertrain was all too happy to take in the Camaro, stripped of its interior, and weld up a custom cage over the course of two months. The finished chassis was a late Christmas present for the pair, who picked up the Camaro in late December 2006. For the next four months Brown and Turley thrashed to get the Camaro built in time for the next race season-they made it to the first race on April 13th at Milan Dragway. Unfortunately, the bugs had not been worked out and Steve bowed out in the first round, but he did pilot the Camaro to three wins and two second place finishes for the 2007 overall championship in the heads-up drag radial class.

Turley's success is partly owed to Billy Briggs (at Wheel to Wheel), who put together an extremely durable motor combination using ERL's Superdeck aluminum LS2 block. Using a series of 6061 T6 trusses TIG-welded in between thick Darton ductile iron sleeves to give added rigidity, ERL manages to greatly reduce cylinder-bore distortion from the motor torquing on its motor mounts. This gives the block the strength it needs in a high-boost application, without the added weight of an iron block. For next season, ERL plans to outfit the Ohio Boys' Z with a six-bolt version of the same block, as they've found that even 1/2-inch head studs can't compete with the added bolts for clamping capacity. ERL's efforts, combined with Briggs's assembly of the 402-cid motor, has enabled 130 to 140 passes without it ever having to come out of the car, according to Steve. As you'd expect from a highly boosted engine, the heads are O-ringed and regularly use copper head gaskets from SCE and Flatout. Though the motor has never blown a gasket, changing them is considered regular maintenance every 25 to 30 runs, which also provides a chance to inspect the pistons, valves, and other internals for potential problems.

A custom girdle, billet main caps, Callies forged crank, and Howards forged rods-this is the familiar recipe Billy uses to ensure a reliable bottom end. A few ponies are salvaged with a Dailey dry-sump oil system, which keeps all the moving parts lubricated despite the violent acceleration. Wiseco forged pistons and Total Seal rings are along for the ride in the 8.32:1 compression motor, which also uses All Pro LS2 Dragport (six-bolt) heads with a staggered rocker-arm setup for longer springs and better leverage. Titanium 2.125 intake and Inconel 1.625 exhaust valves take advantage of the large, high-flowing cathedral intake and oval exhaust ports. Kurt Urban at W2W selected a custom grind solid roller cam that commands Smith Brothers heavy-duty pushrods, Morel lifters, and Jesel shaft-mount rockers. A GM Performance Parts carb-style intake manifold with a Wilson Manifolds elbow and 105mm throttle body make up a top end well-suited to accepting mucho boosto.

As with all of the Ohio Boys' love children, the turbo system is fabricated by Mike Brown himself using the 6.0L truck manifolds and a 2.5-inch crossover pipe to spool the massive Precision Turbo 106mm vortex of awesome power. A 5-inch downpipe with a Burns stainless race muffler vent massive quantities of spent VP Q16 provided by the 160-lb/hr injectors and a MagnaFuel pump. Steve said that VP's new formula delivers as promised. After Brown richened up the tune through the Big Stuff 3 computer to compensate for the highly oxygenated fuel, the power improvement was immediately apparent. In this type of build, high-octane fuel and a good air-to-water intercooler are crucial. To remedy the latter, Brown used a PTE core to fabricate the intercooler setup and built the reservoir into the aluminum passenger seat. This trick setup not only chills 28 psi of boost, but the tranny cooler as well.

A Rossler TH210 trans, essentially a Turbo 400 with a 2.10 gearset, and a Midwest converter were the trusted standbys, as both seem to suit the turbo cars very well. The converter is a non-lockup style that Steve estimates is in the 3,500-4,000 stall range, as they've taken the converter back several times to be tightened or loosened as needed. Another carryover from the Formula was the Moser 9-inch rear with 35-spline axles, 3.50 gear, and a lightweight spool. The rear suspension from BMR Fabrication was also transferred over, including the Extreme Duty sway bar, Panhard bar, torque arm, and lower control arms. Amazingly, these bulky versions of the stock pieces are adequate for 1.28 short times-four-links are for suckers. Most of the front suspension, however, had to be replaced with fresh pieces after the accident, such as the tubular K-member and A-arms-which not only save weight, but also make room for that massive downpipe. HAL/QA1 adjustable coilovers up front and adjustable rear shocks with cut stock springs give the Camaro the ride height and weight transfer it needs.

With the factory glass, interior, and body panels still weighing down the Camaro, it tips the scales at around 3,300 pounds prior to adding ballast to meet class-racing regulations. However, powerful Strange drag brakes, Kirkey race seats, a manual steering rack, a gutted interior, and a VFN fiberglass hood keep that weight in all the right places. This is the one advantage the crew hopes will give them the edge over their iron-blocked brethren. Only time will tell, but we do expect big things from the Ohio Boys. Every year they seem to come back stronger and stronger-with every car going faster and faster.



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