The NMCA-Edelbrock Drag Racing Series kicked off its 2010 season in usual fashion by invading Bradenton Motorsports Park (Florida) with its familiar dose of high-speed action from its heads-up racing ranks. But one of the biggest highlights from this year’s season opener didn’t come from its heads-up ranks but rather from the True Street category, where Frank Soldridge of PSI Motorsports dominated the competition. The Pennsylvania resident drove Vincent Fiore’s ’69 Camaro Z/28 to a record-breaking average of 7.74 seconds and set NMCA history. It was a mighty feat, considering the category’s strict code of conducta 30-mile cruise on the local streets followed by three consecutive runs down the quarter-mile without the benefit of a cooldown or popping the hood. The three runs are averaged together for the final ranking, and the class attracts a wide range of cars from showroom stock to unlimited vehicles, like the first-generation F-body featured on these pages.
The path to 7-second times didn’t happen overnight. Vincent dropped his car off at Franks’s shop (PSI Motorsports) nearly two years ago. The car originally had a nitrous-injected 555ci engine and psi added the 565ci bullet currently underhood. The shop was responsible for converting the engine to fuel injection, tuning it, and adding the ProCharger centrifugal supercharger. Initially, the car ran low 8s, and they finished off the 2009 season with a monster 7.71 at 185 mph during the Shakedown at Englishtown event in the Outlaw Radial class. The car happened to fit in the category since it rolls on 315/50 Mickey Thompson drag radials. The performances tickled their enthusiasm as they looked at the NMCA True Street record, which was set at 7.94. We knew we had a chance to get the record and decided to go to Bradenton for the season opener, Frank says. Vincent loaded up the car, and they headed south for the 2010 kickoff event. The duo proceeded to destroy the old record by two-tenths of a second with a 7.74 average.
The car doesn’t just see action in NMCA competition either; it logs a serious amount of street time especially at Ocean City, Maryland’s Cruisin’ Weekend. Vincent also runs in heads-up competition and currently sits Fourth in Outlaw Radial points in Cecil County Dragway’s Street Car Shootout series. It’s quite a feat, considering the Camaro was not purpose-built for the task. The street car holds its own against the dedicated Outlaw Radial entries but that isn’t going to last for long. The thrill of competition has been too strong for Vincent to continue with the car’s street machine roots, and change is in the future.
"We've had a lot of fun setting the True Street record with the NMCA and also driving it on the street," Frank says. The highlight of the street cruising came when Vincent drove into the serious parking lot during the famous Ocean City Cruisin’ Weekend this past spring. Amongst the Pro Mod--wannabe cars sat Vincent’s Camaro, which was probably quickest of them all despite being the most stock-looking ride. The car has gone 7.43 at just 150 mph with a 4.78 eighth-mile. Vincent shut it off early and Frank estimates it would have gone in the 7.30s if he stayed in it.
For now, Vincent will enjoy the car on the street and strip, and the winter will bring the transformation into a dedicated machine destined for Outlaw Radial competition. Through it all, the one theme that always remains is the fun factor.
Engine and Drivetrain
The first thing you notice about the Camaro is the rumble from the exhaust; it comes courtesy of a nasty big-block Chevy. Gil Davis built the 565ci engine, and he added a 4.25-inch Callies crankshaft, Oliver billet rods, and custom Diamond pistons, and topped it off with a set of Brodix Head Hunter heads and intake manifold. The rest of the details include a custom roller camshaft from J&E Performance, FAST XFI fuel injection that is tuned by Frank Soldridge and a monster ProCharger F3 supercharger that’s driven by a geardrive system by The Supercharger Store. All told it produces over 1,800 rear-wheel horsepower on the in-house chassis dyno at PSI Motorsports at 30 psi of boost.
Producing over 1,800 rear-wheel horsepower demands a serious platform to handle the speed and performance, so Vincent Fiore had the car fitted with a SFI-certified 25.5 ’cage, ladder bar rear suspension, Strange adjustable rear coilover shocks, and a Global West front suspension. The car was upgraded over several years to keep up with the constantly evolving times it was capable of running. The chassis and engine are extreme for the average street enthusiast but that’s what it takes to stand on top of the field in True Street competition.
It’s a street car so it’s only natural that the car wears DOT-legal meats. Up front are a set of Mickey Thompson S/R. Out back, the rears are Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials that come in at a massive 315/60R15, which works out to be 30 inches tall and 11.9 inches wide. The height helps traction on track and, when combined with the 3.50 rear gear, the engine hums at only 2,300 rpm on the highway at 60 mph. Not bad for a car equipped with a Powerglide and no overdrive gear.
The interior isn’t exactly a place that will accommodate comfort on a cross-country trip, but it is certainly worthy for local cruising. The ’69 Camaro’s cabin is tight thanks to the equipment required to be a 7-second True Street contender. It’s dominated by a Funny Car ’cage that makes up a major part of the SFI 25.5 chassis certification. The ProCharger F3R blows into 4-inch tubing that runs inside the cabin to a back seat–mounted air-to-water intercooler, which discharges into another path of 4-inch tubing that runs through the firewall and into the engine. The driver can keep tabs on the engine via a FAST XFI touch-screen dashboard and an assortment of Auto Meter gauges. The back seat is still in there, but is rendered useless due to the rollcage and intercooler. The driver and passenger sit securely in a pair of Kirkey aluminum seats.
The body is nearly stock, save for the fiberglass cowl-induction hood from VFN and the custom sheetmetal rear wing to help top end traction at nearly 190 mph. A parachute hangs off the rear bumper too and is required by the NHRA for any vehicle exceeding 150 mph. If you’re wondering, it’s removed for street use and easily bolted back on for track action. The sideview mirror, chrome trim, driprails, and emblems are all either refurbished originals or have been replaced. CHP