Chew on this: If you could somehow shoehorn Kirstie Alley into the back seat of a fourth-gen Camaro, it would still weigh less than a new fifth-gen. The front-to-rear weight distribution would change to a quite unfavorable 20/80 split as well. While some sort of deranged fetish is the only explanation as to why you’d want Kirstie back there in the first place, it does put the new Camaro’s ghastly 3,900-pound curb weight into perspective. It’s no wonder hardcore LS drag racers unanimously opt to stick with the lighter fourth-gen platform. According to the haters, the latest generation of Camaro is just too fat to go fast, and sure enough, there are plenty of fifth-gen dyno queens that have never seen a dragstrip. Fortunately, Russ Budro—and his boosted and sprayed daily driver—didn’t get the memo. His fifth-gen may be one big momma, but this is one little piggy that went “wee, wee, wee” all the way past the 10-second barrier.
It all comes down to simple math. The fewer pounds that each horsepower has to propel, the faster a car will accelerate. Sure, two tons is a lot of mass to scoot down the road, but it’s nothing that a big increase in power can’t remedy. Fortunately, big power is what Gen III/IV small-blocks do best, especially with the latest crop of 6.2L beasts that come strapped with GM’s phenomenal rectangle-port cylinder heads from the factory. As is very much the norm these days for L99- and LS3-equipped Camaros, serious horsepower is just a few simple mods away. Although major tweaks on Russ’s car are limited to a Whipple 2.9L supercharger, a mild Comp 222/236-at-0.050 hydraulic roller cam, and a 100hp hit of nitrous, the Camaro puts down 690 hp at 657 lb-ft of torque at the wheels on the Dynojet. Many fifth-gen owners would be content to simply brag about those numbers on their favorite online forum, but not Russ. He’s made a routine of pounding on this car at the track, where it has run a very impressive all-time best of 10.87 at 127 mph. Who says fifth-gens can’t run?
Interestingly, for a car that runs as hard as it does, Russ had no intentions of ever building such an extreme performance machine. In fact, it’s the fifth-gen’s retro good looks that first caught his attention. Russ says that he’s always been a car nut, but with twin boys to raise, he had to wait until the kids were all grown up before buying his first real performance car.
“My first car was a ’72 Camaro, and even though it was a beater, I loved it. I was never too crazy about third- and fourth-gens, but I really liked the retro styling of the Camaro prototype when I saw it for the first time in “Transformers,” he recalls. “Like a lot of other people, I wasn’t even sure if GM was going to make it, and if they did put it into production, I was worried that the actual car would look nothing like the concept car. When I saw the production car in person, I was pleasantly surprised. I saw an orange fifth-gen sitting on a dealer lot, and knew I had to get one.”
After placing an order with GM and patiently waiting 10 weeks, Russ was the proud new owner of a ’10 Inferno Orange Camaro. Initially, the plan was to add a Borla exhaust system and call it a day. That all changed after an impromptu run down the dragstrip. “I went to the track with some buddies of mine, not planning on running my car. I said, ‘dude, my car is stock so it’s not going to be that fast,’ but they insisted that I make a pass,” he explains. “My first pass was so bad that I don’t even remember what the car ran, but after that, I was hooked. From that point on, I wanted to do whatever I could to make my car faster. With the guidance of Owen Priest at Advanced Racing Dynamics in Houston, before I knew it, my car had headers, a blower, a bigger cam, and nitrous.”
To ensure that the Camaro had the proper driveline and chassis fortifications to handle the extra grunt, Russ bolted a built ARD 6L80E behind the L99, and added a set of beefed up Driveshaft Shop axles in an otherwise stock independent rear suspension. The suspension boasts just about every fifth-gen component in the BMR catalog, and the Camaro wears Mickey Thompson 305/45-18 drag radials at the track. On the street, the Camaro rolls on 22-inch Savini wheels, and despite the car’s track heroics, cruising the urban landscape is what Russ enjoys the most. “What really sets this car apart is that it’s my daily driver, and I commute 80 miles in it every day,” Russ opines. “I’ve driven across the country several times to Arizona and Georgia to attend Camaro5 Fest events, drag raced the car there and driven it back. In less than two years, I’ve already put 41,000 miles on the car. I really enjoy this car’s balance of power and street-ability. Unlike a lot of L99-powered cars out there, the active fuel management and variable valve timing systems haven’t been eliminated as a means of boosting performance.”
That’s all very impressive stuff, but Russ is nowhere close to calling it quits. He already has a GMPP LSX block sitting in his garage, and he plans on building a direct-port-injected 427 with it and gunning for 1,000 hp. Note that nothing in the itinerary calls for any kind of weight reduction, and due to the need for improved safety equipment, Russ’s Camaro will probably end up weighing even more than it does right now. With a projected quadruple-digit horsepower output, however, it’s no big thing, because this is one little piggy that could very well go “wee, wee, wee” all the way into the 9s.