What exactly qualifies as stock when chasing a record? Is it still considered stock if it features the original floorpans and quarter-panels but is fitted with a rollcage? If it’s a stock block, crank, and displaces the original 6.2 liters, is it really stock when it’s filled with forged rods and custom pistons? This “stock” ’16 Camaro is third fastest in the country, and aiming for the top spot.
Steven Rankins, the owner and operator of 42 Autosports, is known for imports and road course racing. He’s also a car nerd. He studies his material thoroughly and doesn’t make an upgrade without extensively testing its result. His infectious excitement for racing influences those around him.
“The engineering challenges are exciting,” said Steven about his journey of bringing one of the first sixth-gen Camaros into the 8s. This Camaro makes 1,238 hp and 968 lb-ft of torque to the wheels, which is impressive considering it’s running Sheet’s gas station E85, “the finest race fuel you can find for under $3 a gallon.”
The 8.8 at 157 mph took a complete season to obtain and, according to the driver/owner, a lot of work. “We’ve pushed the limits of the car a lot. It has been a real test of engineering and heart to get the car where it is,” said owner Eric Warren, who explained this was the first sixth-gen Camaro sold in North Carolina.
We first spotted the Camaro at Rockingham Dragway, blowing the doors off of COPO Camaros—which brings up an important qualifier. While some COPO cars have run faster, they’re different beasts. For perspective, the current NHRA Stock Eliminator record holder is David Barton’s ’15 COPO with an 8.2-second in the quarter-mile, but that’s a fifth-gen Camaro with an LSX powerplant. What sets this Camaro apart is its Direct Injection (DI), full interior, passenger seat, pump gas, stock body, and license plate.
Featuring the original LT1 block and displacement, the Camaro “was built to be a daily driver,” said Steven. “This was our first sixth-gen Camaro build, but it was new to everyone [when we started]. We feel like we kind of went wild right off the bat.”
The 6.2L engine has seen multiple versions, but the current iteration begins with a stock block and crank. It features Carrillo Pro-H rods and custom-made CP pistons with slightly less compression (10:1) and the stock bore and stroke.
The short-block is topped with Competition Induction Designs (CID) gen-5 LT1 heads. Designed for increased flow and strength, they use factory port placement and mounting, with intake ports only 2 percent larger than factory.
Steven isn’t forthcoming about the Gwatney Performance Innovations (GPI) roller camshaft specs. It’s accompanied by Chevrolet Performance lifters, JHE retainers, and stock rocker arms. The engine features a DOD delete.
Chevrolet’s LT1 DI system has been known to support 600 hp, but the team needed to double that. 42 Autosports’ auxiliary port-injection system uses eight Injector Dynamics 1,300cc injectors in addition to the stock DI injectors. The stock pump, known as the weak link in high-power DI systems, now feeds a Radium surge tank. When the pump is removed from the pressurized system, its volume rate increases by at least 30 percent. This means it can now feed the surge tank quickly enough for a half-mile full throttle pass—according to Steven’s math. Dual Walbro 450-lph fuel pumps feed two hard lines to the front of the car, one to the stock DI system and the other to the port injectors. “Doing this allowed us to not touch the factory LT1 fuel system,” said Steven.
A Haltech ECU with a custom harness overlays the factory computer. It seamlessly integrates the nitrous and auxiliary fuel system with the stock ECU. “The Haltech is the final line of defense,” said Steven. The critical factor sensors are still used through the stock ECU. This, according to Steven, is the safest route to making big power. The team sells their fueling systems through Modern-EFI.
The dry 50hp-shot of nitrous from Nitrous Outlet is compensated by the auxiliary port injectors so a wet system isn’t necessary. The ProCharger F-1A-94 (with a 7.48-inch lower pulley and 3.40-inch upper pulley) supercharger pushes air through a G1Pro Air-to-Water intake manifold, which uses the A/C chiller and a C&R heat exchanger.
The Camaro typically runs low 1.3-second 60-foot times, and Steven credits that to the short supercharger plumbing and low inlet temps. Pre-burnout, the intake features sub-ambient temperatures and at the end of the run it’s typically only 20 degrees above outside temps. That’s impressive considering the supercharger can produce over 300 F.
Stainless Works Performance long-tube headers with 1 7/8-inch primaries dump into 3-inch exhaust. It’s a factory kit and retains the electronic dual-mode exhaust valves.
Steven’s secret-sauce for speed involves reworking the factory transmission. “We’ve worked it over quite a bit. Something that’s been a focus for us in the shop,” said Steven. “Trying to jump ahead of a lot of guys is our development work with the transmission.”
The previous stock differential was used for a season before it broke (the welds on the ring gear gave out), and was replaced by a stock unit strengthened by 42 Autosports.
A one-piece aluminum driveshaft snapped—a BMR driveshaft loop minimized the destruction—and was replaced by a Driveshaft Shop single-piece chrome-moly driveshaft.
The sway bars have been removed and the car sits on factory springs with the original GM magnetic shocks. BMR spherical bushings now give the Camaro better droop off the line. The rear suspension includes a complete BMR adjustable arm kit, which, according to Steven, gives the car a strong contact point when properly set up.
The team has a list of events to attend this year to try and increase the speed and lower e.t. Future upgrades include working with GPI on a different camshaft—the two companies purchase parts from each other as GPI also has an 8-second sixth-gen. A bigger blower and new compression are also possibilities. “Realistically, the car is running in a good spot right now, we just have to find time where we can,” said Steven.
“This is the second car of this caliber we’ve built to be a street and race car, and to be very early into the drag scene we’ve achieved a lot,” said Steven. “I’m pretty proud.”
Photography by Jesse Kiser