It's entirely possible that you're thinking the title of this article was meant as an insult, but that couldn't be further from the truth. You see, if you want to go racing and want to do it in style, you go vintage racing. And since GM is no longer producing first-gen Camaros, let alone a Penske or Sunoco edition, you're pretty much left to your own devices. Besides, even if you could afford to buy an original Trans-Am racer, you'd be downright bonkers to throw it around corners in hardcore wheel-to-wheel action for fear of wadding it up into a very expensive pile of rubber and metal.
Shannon Ivey knows the reality of these restraints and did the next best thing; he played the copier of cats and built a tribute car that took him on a 20-month journey from bare skeleton to hardcore track flogger.
Shannon explains how it all went down. "While racing my 911 at a local SCCA event at Brainerd International Raceway, I got into a battle with Tom Fuehrer. Afterwards we started talking about the coolness of vintage Trans-Am racing, and that's where it all started. As it turns out, I know a gentleman named Dave Roberts who had just built the '69 Cragar Camaro and was introducing it for the first time ever. He allowed me to document his build and talk with the builder who had access to the original Penske Camaro and had put those ideas into their Cragar car. This helped me with what needed to be done on my '67."
This information, coupled with a fact-finding mission back in 2010 to see, photograph, and video document actual vintage Camaros of the day, provided Shannon the information on how those guys got these big metal hulks down the track back then … in legal and not-so-legal means.
Now, the word "cheater" comes up a lot and we know exactly what you're thinking, "There's cheating in motorsports?" (Note: tongue firmly planted in cheek). Shannon possessed a lot of documentation on some of the fun tricks that the boys pulled back in the day. All of which were fully implemented in this '67. Shannon shared a few of them with us, but in true racer code we swore not to share. Let's just put it this way; you could literally be staring at a few of the tricks and not know exactly what had been done to make the car go faster. That's how good these guys are.
OK, you twisted our arm. We'll share one tidbit from Shannon to whet your appetite.
"The rules state that we can use any parts that came factory on the car for the 'era,'" explains Shannon. "Well, in 1967 they offered a metal inner door panel and we modified it to extend beyond the upper door and tied it to the outer skin. This not only made it look smoother, but it completely removes any need for windows or inner door parts while still using the original inner door skins."
Now, to be fair we were given a copy of the strict SVRA Group 6 rules in which Shannon's car is classified to run and they are quite tightfisted. So for those who are questioning why he didn't just throw an LSX under the hood and call it day, there's good reason for that. Engines must be under 302 ci and have a cast-iron block and Edelbrock RPM intake (PN 7101), and also use stock-appearing aftermarket iron heads.
Shannon went to Tesar Engineering and built himself a potent Mouse that could easily move mountains. He told us it makes 503 hp at 7,600 rpm and 393 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. We would have been completely content trusting his word, but after he let it slip that this engine easily revs well beyond 8,000 rpm, we're confident that sandbagging is a major part of the game.
Fortunately, the rules have been tweaked to help increase the longevity of engine parts, so the use of MSD boxes, roller internals, and a dry-sump system to help oiling on long runs are allowed.
Shannon chose a Richmond Super T-10 Plus Road Race tranny fitted with a long four-speed shifter with aluminum rods and rod ends to manage quick gear changes.
The wheels and tires are also closely monitored to a maximum size of 15x8.5, and they are required to run period-specific tires. Yup, you guessed it: bias-ply. Cragar SS wheels wrapped in Hoosier Street TD tires come in at 25.5x8.5 up front and 26.5x9.0 in the rear. The front brakes are regulated to 11.75-inch rotors and must run rear drums. They do get to run a brake booster if they so choose. Lucky them!
The interior is straight-up business through and through. Tom helped out with the 1 5⁄8-inch DOM tubing rollcage that ties the front, middle, and rear of the car together. Shannon's buddies over at Carriage House helped with the fire suppression system and plumbing of the fuel lines and stainless brake lines with bias adjuster within driver's reach.
The suspension is where all the major mayhem happens. Since the rules allow for a rearend upgrade, Shannon took advantage of a stout 9-inch job with 31-spline axles and a full floater with a Fay's Watt's linkage. Period-correct five-leaf springs reside out back. Per the SVRA rules, the front utilizes stock control arms, but use a taller GM spindle to raise the roll center of the wheel. QA1 double-adjustable shocks on all four corners use the stock locations.
Even though the '67s featured non-offset rear shock locations, Shannon chose to weld in staggered shock perches for improved stability, à la the later '68 and '69 Camaros.
So think about it. This is racing within the parameters of 1960's technology revving well past its logical limitations with no traction control or fancy computerized systems, no pit crew relaying up-to-the-nanosecond telemetry readings, and certainly no wind tunnel or suspension table giving the race teams the ideal setup. Nope, what you get is the pure feel of the road's every bump and nuance all while blasting deep into the corners on tires of vintage technology.
"Yeah, the back end of that Hawk Camaro rarely follows the front," we overheard Tom Fuehrer say when describing Shannon's driving prowess. It often takes this type of skill to throw these metal goliaths around the track, along with an equal set of "stones" to let it hang out this far.
It's simply amazing to see this level of attention given to a car that sees exclusive track use and has nary a blemish inside or out. Shannon's remarkable passion for this car is the best tribute any classic car can have bestowed upon it.
While shooting this car, the famous quote by our personal hero Steve McQueen kept racing through our heads. "Racing is life, everything before and after is just waiting."