In October 2015, Brian Wise crashed his racer to scrap—but he was able to walk away from it without wounds. He sorely wanted to get right back up on the horse … but didn’t want to build one from scratch out of his back pocket when what he really needed was a good roller, a proven car. Recycling someone else’s pile meant he’d spend less time in the shop and more time out racing. While this is sometimes a good way to go, you might end up unfixing all the crap the other guy did before beginning your project.
He knew right where to go. “This car was built, loved, and raced for 17 years by our good friends Jim and Monika Frendt,” said Brian with a smile. “Jim and I had been discussing what I might build and he tossed out the idea of selling me his pride and joy. After talking with my wife and my pal Troy Aves, we hooked up the trailer and made the 600-mile trek to Jim’s.” During that interlude, Brian formed the rough draft in his head of how to exploit the 1982 Camaro.
On the leg through Kansas, they stopped in Topeka to see another of Brian’s cohorts, fabricator and chassis builder Tim Webb. After hours of sticking their heads together, the boys had filled in the blanks on the rough copy and emerged with the course of action.
“We took the car home, stripped the interior out and test-fitted the drivetrain. It was set for the return trip to Webb’s for the front chassis work to be done and for him to have the headers fabbed up.” Tim’s brother Chris used the lull to string the Spaghetti Menders harness and switch panel that Brian had stripped from his wrecked racer. While he and Tim were up there, they installed the VFN dashboard.
Brian’s a 275 drag radial proponent and active in the Limited 275 class. Mindful of his recent dance on the dark side, he wanted the next envelope to be even more secure. Brian sought steel-helmet refuge under a 25.5-cert rollcage erected by Riffel Motorsports in Newton, Kansas.
Tim Webb carried on, constructing the tubular front clip as well as an aluminum engine mount, the mid-plate, and the radiator support. Menscer Motorsports/AFCO struts comprise the suspension. The Strange Engineering front brakes carry minimal two-piston calipers on 11-inch rotors. To prepare the drive end, Webb hoisted the Moser/Racecraft axlehousing and located it with the multi-adjustable Menscer/AFCO assemblies, an antisway bar, and a modified Spohn torque arm. Wilwood 11-inch discs fit neatly behind the foot-wide rear beadlocks.
Concurrently, many miles from Haysville, Kansas, TRE Racing Engines down in Cleveland, Texas, was building a 582ci DRCE race block with a Callies crank, MGP aluminum rods, and a complement of Bill Miller’s high-compression forgings. The Comp roller features nearly an inch of lift. Brodix Head Hunter castings are CNC-ported and feature 496-cfm intake ports.
A Victor II intake manifold hosts a giant Accufab throttle body and a fat Nitrous Outlet fogger that liberates 800 hp additional. Tim’s last big effort went into building and routing the exhaust system. He stepped the header primaries from 2.5 to 2.75 inches and channeled the trash through 4.5-inch horns that blossom business-like through the fenders, as is the style these days.
For the drivetrain, there was no other choice than a Flip-O-Matic. A what? For decades in Wichita, Flip Williams has been doing automatic race boxes. Since the 582 would make more than ample grunt in a weight-balanced 3,200-pound berserker, the transmission in Brian’s third-gen is a Coan Turbo 400 that Flip converted to a more expedient two-speed operation.
To some of us older chaps, a white drag race Camaro is immediately reminiscent of anything with the name Jenkins on it. It’s not very exciting but considering its mission and its function, the Arctic White palette is perfect, even more so were it dotted with sponsor logos. Originally, the body rehab was administered by Jim Frendt, Rob Seaton, and painter/racer Jake Delmonico in St. Paul, Minnesota. Before it was repainted in 2013, the fuel filler cap was shaved and the car stripped of even more superfluous bits to satisfy the bare-bones weight bogey.
In the cockpit it’s civilized, no echoes, no stripped-out doors or bleak bare floors and it’s all minimally covered with something that looks real. Brian plants himself in the Jerry Bickel carbon-fiber bucket seat, pulls the G-Force harness over his shoulders, hawks the Holley digital gauge pack, and then kicks the shifter into gear. “The car made its first pass in September 2016. It briefly held the Tex 275 class record with a 4.74 at 147. But mainly, I compete in Limited 275 Radial Tire series at Kansas City International, Tulsa Raceway, and North Star Dragway in Denton, Texas.” On October 14, 2017, he ran a 4.70/151 with a tight 1.12-second 60-foot time.
