Racing is gritty, raw, and defined by mechanical superiority and talent behind the wheel; but also, in a subliminally captivating way, style. No magic combination of stripes, sparkly paint, or stickers will guarantee a podium finish, but in the heart of every race fan, from NASCAR to NHRA, rings a nostalgic fondness for favorite motorsports machines. Shades of light blue and orange evoke images of Gulf Racing, while dark green and yellow hues echo the muted, alto growl of a Lotus Formula One car.
Paint impresses and embeds on us and it’s an easy way to produce a fan favorite across all racing mediums. Following that mantra, Speedway Motor’s entry into the 2017 Classic Industries Super Chevy Muscle Car Challenge presented by Falken Tires is a car no spectator will miss. Its funky, ’70’s paint scheme, in-your-face purple paint and colossal rubber footprint scream “look at me”–through a bullhorn.
“Carson Smith, one of the owners of Speedway wanted it to look like a Hot Wheels car,” said Speedway Motor’s Bill Schneider. To do that, it needed extremely exaggerated proportions, with very big wheels and tires, that went along with the performance aspect well.” Our marketing department got a hold of Jeff Allison, one of the main designers of Hot Wheels graphics in the ’70s and he did the graphics concept on the car.”
With roots solidly and circle track and the street-rodding scene, Speedway wasn’t always involved in the left-and right-turning world. Schneider wound back the clock a few years, shedding light on the events that lead to the building of this mean ’67 Camaro.
“About four years ago, Speedway decided they were going to step into designing and building aftermarket high-performance suspension packages for muscle cars,” he said. “After they made that move, they needed to test [the parts] somehow, so they started participating in the autocross events at Goodguys regional shows across the country. We had to have a driver and being the Unsers are good friends with the Smith family, we got them to drive the cars with the prototype suspensions and critique the design. That led to the Unser edition and a G-Comp edition Nova and Camaro suspension packages.
The competition bug sunk its fangs and soon the Speedway crew became regulars at the track, testing their hardware and hunting fast times. “Speedway Motors is focused in part in the racing motorsports industry, so the autocross is a great place to test and compete,” said Schneider. The product line grew to encompass more and more vehicle platforms and soon, the team found themselves traction limited and falling behind teams with independent suspensions. “The Corvettes and Cobras with IRS were giving us trouble,” he said. “So, in Speedway fashion, trying to pick some type of independent rear suspension … we bought a 2011 IRS out of a Camaro for a reasonable price. The Camaro has all its pickup points on the cradle, it can unbolt from the car and you still have a working rear suspension.”
That suspension was intended for the team’s newest car, the ’67 Camaro you see before you. The whole project was an in-house, ground-up build, and a platform to test some of Speedway’s tried-and-true parts—as well as a few up-and-comers.
With the rear suspension in tow, the Camaro was stripped and a prototype suspension for the first-gen Camaro (front and rear) was designed around a set of 18x13 CCW monoblock wheels and the idea of running the biggest 200 treadwear tires on the market. While the suspension components that follow aren’t yet available in this exact configuration, they are based on proven G-Comp components.
“We’re trying to learn as we go with the race car and make sure when we come out with something for a consumer, it’s a workable solution,” said Schneider.
The big wheels and rubber, a cornerstone of the build necessitated bulging fender flares, which Speedway built in house at their fiberglass plant (used for T-buckets and other vintage/racing bodies). Under the flares lives a front subframe based around stock pickup points. “It’s essentially an ultra-low front suspension that can bolt to a stock first-gen body,” said Schneider. Rack-and-pinion steering, AFCO four-way adjustable coilovers, and big Wilwood six-piston brakes are all part of the equation.
Out back, the prototype IRS was grafted into the Camaro’s unibody and upgraded with BMR Suspension components. Rather than a conventional vertical shock arrangement, the Speedway team laid them horizontally just below the package tray and connected them to the suspension below via a link and rocker setup.
