Monday, October 28, 2013

Roadkill: Episode 21

The Merc is a hack job, yet oh so cool!  It wouldn't be a Roadkill episode without the mandatory overheating and hood removal that we've all grown so accustomed to.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!


I helped my wife out when it came to what I wanted (needed) for my birthday.  I asked for an AFR stud girdle for my heads.  She said "just send me the part #'s."  I also recently got the rest of the money owed to me for my 12 bolt, so figured I'd treat myself to another birthday gift, a day before my actual birthday.  Dad was already up watching the girls because I had training for work, so once I was headed home, I gave McCormack Racing a phone call. Located about 15 minutes from home, they have a healthy stock of racing tires.  After verifying they had the Mickey Thompson ET Streets in 275/60/R15, I stopped home, removed my wheels and tires, and headed downriver.  I also picked up a full set of 3" axle studs, since the 2" studs I bought with my rear weren't long enough to protrude from my open lugs.  It felt good to get the tires out of the way, since they were the second most costly item on my list, after a set of Hooker Super Comp headers.

Here are the run of the mill 275/60/R15 radials I've had on the car for about 13 years, though with only about 5-6 years of use.  Nothing fancy, and nothing even remotely sticky.  That's why I'm so anxious to see what this car will do when it can hook up.



With the wheels/tires removed, you can see my Wilwood disc brake kit.

The new meats, Mickey Thompson ET Streets.  These should give the car some bite!

Here are the AFR Rocker Arm Stud Girdle.  I failed to realize that I would need new rocker arm nuts, for another cool $104 for the full set.  AFR makes some amazing heads, but their lack of instructions, or even just an engraving, telling what to torque the side bolts to would have been nice.  I suppose the answer is simply a phone call away.

Not bolted on, since I need to replace the 2" axle studs with some 3" studs, but you can see what they will look like.


There are some items on my list that I can skip if I have to.  Tires were not one of those items.  In fact, the tires were the deal breaker.  I could cut a whole bunch of the list down, and still make it to the track next season now.

Look for me to get back to work on my Camaro in the coming weeks, and we will be back hitting our 68 Firebird hard come next month.  Winter is nearly upon us, but I got plenty on my plate, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2014 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE


I have been wondering if GM was going to continue the 1LE Camaro with the redesigned model. Today, I find that it will be in fact continued, with a few upgrades even, at no additional cost. Chevy makes quite a few variations of the Camaro now, from the base V6, to all of the V8 models: SS, Z28, 1LE, and ZL1. Given all of the choices, and after reading all of the reviews, I would absolutely LOVE to own a 1LE. Still plenty of creature comforts to remind me that I'd be driving a new car, yet enough improvements to prove that it's not your typical Camaro. I still hope to get one of these in the coming years, though with so many toys already in my stable, I may have to wait until they are 10+ years old to add one to my collection.

 Hot Rod Magazine: 2014 Chevy Camaro 2SS 1LE

The world's smallest efi engine

How badass is this little engine?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Summit Motorsports Park - Halloween Warm-up


 Two Saturdays in a row I hit Norwalk, now named Summit Motorsports Park.  I've already ranted and raved over what a top notch facility it is, so no sense in repeating that.  This weekend was more enjoyable, as the weather was perfect, and the track didn't get oil downed even once!  The racing action was non-stop, and dominated by 9-10 second cars.  I also got a chance to talk with the tech inspector for awhile, getting all of my questions answered.  I was happy to find there were no surprises to add to my winter list.  In fact, I was better off than I thought, as until my car was to run 9.99 of faster, I don't have to worry about getting my cage certified.  Once you get to that level, you cage must be recertified every two years, at a cost of about $150.

I'm more motivated than ever to get back to the track racing.  I'm planning on having my car good to go by late spring, a goal that seems easy right now, though with two little girls, all goals are not so easily reached these days.

I still say that 9-10 second cars are by far the most fun to watch.  They almost all launch on two wheels, look and sound fast, and seem like your typical street car.  The dragsters are about as boring as racing can get in my opinion.  While I'm sure they are fun as hell to drive, from a spectators perspective, they all look the same.  They all launch the same, and even the burnouts are nothing spectacular.  In fact, most just roll the tires a bit, not producing any tire smoke, and that's it.

So after watching two straight weekends of racing, I think we will initially shoot for building our 68 Firebird into a 10 second car.  Perhaps one day we will push it faster, but a mid to low 10 second car just seems more appealing for now.  So that's a wrap as far as the racing season is concerned.  Look for me to start working on the Camaro soon, placing frequent orders with both Summit and Jegs as the weeks proceed.

This 68 Firebird was even the same color ours was from factory.  This was a damn nice car, which sadly had some oil pressure issues, and only ran a few runs.  That's a glass hood, which the owner didn't believe they make any longer.

Wheels up racing, all day long!

A nice Cuda yankin' the wheels.

Camaro launchin' hard.

This CTS-V had a new cam and drag radials, while running a best of 11.1 in the 1/4 mile!

Novas may have been the most popular car at the track.

This was one nice Coronet!  With a 426 hemi, it ran 10.50's with a restrictor plate all day long.  Take away the restrictor plate, and this was a 9 second car.


