Every tool has a purpose and a specific use that it was designed for, and the same can be said for racecars based on the class you intend to race. Texas native Justin Curry has a racing toolbox with just two items in it: a classic Camaro and sleek new Corvette, each with their own purpose at the track. Justin plans on using these machines like hammers to beat the competition in the X275 and No-Time Small-Block racing worlds.
If you were to take a look at Justin’s racing resume, you would think he’s a grizzly veteran of the racing world … but you’d be wrong. Justin’s racing career started at a very young age and that allowed him to gain a huge amount of experience rather quickly. It was through that experience that he found himself standing in the winner’s circle early and often.
Before Justin had the opportunity to climb into his 1968 Camaro, he cut his teeth at the track behind the wheel of something a little less glamorous.
“My first experiences at the track were behind the wheel of a pickup truck I was racing in high school that had a big-block in it. When I would take it racing on Friday nights, I would tear the transmission up or hurt the motor, so I wouldn’t have a way to get to school on Monday, That’s when we got the Camaro. I started racing the Camaro on the weekends and things escalated from there.”
Playing sports like baseball in school fed Justin’s appetite for competition to a point, but it wasn’t even close to what drag racing provided. That added level of excitement makes competing at the track that much better for him, and when you couple that with the atmosphere of racing, it produces a combination that can’t be beaten.
“I really enjoy the competition in drag racing. It’s a lot of fun to go to the track to hang out with your friends and then get to race them, as well. There’s that certain level of camaraderie in drag racing that makes it amazing to participate in. You can try to explain it to people, but they won’t understand,” Justin says.
Old School: The 1968 X275 Camaro
After getting tired of constantly having to fix his truck when it would have problems at the track, the decision was made to upgrade to the Camaro for track duty. After some searching, Justin found what he thought was a great 1968 Camaro that would make for the perfect dedicated track car. When he finally took delivery, Justin learned quickly his new ride wasn’t exactly what he thought it was.
“When we got the Camaro, I was a junior in high school. We traded a really nice 1970 GMC truck for the Camaro because we thought it was a better car than it was. When we took delivery, we found out real quick it was a total basket-case mess. It had a roll bar made of muffler tubing, the motor let go the first pass. Just a mess. We ran it like that for six to eight months after some basic repairs, and I even painted the car myself,” Justin explains.
When the Camaro was finally running as it should, Justin began by racing in Super Gas for about a year. Soon, he became interested in the world of heads-up racing and the competition that surrounded it. Justin’s stomping grounds became the old Limited Street and True 10.5 classes before he moved to X275, No-Prep, and small-block nitrous shootouts with the Camaro.
I really enjoy the competition in drag racing. It’s a lot of fun to go to the track to hang out with your friends and then get to race them, as well. – Justin Curry
All of this heads-up racing was never on the roadmap for Justin’s drag racing career. The Camaro was actually slated to be a fairly tame car, but a simple excavating job changed the trajectory of his racing future.
“The original plan was to just go 10.0s with it, so nothing crazy. Our engine builder at the time wanted a lake dug at his house, and we had talked about doing some work in trade, so I could get a bigger 496 cubic-inch engine for the car. When I was there and started digging the lake for him, he approached me about the lake being bigger, so I got a larger motor for a bigger lake, and ended up with a 565 cubic-inch engine,” Justin explains.
After getting the larger engine snuggled into place between the framerails of the Camaro, Justin ran it on motor alone and had a blast. Before long, the whispers of adding a power-adder became too much, so the new engine was equipped with a nitrous system and things really took off from there. “At that point, we needed to update the car to match the power we were making. You know, it was your typical process with these cars: go faster, make updates, figure stuff out, go faster, and then make more updates,” Justin says.
With the Camaro updated and ready, Justin began racing in the True 10.5 class all over the South and amassed an enviable number of wins in the process. He also started racing in the ORSCA Limited Street class where the success and wins followed him, as well. In the past two years, the Camaro has seen action in the Small-Tire class in the No-Prep racing world where it was victorious, and made some appearances in a few small-block No-Time events, winning there, as well.