Brian’s been captured by the sheet of solid sound for more than 30 years and says that it was his first job at an automotive machine shop that did it—the owner was big into drag racing. For the white Camaro’s second term, Brian gathered Tim Webb, Chris Webb, Troy Aves, Shannon Wise, James Wise, and Jason Metcalf. Further, he says the calculations wouldn’t have turned out as well without help from Killer Wax, Ultra Collision Repair, Down Right Racing, and Seibert Performance.
What for him was the most challenging aspect of the accelerated 10-month build we asked? “Being patient,” he said. We think there’s more to come from Brian Wise and his dedicated cabal. CHP
Owner: Brian and Shannon Wise, Haysville, Kansas
Vehicle: 1982 Camaro
Type: Chevrolet Performance DRCE 2 block
Displacement: 582 ci
Compression Ratio: 14.0:1
Bore: 4.610 inches
Stroke: 4.375 inches
Cylinder Heads: Brodix Head Hunter 24-degree, CNC-ported, 496-cfm intake runners, 2.40/1.85 valves, blended bowls
Rotating Assembly: Callies crankshaft, MGP aluminum connecting rods, BME pistons, Total Seal ring packs, King bearings
Valvetrain: Jesel 1.8:1 shaft rocker system, titanium retainers, Victory valvesprings, Jesel beltdrive
Camshaft: Comp Cams 60mm roller (0.950-inch lift, 288/316-deg. duration at 0.050), TRE fabricated rocker covers
Induction: Edelbrock Victor II intake manifold, Accufab 2,200-cfm throttle body, Nitrous Outlet Stinger 3 fogger (800-shot), Holley Dominator ECU, 3-gallon RCI fuel cell
Ignition: MSD Digital-7 Plus controller, MSD primary wiring
Exhaust: Stainless stepped 2.5-to-2.75-inch primaries, 4.5-inch collectors built by Tim Webb (Topeka, KS)
Ancillaries: Meziere water pump, SPAL fan, custom radiator support
Machine Work: TRE Racing Engines (Cleveland, TX)
Built By: TRE Racing Engines
Output (engine only): 1,100 hp at 8,000 rpm, 800 lb-ft at 6,500 rpm
Transmission: Coan Turbo 400 (assembled/converted to two-speed by Flip-O-Matic Transmissions, Wichita, KS), Coan converter, finned pan
Rear Axle: Moser M9, spool, 4.10:1 gears, Strange Engineering 35-spline shafts, Precision Technologies 3-inch chrome-moly driveshaft
Front Suspension: Stock spindles, tubular clip by Tim Webb, aluminum front- and mid-plates, Menscer/AFCO struts, AFCO springs, chrome-moly rollcage 25.5-cert installed by Riffel Motorsports (Newton, KS)
Rear Suspension: AFCO springs, Menscer/AFCO dampers, Wolf Racecraft antisway bar, modified Spohn torque arm
Brakes: Strange Engineering 11-inch rotors, two-piston calipers, front; Wilwood 11-inch rotors, two-piston calipers, rear; Strange Engineering master cylinder
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: M/T Pro 5 15x3 front, M/T Pro 5 (w/ Racecraft beadlocks) 15x12 rear
Tires: Hoosier Drag Front 26.0/4.5 front, M/T Pro Drag Radial 275/60 rear
Upholstery: Jerry Bickel Race Cars
Seats: Bickel carbon fiber
Steering: Custom post, Grant Performance GT wheel
Shifter: TCI Outlaw
Dash: VFN fiberglass dash hydrodipped in carbon-fiber film by Leading Edge Graphics
Instrumentation: Holley EFI 5.7-inch digital screen gauge pack, wiring by Tim and Chris Webb
Bodywork: Jim Frendt, Jake Delmonico, Rob Seaton
Paint By: Jake Delmonico (St. Paul, MN)
Paint: PPG Arctic White
Hood: Down Right Racing fiberglass (Vero Beach, FL)
Grille: Stock Bumpers: Stock
Photos by Grant Cox