It was 47 degrees and raining where Jamie was and 93 and sunny where we were in Florida. "I hope the weather will be better next week in Memphis," he laughed.
For Jamie Stanton, the world does not revolve around street-driven cars in the least. He likes, nay thrives on, the heady exhilaration that someone can only experience in the cacophony and the blitzkrieg performance of a real race car, regardless of rules or expectations. To him, it's a matter of planning, building, and pursuing an active existence and to him it is no less than proof of life. Like the majority of drag racers in the east have always entertained, Jamie drives a door-slammer.
Stanton owns and operates EJ Automotive & Collision in Durhamville, New York, where he thrives in a bedroom community and is hardly stuck in the sticks. About 20 miles to the west, college town Syracuse hums with culture and liquidity. This degree of affluence provides the inevitable collections of BMWs and other high-end, rear-wheel-drive rides, completing a scenario that collision specialists surely appreciate: slippery roads, tail-happy cars, and lots of straightening work resultant is a sure-fire bet in the upstate New York winter.
Long, gray months of relative inactivity lead to fits of imagination but also avail the time to plan, time to work things through. Since we know that daily driving in such environs can swiftly become full-time scare tactics, Stanton's mind is always in the near future, sweetly tangled with thoughts of the severe, skin-tingling rush that a very fast car provides. He has fond remembrance of his '71 SS 454 Chevelle and of the squad of Camaros he's dallied with, some of them race cars. Then he chose a discipline and has followed it ever since, putting his effort and his time into drag race cars as sanctioned by the NMCA.
He dutifully climbed the ladder, gaining confidence and safely progressing to faster, quicker cars. "This is our fourth race car, actually. Back in the day we ran Real Street, switched to Pro Stock in 2003, then moved up to Xtreme Street this year, the first time we've run in a power-adder class." The "we" is Jamie and his confidant, fabricator, and fellow racer, Jake Holdrege. The Camaro was built by Pentagon Race Fab, an arm of Jake's core automotive rehab business (jakesrepair.com) in nearby Warners. Prior to this '02 Camaro, the two raced another '02 Camaro and a Chevelle in the NMCA.
Xtreme Street rules stipulate that the car remain "streetable" in that a tubular chassis is forbidden. The XS overview does allow aftermarket or fabbed pieces as well as a modified rear suspension system-a Jake-built four-link in this case-but the floorpan must remain as it came from the assembly line and all the bars must be within the stock "framerails." Further, the car is bound and must retain its factory interior layout, including both front seats and the dashboard. The rollcage in Jamie's Camaro has a 25.5 certification and the body is all steel, except for the hood. Regulations stipulate slicks that are designated at 10.5-inches, although the roll-out number is actually a bit wider.
Xtreme rules accommodate a power adder, so the team chose nitrous oxide rather than supercharged air to urge their 525ci bullet. "Since we're restricted to a 0.044 nitrous jet, rather than waste time and step up each time out, we just threw in the biggest nitrous pill we were allowed and started tuning from there," commented driver Jamie.
And then there are the expectations people normally associate with former champions. "The power isn't the problem in the equation. People expect us to go fast right away. But the truth is we ran well within a few runs, but we are still learning the car and learning the nitrous," he advised.
At the time of this interview, a week prior to the NMCA October shootout in Memphis, Jamie and Jake had clocked a brilliant 7.97 at 176 mph in testing and an 8.02 at 175.65 mph in NMCA competition.