Today, it's April 23, a little over one month to go until the first race for the Camaro project. But as with most of us, this project is not the only thing I do to occupy my time, and I have work to do on my bugeye Sprite for the Oregon Region race on May 3-4 as well. Oh yeah, I think I have a job and family, too.
To bring you up to date from last time, I have some pictures of the past month's work to share in this column. When we left the story last month, I had purchased and received a roll-cage kit from CSC Racing Products in Toronto, Canada and I was getting ready to get the car to the cage builder.
I got the car to the cage builder, and he quickly determined that the cage kit didn't fit the car, and we set out to determine why it didn't fit and what we could do about it. A few phone calls to Canada confirmed that they sent the cage they intended to for my year of Camaro, but that they hadn't listened very carefully when I explained my needs and the rules of this class. Their cage jigs assume that you're going to cut holes in the floor of the car and run the main hoop through to the bracing you're using to connect the front subframe with the body and rear suspension assembly on a Camaro. This is allowed in Street Stock, but not in my Enduro class of racing. This also throws off all the rest of the geometry by which they cut and bent the cage - it's not just a matter of cutting some length off of the main hoop. So my cage builder bravely bent some new bars and used what he could from the cage kit and in very short order we had an excellent cage installed. Photos are shown below, but they're not the greatest shots I ever took.
The morals of this part of the story are:
The first picture shows the driver's side door bar web and some of the
So next thing, we set out to work on the paint job and assembling all the other bits and pieces we needed to make this car ready for our race.
We found a friend with a gallon of unused Rustoleum black enamel, got some thinner and painted it one sunny afternoon in the yard outside the shop, and the results looked very good indeed. After that had a chance to dry and cure, we masked the car again for the pink racing stripe and trim, and shot that with about a pint of pink enamel. The results (with essentially no pre-paint prep) are looking about like you'd expect - which is to say that at 50-100 feet in heavy traffic, we'll look as good as any Winston Cup car ever made. Here are some photos of the finished product, with me and my daughter feeling very proud.
We also rattlecanned the motor with Krylon Hot Pink (recently discontinued, so buy it up if you find it) and more Rustoleum black. I like a dressy engine bay, so we went a little overboard on this part. The water pump, which is not shown here, is black as well, and we have some chrome dress-up items from the local auto parts place, too.
We're currently trying to decide whether to go with a Rochester Quadrajet of unknown quality or the 2 barrel carburetor shown in this picture. If you have a strong opinion one way or the other, let me know. But bear in mind that power in this race is only effective if you can get it to the ground, and we have very little in the way of tire.
We had been scanning the newspaper ads for some time looking for the right tires. I had successfully traded an old freezer for a set of reasonably nice black and chrome 7x15 steel rims, and Montgomery Wards ran a sale on some tires that fit the rules of the race (75 series, T-speed rated) for $25 each, installed. So we bought a set of those in 215/75/15 and we also have a set of somewhat used 205/75/15 tires on appropriate rims to use for spares. I should mention that we had to call and/or go to every Wards in greater Portland before we found one that 1) had four of the advertised tires in stock, and 2) didn't give us an amazing ration of grief trying to weasel out of honoring their ad. It was a fairly classic experience "Oh sure, we got lotsa advertised tires, come on down!" on the phone and then "Well, we don't have any of the cheap ones in your size, but we got these nice other ones for only twice as much..." when we got there. Luckily I had nothing better to do that day and so was able to tell them my opinion of their marketing policy and then turn heel and head out the door until I found one that (reluctantly) sold me the tires.
We got the motor installed a few days ago. This happened with relative ease, since we don't yet have the front bodywork fully attached, and we just lifted it off for the operation. It's surprising how small a V-8 looks when it's installed in one of these cars.
So at this point we're in the process of gathering up all the little stuff (brake pads, lug studs, u-joints, gauges, etc) and bolting the front bodywork on and trying to get all the little stuff done by May 26. Probably that date will pass before the next installment of this column, so wish us luck and we'll tell you how it went next time!
I finally went and scanned in an old shot of The Original FizzCar - #21, my first race car ever. This photo was taken before its inaugural race at Watsonville Speedway. Suffice it to say that the car never looked as nice again. For those of you coming in late, this was a 1971 Ford Gran Torino Sport with a 351 Cleveland motor. We got it free from a Co-Worker and drove the hell out of it in 1988 and 1989.
The roll cage in this one was made (I Am Not Kidding) from a roll bar out of a VW Scirocco and some galvanized pipe. But it held up marvelously well.
I wish I had this car today.
I took the bugeye out of winter storage not too long ago and got it dusted off and prepped up for the racing season. Of course, the first outing of the year demonstrated all the new water and oil leaks it had developed since last season, but that's to be expected. The good news is that I bettered my previous best lap times (in Vintage Configuration) by a second and the car behaved very nicely indeed. So between now and the next time I am pulling the drivetrain one more time and fixing that seal leak. I have the motor down with the local bugeye guru to see about putting on a better rear oil seal and a slightly more aggressive cam so I can both go faster and not leave a James Bond smoke screen behind me.
I'm also taking the opportunity to do some much-overdue suspension tweaking, so hopefully I'll surprise a few folks at the next event.
This article copyright © Jeff Zurschmeide, 1997