Drag racing fans worldwide have been waiting patiently for the much-anticipated unveiling of the newest generation Chevy Camaro for Sportsman class competition.
That wait has ended. During NHRA’s marquee annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Maine-based Arnie Martel, an extremely successful businessman and owner of a very creative and highly successful multi-car drag racing operation, delivered the first. Martel’s ’12 Super Stock Camaro, which will target the SS/BM class category, was the buzz of both the pits and the grandstands.
“I saw all the new Mustangs and Drag Pak cars and realized that someone had to put the fifth-gen Camaro into that mix,” Martel said. “So I went out and bought a brand new car at the dealership (because I could not get a body in white) and took it to Jerry Haas in St. Louis. A few of his people then put their heads together and this car is the end result of that. I think it turned out spectacular.”
A 368ci splayed valve motor, built by Martel’s long-time engine guru Larry Allen, motivates the car. Power is transferred through an A-1 converter and three-speed transmission.
According to Arnie, the car has performed phenomenally right out of the gate. “The car has a longer wheelbase, so it has an awesome feel to it,” he continued. “We have run some big speed with it already, and the ride is so smooth that you almost feel like kicking back your feet and popping in a CD. Even though we are cutting into some new territory, the car is very well designed and built.”
As expected, the Speedco-sponsored Camaro has already been a serious attention gatherer. It collected the “Best Engineered” award overall for the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indy and then two weeks later, was named “Best Appearing” during NHRA’s subsequent race at Concord, North Carolina.
Martel is optimistic that his new Camaro effort will send a clear message to Chevrolet brand racing program executives. “A few GM people have been by to look at it,” he revealed. “I think they realize they need to get their program stuff together for this—because the Camaro certainly works. I’m proud to be part of the GM team and hopefully things will begin to progress higher with them again.”