In 2017, Chevrolet debuted the Camaro ZL1, the most powerful Camaro ever to grace the industry at the time. Owing to its 6.2L supercharged LT4, the ZL1 boasted a supercar-embarrassing power figure of 650 horsepower, capable of propelling the Camaro to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. Of course, the ZL1 is no stranger to the drag strip either, and with its ability to manage the quarter-mile in 11.4 seconds, it’d make for the perfect contender for weekend races. However, some people aspire for more, like having the quickest (ET) sixth-gen Camaro in the country.
The ZL1 was a notorious addition to the world of muscle cars, ready for road trips, track days, and drag racing. What would happen if you were to turn this already incredible performance car into a dedicated drag-racing monster? This is the question Dave Holloway set out to answer with the assistance of LSXPERTS.
Holloway’s passion for cars began at a young age, thanks to his father, who was a mechanic. However, he drifted away from his love for the automotive industry over the years until his youngest son became a mechanic in the Marine Corps, following in his grandfather’s footsteps. At this point, Holloway’s son started developing a love for cars and got into racing. Today, his passion for cars is as strong as ever, and he now races with his son regularly as a father/son team.
Regular racing means the need for a race car. Thus Holloway’s journey of building the ultimate ZL1 began. The vehicle was purchased brand new in 2017 from Tri-County Chevrolet in Royston, GA. Being the ZL1, the car was already wildly capable, but Holloway envisioned having the fastest ZL1 around. It only took about a year before the transformation of the Camaro started, and no expense was spared in ensuring the car would overwhelm the competition. And overwhelm it did. Among the quickest sixth-gen Camaros in the country, Holloway’s ZL1 spent time at the head of the table. Although now, he is the number one contender to dethrone the current leader of the list.
Photos By: Wes Taylor
Heart Of The Beast
The stock supercharged 6.2L LT4 is no doubt a good powerplant to start with. However, with goals of being the quickest sixth-gen and ambitions for higher horsepower, it’s not surprising Holloway opted for so many changes. To get things rolling, the engine was built by Thompson Motorsports of Nevada, Texas, who used a Dart block as the foundation of the build to increase the displacement to 427 cubic inches.
The larger displacement isn’t the only major upgrade for the car, either. It also received a custom-ground camshaft, a Dart center-counterweighted crankshaft, and Manley Pro Series I-Beam connecting rods attached to Diamond pistons. In addition, a Melling Select high-pressure oil pump was installed to keep everything lubricated and happy, and a Moroso oil pan buttons up the bottom of the engine. The car was built not only to run reliably but also to handle the performance demands during races. A set of Frankenstein Engine Dynamics F110 cylinder heads topped with an Equalizer intake manifold from Brian Tooley Racing helps ingest the massive volume of incoming air.
The most significant change made to the Camaro was its forced-induction swap. The ZL1 Camaro rolls out of the factory with a Roots-style supercharger, pushing the LT4 to produce 650 horsepower. Holloway opted to run a turbocharged system, allowing for much greater boost levels when flying down the strip. The car is fitted with a Forced Inductions Billet Gen3 GTR based on the Garrett GTR platform. This upgrade resulted in considerable leaps in performance figures while at the same time requiring a significant amount of fabrication to package the complete turbo system behind the grille.
The Camaro saw its front grille nearly entirely closed in to channel air to the turbo, with openings on either side done by Pro Chassis and Fab. In keeping with the style of the ZL1, Dave got a custom decal printed for the front bumper to mimic the looks of the stock Camaro. Turbosmart was selected for the wastegates and blow-off valve to keep the boost under control.
The Camaro needed some upgrades in the fuel and electronics departments to make the most of the new engine setup. The drag strip-ripping GM uses a FuelTech 550 VCM to control the Atomizer 700 lb/hr injectors being fed large quantities of methanol from a Motion Raceworks LS mechanical fuel pump. Everything works in harmony thanks to the tuning talents of the team at LSXPERTS. All said and done, the new package is good for 1,500 horsepower, according to Holloway.
Ensuring the power gets delivered to the rear wheels efficiently and without problem is a new transmission for the ZL1. The Camaro runs its power through an FTI Level 5 Turbo 400 featuring a transbrake and custom converter being shifted with an M&M 3-speed reverse pattern shifter. Currently, all that power is still sent to a stock rearend and axles—a testament to the durability of the sixth-gen Camaro.
On the visual side, Dave has gone for a sleeper-inspired look, trying to keep the car as clean and original as possible while still being a menace on the tarmac. The Camaro continues to wear its stock Mosaic Black Metallic paint complimenting the sharp, angry lines which already make the ZL1 stand out from the crowd. In addition, you’ll find a large trunk spoiler by Pro Chassis And Fab on the rear, keeping the car stable at high speed. Under the spoiler are the parachutes to ensure stopping power at the end of a race, further improved with Carlyle Racing brakes behind the rear wheels. Being a straight-line rocket, the Camaro uses thick, grippy 28×10.5-15 Mickey Thompson Pro Bracket Radial drag tires mounted on Weld Racing beadlock wheels. At the front, you’ll find much thinner 28×6.00-18 Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R tires wrapped around some very appealing Forgestar D5s.
Inside the cockpit, the Camaro predominantly keeps to its stock design, even running the factory steering wheel. However, certain parts in and around the center console have been removed or modified to accommodate the parachute lever, Stroud Safety fire system, and M&M shifter. In addition, the car has been fitted with a 10-point roll cage by Topend Fabrication, ensuring Dave’s safety when flying past the competition. It’s a good thing Dave’s kids are old enough to drive themselves, as the rear seats in the ZL1 have been removed to save weight. The front seats have been replaced with Kirkey Racing units with RaceQuip belts, keeping Holloway in place at all times. Although the gauges remain mostly stock, he has mounted the FuelTech 550 LCD screen in his line of sight on the steering column to ensure everything is running as it should be.
A Winning Recipe
Once all the ingredients were added, it was time to stir the pot and let it sizzle. The final product: a car producing 1,500 horsepower and an eighth-mile time of 5.125 seconds at 140 mph. This means Holloway’s ZL1 achieves a higher speed at the eighth-mile than the stock ZL1 achieves in a quarter-mile (at 127 mph), which is mind-blowing.
This was the first car Holloway ever took the liberty of modifying to this extent, and he exclaims that good things come to those who wait. He loves the adrenaline rush the racing gives him and truly appreciates the family time it creates. His wife Melissa has been with him every step of the way, guiding and motivating Holloway while making his way to the top and building his dream race car. He also gives credit to his beloved sons, Hunter, who helped him with the car, and Colt, who continues to cheer him on.
The drag-ready Camaro ZL1 proves that cars are a great way to spend time with the family, achieve goals, meet new people, and strive for the very best. The ZL1 has brought Holloway and his sons closer as a family and team. Having been at the top of the leaderboard already, the car is looking to regain that top spot again. In addition, he wants to participate in half-mile events to stretch the ZL1’s legs. So look for Holloway and his sons with his menacing black ZL1 at your next event and take a closer look at what it takes to be one of the quickest sixth-gens in the country.