This race-ready, LS1-powered,...
This race-ready, LS1-powered, electronically controlled, fuel-injected Camaro cost John Rippamonti less than $2,000 to get on the track.
There is a brewing problem in the Street Stock ranks in the great state of Texas-and, in actuality, the problem is not just reserved to Texas. It's a phenomenon that is occurring all over the country with some geographic regions getting hit harder than others. It's simply a supply issue.
From 1978 through late 1987 (really the 1988 model year) General Motors produced cars on the G-body platform. For a decade, Chevy's Monte Carlo, the Buick Regal, Pontiac's Grand Prix, and the Oldsmobile Cutlass slid through the doors of dealer showrooms. As time marched on and these cars completed their daily transportation services many were relegated to spend their remaining days rusting away in junkyards.
With low cost and plenty of availability, oval track racers quickly recognized the G-body cars, also known as the metric chassis, to be excellent platforms for Street Stock/Hobby Stock racing. For years, these cars terrorized both pavement and dirt ovals around the country. But more than two decades of racing has tapped out the supply of these cars and the metric chassis-and the 350 Chevy engine has become more rare than a sold-out NASCAR race these days.
GM's LS1 came in two configurations,...
GM's LS1 came in two configurations, a 4.8-liter truck engine, which is what you see here, and a larger 5.3-liter version.
"Go try to find a metric chassis or a 350 Chevy in a junkyard around here," says Dan Hamilton of Tyler, Texas-based Day Motorsports. "You can't. [The] cars that do exist are getting hauled outta here on carriers to sell in Mexico as basic transportation. It's a real problem because racers simply can't find these cars or motors anymore."
So what is the aspiring Street Stock guy to do?
The answer could very well be found in a little town two hours southeast of San Antonio named Victoria. A trio of local, self-described drag racers/road racers-John Rippamonti, Kurt Decker, and Patrick Guerra-deal a lot with LS-style engines in performance cars and trucks for both street and strip applications in Decker and Guerra's shop, LSX Performance Dyno Tuning.
They were having a little bench racing session one day when they asked themselves, "What would it be like if we put one of these LS motors in a dirt track car?" Since LSX Performance is a specialist in tuning GM's series of LS engines (LS1, LS2, LS3, LS6, and LS7), sourcing and adapting the motor would be a no-brainer, almost.
In order to use the stock...
In order to use the stock passenger-side manifold, they would have had to notch the frame. The solution was to turn a second driver-side manifold upside down and run the exhaust up, over, and down where the A/C unit would have been. You can clearly see it in the top lefthand corner of this picture.
Fortunately, Rippamonti had already bought a '78 Camaro from an acquaintance. "The car was pretty much a wreck, there was not much to it. There was no motor, no transmission nothing like that." That Camaro became the foundation for their experiment.
They outlined a couple of requirements, the first and most important was that they would try to build a future generation Street Stock on a budget. "The idea was to make a cheap, competitive car that is an alternative to what we have now," explained Rippamonti. "The Street Stock class is supposed to be a cheap, entry-level form of racing; cheaper than a Late Model or a Modified. That's what we were going for: Keep it cheap, keep it competitive, keep it fun."
After refining the plan for the technical side of the car, they knew they had to have a place to race it when they were done. So, they went to their local track owner, Jim Scribellito of Shady Oaks Speedway in Goliad, Texas.
Scribellito was receptive and said that it sounded like a decent idea. "He asked us if we wanted to race for points and purse, and we said no we're not worried about that," said Rippamonti. It was agreed upon that the car would run as a specialty entry with the track's Street Stock division.
From this angle you can see...
From this angle you can see the serpentine pulley system typical on the LS1.
Rippamonti swapped in valvesprings...
Rippamonti swapped in valvesprings from a blown 5.3-liter engine to bump the rpms up a little bit.
The LS1 uses a stock truck...
The LS1 uses a stock truck intake with a massive conical filter element attached to it.