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.
Rims, Rubber & Brakes
Xtreme Street is one of those classes that promotes wider-than-normal rims (10 inches is the manufacturer's recommended maximum for the tires on the Camaro) that bulge the sidewall of the tire to maintain maximum contact patch, in this case 12-inch Weld Magnum 2.0 for the 30x10.5 slicks. Running point are the matching Magnums encased in DS-2 Moroso 20x4.5 skinnies. Strange four-piston race discs shadow all four corners of the Camaro.
Since Jamie has a business to run, he doesn't have the time to build his engines, but Tony Bischoff's BES Racing Engines is a mainstay in NMCA racing and has provided polarizing 10-wide bullets for many moons. BES builds lots of 525ci big-blocks, the maximum displacement allowed with a nitrous power adder and a race weight of 3,575 pounds. It bases the noise-maker on an iron Dart block which it amends with a Sonny Bryant stroker crank, GRP aluminum connecting rods, and Ross pistons. The dome configuration and the combustion chambers in the BES CNC-ported Edelbrock 24.5-degree Victor heads yield a compression ratio of 12:1. BES secured the bottom of the engine with a Moroso 7-quart sump. A Jesel timing belt provides the connection for the custom-grind 0.890/0.900-inch lift Comp cam that bumps Jesel 1.7 and 1.8:1 intake and exhaust rockers. Smith pushrods activate 2.30- and 1.90-inch intake/exhaust valves. The induction system begins at the MagnaFlow 500 fuel pump, thence to the 1,150-cfm Holley HP and Edelbrock 2927 Super Victor intake casting hosting a Wilson Nitrous Pro Flow single-stage fogger. MSD faithfully re-creates the coming of the sun. Partner Jake wrapped up the stainless steel 2.5-inch primary pipes and merged them with a 5-inch collector. The result is around 1,000 hp on the motor and 1,500-1,600 hp with the persuader at work. Managing this largesse falls to the two-speed automatic that Don Stanley prepped at TSI Racing Transmissions in Addison, Illinois. A custom chromoly propshaft connects it to the sheetmetal 9-inch housing that Jamie and Jake built. Ultimately, 4.10:1 gears turn a Strange spool and gun-drilled Moser 40-spline axles.
Jamie calls the application an "ice cream paintjob" and applied the House of Kolors gold and the accents in his own lair in Durhamville. Save for the long, lithe, sweeping 4.5-inch VFN fiberglass cowl hood, all the panels are metal. Jamie christened the tail end with a handmade downforce panel that smoothes out airflow.
The Pentagon Race Fab 25.5-cert rollcage offers protection as well as torsional stiffness and overall structural stability, the crux of all vehicle dynamics. A tubular chassis is prohibited but suspension choice is up to the builder. Jamie and Jake installed a Flaming River rack-and-pinion setup and went adjustable with Strange spindles and struts and included Hypercoil springs. In the back, they built a time-honored four-link supported by Strange coilovers with 130 lb/in springs. Jake topped off the mechanicals with drag race-oriented antisway bar.
Stock décor abounds here, as per rules, but as applied to Kirkey seats. Jake wired the carcass for the essentials, including Auto Meter instruments, and added a Grant Pro Stock steering wheel. A B&M shifter awaits. A G-Force safety harness keeps the driver in place and is secured from the 'cage that Jake built.