In the 15 years that GMHTP has been building project cars, we have, surprisingly, never actually tackled a full-on race car. Sure, we have built some wicked rides and wrenched on some of the coolest stuff in the aftermarket, but we haven't ever covered a build from bone-stock to wheels-up-until now! To be fair, it's certainly not because we didn't want to build a drag car before, it's just that we never had the means to do so until now. You see, in the world of automotive journalism, both time and money are rare commodities and as we all know, building a race car takes copious amounts of both. On a common man's salary (read: basically minimum wage), building a 9-second rocket in a reasonable amount of time means making a lot of sacrifices in your daily life, like eating Ramen noodles every night, skipping lunches, and passing over a weekend dinner and a movie for reruns of old Family Guy clips on Hulu. And while most of us spend our pathetic paychecks doing responsible things like paying rent, there is one among us that has decided to throw caution to the wind. He is, of course, none other than our fearless leader, Editor Scott Parker. And he has decided that enough is enough and he is going to build a race car, regardless of what his financial advisor (his mother) says about it.
With a crazy, financially irresponsible, but ultimately awesome, plan in mind and a $500 bone-stock and beaten '95 V-6 Camaro in tow, we set out to build our first GMHTP race car. Of course, we quickly remembered we're automotive journalists, not talented mechanics or fabricators, so instead of taking on a project of this magnitude alone, we turned it over to the pros. Luckily for us, we have some of the best in the business right in our backyard, namely, Matt LaRue and Troy Pirez Jr., both fantastic builders out of ProFab Performance in Thonotosassa, Florida. If you're not already familiar with ProFab, you will be soon. Matt LaRue, the former lead fabricator for BMR Fabrication, has had his hands on fast cars for years, helping build some of BMR's most notorious project cars before branching out on his own. At his new shop, Matt has already helped build some of the fastest Drag Radial race cars in the South and his ability to build a fast, safe, and consistent car is exactly why we love to work with him. Matt's apprentice, Troy Pirez Jr., is an up-and-coming builder, who's name may ring a bell, as he is the son of Troy Pirez, one of the fastest men in stock suspension Drag Radial racing. With their help, along with the advice and hard work of many other talented people, we were excited to get this build underway.
Not knowing where to begin, we did the first logical thing and literally began at the front, removing the busted nose of our '95 Camaro, ditching the stock hood and beginning to remove the stock V-6 engine, transmission, and wiring. Our first objective was to get rid of everything we didn't need and strip the front end down to nothing, adding back only what was absolutely necessary. According to Matt, that meant ditching the stock K-member, front suspension, and brakes, sending them to the junkyard in favor of BMR Fabrication's Level 2 Ultimate Weight Savings Package (PN LWP005, $2,929). This gorgeous kit, which ships complete from BMR with a lightweight tubular K-member, tubular upper and lower control arms, Strange double-adjustable shocks, Hypercoil springs, a custom manual steering rack, Strange lightweight front brakes, and a manual brake conversion can drop over 114 pounds off the nose of any F-body! Not only will we be shedding major weight right where we need it, but we will also gain a ton of control over the front end, allowing us to make minor tweaks to the suspension to help dial in our 60-foot times down the road. As you would expect from BMR and Strange Engineering, all of these parts basically bolt directly in place of the old stuff and fit like a glove.
Now, we know what you're thinking, did we order the LT1 or LS1 Level 2 package? Well, at least half of you readers are going to be happy with our decision. Remember that 720hp, 451-cubic-inch LSX that Editor Parker just built with Late Model Engines in Houston, Texas? The one that would make a perfect bullet for this build? That's the engine we plan on using and we can't wait to see what it can do in our Camaro-pairing one killer engine with one fantastic and lightweight chassis, building a stout drivetrain and giving it hell. Not only will we get to have fun at the track, we can test some serious race stuff with the 451 LSX and report back our findings, showing you what works and what doesn't at many different power levels. For now, follow along with Matt LaRue and Troy Pirez Jr. as they install the BMR Fabrication Level 2 Ultimate Weight Savings Package on our Camaro and make sure you tune in for more with our new project, The Purp.