If you are really really bored, you can read all about my 98Z.
I bought this car - bone stock - back in 2001. It only had 2 mods: 17" Speedline wheels and a skip-shift plug in. Everything else was stock. It had been dyno'd once, at 305 rwhp. I bought it in Houston while there on a business trip, and drove it home to Amarillo. It averaged 32 mpg on the drive home. Nice. I was specifically looking for a 6-speed, hardtop, cloth interior Camaro. I paid $13,800 for it.
I went looking for an LS1 car because my 94 Z Convertible just wasn't cutting it as a drag car. I was living at the track (well, almost), and the droptop just wasn't fast enough. So I wanted a 'dedicated race car'. Plus, I was building the interfaces for LS1Edit, and I wanted to play with the software.
Here are the photos that were sent to me, of the car for sale.
Looking back at it, 5 years later... sometimes I wish I'd left it alone. Looks nice.
Last edited by Camaroholic; 12-05-2006 at 12:02 PM..
Within 3 days of purchasing the car, I was on the phone with Julio at Cartek. I ordered a Cartek clutch, Cartek modified master cylinder, and AutoTap v1.0
Then I called LS1Motorsports and ordered one of their lids and a K&N Air Filter. Also located some manual seat rails, and ditched the heavy stock power seat mechanism.
I seem to recall at this point, taking it to the track, and running some low 14s (~14.3) at around 100 mph at Amarillo Dragway. This was at ~5000 ft DA. Amarillo Dragway sits at 2700 ft actual altitude. For comparison, my 94Z, stock motor, ran 15.0s at 91 mph at Amarillo Dragway.
The weekend of October 20-21, 2001, I installed an MTI B1 camshaft (221/221, .559/.559, 114LSA), MTI/Isky Springs (stock diameter with internal dampener), MTI/Lunati Titanium retainers, MTI Chromemoly pushrods, new valvestem oil seals, an Agostino Racing modified LS6 oil pump, a Cloyes oversize timing gearset with a Jwis Kettin / IRL timing chain from Katech, and a gasket kit from Thunder Racing.
A Pro 5.0 shifter went in shortly thereafter.
November 17-18 2001, I installed some previously-used Grotyohann longtube headers, a 3" Y-pipe (not quite environmentally friendly ), and the SLP "2-on-the-left" catback (removed from my 94 Z28).
January 27th 2002 I installed my Moser 12-bolt with 4.10 gears, Eaton HD posi, 33 spline axles, 1350 U-joint (ordered from Thunder Racing), and BMR LCA's and adjustable PHR. This allowed me to get the measurement for the Nitrous Ready Driveshaft from Denny's Driveshaft (44 1/4 inches was the measurement I gave them). I ordered the DS on Jan 28th, got it on Feb 11th. Installed it and got everything cinched down on Feb 17th.
February 22/23 I installed a driveshaft safety loop from Jeg's, and the Thunder Racing linelock setup. Woo hoo, smoky burnouts! Tires were ET Streets on 16" Salad Shooter rims at the time.
Best run in Amarillo with the above mods was 13.16 @ 105.97 with a 1.911 60' time.
I then did a lot of weight reduction (yanked the swaybar, foglights, front bumper, etc) and ran 12.7's at 107 or so (again, in Amarillo).
Last edited by Camaroholic; 12-03-2006 at 03:13 PM..
March/April 2002 I move to Waco and switch tracks. I put all the safety stuff back in (bumper supports etc). So I'm back to 'nearly' full weight.
I also order a set full set of Bogarts from Steve at SJM. 6 actually; pair of fronts, and 2 pairs of rears. This was when they were only a couple hundred dollars more than a set of Welds. Intro pricing was NICE on them. I daily drove the car on them.
This was also when I dropped away from ET Streets and went ET Drags. I also changed the rear gears out to 4.56's. I gotta be honest, this setup was FUN. Nice street manners with the B1 cam, and it ran high 11s at the track.
Had a lot of fun with the car in 2002-2003. Come late 2002, I wanted to make some changes. I wanted mo' powah. So I call up my buddy "Evil Paul" at Thunder Racing and we talk. And we talk. And we talk.
And I order a solid roller LS6 headed forged interal 347ci motor from him. Jason @ TR was doing very well with his solid roller setup, and I was hoping to follow suit.
The heads are GTP LS6, but they're not done 'up to par'. Geoff didn't like stuff about them, so they got new valve guides, and a new valve job, and more port cleanup work... so they've had a lot of 'going through'. They didn't flow very impressive numbers for the amount of money paid (over $4k in the heads), but alas, you take what you get sometimes.
Attached are the head flow sheets for all 8 ports. At the time they were decent, but for a set of "top of the line" GTP heads, they honestly weren't very good. This was not too long before GTP became irrelevant in the LS1 community.
Last edited by Camaroholic; 12-03-2006 at 04:28 PM..
The cam ended up being a Comp grind, a reverse split 250/244, .646/.646 on a 103, I believe installed +5. Geoff spent time on CompCam's Spintron, experimenting with various valvetrain components, trying to get just the right valvetrain dynamic. From these experiments, he was able to select a set of valvesprings that were 'just right' for me. I have no idea of the specifications on them.
