For as far back as she can remember, Carmen Drays has been immersed in a world of fast cars. Her father, uncle, and even her aunt, raced cars on local circle tracks and dragstrips.
What’s a girl to do when she’s been raised by a family of gearheads? Most children make one of two choices—they either get as far away as possible from anything resembling a garage, or they embrace it with greasy, wide-open arms. Carmen chose the latter.
“I always wanted to be in the garage with my dad,” remembers Carmen. “My mom still has my green ‘garage’ dress.” Carmen wore that dress as she watched her dad wrench on cars.
Later, after a dozen years of begging and pleading, her uncle handed her the keys to his ’77 AMX Hornet, making that her daily driver. It was a fine gift and she was grateful, but to tell the truth, Carmen always had her heart set on a black, T-topped Camaro. That’s when she had her encounter with a 2000 F-body.
“I saw this Camaro at a dealership and fell in love with it. I told the Chevy dealer to consider it sold. This was in December. By early January, it was sitting in my parents’ garage,” says Carmen.
She had the car of her dreams, but she soon fell in with a gang that GM service reps consider “the bad crowd.” It seems members of the Midwest F-Body Association (www.mfba.org) found Carmen, and before she knew it, they had her ‘00 Camaro strapped to a dyno, laying down 187 horsepower to the rear wheels.
That might not sound like much, but those are very respectable numbers for a stock V-6 rated at just over 200 horsepower from the factory. However, when you hang out with a crowd like the MFBA, the only acceptable amount of horsepower is 10 more than what you currently have.
The dyno visit was only the beginning. Soon she was hitting the dragstrip and managing bolt-on mods in order to squeeze more horsepower out of the six-banger. New headers, exhaust, cold air induction and a Speed Inc. race-prepped tranny mated to a 3,200-stall converter gradually became part of the mix. It wasn’t long before Carmen was running 14.1s. Her MFBA cohorts commended her efforts, but there were skeptics.
“You can’t make a V-6 go fast,” snorted one ignorant punk. It was the kind of remark Carmen should’ve ignored, but instead took it as a challenge. She knew a V-6 could be built to go fast, and she was determined to prove it.
By the summer of 2003, her illicit racing activities south of the border led to a blown rear end and a spent transmission. Carmen towed the wounded F-body to Finish Line Performance (FLP) in Naperville, Illinois. They had done some wrenching for her in the past, and with more than 25 years experience, she knew they were the right shop to handle her unique request. She was set on proving the cynics wrong—she was determined to have a fast V-6.
The easy answer was nitrous, but Carmen wanted no part of it. “I’ve watched too many cars blow up with nitrous, including my cousin’s. His blew up five or six times.” She decided a turbo was the way to go, and while there were a few other V-6 F-body owners who had cobbled together single turbo set-ups, the aftermarket had yet to catch on. But that didn’t discourage her in the least; in fact, she decided that if one turbo was good, two would certainly be better.