“All show and no go” is the equivalent to an automotive cussword when said to a racer. The Camaro isn’t that. In fact, with a design motif this loud, it needed a powerplant even louder than its bursting fender flares, massive rubber, and metallic-flame-clad purple paint.
Speedway, with their background in circle track racing found that an all-too-easy task. Based on an all-aluminum small-block from Chevy, the engine features a 4.125-inch bore and long-for-an-SBC 4.125-inch stroke for a big-block-esque 440 cubic inches of displacement. “We consider this a ‘hybrid’ sprint engine,” said Schneider.
Topping the big-inch mill are Chevrolet Performance 18-degree cylinder heads with valves worked by a mean, solid roller camshaft. The fuel-injection system is based on a vintage Kinsler piece that was outfitted with contemporary injectors and a FAST engine management system. Output is 750 hp, which Schneider says can sometimes be a bit much for certain courses and needs some dialing back.
Behind the nasty Mouse is a TREMEC T-56 transmission that’s been converted to a dogbox setup, allowing the driver to shift without the clutch, and power flows to the rear independent suspension, that has been bolstered with a G-Force Engineering Ford 9-inch conversion centersection.
It’s a nasty, nasty machine, rich in racing pedigree, and soaked in style. On the track at the Muscle Car Challenge, it made a name for itself, running with the pack leaders and putting a new-school Camaro solidly in its place. Schneider hints that the Speedway crew has two more laboratory creations in the works—we can’t even imagine.
The Speedway Crew
Lead engineer/owner: Carson Smith
Lead Suspension Engineer: Tom Brown
Engine and Drivetrain: William Schneider
Lead Metal Fabricator: Joe McCollough
Parts/ Prototype Design/Fabrication: Dave Wallace and Matt Allen
|What Makes It Handle|
|Type: 440ci all-aluminum small-block|
|Components: Chevrolet Performance 18-degree cylinder heads, Kinsler manifold, FAST fuel injection, solid roller cam|
|Power (at the wheels): 750 hp, depending on tune|
|Transmission: TREMEC T-56 converted to dogbox|
|Rearend: Custom, 2011 Camaro IRS with upgraded G-Force centersection|
|Chassis: Speedway Motors G-Comp front clip – stock location pickup points|
|Front Suspension: Speedway Motors G-Comp|
|Spindles: Speedway Motors|
|Shocks: AFCO Racing four-way adjustable coilovers|
|Sway Bar: Speedway Motors splined adjustable|
|Brakes: Wilwood 14-inch rotors with six-piston calipers|
|Rear Suspension: Fifth-gen Camaro IRS with BMR Suspension and G-Force components|
|Shocks: AFCO Racing four-way adjustable coilovers with cantilever setup|
|Sway Bar: Speedway Motors|
|Brakes: Wilwood 14-inch rotors with six-piston calipers|
|Wheels and Tires|
|Wheels: Weld/CCW T10 monoblock 18x13 front and rear|
|Tires: Falken Azenis RT615K 315/30ZR18 front and rear|
|Cost of Chassis/Suspension/Brakes: $18,000|
|Total Without Driver: 3,160|
|LF: 763 RF: 802 LR: 793 RR: 802|
|F: 49.5% R: 50.5 %|
|How’d It Stack Up?|
|Slalom Average Speed 420-ft||100-Yard Dash||Road Course Lap Time|
|Speedway Motors 1967 Camaro||47.3 mph||5.00 seconds||01:15.8|
|2017 Camaro SS||46.6 mph||5.41 seconds||01:22.2|
|Grandpa got game! Not only does the Speedway Motors’ Camaro look the part, it delivers on the performance envelope, too. The high-strung, high-power first-gen Camaro absolutely schooled its great, great, great, great grandson in every aspect of the 2017 Classic Industries Super Chevy Muscle Car Challenge presented by Falken Tires. In all fairness, the 2017 Camaro SS baseline car rocks subtle street tires and has more chivalrous street manners, but this is absolute proof that old iron holds race-track merit.|
Photography by Robert McGaffin