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Al Unser, Jr. hits the track in the Speedway Motors Camaro

Testing, Testing, Testing: Speedway Motors designed and tested their G-Comp Unser Edition suspension on this ’70 Camaro

Jason Reiss Jun 26, 2017
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SUCP Muscle Car Challenge 2/16

The second-generation Chevrolet Camaro—despite being out of production for nearly four decades—still enjoys a massive following among enthusiasts, especially those at Speedway Motors, who have developed their G-Comp front and rear suspension systems for the chassis.

The G-Comp chassis wasn’t just sketched up on an engineering blackboard in the back of a dusty shop, though. It has been developed in conjunction with the driving talent and feedback provided by none other than two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and legendary race car driver Al Unser, Jr. and his cousin, fellow racer Robby Unser.

“Little Al” is the son of Al Unser Sr. and the nephew of Bobby Unser—both also multi-time Indy 500 winners—so it’s safe to say he is part of the most successful racing family to ever hit the famed Brickyard, with nine Indy titles between the three drivers. Robby (Bobby’s son) started the 500 twice, with a best finish of fifth in 1998, but his real claim to fame is the nine wins at the treacherous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

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Unser, Jr. also has extensive experience with the third-gen Camaro thanks to two IROC championships won in the mid-’80s in that racing series. Obviously, the Unser boys are part of an exclusive club of extremely successful racing drivers—and they’ve lent their experience to the design team at Speedway Motors to help develop the G-Comp Unser Edition suspension systems for the second-gen Camaro platform.

Today, Unser, Jr. gets behind the wheel of this Speedway Motors Camaro in Goodguys Autocross, SCCA events, and other road-course action. “We test and qualify the Speedway Motors line of high-performance suspension upgrades in actual performance driving,” says Speedway’s Damon Lee.

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The Camaro was built over the course of six months with the specific goal in mind of showcasing the G-Comp Unser Edition suspension system. When the Camaro first arrived at Speedway it had a 350 engine and Turbo 350 transmission combination, and immediately went under the knife to prepare it for the harsh duties it would be tasked with performing at Unser, Jr.’s direction.

Today, it uses a 427 cubic-inch RHS-blocked LS7 wearing RHS aluminum heads, assembled by Speedway Racing Engines. A FAST XFI controls engine management, while the transmission is a TREMEC TKO 600 built by Dederichs Motorsports—modified to include a dog-style sequential-shift setup from Pfitzner to make gear changes simple and seamless. There is a Quarter Master triple-disc clutch on board. “The car was given new sheetmetal and a fiberglass front clip,” says Lee. “A full rollcage was fabricated to provide a solid platform for the G-Comp suspension package.”

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But it’s the suspension that makes this car truly a star. The G-Comp Unser Edition front suspension package is elegant in its simplicity. The bolt-in independent front suspension design is built around a set of Speedway’s G-Comp 2-inch drop spindles, which were engineered to provide a lower ride height, improved negative camber gain, and positive caster gain. The forged steel spindles use the OEM bolt-on steering arms and work with many brake kits.

By developing the front suspension as a complete system, the Speedway Motors engineers were able to build in the ability to run wider wheels and tires while retaining the turning angle and reducing the scrub radius. These elements permit the chassis to provide tight cornering with virtually no downside.

It includes a billet aluminum chassis brace, an adjustable upper shock mount, and upper control arms with an extra three degrees of caster for super high-speed tracking. The kit even comes with a beefy 1 1/4-inch OD hollow sway bar to keep the car tracking flat in the corners.

The G-Comp Unser Edition rear suspension system, while it is not a bolt-in proposition like the front kit, is designed to provide the ultimate in handling and on-track control. The trunk floor must be altered and welding is required. So if you’re not the fabricating type, it may be best to find a qualified installer. In the same vein, the company recommends that the G-Comp kits be used in conjunction with a rollbar or ’cage to ensure the chassis can withstand the greatly increased suspension grip.

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The rear suspension design incorporates a Watt’s link to control the lateral movement of the 9-inch Ford floater rearend housing. In addition to the reduction in lateral movement, the Watt’s link also keeps the load distributed evenly side-to-side, which provides consistency no matter which way the car is pointed on the course. There are four positions for the Watt’s link mounts to provide adjustability of the roll center to maximize performance.

A solid torsion-style sway bar is used in the rear to control body roll, and there’s a large range of ride height adjustment, allowing the driver to dial in the car to the requirements of the track.

In fact, the G-Comp Unser Edition suspension kits work so well that Speedway Motors recommends a low oil pressure light at the very least, and potentially a dry-sump oiling system, to ensure the engine does not starve for oil. With the G-Comp systems installed and the right set of sticky tires on an ideal track, the g-forces that can be generated are quite high.

One thing is clear—the Unser boys have pulled out their whole bag of tricks to assist the Speedway Motors team in the development of their namesake suspension system. The G-Comp suspension is aggressive enough on the track that Speedway Motors recommends a professional driving class for owners of vehicles that put more than 500 horsepower to the pavement.

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What Makes It Handle
Drivetrain:
RHS race block 427-inch LS7 built by Speedway Racing Engines. Modified TREMEC TKO 600 five-speed with Quarter Master triple-disc clutch. Ford 9-inch with limited-slip differential and 3.70 gears.
Suspension Package:
Factory subframe with Speedway Motors G-Comp systems
Front Suspension:
G-Comp Unser Edition kit, 2-inch-drop forged-steel spindles with improved geometry. AFCO Racing four-way adjustable shocks, 1.25-inch hollow Speedway sway bar.
Brakes:
AFCO Racing calipers with 14-inch rotors on all four corners.
Rear Suspension:
G-Comp Unser Edition weld-in system, adjustable Watt’s link design with solid torsion-style 7/8-inch sway bar, AFCO Racing four-way adjustable shocks.
Tires:
Falken Azenis RT615K; 315/30/18 front and rear.
Wheels:
Weld Racing RT-S 18x10.5 front and rear.
Cost:
Suspension package: $7,992, not including brakes

How’d It Stack Up?
Slalom Average Speed 100-Yard Dash Road Course Lap Time
Speedway Motors 1970 Camaro Unser Edition 48.1 mph 5.28 seconds 01:14.4
2010 Camaro SS 42.1 mph 5.76 seconds 01:25.9
The Speedway Motors Camaro held its own in the testing portion of the event, stacking up at the top section of the food chain when all was said and done. Unser, Jr. drove the car to 48.1 mph through the 420-foot slalom course, besting the benchmark 2010 Camaro SS by exactly 6 mph—a substantial amount. In the 100-yard dash, the Speedway machine covered the distance nearly half a second quicker than the 2010, and on the road course, Unser finished well ahead of the baseline Camaro. With the driving and tuning expertise provided by the Unser team, the Speedway Motors development staff were able to put together front and rear suspension systems that perform exactly as advertised—they pin the driver in the seat, achieve massive g-forces, and help propel this Camaro to top-of-chart track times.

Photography by Robert McGaffin

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