The 2019 NHRA season for Chevy Camaro drivers John Force and Robert Hight unofficially kicked off this past weekend at Phoenix’s Wild Horse Pass’ nitro test session. Each driver debuted their new Camaros during a private test session attended by most of the touring professional teams.
Both Camaros ran very competitive elapsed times and speeds during the Phoenix test. Robert Hight ran a best of 3.86 at 326.87 mph, while team owner John Force covered the 1,000 feet in 3.894 seconds at 331.61 mph.
Regarding the testing, an optimistic Robert Hight said, “We’re feeling really good after four days of testing. Jimmy and Chris have this Auto Club Chevy figured out and we’re carrying over our momentum from last year. We were testing some things, but Friday was a really good day for us. I’m excited to head to Pomona and get the 2019 season started.”
Visually, both Camaros sport new, yet similar paint schemes to the ones used in 2018. While the Camaro bodies are physically the same as last year’s models, team owner John Force commented that Chevrolet aerodynamics engineers will be collaborating with John Force Racing (JFR) to integrate subtle improvements to each Camaro to make them even more slippery at speeds, which have already exceeded 330 mph during testing.
Mechanically, not much has changed compared to 2018, but JFR has introduced safety improvements to the depth of the rollcage and cockpit area foam padding on both Funny Cars, based on inputs from third parties. Force said that in consulting with the manufacturers of the padding JFR uses for the rollcage area, their engineers recommended installing padding as much as three times as thick as in previous years to fully protect the driver in the event of an accident.
Also for 2019, JFR is modifying the upper rollcage configuration to better protect the driver in the event they are thrown forward during a crash. The upper tubing in the rollcage in John’s Camaro has already been moved four inches forward to better contain helmet movement during a crash. Robert’s rollcage will also be similarly upgraded early in the 2019 season. CHP
Photography by Ron Lewis