1980's all over again.

Good looking Mopar, able to yank the wheels.

Here's is that 1968 Firebird close up.  Loved the hood, which was slightly taller then stock.



This is how close you can get to the action.  Took this shot from ground level.

10.5's and yanking the wheels...each and every run.

I'm not sure I've ever seen one of these Pontiac wagons.  Not a bad looking car...for the 80's.

Yes, that's a Volvo.  Maybe the coolest Volvo ever!


That CTS-V wasn't the only Caddy running the 1/4.




The only front engine dragster at the track, and the only dragster that was even remotely cool.  Even so, the run was no cooler than any of the other dragsters.  It's just not a show.  They do a light burnout, no smoke, and launch without excitement.  I'd rather watch a 9-10 door slammer than a 7 second dragster.

I think this would be the Omega.  It's Olds powered, and launched this way every launch.  This car made it deep into eliminations.

This Gremlin ran the week prior as well.  You don't see many Gremlins, let alone racing at the track.

After the racing ended, I was able to walk out on the track.  Your feet literally stick to the track, so much so that its hard to lift your shoes off the track to walk.  My goal is not only to go racing next year, but to race the first time at Norwalk.  After all, this is the first track I ever raced at, in my first car, nearly 20 years ago.

10-12-2013 Summit Motorsports Park (Norwalk)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Back to Norwalk Raceway Park

Summit Motorsports Park, as it's now called actually. In my ever changing job schedule, this may be my last weekend off for awhile. When the wife informed me that she was heading to the MSU football homecoming game with her sister, and that she had already asked her mom to watch the girls, not knowing I was off, it opened up a freebie Saturday for me. What to do, what to do? While it was disappointing that the racing didn't start until 5 pm last weekend at Norwalk, the racing sucked me in. Free Saturday? I think I'll head back and watch some more racing. I had pondered checking out the heads up/no et racing at our local track, Milan Dragway, but I like to see et's. I also considered our recently opened Onondaga Dragway, which runs 1/8 mile, but in the end decided a return to Norwalk would likely please me the most. This time, I'm going to meet up with dad halfway there and then carpool the rest of the way. All after hopefully getting all of 3.5 hrs sleep the night before. I'm taking my camera again, and considering this is the Halloween Classic warm-up, I'm thinking there should be a ton of cars racing. Stay tuned!

Roadkill: Episode 20

It never ceases to amaze me, the number of problems these guys have while hitting the highway. Yet, I find all of their troubles 100% believable, and most of which I have personally dealt with. More than anything, their headaches keep each and every episode interesting. I mean after all, what fun would it be if all of their trips were uneventful?

Sunday, October 06, 2013

2013 Shakedown at the Summit!


Weather permitting, I wanted to watch some drag racing.  Weather was not cooperating though, and right up until 5 minutes from walking out that door with my dad, I was undecided.  Do we head to Norwalk, where there was a 30% chance of storms, and the radar seemed to confirmed, it would be wet.  Or, do we head west to Kalamazoo, MI and check out the Gilmore Museum, playing it safe?  I rolled the dice, because I wanted to see some racing!

We got to the track and found racing hadn't got underway yet, due to rain, as of 11 am.  It would be 5 pm before the cars would break the beams.  All wasn't lost however, as the rain delay allows you to stroll the pits and see ALL of the cars.  It also gave me a chance to talk to some racers about the classes, and even meet Bangshift's very own, Chad Reynolds.  Chad seemed like a cool guy, totally into the scene, and someone who gets it.

The folks at Norwalk proved once again why they operate one of the elite tracks in the country.  Rain be damned, their crew was on top of it all day, and finally won the battle late afternoon. The traction, man, I'd bet there isn't a track in the country that hooks harder!  The prep they put into getting the track sticky is unreal.  You can hear the shoes of the workers sticking to the track as they walk. Combine that with the new tire compounds, such as the x275 class, and these cars perform like never before.

Purple monster?

Here is one of the "Won and Done" cars, a new show hosted by Rich Christenson.  I will say, I've always been a bit annoyed by him, but he creates some top notch shows.  This one however, may not be one of them.  The whole giving them car lengths, then the cars going before he even drops his arms, well, is just stupid.  Though I could be wrong, I've always got the impression that Rich doesn't know shit about cars, he's simply an attention whore that loves wearing shmedium shirts in front of the camera.

Another of the "Won and Done" cars, though I'm pretty sure it also raced in a class later.  Perhaps the Limited Street category.

Here she is, in all her glory.  The first 1/4 mile I ever ran down, and one that I hope to get my Camaro down next summer.  Just look at that pad!

Not your typical Cadillac.

I'm pretty sure this isn't an engine out of a CTS-V. Haha

A Buick Regal T-type, though with a Chevy motor now, racing in the x275 class.

