Car Feature 2000 Camaro SS
"It took everything I had to not punch him in the face. We took the car, the pieces of the motor, and all the spare parts, loaded them in the trailer and left. That was over two years ago, it has been a long road." Like any great adventure, Bobby Lashley's quest for an 8-second, all-motor race car is filled with heartache and joy, defeat and eventually, victory. To fully understand just how far this car has come, we need to start at the beginning, when this 2000 Camaro was a bone stock daily driver, driven by Bobby's son Morgan Lashley.
Bought as a brand-new Navy Blue Metallic, six-speed car, it wasn't long before the modifications began. As is almost inevitable, Morgan first installed a budget-friendly heads/cam combination and, accidentally, re-kindled his father's addiction to drag racing. After a spun rod bearing mishap, the father-and-son team commissioned Allan Futral, of Futral Motorsports, to help build an all-bore 396. With the new motor, the two found themselves at the track running mid 10s and having a blast. With the safety of his son in mind, Bobby installed a rollcage, which really ended Morgan's chances of taking the car out on dates. "Morgan could no longer drive it on the street, so I traded him my '03 Z06, so that I could finish what I started." And of course that meant trading the 396 for a C5R-where the real adventure began.
"I had always wanted to build one of the fastest LSx-based cars that I could. Being N/A also posed a great challenge. It is easy to go fast with nitrous or a turbo, it takes time to do it N/A, but what a thrill!" As time would tell, making an 8-second pass in an all-motor C5R proved to be much harder than expected. "The first builder really didn't know enough about the C5R engine and it cost me a lot of time and money." According to Bobby, the first engine barely even ran before melting an entire set of pistons on the dyno. Determined to see the project to completion, Bobby picked up the mess and started over. The second engine did, in fact, make it off the dyno and to the dragstrip, where it made a dismal and depressing couple of passes. It was two weeks later, on the dyno, where it finally put a rod through the oil pan, taking all of the pistons and the block with it. This is where most people would call it quits. For Bobby, it just meant he had to work harder.
With the car and broken parts loaded in the trailer, Bobby drove to Woodstock, GA, to have the crew at Pro Line Race Engines assemble a motor wild enough to finally get him into the 8-second zone. Starting with a brand-new C5R block, Pro Line selected a standard 4.000-inch Callies crankshaft to handle the severe punishment in the bottom end. In charge of keeping the rotating assembly from exiting the block (for a third time) Pro Line installed a set of billet aluminum Bill Miller connecting rods, which ride on a set of ACL bearings. The billet rods connect to a set of custom-built Diamond pistons, which are wrapped in Total Seal rings. These pistons, along with the ported C5R cylinder heads, gave Pro Line a final compression ratio of 15:1, perfect for their goals.
In order to maximize horsepower production, Meaux Racing Heads, of Abbeville, LA, took the stock C5R heads and installed a set of 2.250-inch Ferrea intake valves and a set of 1.600-inch Ferrea exhaust valves. These valves are closed by a set of Manley Nextek springs, which have an open seat pressure of 360 pounds. Commanding these valves are a set of 1.85:1 Jesel shaft-mount roller rockers that are driven by a top-secret custom solid roller camshaft. Above the heads, Bobby had Beck Mechanical build a custom sheetmetal intake manifold, with a massive 5-inch plenum and room for more than enough air. This manifold feeds off an equally impressive Accufab 105mm single blade throttle body, which is the only item between the atmosphere and the intake manifold. Sitting just above the cylinder heads are a set of 60-pound injectors, stuffed in a pair of Aeromotive fuel rails. Overseeing the delivery of the VP race gas is an Aeromotive fuel pump and EFI fuel pressure regulator. After his "issues" with the first couple of motors, Bobby knew that tuning would be extremely important and luckily for him, Pro Line Race Engines has one of the best on staff. Steve Petty is in charge of the Big Stuff 3 installed in the car, which handles both fueling and spark delivery.
With the motor assembled, Bobby took the car back to Vengeance Racing, who was commissioned to install the entire drivetrain, wiring, and miscellaneous parts needed to make some track passes. Aft of the crankshaft, Vengeance installed a TCI-built Turbo 400, which houses a lofty 6,400-stall converter, transbrake, and manual valvebody. A custom 3-inch steel driveshaft transfers power to a set of 4.88 rear gears housed inside a Strange 12-bolt rearend. For keeping up with the brutal launches, Strange installed a full spool and hardened 33-spline axles. These axles are responsible for delivering power to the beautiful 15x12 Weld Racing Magnum wheels, which are wrapped in 31-inch tall Hoosier slicks. To fit such large 10.5-inch wide tires, Bobby had Joey Bell, of Bell Chassis Works, fabricate an entirely new four-link rear suspension to tie into the 25.2 cage. This four-link rear allows Bobby and team to make tiny changes to the suspension, which can make large differences in 60-foot times.
With the chassis and drivetrain in place, Vengeance Racing turned their attention to the exterior; to make sure it looked as good as it ran. The first step was to stretch the rear quarter-panels, to allow room for the massive tires to grow. While out back, Vengeance cut the rear bumper to allow room for the wheelie bars and mounted an NHRA-legal on/off switch. Inside, Vengeance Racing painted the 'cage, installed the gauges, and got all of the safety items up and running. Once completed, the team moved to the front, where they extended the VFN hood to the windshield and fit the new windshield. With all of the body modifications complete, Bobby had the car painted Dover White, a tribute to the Camaros of the late '60s.
With the exterior, chassis, and drivetrain complete, Bobby loaded the car into the trailer, gathered up the rest of the team, including tuner Steve Petty, and headed to the track. With butterflies in his stomach, they fired up the Camaro and headed into the water box. All 427 cubic-inches, cackling with 15:1 compression, rolled through the water and lit the tires up, getting them warm and ready for the launch. With the car staged, there was no turning back; it was finally time to see if all the hard work was worthwhile. Leaving off the transbrake, wheels high in the air, the Camaro went a 1.24 60-foot on its way to a blistering 8.96 at 150 miles per hour. Victory.