There are few moments in life quite like the first time you actually get to drive a new project, whether it was just a simple engine modification or an entire rebuild. For me, the moment came right before lunch on a Monday, after three all-nighters in the shop trying to get the STi Killer ready for battle. After grabbing the last of the supplies from the parts store and filling the radiator with water, I nervously climbed into the driver's seat and turned the key. After just a second on the starter, the STi Killer fired to life and the GMPP LS6 sounded amazing. After verifying that nothing was spewing from the engine bay, I slowly pushed in on the clutch, slid the shifter into reverse and began to back up. "We're taking this car to lunch!" I proclaimed-just moments before the Camaro ground to a halt and the clutch pedal dropped to the floor. OK, I was prepared for this, I figured something would happen, but this seemed like a much bigger deal. Defeated, I pushed the car back onto the lift and rode to lunch, again, in a car other than the Camaro.
When we returned, I started digging and luckily found that our clutch problem was a simple fix. Turns out, you do in fact need that little clip on the clutch pedal to hold the master cylinder rod to the pedal (PN 3817880). After a quick trip to the dealership, we were back in business (thanks to Marc "tiny hands" Christ, of Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords fame) and I was finally able to take the Camaro on its maiden voyage, a trip around the parking lot, over the main street in front of our world headquarters and over to the gas station, to fill the Camaro with 13 gallons of 93 octane. Upon return, I deemed the STi Killer "ready for war" and after a cool down and double-check, it was time to see what the STi Killer was really made of.
Before we could hit the track with our new setup, we had to verify that the entire drivetrain was in good working order and that our tune-up was spot on. For this, we loaded the STi Killer on our in-house DynoJet 224xLC, brought it up to temperature and made some baseline dyno runs. Using a combination of tools, including the built-in DynoJet wideband, our own Innovate LM-1 wideband, and a copy of HP Tuners, we were able to monitor everything our project was doing and change any parameters of the tune that needed tweaking. With just under 20 miles on the odometer, we laid the hammer down for the first time, recording 394.4 rwhp and 378.6 lb-ft of torque! Trust me, we were as surprised as you are, 394.4 from a GMPP LS6 with bolt-ons did seem optimistic, but we backed it up with another pull and everything checked out. It seems that the combination of our traditional bolt-ons, along with the small horsepower freeing modifications we have made along the way all worked together to belt out some serious power. In comparison, our Subaru STi made 230 awhp and 260 lb-ft of torque, which means in the horsepower wars, the Camaro clearly reigns supreme.
With 394.4 rwhp on tap, we were excited to get our Camaro on the dragstrip at Gainesville Raceway. Unfortunately, we couldn't have picked a hotter day to run. With ambient air temperatures in the low 90s (92.1 to be exact) and 61 percent humidity, it was brutal on track. For the first couple of passes we took it easy, launching the STi Killer off idle and slowly winding down the track. These passes put us in the low 13s, but we demanded more. After checking out the HP Tuners datalogs, we found several little changes we could make, including bumping up the rev-limiter from 6,000 to 6,600 rpm and making some slight air/fuel adjustments. To our surprise, we found Incoming Air Temps (IATs) of 153 degrees at the starting line and 133 degrees at the end of the track! With air that hot, we knew we couldn't expect much, but a 12-second pass was deemed necessary, so we gave it another go. With a 2,500-rpm launch, which was about as much as our mostly stock suspension and Nitto NT05 street tires could handle, we cut a dismal 2.138 60-foot and rowed four consecutive gears, taking us out the back at 6,100 rpm, running a 12.996 at 110.02 mph. It wasn't a perfect run but it was a 12-second pass, which was enough to satisfy our needs-for now.
Moving away from the Camaro's straight-line home territory, we drove over to Gainesville Raceway's 200-foot skidpad, to see how well our Camaro could stick using the stock, worn, and abused suspension and our 295/35/18 Nitto NT05 tires. After making a warm-up lap and setting our Racepak G2X logger, we started turning up the heat, making a series of laps around the skidpad in both a clockwise and counter-clockwise orientation. With an average speed of 40.68 mph, we recorded an average of .94 lateral g's. We found that, even with the terrible stock suspension, the STi Killer had tons of grip once it was settled in the corner and the steering and throttle provided excellent feedback. With some suspension upgrades, the STi Killer should be able to pull over 1 g on the skidpad, which will make it a serious contender on any track.
The road course will serve as the STi Killer's main testing ground as we move forward, and we spent a substantial amount of time getting baseline numbers with the Camaro on Gainesville Raceway's 1.6-mile road course. Unfortunately, we found out almost immediately that our project has a long way to go before we can really compete with the STis and Corvettes that regularly dominate on track. First of all, we found that our suspension needs a lot of work. It seems that the stock shocks, which sat in the roller shell for years without any weight on them, have become stuck at almost full extension. Without being able to compress and control the springs, our Camaro couldn't transfer weight properly, which made it difficult to brake or corner. Secondly, the stock sway bar combination on our Camaro, while decent for the street, still allowed the Camaro to roll heavily in the corners, although instead of compressing the outside shocks, it would just roll over the shocks at close-to-max extension, lifting the inside of the chassis even further above the asphalt. Despite these issues and an ABS INOP fault, we still managed to lay down a couple of consistent baseline laps, which ended with a best lap of a 1:09.996. This is the number we will concentrate on going forward, trying to shave seconds at a time until we get much closer to the 1-minute flat zone. Make sure you stay tuned for the next part of this build, where we will tear into the suspension of our STi Killer and really make some waves on the road course.