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Camaro Radial Racer - Into The Abyss

Building a drag radial racer from a Chevrolet Performance Body-In-White fifth-gen Camaro

Justin Cesler Jun 20, 2012
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"Been working on the car a lot. I am bloody, and burnt, but I did it." Think your last project took a lot of work and came together quickly? What you're about to read about is a full build on an NMCA-legal LSX Drag Radial Camaro built in just 90-days. That's right, 90-days from a shell on a pallet to a full-on racecar. The man behind the insanity? Mike Meeks, the 2011 Drag Radial Champion. The car? Well, it's a Chevrolet Performance Body-In-White Fifth-Gen Camaro (BIW) and it could be your next project if you're willing to put in the work. How much work? Well, let's step back a little and learn more about exactly what we started with; PN 19243374.

Ghtp 1209 Camaro Radial Racer Into The Abyss 02 2/29

Billed as a package for "racers who would completely strip a production car, including its powertrain and interior components" the Body-In-White Camaro can be "a faster and more cost effective way to build a race car. You'll spend more time fine-tuning the suspension than scraping sound deadener out of the interior." For the paltry sum of 8,800-dollars (cheaper bodies can be had if you shop around, check out Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center for a great deal) you get a "basic package that includes an assembled body structure (front fenders, hood, roof, doors, rear quarters and trunk lid), and complete floor pans and chassis rails..."

That's it. And that said, it honestly doesn't get you very much of an actual fifth-gen Camaro and you don't even get to pick the color (fun fact: most Body-In-White Camaros don't actually come in white), but for the right project, it's essentially the perfect racecar starter kit and one part number gets you exactly what you need to begin. This is, in fact, an almost perfect foundation for an all-out racecar project but you must be warned, it's no easy task. If you're not comfortable building a car from almost nothing - and we mean nothing - then you may be better off starting somewhere else. But if you happen to be the reigning LSX Challenge Series Drag Radial Champion and the first and only man to win that class using a nitrous combination that "couldn't ever win" well then, this just happens to be the perfect jumping off point.

"I have nothing but good things to say about this. The Body-In-White is perfect for this. Doors are heavy 57.8-lbs., but just like you build a house you got to have a good foundation. We got one here." If you haven't ever had the pleasure of meeting Mike Meeks at an event, let's just say that Mike's an excitable guy, but ask anyone around if he knows his stuff and you'll hear the same thing... Mike tells it like it is, no matter what, which is exactly why we have chosen to follow him throughout the build process of this Body-In-White turned 7-second Drag Radial contender.

Additionally, Mike already campaigned a successful LSX Challenge Series entry and was more than willing to tear it apart piece by piece to convert it over to the new body. That means everything in the driveline was already proven, including the nitrous huffing engine, killer transmission, beefy solid axle rear end and torque arm suspension, which would make for an interesting conversion (torque arm solid axle fifth-gen Camaro in less than three months?!) and an awesome final product.

Truth be told, we even thought about attempting to build this BIW ourselves, but the task was simply too large to be done in between writing a magazine (plus, let's be honest, we're not half the wrenches that most of you guys are) and since "The bodies do not have vehicle identification numbers, so they may be used only as racing vehicles that will never be licensed for street driving," starting a dedicated fifth-gen project from a BIW was just too much. Now, you may be thinking it's too big a project for you too, but we're going to guarantee, whether you're planning to build one or not, it's going to be an awesome journey to watch Mike's go together. And, who knows, maybe you'll take the plunge too; we know Chevrolet Performance has 'em in stock, which means it's possible that you too could be out racing with us soon!


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