So, as exciting as it is to get behind the wheel of a freshly built project car, it’s easy to get a little ahead of yourself and think all is “good in the hood” (or at least under the hood). Such was the case with Project Orange Krate, our 1971 Camaro.
After driving it a few hundred break-in miles to get some of the bugs worked out, our next move was to get the car some track time to really put it to task.
Mike Norris (Mike Norris Motorsports, Plainfield, Indiana) has been overseeing the car and handling a few of the final touches after it went through a complete rebuild at Competition Specialties in Walpole, Massachusetts. Recently, he’s been nagging me to purchase a few minor things like new door and trunk locks (the flathead screwdriver rolling around behind the seat used to open the trunk is getting old). I’m on it. I swear.
Recently, Norris’ wheels started spinning (Dude’s wheels are always spinning) and he figured that hitting the Holley LS Fest would be a good opportunity to get the car some track time to really break it in. The car has already proven how ready it is for the street. So, with bags packed, Mike fueled up the Camaro and hit the road for a 250-mile drive to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where we met up at Beech Bend Raceway to see what Orange Krate was really made of. This is where the difference between a nice-driving highway car and a killer-handling track car become two totally different things.
From the first aggressive right-hand turn on the Beech Bend autocross we realized the car needed stiffer springs up front. And after suspension tuning guru J.J. Furillo, owner of Ultimate Performance, witnessed the car on track, it was determined that we needed more spring out back as well, along with a rear sway bar. Instead of attacking corners, J.J. noticed the car looked lazy entering and exiting corners when what we really need is for the car to be in attack mode. At the time, it really didn’t make much sense to mess with the shock settings since we’ll be making some pretty substantial changes to the suspension setup once we get the car back to the shop.
All weekend the car was running about mid-pack as far as lap times go, which was great for its first outing. Between Norris and myself sharing driving duties, we were getting to know the car and became more familiar with its handling capabilities. The problem with me is that I have “zero” patience and want the car to be competitive its first time out. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.
Next up for Orange Krate is to get some new springs and a sway bar, then log a whole bunch of track time. That’s all good with me since a bad day the track is much better than a good day in the office.
Oh, and I still need to get that lock kit ordered. I have a feeling that flathead screwdriver is going to get lost somewhere under the back seats. Wait, it doesn’t have back seats. Nevermind, we’re good.