ROCKET SCI­ENCE

Yes, it re­ally is. And the more you look the deeper it gets.

Chevy High Performance - - Contents - TEXT: Ro McGone­gal | PHO­TOS: Matt Woods

Andy Robin­son had a yen. He’s al­ways wanted to be the best at what he did. He wanted to win the MSA Pro Mod cham­pi­onship (he has since done that three times) and run the quar­ter-mile at more than 240 miles per hour and in less than six sec­onds. In that respect, the Rocket Sci­ence Ca­maro is the only Brit Pro Mod to eclipse the 5-sec­ond zone.

So he was ex­pe­ri­enced. His chas­sis build­ing busi­ness, Andy Robin­son Race Cars (ARRC) is pri­mar­ily drag race ori­ented. Along the way he paved the path with light­weight com­po­nents and com­bi­na­tions of com­pos­ites. He was in­trigued by car­bon fiber. He rolled in ti­ta­nium. He was well­nigh manic about nearly in­fi­nite ad­justa­bil­ity. All of it would co­a­lesce and be­come this Ca­maro replica. In ef­fect, the rolling bill­board si­mul­ta­ne­ously sat­is­fies Andy’s rac­ing predilec­tion and be­comes a wor­thy busi­ness write-off as well.

He built the ARRC Su­per Light­weight SFI 25.1F chas­sis with 4130 tub­ing. He de­signed the rear por­tion of the frame with a car­bon-fiber spine sys­tem in­te­gral to the com­pos­ite

body shell, al­low­ing the husk to be re­moved en­tirely for main­te­nance quite af­ter the fash­ion of an an­cient Funny Car. To this con­struc­tion, ARRC used car­bon wheel­tubs, door X-pan­els, and for the sec­tion of re­mov­able floor­ing. The fire­wall he built from skinny ti­ta­nium sheet. De­pend­ing on the con­di­tion of the track sur­face, the wild boy uses 85-inch dou­ble-ad­justable wheelie bars with Wheeleze wheels or a sin­gle 95-inch wheelie bar. The four-link rear sus­pen­sion has ad­justable link plates.

Andy ac­counts for the car’s progress (or lack of it) ac­cord­ing to the in­de­fati­ga­ble data log­ger. This sys­tem in­cludes a UDX dig­i­tal dash­board, Ra­cepak V300SD, and a fuel flow me­ter. Three rpm sen­sors mon­i­tor en­gine, drive­shaft, and clutch. Cylinder head tem­per­a­ture, throt­tle po­si­tion, ig­ni­tion timing, fuel, oil and in­let air temp, and five pres­sure sen­sors (boost, fuel pump, oil, noz­zle pres­sure, and oil pan vac­uum) are in­cluded. There is ac­tive mon­i­tor­ing as well: lat­i­tude and lon­gi­tude g me­ters, shock travel sen­sors that ac­count for ve­loc­ity. There are also laser ride-height sen­sors, as well as oth­ers for wheelie bar load. Tired out, yet?

As for raw per­for­mance, the Ca­maro has done this so far: pro­duce ap­prox­i­mately 3,000 horse­power at 8,500 rpm

and a built-in whoopee cush­ion in that max­i­mum en­gine speed is all the way up there at 10,300 rpm. The 20 per­cent over­drive in the big Mike Ja­nis-mod­i­fied Ko­belco K11 puts boost at 40 psi. Fuel con­sump­tion has been cal­cu­lated at 13.5 gal­lons per minute at wide-open throt­tle. Its best quar­ter­mile per­for­mance is 5.91. At the time this is be­ing writ­ten (Jan­uary 2018), it is the quick­est Pro Mod car in Great Bri­tain.

To ac­com­mo­date this con­trolled vi­o­lence, ARRC built the sus­pen­sion like a bitch. Strange En­gi­neer­ing/ Penske Ul­tra Struts (dual bleed, ni­tro­gen-over-oil) work closely with spher­i­cal bear­ing ad­justable-height top mounts, ti­ta­nium tubu­lar con­trol arms, and a hol­low 4130 an­ti­sway bar. At the back of the car, ARRC in­volved Penske/ PRS shock ab­sorbers that are three­way ad­justable, and in the best rocket sci­ence at­ti­tude cor­rect them­selves all the way down the track. The setup in­cludes a Strange En­gi­neer­ing Ul­tra Four-Link 9-inch axle, Mark Williams an­ti­sway bar, wish­bone track lo­ca­tor and Aurora rod ends. Rather than press­ing down on a pedal, Andy works the Strange En­gi­neer­ing car­bon brakes with a Hooni­gan stick, the hand lever most com­mon to a drift car.

Andy wasn’t al­ways in­ter­ested

in the quar­ter-mile. “Ini­tially [I] got in­volved with drag rac­ing as I was a mar­shal at cir­cuit rac­ing events and at one event we mar­shaled drag rac­ing, and it seemed like an ac­ces­si­ble way to get into mo­tor­sport.” When we asked about mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ences with the car, he said, “Good: run­ning 5.96 in 2014, then fi­nally get­ting back into the 5’s in 2017, even­tu­ally fin­ish­ing up with a 5.91 at 242. Bad: putting the car into the wall in 2013; luck­ily the dam­age was mi­nor.”

What about his tra­vails? What was the most chal­leng­ing part of the buildup? “We pi­o­neered the use of a car­bon-fiber ‘tree’ to sup­port the rear part of the body work and that took some time to get right. The 4130 chas­sis stops at the rear shocks. Be­hind that, ev­ery­thing is car­bon fiber.” Then the en­join­der: What would you do if you had it to do over again? “Try to build it even lighter.” Of course, what else?

Andy sourced the car­bon body from Cyn­ergy Com­pos­ites in On­tario, Canada, and in the process de­vel­oped the rear wing with them. Body­tone fin­ished off the shell, but did not prep it for paint. Paint this rocket? We don’t think so. For its ap­pear­ance in the 21st cen­tury, Vivid Vinyl/ Prosign wrapped the Ca­maro in NGK Red in def­er­ence to their spon­sor­ship. In these pho­to­graphs, the rocket at once ap­pears sober yet oth­er­worldly and re­lent­less. Maybe this is what rocket sci­ence re­ally looks like. Andy Robin­son had a yen. CHP

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