In many cultures, the belief is that a person’s soul is “reborn” into a new body once it leaves the current one. Some theorize that how a person lived their life has some bearing on who, or what they come back as. Do good and you might come back as a doctor or Formula 1 driver. Do bad and you might come back as a cockroach, or worse, a politician. Now, with the exception of Herbie, Christine, or that tragic TV show My Mother The Car, most people don’t imbue their cars with souls. If they did, then Mary Pozzi’s ’73 must have been exceptionally good because it keeps being reborn better and better.
Several years ago we featured her cone-dodging F-body in Camaro Performers magazine. It was fast and Mary wielded it like a surgeon works a scalpel. But as time progressed, the competition kept getting faster.
“In 2002, the LS engine swap wasn’t common and there wasn’t much available, like aftermarket subframes, three/four-link rears, or anything other than upgrades to OEM parts," Mary informs. "This car had a warmed-over 350/350 combination and was pretty anemic by 2002 standards. Basically, it couldn’t get out of its own way if its life depended on it. I planned on eventually replacing the engine and transmission but immediately wanted to start on the suspension and brakes, and upgrade to 17-inch wheels. The initial build took about two years, once parts were removed and replaced, but there always seemed to be something else that needed attention. It’s a never-ending cycle, and I’m positive most of your readers can relate to. I drove the Camaro once or twice with the gutless 350 backed by the TH350 automatic trans and promptly gagged a maggot.” By 2004, Mary and her husband Dave had picked up GM’s new ZZ383 small-block and a Richmond five-speed tranny. “Like all things with this car, the install didn’t go easy and between work and horses (my other “job”), this took a year to get done. I ran my first autocross with the Camaro in August of 2005, and my first track day three months later. In early 2006, Dave and I went down to Willow Springs for another track event, and on the way home I told him the horses were going and the cars were staying,” recalled Mary.
Over the years the Camaro evolved. Global West Cat-5 leaf springs found their way under the back, while Hotchkis wares found their way up front. Mary and Dave tweaked, adjusted, and sorted out the Camaro until it became capable of winning most autocross events Mary took it to. She explained, “In 2007, I competed in the SCCA Solo Tour autocross in Atwater, California. I ran in C Prepared class and the Camaro weighed almost two tons, including me. Add in that the car was down around 350 hp with a footless overall tire footprint compared to the ‘real’ CP race cars, and I was at a huge disadvantage. My competition was a past National Champion, and she was good. The Tour is a two-day event with the fastest times for each day added together, and I had her beat by about half a second the first day. On the second day, she killed the course and was ahead by about 0.8 seconds overall (huge in autocross time). On her last run, she promptly ran over the start cone right off the line for a two-second penalty. It was my last run and I needed to improve on a section called the ‘showcase.’ I entered it quick, trailbraked in, and got the Camaro rotating perfectly to get out fast and smooth. After finishing, I saw my time was over a second quicker than what I’d run earlier. Later, other drivers told me they’d never seen a Camaro do what mine had done, which I thought was pretty cool. I never had more respect or admiration for that car as I did that day.”