September 2010 Chevy High Performance Letters - CHP Garage

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First Drive
Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I was one of the first test drivers to get behind the wheel of a Corvette with the new (at the time) LS engine at the GM Proving Grounds. If you would like a first-person account of what that was like, feel free to send me an email. Also, I love your Chevy-orientated mag and keep up the good work. I should also mention prototypes rule and I love driving million-dollar cars.
Jerry Bierens
Via email

Check your email, Jerry, we're definitely interested in your point of view.

More Race Cars!
Perhaps this is blasphemy but I would like to see more all-out race cars featured in CHP. While building a good running street/strip drag machine is a significant accomplishment there is a lot of hot rodding and auto engineering involved in building a race car that goes from A to B in other than a straight line. Like most of us I started out running the quarter-mile, both straight and around an oval. Then the military took me to Europe and I discovered road racing and hill climbs-and that all the usual hot rod tricks were not enough to make me competitive. Cars not only had to be fast but had to corner and brake just as well as they accelerated. Engines had to run wide open for long periods without overheating or blowing up. Understeer and oversteer were killers that had to be engineered out of the suspension.

Driving skill became as critical as fabrication skill, making the desired end result even more elusive. The number of variables involved seemed to increase exponentially presenting the car builder/driver with a vast 3D matrix of choices, each one becoming a paradox with the others. For example: "There is no substitute for cubic inches" crashed head on into optimal weight distribution, while radically wide rubber took too long to come up to operating temperature during a hill climb. Peak horsepower was needed to pass a competitor on the straights but low-speed torque became king when exiting a hairpin turn. Light cars were fast but rigid cars were even faster. While the tight rules of most racing organizations reduce the number of variables to a more manageable level, some venues have almost no rules, leaving the competitor with a bewildering array of problems and paradoxical solutions.

I have evolved into hill climbing (paved roads) as my primary racing arena. I derive tremendous satisfaction from designing, engineering, and building a hill climb race car that competes with other unlimited race cars that are entirely unfettered by any rules to limit their performance. I had to create a SBC that pulls like a diesel at low rpm and screams like an Indy car once the road straightens out. Aerodynamics are becoming second nature as my homemade aero aids allow cornering and braking on the order of 2 g's-and acceleration almost as hard. Traction control in a car that can spin its rear tires at 120 mph comes from carefully nurtured right foot throttle management; there is nothing quite as sweet as carrying the front wheels out of a 110-mph sweeper and keeping them airborne until braking for the next turn. One of my competitors runs a car that lapped Indy at over 220 mph but now produces almost twice the horsepower it had on the big oval. Another was the SCCA National Solo champion seven times and only his preference for hill climbing keeps him from making that an even dozen titles. How about a 400hp Formula car on 13-inch-wide rubber that weighs 700 lbs ready to go?

With a dedicated race car one trades time for thrill level. The sensations occur over a much shorter period than those derived from a combination street/strip car but they are sensations that very few of us ever get to know. Sadly most cannot even achieve a vicarious appreciation for these driving thrills because these all out race cars remain secrets from the mainstream that derive their automotive knowledge from publications such as CHP.
Bob D'Amore
Marblehead, MA.

You're absolutely right. There are a number of racing avenues that many have never even heard of. We're all about the thrill factor and you have to admit that lately, we've been exploring a broader range of motorsports. Truth be told, we wouldn't mind checking out more. As for the 700-pound Formula car with a 400hp powerplant-bring it on, we would love to jump into something like that!

Young Gun
I am a 20-year-old kid that has been reading your magazine for 3-4 years now. I am a hot rod enthusiast, and while I am a fan of all types of cars, racing, and driving, I have to tell you that there is absolutely nothing like being behind the wheel of a car with a big V-8.

My dad and I had a '72 Nova built secretly at a shop for about a year and gave it to my mother as her Christmas present. With nothing but a mild 350, the four-door is merely a grocery getter, but it started my love for hot rods. As soon as I drove her car, the sound of the Flowmaster exhaust and the looks I got were enough to make me want my own. I am the proud owner of a beat-up '72 SS with a 350 engine, Turbo 350 trans with a shift kit, Hedman headers, a dual Flowmaster exhaust system, and an "I love old school" sticker on the back. Give me some time, but I will make the front cover of your magazine one day.

I also wanted to say that I love the articles on what to do on a tight budget. If you guys have any stickers, a shirt, or any old '72 Nova parts laying around that you need to get rid of to help a kid out, I'll rock a sticker on my car. Thanks for the awesome magazine and inspiration guys!
Daniel Cornette
Via email

New enthusiasts are always welcomed and it sounds like you're well on your way with your Nova. Good luck with the cool ride and keep us posted on your progress!

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