Throughout his racing career, Dale Earnhardt Sr. wasn't much for settling for second best. His Rookie of the Year award and seven NASCAR Winston Cup Championships only solidify the statement. He's also a four-time IROC winner-quite possibly the motivational turn that secured his admiration of the Chevrolet Camaro. Well, that and the fact that, as a teenager, he and his dad built a '67 race Camaro back in 1967. As success came for Dale, so did more Camaros. His competitive nature, on and off the track, played a huge factor in the development of the "Intimidator" SS Camaro. But there was another reason: To build a car that would kick the proverbial rear ends of any late-model Roush Mustang.
"We would sometimes work on our own cars after-hours at the shop," remembers former DEI Race Relations Director, Steve Crisp, "And across the street, the Roush guys would be working on their late-model Mustangs. Every time they would fly by, Kerry Earnhardt, Dale's son, would joke with his dad about how mean those cars were. Well, Dale had been provoked enough and decided he would design a Camaro to beat up on those Mustangs."
As owner of a Chevrolet dealership since July of 1986, Dale always had a vision of one day being able to sell limited edition, upgraded Camaros à la his hero, Don Yenko, did back in the late '60s. With the stock LS1 having plenty of room for additional potency (heads, cam, exhaust), the '00 Camaro was the perfect candidate for the mods. The only thing left to do was to put together the ideal plan for the performance upgrades.
GM's Scott Settlemire, also known as the "F-bod Father," got word of Dale's intentions and put him in touch with Matt Murphy of GMMG Inc., a company known for doing wicked upgrades to the fourth-generation Camaro. Murphy's history goes deep into upgrading the performance and visual aesthetics of late-model Camaros, which made him the "go-to guy" to collaborate with Earnhardt on the Intimidator project. Murphy ran with Earnhardt's performance and visual feeds and put together a Camaro that would enable any high-performance enthusiast to own a late-model hot rod with the reliability and street manners of a daily driver, which could also kick serious ass when necessary.
Per Earnhardt's request, the limited run of 83 '01 Camaros would carry some distinct styling cues of the first-generation Camaro including period-correct SS badges and American Racing's 200S wheels that pay tribute to the classic Trans-Am cars of the era. This winning combination of old-school looks and modern LS horsepower proved that in 2001, a factory hot rod could still be purchased off a dealership's showroom floor-a Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet dealership only-but a dealership nonetheless. It was a parallel reminiscent of purchasing dealer-upgraded Camaros back in the muscle car glory days of the Yenko, Dana, and Baldwin Motion cars-Dale's vision exactly.
Four-time NHRA Pro Stock Champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his brother Mike are hard-core second-generation drag racers and sons of legendary drag racer and Jeg's Mail Order Performance owner Jeg Coughlin Sr. Needless to say, the younger Coughlin's know their way around muscle cars, and just so happen to be huge fans of the Earnhardt's-Jr. and Sr.