In Nebraska’s billions of acres, in a lush, genuflecting sea of green, there’s a purple soldier, and even more than that. The purple soldier has flames crawling up its fenders and dancing down its flanks. Is it a car … or a car caricature? We’ll soon see.
Bill Schneider is the manager of Team Speedway in Lincoln. He’s been around awhile. He knows the lay of the land like the back of his hand. “We built [the Camaro] to compete at autocross events nationwide to raise awareness of Speedway’s muscle car suspension. We were looking for a first-gen to showcase the G-Comp suspension packages.”
They didn’t have to look far. A Speedway employee already owned one. “We wanted an independent rear suspension and to create a much lower and wider stance than stock,” said Bill. “We focused on the Hot Wheels aesthetic and included a radical old/new school engine package.” He says that among other things, the most vexing part of the project was providing clearance for the humorously huge tires and packaging the exhaust system complete.
None of which happened easily. There were areas of contention.
Bill: “The front subframe is based around stock location pickup points on the unibody car. Basically, this ultra-low suspension setup can bolt to a stock first-gen. The subframe is designed around the 355/30/19 tires on the front. We have a narrowed Speedway prototype Unser-style subframe designed to accommodate the width of the tire as well as the necessary turn radius, specifically for tight autocross courses.
At the rear, they played on the 2011 Camaro rear suspension that Bill picked from a recycler for $1,200 and installed coilover dampers horizontally rather than conventional vertical struts. The reason being, such an arrangement lends itself to quick adjustment of the springs, shock travel, shock damping adjustments, as well as a triangular suspension rocker that can adjust the spring rate or ride height, depending where the pivot points are located.
For the rear mechanicals, Speedway upgraded the control arms with BMR components. Then they went big time and replaced the GM centersection with a 9-inch Ford conversion from GForce Performance Engineering. Bill: “It had to have a low roll center and CG to be competitive, and that drove the height. We wanted to utilize the 355/30 Kuhmos and IRS in this build, so those factors basically drove the width of the car and the widebody look with the fender flares [straight out of Speedway’s fiberglass facilities].” The Camaro is Speedway Purple Metallic and augmented by wrapped flames. Bill: “The graphics design was a variation of a Hot Wheels toy car look, which was the overall theme in general.”
The drive gear is space-shot out of the ordinary. Bill and crew didn’t cotton to a simple LS conversion, oh no. They wouldn’t be following lemming droppings. Through the ’vine, they acquired an aluminum block that had no serial or casting numbers, a “sample” small-block cylinder case that was probably built for the nebulous “engineering department feasibility study” as well as becoming the motive force for a Pikes Peak climber. Now, it’s bore and stroke dimensions yield a fat 440 cubic inches. It’s fitted with CNC-ported Chevrolet Performance 18-degree castings (2.180/1.625 valves, revised spark plug location, revised intake and exhaust port location) and features a snappy, throttle-happy 15:1 compression ratio.
The rotating assembly is a forged-out toughie: Callies arm, Carrillo 6.125-inch long connecting rods, and JE pistons. A solid roller cam features 0.700-inch lift and a bunch of duration. That upstanding, open-air induction is a combination of vintage Kinsler fuel injection that’s been modified and adapted to include contemporary injectors that are driven by a FAST engine management system. It’s basically a hybrid of a Sprint car with its motor plate, front accessory drive, and dry-sump oiling.
Since the car competes primarily at autocross contests and on short tracks, Speedway had the six-speed converted to a sequential-like “dogbox” in order to shift the transmission without the clutch. You notch the lever into Low and use the friction to get the car moving. Then, in the 2-4 gear spread at least, you are able to change up without dipping the third pedal at all. The “secret” is momentarily reducing throttle angle or calibrating the engine controller to lessen the spark and momentarily reduce engine rpm. Since the Speedway Camaro is not a drag car that must get through the gears in the quickest possible manner, this slight interruption is not an issue.
It all transpires within a cozy cockpit sprouting Sparco Grid II seats from the refurbished floor; a TIG-welded, tight-fitting rollcage; the TREMEC shifter for the dogbox, and the Sparco steering wheel. A collection of Longacre gauges fills the fiberglass dash insert. Sparco harnesses are included.
So how’s this thing do? When we got this information in March 2017, the car was not yet experienced. It was introduced at the 2016 PRI show to positive reviews. Bill: “Race season will tell us what we should have done differently. You can always use more suspension travel,” he said with a wink.
|Owner||Speedway Motors, Lincoln, Nebraska|
|Type||GM Engineering “sample” aluminum cylinder block|
|Cylinder Heads||Chevrolet Performance CNC-ported 18-degree aluminum, 215cc as-cast intake ports, 2.180/1.625 valves, 68cc combustion chambers|
|Rotating Assembly||Callies crankshaft, Carrillo H-beam rods, JE pistons, Clevite bearings, Total Seal ring packs|
|Valvetrain||Jesel shaft system 1.7:1/1.6:1 ratio, Del West retainers, Manley Severe Duty valves, 0.375-inch pushrods|
|Camshaft||Iskenderian solid roller (0.700-inch lift; 260/290-degree duration at 0.050 inch)|
|Induction||Vintage Kinsler/FAST fuel injection, custom 15-gallon fuel cell|
|Exhaust||Custom mild steel w/ 2.0-inch primaries, 3.0-inch mild steel system, Hi-Flow Speedway mufflers|
|Ancillaries||Custom motor plate incorporating accessory drive, custom dry-sump oiling system, Powermaster alternator, AFCO radiator, chrome-moly six-point rollcage (by Eagle Motorsports, Lincoln, NE)|
|Output (at the crank)||750 hp at 7,800 rpm|
|Machine Work||Speedway Racing Engines|
|Transmission||TREMEC T-56 (w/ dogbox conversion; assembled by Dederichs Motorsport, Ft. Worth, TX), McLeod flywheel and clutch assembly|
|Rear Axle||Modified ’11 Camaro, GForce 9-inch centersection, 4.11:1 gears, Eaton Truetrac differential, GForce halfshafts, 3.5-inch chrome-moly prop shaft w/ 1350 joints|
|Front Suspension||Speedway G-Comp subframe, 2-inch drop spindles, tubular control arms, antisway bar, AFCO four-way adjustable coilover shock absorbers, Speedway frame connectors|
|Rear Suspension||AFCO four-way adjustable coilover shock absorbers, BMR control arms, Speedway antisway bar|
|Brakes||AFCO 14-inch discs, six-piston calipers, front; four-piston calipers, rear|
|Wheels & Tires|
|Wheels||Weld/CCW T10 Monoblock forged, 19x13 front & rear|
|Tires||Kumho Ecsta V720 ACR, 355/30 front & rear|
|Seats||Sparco Grid II, Sparco harnesses|
|Steering||Speedway race column, Sparco wheel|
|Bodywork||Custom Classic Bodyworks (Nebraska City, NE); Speedway front/rear flares, floor section and rollcage; one-piece Glasstek fiberglass front end|
|Paint By||JW Steinman at Custom Classic Bodyworks; graphics/design Jeff Allison at Revolution Wraps (Lincoln, NE)|
|Paint||Speedway Purple Metallic|
|Bumpers||Fiberglass front; OE rear|
Photos by Jason Lubken