Edit: this is the *final* cam I ended up with. Thunder actually tried 2 or 3. I think the early dynos were with a 240/240 or thereabouts duration cam, and the second trip got the 250/244.
Last edited by Camaroholic; 12-04-2006 at 09:17 PM..
So the motor was going together. Thunder emailed me pictures and kept me 100% up to date. When dealing with Thunder, there was NEVER any doubt where I stood. Dealing with them is great. (or should I say )
Here's a few pics of the 347 motor as it was going together.
Stock crank, Lunati Pro Mod Rods, Diamond Pistons. Ported oil pump of some sort. Valvetrain is T&D Rockers, custom 3/8" pushrods, Crane solid roller lifters (more on lifters later).
Keep in mind, I was still running my car cam-only. It took a while to build this motor, but I was not in a big hurry, so Thunder took the time to do everything right.
Last edited by Camaroholic; 12-03-2006 at 07:24 PM..
So the motor went together. The original plan was that it was to be a crate motor; I was planning on installing it here in Waco. Geoff wanted to run the motor on an engine dyno first, before shipping it out, though. So on to the engine dyno it went...
I think this was the first time the folks at Thunder had put one of their motors on an engine dyno - previously, they'd always had the car there to put the motor in so they could put it on the chassis dyno. Anyhow, they had some issues with fuel delivery, and never did get a clean pull. You can see from the dyno chart that the lines are VERY jagged. The numbers were OK - not great, but OK. I think this might have been a previous cam also... now that I think about it, the 250/244 cam is the one I ended up with, but I think the original cam was a 244/244.
Since they couldn't get a clean pull, I got a call from Evil Paul. He made me a deal I couldn't refuse on an installation. While they were there, I decided to let them go a little crazy. BMR K-member, install the HAL shocks / springs that I'd purchased, install the Madman manual rack, Madman torque arm, and make me a custom Y-pipe for the Grot headers. The Y-pipe that I had been using was constructed from 17 individual pieces of pipe welded together. I kid you not. 17 pieces.
I drove the car to Louisiana, and met up with a friend from Waco that just happened to be visiting his mom in Baton Rouge - and hopped a ride back home with him. I did not own a truck or trailer at that time.
Here's some misc pics of my car at Thunder getting the new plant installed.
So the motor's in, and she's running fine. Dyno numbers come back lower than expected though. In the 430's. That wasn't quite the target of 450 minimum that we'd set. We know the problem is in the heads, but there's not much that we can do about it. At this point, I have no doubt that Thunder has lost money on this motor - the labor alone that they've spent building this thing has to be intense.
Here's dyno charts at Thunder, and then a backup dyno run at LG Motorsports, from when I dropped the car off to have my rollbar installed.
After the ~435 rwhp dyno (with a smaller cam - 240/240? 244/244? I don't remember), Thunder said "well, you can come get your car now, and bring it back after you play with it for a bit, and we'll swap you in a new cam when you bring it back". So I took the car home (and that's when I took it to LG).
I'm not sure I even made it to the track during this period. I did drive the car around on the street. But most of the time was spent at LG getting the rollbar installed - I wasn't in a hurry, and Louis is busy. Here's a few pics of the custom chromoly rollbar with removable side bars. It's a very nice piece. I always told myself that "if" I ever got a rollbar, I'd have it installed by a true first class chassis shop, and not just some yokel with a welder. I was not disappointed.
Somewhere around this point, I decide that I no longer want to run the Cartek clutch. She's been a good clutch, and has held up well, but the Borg & Beck pressure plate is not SFI approved, and I'm spinning and launching this thing hard. It makes me nervous. So I switch it out to a RAM VDS/910 (which is the clutch I am still running). The Cartek was great... but the RAM "kicks it up a notch". I got the full VDS kit with the studs... love the studs. I also put in a McLeod master cylinder. I've had no trouble at all with this setup, and some SERIOUS abuse.
Also, at this point, I decide to go for some bling. Very unusual for me. I throw on a set of Halo's. At the time, very few people had them. But they look SOOOO much better - I think you'll agree.
OK, so a little before the 2003 Thunder Shootout, I take the car back to Thunder. They thrash on it, and the day before the shootout, it's together. We've put on a Meziere electric waterpump and a new camshaft. We hit 458 rwhp or so. Goal!
Unfortunately, we experience a bit of bad luck at the shootout. My posi decides to start spinning only one wheel during the very first attempted burnout. Rather than take the chance on blowing the posi to chunks (and damaging the rear end), I decide to park the car for the weekend. We tried to locate a spool, but noone in south Louisiana had a 33-spline 12-bolt spool "laying around". Oh well, I had a blast anyway. I entered the Joe Kizzire raffle - and won a set of TEA ported heads. I promptly sold them to a buddy - and this helped cover a nice chunk of my 'second' Thunder Racing bill (for the waterpump etc).
Eventually I did order a spool (Thunder again ), and started making passes.
