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This Killer 2015 Camaro Z/28 is all Business on the Track

Wingin’ It! Russ Taylor’s NASA Z/28 eats fiber, loses weight

Ro McGonegal Mar 21, 2017
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Removing weight from the mass is like adding power to the engine. View it as an agent of change. Russ Taylor runs the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) Time Trial competition in group TT2. Specifically, this is a power-to-weight ratio class and the emphasis is on stock configuration. Engine modifications are forbidden. Aftermarket parts are nearly non-existent. By rules, save for a couple of minor chassis tweaks and four DOT race tires, Taylor’s thing is mechanically unchanged—at least for the meanwhile.

So where does the intrepid racer find an advantage? “We focus on weight reduction as the Gen-5 Z/28 is a heavy car,” Russ opined. A week after taking delivery, he put the black bullet in the lap of Phil Mandella Racing (PMR), well-known at the very least for muscle car-era Mopar re-creations. It was PMR’s task to literally clean house. They vaporized the interior, including the heater core, door crash beams, airbags, headliner, and all other non-essential OE underhood components such as the A/C drier and HVAC components. They sawed out the spare tire well, too.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro Front Side 2/65
2015 Chevrolet Camaro Engine 3/65
2015 Chevrolet Camaro Rear 4/65

Finally, Mandella’s crew sized up the chromoly 1.75-inch six-point rollcage and accommodated the mandatory fire suppression unit. Pushing it further, Russ specified a tiny but mighty lithium-ion battery (7 pounds versus 45 pounds for the conventional cell).

Step two got the Camaro more fiber than a bushel of broccoli. It arrived at HG Motorsports to complete the weight loss program. “Working with Anderson Composites, we installed carbon-fiber fenders and doors and a dry carbon-fiber hood, decklid and did a full roof replacement. They took out the glass and dropped in Lexan quarter-windows, windshield, and backlight.” When the smoke had dissipated and the sweat had dried, the Z/28 was 317 pounds lighter (3,503 pounds total). HG took it one step further and built a subframe to support the APR Performance adjustable full-carbon wing and attached it at the chassis.

Part three of the story is where Russ fits into all this. He’s nothing if not an entrepreneur. His company is called Fusion of Ideas, which helped with all the solutions on the Z/28 by integrating an iPad and iPod Touch into the car for race data as well as video, utilizing custom Apple iOS applications to capture key data to analyze overall performance. In addition, the iOS devices are utilized in the pits to capture tire temps and other key data and to log lap times and maintenance needs for the car all from an iPad utilizing a proprietary application developed by Fusion. The iOS devices are wirelessly connected to a GPS amplifier to enhance the on-track location for reading data and information. As you might expect, it goes a lot further than this: Fusion integrates iPads and mobile devices all over the country.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro Interior 5/65
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2015 Chevrolet Camaro Interior 7/65

Don’t get the idea that Russ just fell into all this. His dad had gotten him to love racing and car shows, Hot Wheels, remote-control stuff, and lots more in between. “He had two Camaros when I was growing up and even let me cruise around in his ’94 now and then when I was in high school,” said Russ. “I swayed a bit and had a Mitsubishi EVO X that I was taking to the track once in awhile. I fell back into his good graces when I got a C7 Corvette and then the Z/28.”

In November 2015, he found the Camaro at a local dealer; it was a Black Friday deal and featured a fat 20 percent discount. “With the Z/28, I was very specific in that I wanted to use it for racing NASA in the ST-2 class. With that in mind, I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do with it for the build process.”

2015 Chevrolet Camaro Headlights 8/65
2015 Chevrolet Camaro Side View 9/65
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One of the best attributes of a new car is that its skin is clear and its paint unblemished. The GBA Black on Russ Taylor’s Z/28 was the perfect background for the Fusion of Ideas graphics along with the usual aftermarket acknowledgements. Russ began racing it in 2016 after a scant two-month build process. He completed the season, taking Third place at the Western Nationals. In 2017, he plans on transitioning from Time Trial competition straight into the NASA hard-core full race class.

That power-to-weight mandate required a dynamometer session to verify output at the beginning of the season, although there are sometimes spot checks during an event. Even though the car is street-legal and licensed, it isn’t a NASA requirement. On occasion for a reality check, Russ takes her out and paints stripes on public tarmac. And the only application he needs for that is a heavy right foot.

Tech Check
Owner: Russ Taylor, Ladera Ranch, California
Vehicle: 2015 Camaro Z/28
Engine
Type: LS7
Displacement: 427 ci
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Bore: 4.125 inches
Stroke: 4.000 inches
Cylinder Heads: OE CNC-ported ports, 70cc combustion chambers, 2.20/1.61-inch valves
Rotating Assembly: Forged steel crankshaft, forged titanium rods, hypereutectic pistons
Valvetrain: OE 1.8:1 roller trunnion rocker arms (offset on exhaust side)
Camshaft: OE hydraulic roller; 0.591/0.591-inch lift; 211/230-deg. duration at 0.050-inch lift
Induction: OE composite intake manifold, 19-gallon fuel tank
Ignition: OE coil-near-plug
Exhaust: OE
Ancillaries: Dry-sump oiling, fire suppression system, 7-pound Voltphreak 900h Lithium-ion battery, Longacre 17-inch mirror, custom console, chrome-moly six-point rollbar
Machine Work/Assembly: GM
Output: 505 hp at 6,300 rpm, 481 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm
Drivetrain
Transmission: TREMEC TR-6060 (2.66:1, 1.78, 1.30, 1.00. 0.80, 0.63 gear ratios), OE flywheel and clutch assembly
Rear Axle: OE traction control, 3.91:1 gears
Chassis
Front Suspension: Double-ball joint, multilink strut, direct acting 25mm antisway bar, progressive-rate coil springs, inverted monotube dampers, BMR toe rods
Rear Suspension: 4.5-link independent, progressive-rate coilover springs, monotube dampers, BMR trailing arms, 26mm antisway bar
Brakes: Racing Brakes carbon ceramic matrix 15.5-inch two-piece rotors, six-piston Monoblock calipers front; 15.3-inch two-piece rotors, four-piston calipers rear; sintered metallic pads; ABS
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: OE aluminum 19x11.5 front and rear
Tires: Toyo Proxes R888 305/30 front and rear
Interior
Upholstery: Schroth
Material: Thin cloth
Seats: Sparco Evo III, Schroth six-point harness
Steering: OE, 16.1:1 ratio, OMP Superquadro 330mm wheel, NRG quick-release hub
Shifter: TWM Performance
Dash: OE
Instrumentation: OE/RacePak IQ3 w/ GPS lap timer
Audio: N/A
HVAC: N/A
Exterior
Bodywork: HG Motorsports (San Diego, CA); Anderson Composites dry carbon-fiber trunk lid, front fenders, complete roof replacement, and doors; APR Performance adjustable deck wing; OpticArmor Lexan windows
Paint By: GM, graphics by fusionofideas.com
Paint: Black
Hood: Anderson Composites dry carbon fiber
Grille: Anderson Composites carbon fiber
Bumpers: OE

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