Other factors out of my control, however, made it almost impossible to accurately drive this car with predictability. For one, the seat. This car was built for its owner, and this guy is tall … like 6'6” tall. Which, when compared to your Stig for a Day, is a shade more than 1 foot's worth of human. Settling myself in the seat that was mounted directly to the floor pan, I found myself looking at a horn cap with nary a windshield in sight.
Two borrowed hotel pillows later (thanks, La Quinta Inn) got me seeing at least above the dash pad, which brings me to my next pesky annoyance, er … the seat. Not being adjustable fore and aft made it difficult to be at a workable distance to the steering wheel or the pedals, but not both. I opted for pedals as keeping the LS7 tamed was more important than changing direction. Adding to this was the cupcake tin thingy with the bottoms cut out that doubled as a floor mat. Not sure why this was solidly mounted to both floor pans, but I requested that the driver's be removed as it trapped my heels, making smooth and planned pedal transfer impossible.
And while you readers ask why I mention this stuff, it's because I wanted to be an effective force behind the wheel of this car. This Camaro had all the cool Chassisworks suspension and handling goodies, all the go-fast stuff we lust after for our personal rides. It had such promise … and here I am fluffed up by pillows, my chest getting very friendly with the steering wheel, and my feet tip-toe tapping a happy dance with the pedal assembly.
So fluffed, smooshed, and with toes massaging the go-pedal, I left the starting line and got the Camaro hustled through the short sweeper before the slalom, down the offsets, around the horn at the end, back to the Chicago Box, and from there, to the finish, all the while trying to keep any hint of sideways to a bare minimum. Aged BFG rubber didn't make life easier, as it took a very deft touch on the accelerator to keep the Camaro straight and pointed where it needed to go. The steering was very light and quick, making changes of direction immediate, but with less suspension feedback than I like.
On the flip side, the brakes were pretty good and got the car slowed quite well. Were we able to get the suspension tuned even softer (it was vastly improved from Monday's hard, open track setting), who knows how quick we could have gone.
The Camaro still felt skittery when making quick directional changes, and I will freely admit I find one that exhibits this tendency difficult to autocross. What worked best with this particular car was braking and accelerating only when it was pointed straight, or nearly so. Had this testing taken place on a road course, I'm positive I'd have felt differently.
Personally, I like to see some compression and movement in the suspension when I effect a turn, brake, or accelerate, and this car didn't offer that softness I needed. Softness gives a car time. Time to react, and time to gather itself for whatever I ask of it next. It's absolute for traction, and the best benefit is softness and compliance offering wordless conversation to the driver.
What's cool about the Chassisworks suspension is everything is adjustable, and with more time for a few more changes, all can be right with this Camaro in an autocross environment. Add to that fresh tires and some allowance for different-sized drivers, this car could be a serious player and quite fun.
Despite the mismatched car/driver relationship, the Chassisworks Camaro turned in some eye-opening times. It was 9.21 seconds faster in the autocross than a 2011 Camaro SS—second only to the Roadster Shop Chevelle for fastest time of the day. I can only wonder how much faster had I been given an office with ergonomics that fit my body. –Mary Pozzi