Part of the fun in owning a racecar is that you can make it whatever you want, based on your needs. The 1967 Camaro owned by Bill “Big Boost” Lutz seems like it has lived a thousand different lives as a racecar, sporting numerous combinations and appearances over the past two decades. Bill’s Camaro, now packing a Miner Brothers Hemi for power, is dominating in the no-time world of drag racing.
What really drew Bill into racing, like so many others, was the influence of his family. Bill’s father was an avid racer, so he was born into motorsports. With trips to the track as part of his earliest memories, it’s no wonder Bill has raced motorcycles, boats, and just about anything else with an engine.
Bill’s first foray into racing came behind the wheel of a 1970 Corvette his father purchased for him at the age of 15. With a 572 cubic-inch engine powering the car, Bill’s first pass ever down the track was a 9.80, and he was hooked on drag racing from there.
Bill’s journey with his Camaro began 27 years ago in Charleston, West Virginia; it was there that he purchased the Camaro from a gentleman who was going through a divorce. When Bill took possession of the car, it had a 502 cubic-inch Chevrolet crate engine for a powerplant and an old-school back-half job for a rear suspension. The Camaro was exactly what he wanted at the time, and it fit his needs perfectly.
This car has a lot of history with winning and setting records since I’ve owned it. – Bill Lutz
After getting the car back to Ohio, Bill began putting his own personal touches on the Camaro and racing it with the goal of going as quick as he possibly could.
“I was trying to get it in the eights when I first got it, and it seemed like it went 9.00 15 times in a row, no matter what we tried. We finally put a bigger and better motor in the car, and then it finally started running in the 8.50s on a regular basis,” Bill explains.
Pushing the Camaro into the eight-second zone was a monumental accomplishment for Bill, but in no way did it leave him satisfied. It was obvious the car had the ability to go faster, so he began the process of adding more horsepower and making some changes to the car’s chassis.
“Getting the car to finally run in the eights was nice, but I really just wanted to go a lot faster. To take things to the next level, we put a big Gene Fulton-built nitrous engine in the car and also had the back-half updated. The very first pass with the new engine and updated suspension, the car went a 7.70, so we knew it was working better,” Bill says.
Bill began to campaign the Camaro in the legendary OSCA racing series as a part of the Pro Street class. To say the car was dominant in the OSCA would be an understatement. In one season, Bill won every race but one and was the number one qualifier at each event on the schedule as he powered his way towards a title.
“In the OSCA, we ended up having both the ET and MPH records all season the year we won the championship. This car has a lot of history with winning and setting records since I’ve owned it. It was the first Heavy Street class car to break the six-second barrier and run over 200 mph when we ran that class, as well. We’ve set records and won with this car on big tires and on a 10.5-inch tire, too,” Bill says.
After nearly winning a Super Street 10.5W title in the NMCA, Bill decided to retire his trusty Camaro from active competition and go Pro Modified racing with a full tube chassis car. During his short time racing in the Pro Mod ranks, Bill not only won an IHRA national event, but he had an amazing season-long points battle with Dina Parise where she barely edged him out for the title. Unfortunately, Bill was struck with a lengthy illness and had to sell the Pro Mod car to pay off some medical bills, but that wasn’t going to stop him from getting back to racing after his recovery.
“After I was feeling better, we literally pulled this car from out of the corner of the shop, dusted it off, and put a big 822 cubic-inch Fulton nitrous engine with four kits of nitrous in it to go racing. At the time, I went with the nitrous engine instead of going back to turbos because I got a really good deal on it. We ran that engine for one race, won the event, and then my son Kenny, who is my crew chief, said we were done with nitrous, so we went back to turbos,” Bill explains.
Deciding to move back to boost for a power adder was a natural transition for Bill and his team, but this time around, they decided to go with a more unique engine package. A Miner Brothers Racing-based Hemi was selected to slide into the Camaro, and so far the decision to switch things up has paid off; Bill has been on a tear with his revamped Camaro, winning several events and making it down to the semi-finals at three rain-shortened races, as well.
“We run a different combination than most out there because this engine has a big bore and short stroke. It’s only 477 cubic-inches, and I felt on the small tires, that’s the combination we wanted, and it has worked out well so far. We don’t have to put the crazy timing curves in it like we would with a big-stroke engine. The parts availability is great, as the engine is very reliable, and makes good power, and dealing with Bob and Adam at Miner Brothers has been a great experience,” Bill says.
In his racing career, Bill has wheeled a variety of cars that he has owned as well as being a hired gun for different car owners. Bill’s 1967 Camaro is by far his favorite car ever to drive. It has the comfort level of a warm pair of pajamas to him, making it very easy to drive.
“The thing that makes this car so easy for me to drive is that I know it will go down the track on virtually every pass. You run across a car that just works, and it gives you a ton of confidence as a driver behind the wheel. At the level we’re racing, knowing this car is going to behave is huge. I know as a driver that I need to hit the tree, and the car is going to go down the track without doing anything stupid. You see a lot of cars do crazy stuff, and this thing just goes down the track. When we put it back together, I knew that if it performed like it did before, we were going to be tough to beat.”
For most of his racing career, Bill has been competing in some form of heads-up racing with his prized Camaro. The typical progression for a racer is to work their way up into this style of racing, but for Bill, he jumped into it because he just wasn’t a bracket or index racer at heart.
This car is a part of our family, and it’s in my will that it can’t be sold. – Bill Lutz
“I absolutely hated letting off the gas at the other end of the track to try to meet an ET. I was terrible at it because I just would never let out. I wanted to get into something that would simplify the process of going faster, and heads-up racing just made the most sense,” Bill explains.
Having that type of mindset has led him to participate in the biggest heads-up races in the world, including the original Shakedown At E-Town, The World Street Nationals, Lights Out, and IHRA national events in the Pro Mod category. It doesn’t matter to Bill if there are big tires, small tires, slicks, or radials on the car — he just wants to get in on the action.
This time around, Bill is attempting something entirely new when it comes to heads-up racing by trying his luck at the no-time side of things, and so far, he’s really enjoying this new adventure.
“We decided when we brought the car back out of the garage after it was retired for seven years that we wanted to get in the 28/29-inch tire no-time game. We’ve won our first two outings at the Outlaw Street Car Reunion and Jay Payso’s May Madness with the car in the 28-inch no-time class. I think we found a class we really like and can do well in based around this new combination,” Bill explains.
Bill’s Camaro has been a part of his life for over 27 years now, and it really has a special significance to his family. With so many great memories for the Lutz clan built around this hot rod, it’s no surprise at all it’s held in such high regard. “This car is a part of our family, and it’s in my will that it can’t be sold. This car will go to my son, and then it will be passed on to his son, too,” Bill says.
So many racers are always looking for the next greatest thing when it comes to a racecar, but Bill Lutz has bucked that trend with his Camaro. Over the course of nearly three decades, Bill has found a way to reinvent his machine and keep it going fast, no matter what class he enters. And don’t be surprised if you see Bill letting go of the transbrake in this car for many years to come.