It’s been over ten years since a Chevrolet Camaro last competed at an NHRA National event, but during the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend, the vaunted Camaro marked its return.
The debut of the new-age Camaro has been highly anticipated since it was announced that they were approved for Pro Stock and the first one to hit the track was purchased by Greg Hill, built by Jerry Haas Race Cars, and driven by Greg Stanfield. Stanfield’s Frontier Oil Services-backed Camaro was impressive in its debut, making it all the way to the semifinals in Las Vegas. The car took over a year to build and the project was started before NHRA even approved the body for it. The chassis had to be built from the ground up because the new body couldn’t just be slapped onto an old chassis. The team arrived in Las Vegas with an all-white shell that was beautifully wrapped by the guys at Fineline Graphics out of Denver, Colorado.
The whole deal was so new in fact that the crew was still wearing their colorful Nitro Fish uniforms. The car was not only a thing of beauty sitting still but performed well on the strip. Stanfield qualified in the No. 12 position with a 6.727 and in the first two rounds clicked off 6.680 and 6.691 elapsed times before being eliminated in the semifinals; not because of the car, but because Stanfield was just a touch too early on the trigger, going -.002 red against Vincent Nobile.
How long before a Camaro makes it to the winners circle? With a number of these cars headed down the pipe it’s only a matter of time, and certainly Stanfield would like to be the first. The last event win by a Camaro was at the Automobile Club of Southern California Finals in 2000 by Kurt Johnson. In a weekend where Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins was honored and a number of drivers ran tribute decals in his honor, it seems fitting the new Camaro made its debut last weekend, as “Grumpy” won the first ever Pro Stock race driving . . . . . you guessed it, a Chevrolet Camaro.