I bought parts from Liberty Gears, and pro shifted my trans in early 2004. These are pretty cool. They machine off the little 'nubby teeth', and weld on a thick toothed ring. They also machine the sliders so that they can slide loosely over these thick teeth.
First gear is unsynchronized and left with the nubby teeth, so it's difficult to get in to gear if the internals of the transmission are spinning. 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears are pro shifted. It goes in to gear very easily, but it 'clunks' and 'thunks' a lot.
I got the trans together the week before the Spring Break Shootout, 2004. I had actually not even driven the car (more than on/off the trailer) before the Shootout.
The attached picture is a stock 2nd gear with synchro blocker ring (left), next to a pro shifted 2nd gear.
Last edited by Camaroholic; 12-05-2006 at 12:05 PM..
I took the car to the LS1Tech Spring Break Shootout in 2004. Entered the Factory Stock, "Heads Up / Pro Tree" class. Raceweight was 3400 lbs (base was 3350 for M6, and then +50 for solid roller, I believe). The pro shifted trans worked great. I think this may have also been the first time I used the Harlan 2-step. What a great addition to any drag racing M6 car.
I ended up taking second place. Trevor at Texas Speed took first. Got me $500 and a big trophy. I went home and gave the money to my wife. I was happy just winning a trophy. I lost by .0109 seconds! He took home $1000. That was an expensive <.02!
Here's a semi-final video from SBSO - it was me vs. JRod (I think).
And here's one of the time trial videos - I lose to CamaroCain. Thanks to Lynda for this video, I did not see it posted on the video site yet (did search) - found another one, but not this one. I had it saved on my hard drive.
So as you can see from the above results, my car is running 10.8x to 11.0x
I'm not content with that.
So I start thinking about ways that I can 'kick it up a notch' without breaking the bank.
So come early summer 2004, I decide to go 383 with my car. I purchase some Ross off the shelf pistons, some Eagle H-beam rods with L19 bolts, and an Eagle 4" crank. I decide to tackle the project myself this time.
I pull my 347 out. I take the shortblock to a local machine shop. He does a line hone, puts the pistons on the rods for me, and walks me through the critical measurements (rod and main clearances). After we get everything looking good, I take my bucket-o-parts home and assemble the motor myself, with a ton of guidance from Jason99T/A (Jason @ Thunder). I call Alan Futral and he hooks me up with a cam from Cam Motions - it's a 262/267 .646/.646 on a 109. Big gnarly rumpity thing.
I reuse everything from my Thunder motor valvetrain wise. Lifters, rockers, etc. Well, as soon as I fire up the motor, I see that the oil pressure is low. Very low. Like 15 psi at cold idle. Unacceptable.
With the help of folks here at LS1Tech, we determine that the Crane lifters are the issue. It turns out that the new Cam Motions cam, even though it had the same lift numbers as the Comp solid roller cam, was ground on a smaller base circle. This allowed the ring around the lifter to drop past the lifter oil gallery - which caused a top end oil 'leak'.
The solution? Simple. Morel lifters. I get a set of those from Alan, and everything oil pressure wise is good. However, I experience a problem with valvetrain geometry now though. The pushrods are rubbing. So I pull the heads and clearance the pushrod slot. 2 times. But eventually I get them going. 4th set of head gaskets is a charm, right? Thanks to Scoggin-Dickey for the super fast supply of head gaskets.
Pictures are of the new crank, the motor 'falling out', and the oilpan off again.
So the 383 is finally in and everything looks good.
In addition to the 383, I decide to go with an LS2 intake. Hey, they're inexpensive, and they have a 90mm opening. I do spend some time working on the seams of the intake with my die grinder. Assembly from GM was pretty sloppy on it. Clean up took about an hour with the die grinder.
I also get a FAST 90mm throttle body to go with the intake. At that particular moment in time, there were no companies making throttle cable brackets. So... I decide to make my own. I look around my shop, spot a piece of metal that I'd cut out of my garage door track. Yeah, it'll do. So I weld up my own throttle cable bracket from a piece of garage door rail.
Pics are attached. It also shows how I had to clear my Mez waterpump, and grind a little on the cam of the FAST throttlebody, and on the corner of the LS2 intake itself.
The "peak" comes at the National F-body Motorsports Event (NFME, http://www.fbody-event.org ) in Memphis in 2005. Hella fun. I run 10.6's on motor, and a best of 10.13 @ 134 on the juice.
Last day of NFME, after running a 10.13, I'm pumped. I was on the rev limiter at the end of that pass (7100, I think). I raise it. I bump the timing 1 degree. I raise the shift light. I'm ready to gain .14 seconds to run the magical 9.99........
But it was not to be. On the very next pass - my clutch gives out. I knew I had an oil leak on the back side of the motor. Slickery dickery dock. Oil on the clutch is bad. I'm done. Foiled by the plug in the back of the Eagle Crank.
But, one picture from Memphis had special importance to me... it got me my first 'press'. I'm a RAM clutch posterboy. If only I'd closed the d*mn hatch.