Whether you follow LTX racing or not, the name Tony Shepherd probably rings a bell. Known as one of the key players in the LTX world, and one of the few truly dedicated all out race car builders and drivers left in the LTX scene, Tony is a man of dominating presence in and around the pits of any track you happen to find him at. With his success on the track, as well as his success helping to orchestrate the LTX Shootout, it might come as a surprise to find that we have never actually featured Tony’s car before, although frequent readers of GMHTP will certainly recognize this car from various articles over the years. So, why did we wait so long? Well, Tony has finally claimed the title of the world’s quickest nitrous powered LT1 and, as you can imagine, that is something worth talking about.
Of course, Tony’s trip to the top of the LTX nitrous game hasn’t been easy or even remotely fast, but it’s actually the struggle that Tony values the most. "From daily driving duties with weekend warrior goals to big time goals such as breaking records, doing the impossible and pushing this type of engine to the breaking, history has been made. The blood, sweat, and tears from this car over the years are worth it in my eyes." Yes, Tony’s beloved ’93 actually started as a brand-new Camaro, which he bought from a dealer in Waco, Texas. As you would expect, everything was peachy at first and the stock LT1 served Tony well for a while, but eventually the modifications just had to happen. The feeling of improvement from each mod set the sickness deep in my blood. The seat of the pants’ feel from the addition of headers to the push of the nitrous button kept me itching for more. We’re not going to get into the intricate details of how Tony’s car got to where it is, since we’re guessing you’re much more interested in what makes this record breaking monster tick.
Under the hood, the Camaro’s engine bay looks nothing like it once did, although nestled between the shock towers lies the all important LT1 block, which has been massaged to make incredible power while staying reliable. Claiming the world’s quickest nitrous-powered LT1 was not an easy task. Finding the right combo was very important. Everything starts in the block, which has been machined by Mike Barnard of Performance Automotive Machine in Axtell, Texas, to accept splayed four-bolt main caps and larger 4.030-inch custom JE pistons. Of course, block modifications don’t stop there, as Mike also half-filled the block to increase its strength, and completed the rotating assembly with a 3.875-inch Cola crankshaft and a set of 5.850-inch Lunati rods. For those of you not calculating at home, that brings the final count to 396 cubic inches, which is about as large as you can comfortably go on a stock LT1 block and push it this hard.
Up top, almost nothing LT1 remains, as Tony runs a set of slick AFR 235cc heads, which were CNC-ported by Tony Mamo and converted to reverse cooling by Charles Bourassa. These heads are responsible for most of the power Tony puts down, with 340 cfm of flow helping produce 538 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque to the rear tires. A Super Vic EFI intake manifold brings the air into the chambers and breathes from an Accufab 4500 throttle body and Tony’s innovative cold-air intake system. Of course, we can’t talk about this motor without talking about the real star of the show--the Nitrous Outlet two-stage direct-port nitrous system, complete with enough solenoids, nozzles, and jets to make well over 930 rwhp, although Tony has yet to turn the second stage on. "Unfortunately, my pockets are not deep, so I rely on experience, knowledge, and desire. I learned the hard way of what spark plugs are needed for a big shot of nitrous. Melting a few pistons here and there, blown head gaskets and nitrous backfires taught me to take things slower and learn how to read plugs, listen to the engine, and watch time slips closely." Of course, having a guy like "Nitro" Dave Vasser helping out doesn’t hurt, and his handbuilt direct-port nitrous system is one of the main reasons Tony’s car runs as well as it does. With a set of .033 jets in the first stage, Tony has already taken the Nitrous record and, sickeningly, he still has another 100-plus hp of spray left on tap.
On the track, traction is definitely not an issue, although keeping the front end close to the ground certainly is. The drivetrain and suspension are pretty standard fair for a car of this caliber, with a Goebel-built Powerglide backing the motor and a 4.10:1 equipped Moser 9-inch out back, turning a pair of 29.5x10.5-inch Mickey Thompson tires. Suspension is a mix of quality parts from Madman, BMR, and PA Racing, although Tony’s most useful part may be a set of Madman’s SYA (Save your . . . well, you can figure it out) bars, which Tony managed to rely on several times during our time at the track together. If you’re wondering--they work as advertised, although the Camaro’s windshield may beg to differ. We have worked hard to get the car to hook and go straight. Now we have the issue of keeping the nose down, but we already have plans in action to fix that issue.
So, where does someone like Tony go from here? In short--faster. "Many people have given up on the LT1 platform that I so dearly love. But the LT1 community is now growing once again and the heavy hitters are still in the game. I am looking to go faster, pushing harder and having the time of my life with my LTX community and friends. I don’t see an end yet. I see more I can do to the car to make improvements and keep getting faster. It’s not fun to stay idle." Judging by Tony’s past success, we can only imagine how fast he will go in the upcoming years, and we invite you to stay tuned and see what he can do. After all, it’s just an old LT1... right?
Car: 1993 Camaro Z28
Owner: Tony Shepherd
Block: LT1, 396 cid
Compression ratio: 11.8:1
Heads: AFR 235cc, 2.125 intake, 1.600 exhaust valves
Cam: Custom solid roller, 258/268 duration at .050, .695/.697-inch lift, 114 LSA
Rocker arms: Jesel shaft mount 1.6 roller rocker
Pistons: JE, forged
Rings: Total Seal
Crankshaft: Cola, forged
Rods: Lunati, forged
Throttle body: Accufab 4500
Fuel injectors: 50 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Aeromotive A1000
Ignition: MSD 7AL-3, MSD HVC, Accel Billetech distributor, NGK plugs
Engine management: FAST XFI, tuned by Moe Bailey and Tony Shepherd
Power Adder: Nitrous Outlet nitrous system, 350-hp
Exhaust system: Hedman 134 to 178-inch long-tube headers, 3.5-inch collector
Transmission: Powerglide, built by Goebel Transmission
Torque Converter: Goebel Billet 3200-stall
Driveshaft: Custom 3-inch, chromoly
Front suspension: QA1 coilovers, removed front swaybar, BMR upper and lower control arms, PA Racing tubular K-member, Madman SYA bars, travel limiters
Rear suspension: QA1 shocks, stock springs, Madman adjustable lower control arms, BMR subframe connectors, adjustable torque arm, Madman Panhard, Wolfe Racing drag bar
Rear end: Moser 9-inch, 4.10 gear, 33-spline axles, Tru-Trac locker
Brakes: Aerospace front, stock rear
Wheels: Weld Pro Star 15x5.5 front, 15x10 rear
Front tires: Moroso DS2 26x5.5
Rear tires: Mickey Thompson ET Drag 29.5x10.5
Fuel Octane: 117
Best ET/mph: 8.68/153.51
Best 60-ft. time: 1.28
HP/TQ: 824/854 (300 shot, 1 stage)
Current mileage: 52,102