Most Camaro performers are multi-faceted machines that do most everything well. They are augmented by a full complement of comfort and convenience. They are driver’s cars and looked upon as islands of strength, security, and warmth in a cold world. As such, we tend to love them and treat them with respect. They’re our pals through thick and thin. But what do you say about a single-purpose machine, a tool, if you will?
A race car is a wedge looking for the best advantage, not to look pretty or knock down 25 mpg on the highway. Compared to a street car, its life will be one of constant abuse and completely without mercy. The underlying notion is, as they say, to drive it like you stole it. So the bond between a race car and its driver is quite different than the one between you and your four-wheeled family member. There are lots of fifth-gen Camaros for sale now but doubtless you won’t be buying a body-in-white … unless you’re going to race the thing hard-core.
Don Baskin’s fabled truck store north of Memphis on Highway 51 in Covington, Tennessee, is the base for his varied drag racing activities. Baskin’s son Skip is a substantial force in his killer ’66 Chevy II Super Stocker, a car the younger Baskin finds difficult to quit. Baskin’s connections got him a white-body early on, in 2010. It came with the rudiments: body, front fenders, cowl hood, roof, doors, rear quarters, and a trunk lid. All the rest came from production or was made to specification. Originally, the Camaro was to be campaigned by Skip during the 2012 season. When the car wasn’t finished in time, he simply stayed the course in the ’66 post-car, thus creating a grand opportunity for teammate and driver Greg Delaney.
Since the white-body was a very early release, it presented a problem sourcing interior bits and plethora of other items. Construction slowed to a trickle. In 2010, the fifth-gen population was barely out of the womb, so finding parts was no easy task because the donor list was very short. Further, the car was being built to meet certain rules and regulations in which there were no clear specifications for the rear suspension. “Due to the delay in finding parts, Skip began another season in the Chevy II. The Camaro was ready mid-season, but Skip was skeptical about changing [rides] because he was leading in points with the [’66],” said Greg.
The building sequence commenced at B&B Race Cars in Hohenwald, Tennessee, (about 65 miles south of Nashville). B&B did the chassis as well as the paint, bodywork, and interior detail. To set the stage, B&B created the intricate chrome-moly web to protect the driver and stiffen the whole hog. From there, the regimen included the installation of the Chassisworks FAB9 housing fitted with a 9.5-inch ring gear, 40-spline axles and 5.17:1 gearset. They hung the assembly with a ladder bar suspension system; motion is checked by vertically mounted Santhuff adjustable dampers and Eibach springs. Chrome-moly wheelie bars and the substructure for the parachute complete the modifications. The axle ends are capped with Strange four-piston calipers on 11-inch discs. Unsprung weight includes 12-inch-wide Billet Specialties Comp 5 rims and M/T 29.5/10.5-15S ET Drag tires.
B&B addressed the front with a tubular K-member and custom upper and lower A-arms. Gear includes Santhuff spindles, Strange manual 11-inch slotted/vented discs and four-piston calipers, Santhuff adjustable shocks surrounded by Eibach coils, and manual steering. Rollers are Weld Alumastar 2.0 rims captured by M/T 27.5/4.5 ET Fronts.
With the rolling chassis complete, Greg turned his attention towards generating the LSX-based powerplant. It’s no secret that a displacement of more than 440 cubic inches has been known to do strange things to the rear cylinders, to the point of failure, especially in the presence of a power-adder. So the Baskin team would sleep better, the LSX block in the Camaro holds the line at 440. The motor job went to respected BES Racing Engines in Guilford, Indiana.
They put the block through its requisite machining processes. Then they partnered a Callies crankshaft with GRP connecting rods and Ross pistons sporting a compression ratio of 15:1. For proprietary reasons, we assume, there were details that Greg would not reveal, such as the specs for the COMP solid roller cam and its ancillaries or the Edelbrock cylinder heads (15-degree valve angle and 2.25/1.68 valves). Since nobody made a bolt-on induction manifold for this custom configuration, BES built an isolated-runner prop from aluminum. They fixed the top plate with the proper carb-base heat insulation and a brace of CFM Performance Carburetors 1,250-cfm four-barrels. Feeding is done via a fuel cell and a Magnafuel Pro 500 pump. Heat-laden oil is relieved somewhat by the Moroso 6-quart sheetmetal pan and accompanying pickup. No word on the pump. Coolant circulates constantly via a Meziere water pump and the belt-driven ignition distributor gets orders from an MSD 7531 programmable Digital 7 box. Using Kook’s raw stainless bits, B&B built the exhaust system from stainless steel with 1 7⁄8-inch primary pipes and 4-inch collectors. Since rules stipulate a “complete” system, B&B fabricated 4-inch diameter arrangement that includes Kook’s mufflers. The BES pump revealed a lusty, high-winding sumbitch: 1,116 horsepower at 8,900 rpm and 700 lb-ft of torque at 8,500 rpm!
And that undeniable grunt is managed by a ProFlite three-speed automatic designed by Protrans (Australia). It’s based on the smaller AMC (Chrysler) 727 case, which is narrower in the bellhousing by 1.5 inches. It features lightweight 904-based internal components and requires 125-150 psi of line pressure compared to the 225 psi required in a race ’Glide. It’s held to the block with a Protrans bellhousing and driven by a Neal Chance converter that flashes wickedly at 7,500 rpm. Through all that, the undistracted Greg finds accuracy and repeatability in the B&M Pro Ratchet shifter. The driveshaft is aluminum.
The pain room is furnished in late Kirkey aluminum, with minimal padding and black leather applied at B&B. The buckets are accompanied by G-Force harnesses, but the dash (complete with radio) looks factory as do the door and side panels. For that critical empirical input, Greg relies on a Racepak data recorder; all the rest is seat-of-the-pants and experience.
B&B locked the project up with bodywork, fabricating a wing that’s as wide as a coffee table, installing the factory grille ensemble and securing the VFN fiberglass cowl hood. With a nod to the Yenko Supercar schtick, they applied the House of Kolor tri-coat Oh So Orange.
In its second season, the Camaro ran a best of 8.23 at 164 from 440 naturally aspirated cubic inches. That’s honkin’! If there is a smudge on Greg’s horizon, it could be Judd Massengill’s LSX-rocked fourth-gen that has run identical numbers. But does Greg love his white-body wedge?
Just like he stole it.