Dynos don't lie, the LS1 Camaro...
Dynos don't lie, the LS1 Camaro made 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Note the nice flat torque curve.
But something funny happened after Rippamonti's peers let the LS1 Camaro slide onto the starting grid. "Once we got it out there and ran it a couple of times, and showed the guys what it was about, a couple of the front runners came up to me and said, 'If anything ever happens to [my] car, do you think I can get some seat time in that?'
"I said, 'Sure, go ahead. I'm not racing for points or purse.' We just want to go out there and have fun and prove a concept. If anybody who has any type of driving experience whatsoever wants to take it around the track, I tell them feel free. That's what we want to do, expose more people to a newer style of engine because like I said, 350s are getting harder and harder to find and they are getting more and more expensive."
Rippamonti, his team, and even track owner Scribellito are of the opinion (correctly so) that most of the kids who come to the track these days don't recognize an old Buick Regal or a Monte Carlo. The newer look of the LS1 Street Stock is one thing that attracted Scribellito to the project. "He thought that this was a newer-style car that kids could identify with and look out there and say, 'Hey, that's a Camaro,'" says Rippamonti.
"In fact, last time we were out, I had a buddy of mine who blew his engine in an old Camaro. I asked him to drive the car for me, feel it out, and give us an opinion on our setup. So, afterwards two kids came over from the spectator side-we open the pits after the races-and these kids came over to the pits with two Frisbees that were thrown out prior to the race. They wanted my buddy's autograph simply because they recognized the car, which I thought was pretty cool."
Why It Makes Sense
The LS1 Camaro sits at Shady...
The LS1 Camaro sits at Shady Oaks Speedway in Goliad, Texas, ready for action.
Knowing that the spectator side is (or should be) how any given track makes money, the theory behind the LS1 Camaro is that the more kids who can identify with cars on the track, the more they are going to want to see them run. They'll go to their friends in school or the neighborhood and talk about what they saw last Saturday night. Your fans become a marketing mechanism for the track.
Right now the Camaro runs about middle of the pack. Shady Oaks' Street Stock class has between 20 to 25 cars, and is reportedly a strong class for the track. Rippamonti reports that there are about five to seven racers who routinely compete for the top three positions on any given race night. Still, running in the middle of the pack with a motor that is handicapped by 25-plus-hp and even more torque for less than $2,000 is an impressive accomplishment.
A final point that Rippamonti made was that the costing of cheating up an LS series motor is going to hit the pocketbook pretty hard. Theoretically that makes it a natural deterrent. "A cam, pushrods, and springs for this motor will run upwards of $700," he says. "An intake is $1,000; anything you do to it is very costly compared with what you payed for the motor, which is good. The idea is we're trying to keep costs down and keep everybody as close to legally stock as possible."
LS1's are cheap, they're plentiful, and they can be used as a basis for an entry-level division. So far, Rippamonti says that it has worked out pretty well. "We're not going out there looking to blow the competition away. That wasn't our goal. Our goal was to be inexpensive and at least be competitive and I think we've pretty well achieved that."