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September 2010 Chevy High Performance Letters - CHP Garage

Jul 21, 2010
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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!

Got something to say? We'll make you famous and put your letter here. Email us at

Rooster Call
Sean Haggai
Well, we've had a good run and it's time to start winding down. Ah, well maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself here. I'm talking about letting go of my little turbo-four hatch that I've been commuting back and forth to work in.

chp_01_z September_2010_chevy_high_performance_letters Sean_haggai 2/5

Backing up a bit, when I was originally hired, I was scooting around in a red secondhand four-banger. It had a five-speed, lowered suspension, four doors, and a hatch! Believe it or not, when I worked at QMP, I actually fit an assembled big-block short-block in the back. It was one of those cars you'll never forget. Whether it was for school or work, it did everything and more-except get chicks or win all-out drag races.

As the miles racked up, I decided to sell it in favor of a new model. This time around, it had a factory turbocharger, paddle shifters, and high-bolstered seats. Gas mileage is awesome and I regularly see 28 mpg plus! So why am I bummed out? Truth be told, it's a lease and has to be returned. In the short time the car has been in my possession, I've accrued 50,000 miles. I don't regret any miles though and the car has been a solid trooper. I guess all good things must come to an end?

I highly doubt you will be sad to hear that in little more than a year; my hot-hatch will be gone. All is not lost though since I've found its replacement. Cutting a page directly from Henry's line of thought, I had an impulse and I went with it. Let's just say that I will soon be rolling in a new-to-me '86 C10 Shortbed standard cab.

The truck literally fell into my lap from my friends at Rubio's Auto Body and I jumped on it. I've always wanted a truck and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally get in one. You may spontaneously combust in a jealous rage if I ever decided to reveal how much I purchased the truck for; but as I said, I wasn't going to pass this up. It's full of potential and it already has fresh paint with a lowered suspension. In short, the truck will become my new daily driver and get me to and from the office. For now, I'm planning on a small-block stroker for go power and hopefully getting my grubby hands on a 700-R4 transmission for long distance sprints. Who knows, it may even become Brutus' future tow vehicle.


Goodguys Costa Mesa
We can tell you firsthand that Goodguys events are a total blast. More recently, we checked out the Goodguys Costa Mesa show and it featured plenty of show vehicles and a large crowd. Our favorite part was the autocross challenge, which had a record number of participants. To join the fun, all you just had to do was sign in, buckle up, and throttle through the cones. Who knows, you may even see the CHP team along the West Coast venues with their '72 Nova and '02 Z06. For a detailed schedule of events, log onto

chp_02_z September_2010_chevy_high_performance_letters Good_guys_nova 3/5

"I've turned down $10,000 more than a few times, I've done the same on $12,000 a couple of times, but you stick $15,000 cash under my nose and it's yours, trophies, calendars, and models too! Then I'm on to my next one."
-Done Deal Donny,

Math For Your Tires
Ever need help computing the different tire sizes for your project vehicle? If you are like us, the calculations can be a bit overwhelming at times. To discover the correct speedometer reading, check out the website below for easy-to-follow guidelines. Just fill out each tab and the calculator will do the math for you! TireMath.dos.

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A Near Miss
It may look easy, but don't discount the fact that things can still go wrong. While most autocross competitions are held in empty parking lots, it can still be a hair-raising experience. A lapse of concentration, too much throttle and you can be crossed up in no time; these skid marks prove it too. The driver came within inches of smacking one of the barriers head on.

chp_04_z September_2010_chevy_high_performance_letters Parking_lot_barriers 5/5



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