WHEN TOM JOHNSON OF NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA, WAS RECOVERING FROM A HEART ATTACK, HE BEGAN THINKING ABOUT FINDING A CLASSIC MUSCLE CAR THAT HE COULD RELAX AND HAVE FUN WITH. Nearly everything he found, however, was going to require a lot more work than he was in condition to provide. A trip to his local Chevrolet dealership helped curb that itch in the form of a 2011 Camaro SS.
A base 6.2L V-8 rated at 426 hp and 420 lb-ft off the showroom floor soothed him for a while, but the need for speed isn’t always easily satisfied. Yet, traditional hot rod bolt-ons aren’t always the right recipe for a modern street car. Sensors throughout these cars send information to an on-board ECU that’s built to keep things within a certain paradigm. In the computer’s view, changes aren’t always appreciated.
Modern hot-rodding techniques have rather quickly, and successfully, evolved to interface time-proven strategies with modern street-car technology to produce results that can be spectacular. Tom put this fact to work for him as evidenced by the performance of his Camaro at a Super Chevy event at Rockingham, North Carolina.
“At first I thought I would just do headers and exhaust,” Tom said. “I went to the track to see what it would do. I got the bug pretty quickly and continued to test at the track to see what results I’d gotten from each little change.”
As many track veterans know, little changes often lead to bigger ones, which is exactly what happened with Tom and his car. He added a Whipple blower and
//What’s most impressive is that these aren’t the factory race-ready cars that have been tearing up Stock and Super Stock the past few years. Instead, these are 50-state emissions-legal road warriors capable of putting on a good show at any local drag strip.
pulley that were then supplanted by a Vortech V-7 YSI centrifugal supercharger. Tom also took the big plunge by yanking the engine and stroking it to a displacement of 416 ci. He added a blower cam, too. The engine mods have resulted in the ET dipping into the low nines at almost 150 mph.
Of course, Detroit has kept a corporate eye on goings-on such as these and responded with even more dazzling muscle cars. Chevrolet, for instance, has the 2017 Camaro now making 650-hp when ordered in the ZL-1 trim, which can produce an 11.4second ET at 127 mph right off the showroom floor. Not to be outdone, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat sports 707-hp with a 6.2L Hemi, while Ford’s Shelby GT350 is in the game at 526 hp from a smaller 5.2L engine.
What’s most impressive is that these aren’t the factory raceready cars that have been tearing up Stock and Super Stock the past few years. Instead, these are 50-state emissions-legal road warriors capable of putting on a good show at any local drag strip.
Now that wannabe racers can put away their drool cups and have some serious on-the-track fun without risking daily transport on the street stress therapy might have taken a new form.