1969 Camaro Z/28 - The Thoroughbred

With Over 40 Years Of Racing Heritage, This Ponycar Shows No Signs Of Slowing Down Anytime Soon

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Feature When Chad Raynal was looking for a vintage Camaro, it had to be one he could race in the Historical Trans-Am Racing Circuit. That meant it had to be a Z/28 with a 302, and have period SCCA Trans-Am history before 1972, but it couldn't be yellow. In his mind there was just no way. The Northern Californian had no love for yellow cars. That was until his Dad and Brother told him to "get over it and buy the car." Family pressure is as strong, if not stronger than your average peer pressure, so Chad, somewhat against his will, laid down the ducats for the rare, Daytona Yellow racer.

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"I found the car in a Hemmings Motor News ad in 1998," Chad says. When I bought the car, it had a nice paintjob, but the rest of the car needed quite a bit of work. My dad and brother dove in and helped me with most of the repairs in the mechanical and interior area, while Mark Schwartz took care of the period pieces, including bits for the Crossram. He was also a huge help in the initial fabrication and metal repair department."

This historical racer doesn't take kindly to stop-and-go traffic-never has. Well, except for the short period in early 1969 when the car was originally sold to a family as a girl's 16th birthday present. Seems the four-speed and high-performance engine was a little much for the young driver, so the car was traded in for something a little more docile. Her loss. Dick Sterbins bought it used from the Ohio dealer later that same year. Sterbins then packed up the car and headed to Gulfport, Mississippi, where he immediately began converting the ride to competition trim as a Trans-Am racer. About a year-and-a-half later Sterbins' Camaro was track-ready.

He wheeled the car in SCCA Trans-Am Series competition from November 1971 to July 1972, where he managed no less than four Top-10 finishes in a matter of only six races. From 1973 to 1975 William (Bill) MacFarlane took over the driving chores and managed three First Place finishes at Summit Point. You get where we're going here? In its day, this car meant serious business.

Oftentimes, with a dedicated race car, a long lineage of documentation exists. Gearheads are just like that. It's part of the drill, and Chad's vintage hot rod is no exception. According to the logbook that accompanied the devoted Z/28, the car was painted white during the 1974 racing season. In early 1976, Dino Marroney purchased the car and had it decked out in the Sunoco paint scheme. While in Dino's possession, the car didn't see any track time and was sold just a few months after to Richard Harper. Near the end of 1976, Richard flared the fenders, painted the car white and red and ran it in SCCA G-1 events until 1983. Since that time, the car was returned to its original yellow and black styling and has been certified with the Historic Trans-Am Registry. It now carries registration number "TA-046."

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Although he has other vintage race cars in his possession, "This one is special," Chad says. "It's my first vintage racer, and has tons of sweat equity from my dad, brother, uncle, good friend Mark Schwartz, and myself. We put a lot of work into this car's restoration, and the fact that we get to race in the Historic Trans-Am Racing Series, makes it all worth it."

To keep the car in "correct" form, the Z/28 retains the 302ci engine. Ted Yamashiro of Top of the Hill Performance Center in Livermore, California, built and assembled the iron-block mill. At 12:1 compression, the eight-piston symphony carries an unmistakable note that can disturb the peace in even the noisiest of neighborhoods. You just can't beat the sound of a high-compression 302 firing through a pair of Stahl 17/8-inch headers and a hand-fabricated 3.5-inch exhaust system.

The Crossram intake swills fuel delivered through two Holley 4150s regulated with a Carter electronic fuel pump. A Griffin aluminum radiator keeps engine temps in check, even in the abusive racing environment the '69 is accustomed.

For shifting purposes, the close-ratio, Muncie M-21, built by Mark, easily handles all 450 horses as they twist their way to the 4:56 cogs housed in the robust Bob Leigh-built 12-bolt rearend.

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Koni shocks and Moog 2-inch drop springs provide the stock spindles and A-arms the necessary artillery to keep the car in the proper track groove. For additional performance, the upper control arms have been treated to The Guldstrand Modification, while a Herb Adams front sway bar keep body roll at bay.

Vintage Engineering Minilite 15x8 wheels reside on all four corners and are tightly wrapped in Goodyear Blue Streak Sports Car Special tires.

As you might have guessed, this is no Pro Touring "wanna-be," so A/C, cupholders, passenger seats, and iPod docks are non-existent. In fact, the gray interior's hue might be considered drab by most. That's just fine with Chad as the period-correct Jones-Motorola mechanical tach and Stewart Warner gauges provide the necessary vitals (oil temp, water temp, and voltage). This is a ride where matching leather seats, custom door panels, and flashy billet bits don't apply.

Owning a piece of racing history has its limitations on the creative side. Chad recognized this and took responsibility to get the car restored not only for period correctness, but more like period exactness. Campbell Auto Restoration in Campbell, California, smoothed the sheetmetal, and provided paint guru Mike Kamimoto the perfect canvass to bring the historical Camaro's appearance back to its early '70s glory. With the addition of AVS Graphics replicating the original signage, one would be hard-pressed to know the car was a restoration-well, other than the fact that rock chips have yet to invade the Campbell job.

You can find Chad and this spectacular restoration on the Historical Trans-Am Series throughout the racing season.

"Without the help of my family and friends, racing this car wouldn't be possible," Chad says. "My dad, mom, brother, uncle, wife, and my good friend Mark Schwartz all helped in getting it restored and track-prepped. It's definitely a labor of love and I can't thank them enough."

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