If eating and breathing are things you value, stand very far back from Speedtek's '69 Camaro anytime it goes WOT. With a 900hp Gen III lump under its deceivingly benign stock cowl hood, the Camaro has a way of seriously agitating air molecules and turning its body parts into lethal projectiles. An SS badge here, a windshield molding there, this blue hellion sheds trim pieces left and right.
It's not that this is a poorly built machine by any means. To the contrary, in an era that pre-dated modern wind tunnel development by 20 years, GM engineers never had to account for 195 mph worth of wind resistance back in the '60s. And therein lies the beauty of Keith Sullivan's Camaro. Its blown 408ci LS small-block, T56 stick, and six-piston clamps aren't what make it cool. The fact that the Camaro's hardware has been pushed with enough brutality to dislodge body parts is what elevates its street cred far beyond that of the typical muscle car.
While ripping down the Texas Mile at 160-plus mph, a loud pop sent Keith into freak-out mode. As any battle-tested racer would, his first instinct was suspecting big-time mechanical failure. Was it a broken ball joint, a snapped driveshaft, or some bent-up valves? Upon realizing that the car was still driving perfectly, he figured out that a piece of molding must have come loose and smacked the windshield. "Since it was my first run ever down the Texas Mile, it was supposed to be a shakedown pass," he chuckles. "Just as I thought it might be a good idea to back off the gas at around the three-quarter-mile mark, something popped and scared the snot out of me. I hit the brakes for the last quarter-mile of the pass, and the car still ran 147 mph."
The best run of the day was a certified 195 mph, which isn't too shabby at all for a standing-mile rookie. Mind you, this is in a car wearing a completely stock body that has no aero modifications whatsoever. "Other than the molding flying off, the car is surprisingly stable at top speed and drives as straight as an arrow," Keith reports. "At that speed the wind noise is incredible. The body panels start creaking, and it sounds like someone is beating on the car with a baseball bat. A run like that takes about 28 seconds, so compared to drag racing, it's a very different kind of rush because you're in the gas for so long."
As you might suspect from the builder of a machine that looks this good and runs so hard, this isn't Keith's first stroll down F-body lane. Although no one had heard of Pro Touring 25 years ago, Keith had a '67 Camaro RS slammed on Rally wheels and big meats. Next came a big-blockûpowered Pro Street '69 Camaro that ran 10.0s at the dragstrip. Growing tired of building cars only to sell them and start all over again, Keith picked up his current '69 Camaro back in 1994 and vowed to keep it forever. "I bought this car to use as a daily driver 17 years ago. At $4,500, I thought I paid way too much for it," he quips.
Intended from the get-go to be a keeper, the pressure was on to build something that would top all of Keith's previous Camaros. As the owner of Speedtek (www.speedtek.net), he had to make time after business hours and on weekends to make progress through the car's various stages. The car was in a constant state of evolution as the years passed, but when the Pro Touring scene started blowing up, Keith wanted a piece of the action. He started out by dropping in a fuel-injected 406ci small-block and a Tremec T56 transmission.
Next on the agenda was some Gen III power, so he promptly assembled a 408ci package. Based on a 6.0L iron truck block that's been bored to 4.030 inches, it features a Lunati steel 4.000-inch crank and rods matched with 9.8:1 forged pistons. Ported factory LS6 cylinder heads feed the short-block, while a Comp 239/243-at-0.050 hydraulic roller cam with 0.624/0.624-inch lift actuates the valves. The Big Daddy in the mix is a Kenne Bell 2.8L supercharger that boosts the 408ci combo to 746 rear-wheel hp at 6,000 rpm and 759 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm on a mix of 93-octane pump gas and methanol injection. A stock computer controls the fuel and spark.
While fancy suspension components are merely things to brag about for many Pro Touring machines, dialing in maximum stick was mandatory for Keith's Camaro. The underpinnings got a complete rework with a Heidts Pro-G front clip that includes tubular control arms, coilovers, a 1.25-inch sway bar, drop spindles, and a power steering rack. Out back, a Heidts four-link setup swings a Moser 12-bolt fitted with 3.42:1 gears. To scrub off speed following each standing-mile jaunt, there are Baer 13-inch rotors all around with six-piston calipers in front and four-piston units in the rear. Providing bite in the turns are Boyd Coddington F09 18x8 front wheels wearing 265/35ZR-18 Nitto tires, and putting the power down are 18x12s wrapped in 345/35ZR-18 Hoosier R6 road-race tires.
Despite the Camaro's land-speed prowess, Keith insists that it's a street car. After witnessing him put around 150 miles on the car in 100-plus-degree heat for our photo shoot, we're fully convinced. For much of the 17 years Keith has owned the F-body, it has served as his daily driver and he figures that he's put 200,000 miles on it. Although he's hungry to break the two-buck barrier at the Texas Mile and plans to get there with the addition of a custom front spoiler and a larger intercooler water tank, what he enjoys the most is beating on the Camaro on the street.
"As I was driving back from Hooters the other day, I got the car up to 120 mph and the front windshield molding flew off," he reports. For Keith Sullivan's Camaro, a future 200 mph seems like a certainty. He just needs to figure out how to keep all of the body parts attached.
The best run of the day was 195 mph, which isn't too shabby at all for a standing-mile rookie.