The 10 millionth Mustang and the very rst; the Brock cars auction at Bathurst.
The classic Chevrolet Camaro versus Ford Mustang Australian touring car battles of the late 1960s and early 1970s could recommence as soon as 2020. That’s if Walkinshaw Andretti United commits to developing a racing version of the Camaro coupe for the Virgin Australian Supercars Championship.
The plan is under con rmed consideration by the team and its parent, the Walkinshaw Group, as a way to promote a right-hand drive version of the V8 Camaro 2SS road car which sister company, Holden Special Vehicles, has just launched for sale here.
It will take on the Ford Mustang road car, which has dominated the sports car market in Australia since its 2016 launch.
If the Camaro does make it on to local tracks it will also line up against the Mustang coupe, which is currently being developed by Ford Performance, DJR Team Penske and Tickford Racing to take over from the defunct Falcon FG/X as Ford’s Supercars weapon in 2019.
It will also revive memories of Bob Jane and Norm Beechey racing Camaros in the late 1960s and early 1970s against the likes of Pete Geoghegan and Allan Moffat.
Or for younger generations, Kevin Bartlett’s heroics in the Channel 9 Camaro in the early 1980s, or even Formula One world champion Alan Jones brief tenure with Ron Dickson’s team in 1982.
But if the new-generation Camaro is to make it onto the racetrack there are a series of technical, nancial and political hurdles it has to overcome.
The most basic is making the Camaro coupe’s distinctive notchback bodyshape t on the standard Supercars Gen2 chromoly tube spaceframe chassis, which is the basis of all cars on the grid no matter what their road car origins.
WAU’s engineering team led by Englishman Carl Faux has been working on a solution, but Walkinshaw Group boss Tim Jackson con rmed Supercars might have to allow modi cations to the chassis to get the Camaro on-track.
“The most obvious [problem] area that you can see without having done a lot of work is the rear of the cabin,” Jackson said. “That is going to impact where the rollcage is. The thing that stares you in the face is that particular issue.
“We can see where some of the impacts are in terms of the current rules and the obvious area is the rear of the cabin as that slopes away in the coupe. There is a big bar (on Supercars’ control chassis) in the way.”
A Supercars dispensation to modify the cage speci cally for the Camaro would potentially trigger uproar among rivals who have worked with the standard design since its introduction in 2013. Two generations of Holden Commodore, the Falcon, the Nissan Altima, Volvo S60 and Mercedes-Benz E63 have all been stretched or shortened to t on the chassis and its 2822mm wheelbase without dispensations.
The fear is a modi cation for Camaro would lead to teams applying for further homologation variations for individual models.
“You are going to start a global arms race,” one team boss warned.
But Jackson said it was imperative the Camaro road car’s distinctive shape was retained.
“We don’t particularly want to create a bastard child of a vehicle,” he said. “It needs to look like a Camaro, it can’t look like some manipulated, modi ed variant.”
The next challenge beyond the body itself would be creating a competitive aerodynamic package, for which WAU might need input from GM Racing in the USA and its sizeable computing power.
Beyond that, creating a Camaro racer would be reasonably straight forward, considering Supercars share many control components, or choose from a basket of items such as shock absorbers. The Camaro would be powered by the same 5.0-litre Chev pushrod V8 engine used by all Holden Supercars.
Beyond the technical challenges is the fundamental issue of money. Developing the bodywork and the aerodynamics of a Camaro Supercar would cost around $1.5 million.
To absorb that cost would mean other privateer teams opting for the Camaro racer, creating a revenue stream back to the Walkinshaw Group.
“I’d imagine if you were the only team running it [Camaro], it wouldn’t make nancial viability. You would need other teams willing to run it,” Jackson said.
Which then leads to the political issue, because WAU and the majority of other teams on the Supercars grid currently race Holden Commodore ZBs.
Even though Holden has expressed no issues with the concept of a Camaro Supercar, it may not look kindly on teams swapping to it from Commodores.
That’s something Walkinshaw Group has to be especially conscious of because of the longterm business relationship it has with Holden revolving around HSV.
There’s also the questionable logic of having two General Motors products racing each other on the same grid.
“As Holden and HSV we have spent a lot of time working together, so it might seem a bit weird actually going and competing against each other on the track,” Jackson said.
“The spectator may not worry about it too much but the industry may nd it interesting.”
Main image: The Camaro is now Chevrolet’s front-line contender in NASCAR. Will we see a Supercars version on Australian tracks in 2020?