Camaro Z/28. This was the car that essentially turned on an entire generation of drag racers to the thrill of road racing. Conceived in Detroit and dedicated to the proposition that all Mustangs must be defeated, the Z/28 gave Chevrolet the Sports Car Club of America's Trans-Am Manufacturers Championship in 1968 and 1969, and made a hero out of a young racer named Mark Donohue in the process.
While only 602 folks in 1967 had the insight to order one of these then-unknown homologation specials, the Z/28, with its high-revving 302 and excellent-for-the-day handling, made believers out of many. Sales exploded to 7,199 for '68 and 20,302 for '69.
The car you see here, an original '69 RS Z/28, was turned into a Trans-Am racer in 1972 by William Weick, and it's been a track terror ever since. According to its current owner, Dr. Richard Lind, the logbooks tell how Weick (an independent) raced it in A/Sedan from 1972-'74 at legendary tracks like Bryar, Watkins Glen, and Lime Rock Park. From 1978-'84, it was owned by Scott Quaile and saw action in SCCA GT-1 competition, then again in GT-1 from 1986-'88 with owner Michael Farrell.
It made the transition to Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) Trans-Am in 1992 at the hands of George Von Gal. Lind, who retired from Delphi Automotive four years ago, and is currently an automotive safety engineering consultant, bought the car in 2001 and has been campaigning it in that class ever since.
To Richard, an old drag racer, all it took was a ride in his friend's Shelby GT350H on a road course to alter the path of his automotive passion. Richard had a '67 Camaro and a 502 crate engine that he was going to mate for quarter-mile blasts, but after experiencing high lateral g-forces at Willow Springs Raceway, he immediately decided to turn the '67 into a road racer. He attended a number of high-performance driving schools, including Skip Barber and the Bondurant School (three times) and has never looked back.
While the aftermarket builds thousands of parts to help your Camaro handle like a modern sports car, none of them can be found on this F-body. They're simply not legal for SVRA competition. The control arms are from 40 years ago, the brakes off a '72 Corvette Stingray. Only power steering is there to help the driver with the "muscling."
"When they called these things muscle cars, they meant it," Richard says. "They were meant to go straight. When you go into a corner, you really have to muscle it to get it to turn."
It's one thing to horse one of these old beasts around a turn when you're by yourself or on an autocross course; now imagine what it's like at speed with two other cars in the same corner. Definitely gets the heart pumping.
The Z/28 was found in 2001 with the help of some friends in the SVRA. Richard looked at one vintage Camaro racecar in Knoxville, Tennessee, which turned out to be more of a show car, thus eliminating it from consideration. Then Richard went to Montgomery, Alabama, where Von Gal had this one for sale—he bought it immediately. Richard's new Z needed a full refurbishing to make it ready for the rigors of the track again. He sent it to Collector Motorsports in Waukee, Iowa, where Stu Black transformed it with a new engine, four-speed trans, rearend, driveshaft, front and rear suspensions, fuel cell—you name it. The payoff is it's been a competitive SVRA Group 6 and HSR Group 5 car ever since.