We love to hit the local 1/8-mile drag strip. It’s exciting and a nice escape from everyday life. Besides, we dig the smell of good fuel as opposed to the ethanol-enriched stuff we’ve regretfully grown accustomed to. On top of that, we run across some really nice folks with awesome cars. One instance is Duane Cubberley and this ’94 Camaro. In most cases the car runs in the 6-second index class. It’s a fast ride with not much getting in the way of its occasional street use, but Duane prefers to spend most of his time at the track. And while most drag cars have contingency decals plastered all over the place with a somewhat lack-luster paint job, Duane’s car is certainly different in that regard—it’s clean and simple with enough flash to catch your attention in a hurry, especially while it motors down the track.
Duane bought the car a few years back with intentions of racing, but like many enthusiasts, he wanted more. He continued to modify the car until it suited his tastes, as well as his need for speed, but we’re sure his satisfaction will decrease as time goes by. That’s simply the car guy way of life.
At this point, the car is perfect for heads-up index-class racing as it consistently runs low 6’s in the eight-mile. Residing in Knoxville, Tennessee, Duane usually runs at the Bounty Race held at I-40 Dragway in nearby Crossville, Tennessee, but he’s competed at several other events, including “Pinks: All Out,” at Rockingham, North Carolina. At The Rock, Duane ran the car without nitrous, and made the 16-car field with runs in the 10.5-second range. No matter where he competes, his car performs well. Most of the credit can be given to the excellent group of components that make up this late-model racer.
You can make tons of power, but it’s wasted if it’s not all transferred to the rear tires in an efficient manner, so Duane paid close attention to the suspension setup. Starting with the front end, he installed a BMR tubular K-member and a set of BMR tubular control arms to lighten things up a bit. For maximum adjustability, he went with a pair of QA1 coilovers. Lightweight Aerospace Components brakes roll up front, consisting of drilled rotors and aluminum, four-piston calipers, while the rear binders are of the Wilwood variety and easily reduce rotating mass.
Bolted to the drilled rotors is a pair of 15x4 Weld Pro Magnum rollers wrapped in Mickey Thompson racing rubber. Out back, the original suspension setup still takes up residence with the exception of a BMR torque arm replacing the stock unit. Getting off the line quick-like is a necessity in the drag world, so Duane went with a pair of QA1 shocks to dial in the launch. To keep the stout F-body level, a BMR anti-roll bar attaches to the Moser 9-inch rearend, which is setup with a spool and 5.13 gears. Narrowed to fit, the housing is located with 1320 Fabrication’s 1 3/8-inch adjustable chrome moly control arms. A pair of 15x10 Weld Magnums mount just outside of the Wilwood brakes and sport 28x10.5 M/T slicks.
When Duane began racing the Camaro, he ran without wheelie bars. That was until a few bumper-dragging wheel stands became motivation to save the killer paint job. And as a by-product, he began to run more consistent times as well. If not for the wheelie bars, this gorgeous Camaro would look more like a custom build rather than the go-fast machine it is today. Part of the bumper-dragging recipe comes from the wicked small-block Chevy built by Eagle Racing Engines located in Loudon, Tennessee. Starting with a Dart Little M block, the crew balanced and assembled the rotating assembly consisting of a Crower crankshaft, Lunati connecting rods and Ross pistons. The forged bottom end creates a total displacement of 421ci, and the substantial knot on the pistons creates a 15:1 compression ratio.
Since Duane’s plans for the car were strictly drag racing, he selected a Lunati solid roller camshaft spun by a Jesel beltdrive. Atop the block is a pair of Brodix Track 1 cylinder heads with 227cc intake runners and CNC-machined ports making for a deep-breathing small-block. This thirsty combination gets quenched by a Quick Fuel 1050cfm carburetor and Brodix intake manifold combusted by an MSD ignition system with all the goodies for track use. For snappy exit, the spent gasses travel through a pair of Dynatech headers and Borla mufflers.
Duane had no doubts about the engine’s powerful potential, proven once on the Eagle Racing Engine’s dyno, then again on the chassis dyno after the car was completed. The 421ci small-block made 690hp at the flywheel and put down 580 hp to the wheels. Unfortunately, no dyno pulls weremade with the Nitrous Express Gemini Twin kit installed. Needless to say, those are impressive numbers for a small-block, especially if you consider the parasitic loss due to a race-built automatic transmission, and the fact this was on motor.
This momentum travels through a Powerglide transmission built by Williams Transmissions in Knoxville, Tennessee, accompanied by a Denny’s Drive Shaft 3-inch, nitrous-ready drive shaft. For extreme launches, Jamie at Pro Torque Converters provided a custom-built 4,700-stall converter.
In terms of performance, there are tons of cars that are equally prepared, but this Camaro’s most notable difference comes by way of the exterior. The majority of serious drag cars feature wild paint schemes, but the simplicity and vibrance of Duane’s car is certainly a plus. Since these cars came from the factory with fiberglass doors, they’re known for less-than-perfect bodywork, so Duane contacted Stanley Ledbetter to straighten the panels and get them ready for paint. Ledbetter worked through several cycles of block-sanding and priming before rolling it into the spray booth for a good dousing of PPG Copperhead Orange base coat. Then it was time for those eye-catching flames. They were laid out and masked by Joe Cheeks before the Orange Crush hue was applied. Several coats of clear soon followed and Ledbetter made the finish perfectly slick by color-sanding and buffing the fresh materials.
Inside, a 10-point roll cage stiffens the chassis and keeps Duane safe while a pair of Kirkey racing seats makes for a comfortable, lightweight seating arrangement. Sliding behind the Grant steering wheel gives you the full experience. With a selection of Auto Meter gauges in clear view, and a TCI shifter within reach, there is little guessing as to the proper shifting points. You won’t find a fancy stereo or air conditioning inside this Camaro—it’s all about performance. Besides, those luxuries only add weight. You will, however, see full door panels, carpeting, and the original dash. Rare for a drag car of this caliber. With all this, the F-body tips the scales at 3,150 lbs.
Obviously lots of work and money went into this ‘94 Camaro, and the real fun begins when it hits the track. But Duane points out, “on the occasional drive down the street, this car tends to command plenty of attention.”
As is usually the case with hot rods, a mix of vibrant colors, immaculate details, and all-out performance makes for an outstanding car. And like any car guy with an equally enthusiastic wife, we’re sure Duane will soon want to go faster. As for now, Duane and Crystal Cubberlye are pleased with the performance and style of their awesome Camaro. And you know, we just can’t blame them.