The Camaro Justin has piloted for so many years is one of the first generation of small-tire heads-up cars, and over the years, it has lined up against some of the biggest names in racing.
“We used to run with David Wolfe and the other big names at the time, and kept up with them back then. It’s just crazy how much everything has progressed over the years. At the time, it was the most fun I ever had racing with all of us competing to beat each other. Now looking back at it we were all just a big family having fun at the track,” Justin says.
The Camaro holds a special place in Justin’s heart for many different reasons. Logic would dictate that after getting a new and advanced car like the Corvette, the Camaro’s days would be numbered, but that’s far from the truth. The Camaro will still see plenty of racing action in X275 trim with Justin behind the wheel for the foreseeable future.
“The game plan when we got the Corvette was to stop racing the Camaro and make it a street car again. It ended up being harder than we thought, and the sentimental factor ended up playing a role in why we’ve continued racing it. The car ran a nice 4.42 in X275 trim with this new TRE Racing Engines engine package, so we will keep going to local races to keep supporting the class when we can,” Justin explains.
New School: The No Time 2009 Corvette
The racing that goes on in the No-Time universe is among the most competitive you will find in drag racing. Every camp keeps information about their car close to the vest, so they can gain every advantage possible. With so much money on the line and the racing being so cutthroat, Justin knew he would need a car that was more capable than the Camaro to compete.
“The Corvette project started from my need to have a car that was newer, since the Camaro has 30,000 miles on it, an eighth-mile at a time. I wanted something that was updated, and we were looking to build a car, but I found this one on Facebook as a project someone else had started. Tin Soldiers Race Cars had been building it for a customer, and we made a deal to purchase the car unfinished,” Justin says.
After the Corvette was purchased, Justin took it to Rick Stevens at Stevens Race Cars to be finished. To get the car ready for small-block No Time combat, Stevens began to work on the car by finishing the suspension along with other parts of the chassis. Since the car already had a solid roll cage installed by Tin Soldiers Race Cars, Rick just needed to finish the interior carbon work and get the body mounted, so the sexy shade of red could be added as the final touch.
The Corvette project started from my need to have a car that was newer since the Camaro has 30,000 miles on it, an eighth-mile at a time. – Justin Curry
The Corvette features a TRE Racing Engines small-block that, according to Justin, is around 500 cubic-inches, but that’s all the information he’s willing to release. Justin has built this car to be on the cutting edge of the No Time racing world, so he’s very tight-lipped about the program.
“We did pretty well with the events we went to with the Camaro, but everybody was starting to build new, lightweight cars. I knew if I wanted to keep up in the No Time racing scene, I was going to have to step up to what all the big names were doing. The only way to do that was to have a car that was on-par with all the new stuff coming out from the other racers,” Justin explains.
Having a new car to race is always fun, and Justin is enjoying every second he gets to sit behind the wheel of the Corvette. After spending so much time making laps in the Camaro, he can practically drive it with his eyes closed, but the Corvette has proven to be an entirely new experience with an interesting learning curve that he’s had to adjust to.
“We tried to set both cars up inside so everything is in the same place to make going back and forth between them easier overall. They both have very different characteristics when you drive them. In the Corvette, I sit so low that it’s hard to judge how high it actually is when the front end is in the air, whereas in the Camaro, I can tell a lot easier if the front is two feet or four feet in the air. I feel really comfortable in the Camaro, but not as much in the Corvette yet, but I’m getting there,” Justin says.
Justin and his team are working on getting the bugs worked out of the Corvette, and it’s just a matter of time before the car begins to show its true potential. “When we get this car figured out, it will be a big player in the small-block world. It has set the standard for new cars and engines being built since we set the bar so high.”
Justin Curry has a pair of cars that not only could win any car show they enter, they have the potential to land in the winner’s circle of big races, too. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better pair of small-tire machines operating out of the same camp, and don’t be surprised to see Justin start experiencing major success with both of these cars very soon.