Chevy’s performance division has gone through a style change recently that you should start noticing in their ads and commercials later this year. The blue and yellow scheme is gone, as is the name “GM Performance Parts”. Instead, the performance parts division, where you can get everything from turnkey crate engines to full-on racing heads, will be referred to as Chevrolet Performance.
Now you can upgrade your wardrobe with a T-shirt featuring two of Chevrolet’s most iconic muscle machines: the modern-day drag monster and its predecessor, the 427-powered ’69 COPO Camaro. The term COPO of course refers to the Central Office Production Order, which allowed buyers in the muscle car heyday to order specialized cars directly from the factory. Recently GM resurrected the drag race demon that is the COPO (possibly in response to both Ford and Mopar’s drag racing–themed rides), and we heard the first run sold like crazy. Rumor has it that the first models will be delivered to buyers in August, so we’re excited to see some classic drag race rivalry among the Big Three’s best as early as this year. In the meantime, you can show off your fandom with a cool shirt.
This 100 percent cotton T-shirt can be ordered from powermallstore.com or call 714.444.2426 to place an order.
You asked how I got started into autocrossing. It all started when I picked up my brand-spanking-new ’71 Z28 Camaro from Jack Wall Chevrolet in Pasadena on April 27, 1971. I was so stoked; it was a very special day in my life. I had no idea at the time that I would have the car 40 years later. It was special ordered with the rally sport option, a custom interior, and a host of other options. It was built at the Van Nuys plant.
I was a big fan of the old Trans-Am series and Mark Donahue, so I’ve always wanted a Z28. I fell in love with Chevys when my dad bought a ’57 Chevy 210 four-door hardtop with a 283ci and a Powerglide trans; I’ve been a Chevy lover ever since.
I joined Guldstrand Racing Association in 1977 and started autocrossing soon after. I have tuned and tested my car with every suspension combination imaginable to see what works the best. In my garage I have five rear bars, four front bars, three sets of front springs, custom rear leaf of my own design, ’79 spindles, Wilwood aluminum calipers, and aluminum brake drums with ceramic shoes. Engine mods were kept to a minimum due to the SCCA autocross rules allowed at that time. The car was very competitive in the late ’80s and was covered in Car Craft magazine in 1988. I competed in the Nationals in 1989 at Salina, Kansas. I was disappointed in my performance, but it was a blast to compete against the best of the best Camaros at the time.
I retired from autocrossing in 1992 while raising my sons; you can’t do both. My car was mothballed for 12 years during that time. I never had any intentions of selling it since it has always been my first love and will always be. Oops, that’s not including my wife. In 2004 my son was now in high school and he wanted to know what was in our garage under a dusty old car cover, which was covered with empty boxes. You should have seen the look in his eyes when we took the car cover off. He could not wait to drive it and show it off.
In 2004, fourth-gen Camaros were dominating SCCA autocross, and I knew my car could no longer be competitive in its current prep level. The fourth-gens were way too fast for even a semi-street–prepared second-gen. That’s when I decided to leave the SCCA rules and build myself the best ’71 autocross Camaro that I could, bar none. Having years of experience with my ’71 (even rebuilt the motor twice), my son and I embarked on building a super autocross car on a budget.
Since the suspension was the strength of the car, I focused on the engine. Out went the solid lifter cam and in went a COMP hydraulic roller cam 230/236, 195 Air Flow Research heads, Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap manifold, Doug Thorley tri-Y headers, Demon annular 750 carb, Flowmasters with two crossovers, TKO 600 with .64 Fifth gear, Inland Empire aluminum driveshaft, Centerforce dual friction clutch, 15-pound GM flywheel, aluminum Edelbrock water pump, Holley 125 electric fuel pump, plastic/aluminum radiator, and kept the 3.73:1 geared 10-bolt rearend. My son and I did all the work ourselves. The engine and drivetrain was focused on midrange torque, not horsepower; my guess is around 430 hp and 450 lb-ft.
With both my son and I in the car, it went 0-to-60 in 4.63 seconds with minimal practice and took Second Place in a suspension shootout in 2009. I have been using Global West parts for over 20 years and never had a failure, and the parts work great. That brings me to my philosophy on building cars: If the components you want aren’t better than OE, then leave it alone. If it doesn’t make the car faster, then I won’t buy it. Presently, my car can compete against fourth- and fifth-gen Camaros.
I’ve run the last two RTTC events and had a blast. I also ran the Goodguys event in Del Mar last April. The car did very well considering that I’m an old man, and my driving skills have deteriorated over the last 40 years. I recently finished my latest project, a Gen I aluminum 427ci small-block. After some learning issues, I finally got it working right, but that’s another story. Thanks for listening.
P.S. Many more stories, but I didn’t want to bore you.
Gerald, what a small world. We’re familiar with your second-gen, and have always been a fan! Thanks for sharing and hopefully we’ll run into you at another event. By the way, I really doubt any of your stories would bore us.
If you like racing video games, check out Forza 4 for Xbox, Playstation 3, and/or PC. Realistic sound, intense graphics, quality controls, and a massive roster of cars to choose from makes this game one that any gearhead would enjoy, especially since you get to smoke your friends and random people on the Internet with a car you designed. We recently downloaded a Chevy muscle car pack that featured cars like a ’66 Nova SS, ’70 El Camino SS 454, and even a ’90 Camaro IROC. With over 500-plus cars to choose from and a detailed list of upgrades that range from wheels to turbochargers, Forza 4 is one we recommend for the video game–savvy car guy.