Above is one of the cars running in the x275 class, a class in which I really wanted to see at this event.  I was somewhat disappointed there weren't more cars in this class, as it seemed there were only about a dozen or so.  I was however shocked by the times they were running.  I wanted to see what a car could do on these Mickey Thompson ET Streets, since that's what I want on my Camaro by next year.  I knew they were running fast, but damn!  Quickest ET I remember seeing was a 4.8 second 1/8 mile at about 150 mph! These cars all ran in the 1/8th.  That translates to about a 7.6 second 1/4 mile!  I didn't realize they were quicker than that 8.50 class and was blown away they were doing it on 275's!  Considering wide tires drive like shit on the road, I'm glad I will be able to do what I wanna do on 275's, and also for our future drag car.  I don't see us ever financing a 7 second car, though perhaps an 8.50 car, and there is no reason to tub the car when we can fit a 275 inside the stock wheel wells.

My father-in-law has an SST...not like this one though.

55 Chevy, running the Outlaw class I think.


Larry Larson, of Hot Rod Drag Week fame.  I think he has won 5 titles now?

Dark Horse indeed.  At 706 ci, you would think it was pretty big, but there were plenty of 800+ ci engines running this event.

Another x275 car, a Monte Carlo.

Chad Reynolds of, in town offering free live coverage of the event via  He seemed like a cool guy, totally into the scene, and extremely impressed by the staff at Norwalk.

Jr Dragster, something my daughter may get into one day.

A Mustang LX running the 8.50 class.

I hold no brand loyalties, thus, I was not afraid to talk to this Mustang owner from Canada.  He was the first I had talked to that filled me in on the fast times these cars are running these days.  I also found out just how much power it takes, 1,350 hp in this 2,900 lb car, to compete in this 8.50 class.  This car did so via a Procharger, with what I consider a HUGE intercooler mounted in the passenger seat.  I've been out of the loop for awhile, and only to that track a couple times in the last 13 years, so this is the first I've seen such a setup.  Though not quite as fast as the x275 cars, it was just as exciting.


You're starting to see quite a few of these 3rd gens finding their way to the track.

The staging lanes were filled, and as we closed in on 5 pm, racing was about to begin!

These cars were running close to 250 mph, and much faster than anything I had expected to see.



Though they run fast times, and carry their front ends for a ways, the wheelie bars may for rather uneventful launches.  Sure, they're fast, but I'd rather watch slightly slower cars yanking the wheels.  I've concluded that the 8-10 second cars are my favorite, but will even include the wheel yanking x275 class, as one particular Mustang stood her up on the rear bumper, before crashing down and covering the track with antifreeze (that part was a bummer).


Nice Impala.

Sharp Mopar.  One of the nicest at the track.

This is the wheels up racing I like to see! This was part of the "Won and Done" filming, as you can see that tool Rich jumping like a little school girl between the lanes to your far right.





The Pro Imports were even getting it in!  Yanking the wheels off the ground and running the numbers.  Though only represented by maybe a dozen cars (tops), they held their own in terms of getting down the track.


Yes, that is a Ford Probe.  Once speculated to be the Mustang replacement, thankfully that didn't happen.  It was a fairly nice design, well ahead of its time in my opinion.  Had it been rear wheel drive and v8 powered, who knows, maybe it would still be around.


Wheels up!

There's the heavy Ram, proving it too can yank the front off the ground.


Yep, wasn't expecting times/mph like this!  Amazing how far drag racing has evolved.

The Jr Dragsters getting there time on the track.

Perhaps it's a sign of my age, but I think this 3rd gen Camaro looks just as at home as the 69 next to it.  Perhaps its because the design now dates back over 30 years, and was last built over 20 years ago.

For my buddy Wes.  Proof that he isn't the only one out there that thinks a Fairmont is cool.

The announcer stated multiple times that there were over 200 cars that turned out for the event.

Another x275 car.



Purging the nitrous!

One of the last runs we caught before heading for home around 10 pm.  I heard that the racing continued for several hours more, until rain brought it all to an end, not just for the night, but for the event.

All in all, I'm glad we picked the track over the museum. We have all winter to do museum visits, and racing season is coming to a close.  I'm still blown away by how fast the cars were, and VERY impressed with 1/8 mile racing.  Having never watched 1/8 mile, I quickly realized that most of the action happens in that first 1/8, the speeds aren't that much lower than a full 1/4 mile run.  It motivated me to try and hit Onondaga next year, to try out 1/8 mile for myself.

Something else that perhaps left me a little concerned, was talking with that 8.50 Mustang owner.  He said he bought the car about 5 months ago, after rolling his previous Mustang about 9 times.  The owner said he had about $75K invested in the car, and sold it for $9k, as the majority of the car was destroyed.  It had me wondering whether or not racing my Camaro is worth it, given the possibility that something bad could always happen.  I know I'd be sick to my stomach if I cracked it up, or even worse, totaled it.  That said, as long as I stay in the 10 second range, I think I minimalize the risk.  Our drag car however, after watching these races, I'm more motivated to go even faster.  A stout BBC that we can spray the hell out of, would get us damn close to that 8.50 range, and running with the big dawgs!  One thing is for sure, we won't get running wider than a 275 tire after witnessing what they can do.

With both racing and cruising season practically done, it's time to stop just thinking about what I need to get done this winter, and get started one what needs to be done.  Next time I report in, it will hopefully be from the garage. Until then.

2013 Shakedown at the Summit