Inside The Project BlownZ28 Limited Drag Radial Camaro

More than a year in the making, Dragzine’s Project BlownZ28 is prepped and ready for its assault on the popular Limited Drag Radial (LDR) class.

BlownZ28, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z28, is the finishing piece of the trifecta of vehicles under the BlownZ moniker — it was preceded by the NMCA Street Outlaw Camaro BlownZ and the NMCA Radial Wars C7 Corvette known as BlownZ06 — and this one may be the finest yet.

Veteran chassis builder Keith Engling and his team at Skinny Kid Race Cars (SKRC) invested months in the process, poring over every meticulous detail — as they do with each and every car that comes out of their facility — to ensure a finely-crafted machine that looks as refined as it functions. Engling began with remanufactured body panels from Classic Sheetmetal, and within its flanks constructed a 25.3 SFI-cert chassis that meets all of the stringent LDR guidelines. Classic Industries supplied a whole assortment of first-gen trim parts, from the RS grille and door jam vents to the Z28 emblems and head/tail light assemblies.

SKRC utilized wheel tubs and motor plates from Jerry Bickel Race Cars, and largely custom-fabbed the rest, including the door and windows mounts, parachute launchers, throttle linkages, steering shaft, pedals, and so on.

“The big innovation phase with these style of cars happened about 20 years ago. We were doing a lot of stuff back then that really hadn’t been done before when it comes to small-tire racing,” Engling says of the chassis design and engine layout. “The chassis themselves have been the same for a while, we are just moving engines around because we’ve figured out that’s how you go faster on radial tires. With how things have continued to progress in the radial world we’ve tried to lower the crank centerline in the chassis while moving the engine as far forward as we can. We’re also placing the engines lower in the car, since that will help control it wanting to wheelstand.”

While the chassis is the centerpiece of this project, the engine is a perfect complement to the work that SKRC put in.

Pro Line Racing (PLR) Engines, which also built the powerplant for BlownZ06, partnered with Dragzine to serve as the flagship of a new engine program intended for applications just like those competing in the LDR class. PLR teamed with Dart Machinery to develop a fresh new engine combination based on the big-block Chevrolet architecture — called PLR RED. Measuring 572 cubic-inches, the mill begins with a raised-cam PLR-spec billet Dart block and special custom CNC-ported 20-degree cylinder heads that were designed by Pro Line and Dart called DART 20X PLR. From there, PLR spec’ed a Callies crankshaft, MGP rods, and JE Pistons, along with Clevite bearings and Total Seal rings to complete the short block. It added Ferrea valves and PAC springs to Jesel lifters. Trend pushrods, and T&D custom rockers to wrap up the valvetrain, then bolted on a billet Magnatron intake manifold and throttle body plumbed with Billet Atomizer injectors. A Moroso fuel pump and aluminum dry sump pan keep the vital parts lubricated.

A Rage 1400 series fuel pump sends the methanol fuel to the engine. A growling ProCharger F3-136 delivers the boost, driven by a ProCharger CrankDrive unit. The exhaust gasses escape through custom zoomie headers built by Engling using Woolf Racecraft materials and flanges.

FuelTech was once again called upon to serve as the brains of the operation — an FT600 ECU/digital dash, FTSpark, and a host of sensors control the ignition, fuel, and all of the electronics in concert with a Speedwire switch panel for EFI, ignition, start/prime, lights, and an LED light bar to make it all visible and accessible. An Altronics Powerlite Pro Series 16-volt battery delivers the juice to keep it all running.

An ATI three-speed Turbo 400 with an oversized main shaft — rowed into gear by an M&M shifter — is mated to a billet Neal Chance converter bolted to a Meziere flexplate to deliver the power to the center section via a PST 4-inch diameter driveshaft.

The custom 4-link rear suspension features a Skinny Kid-built full floater rear end sporting a Strange Engineering 9.5-inch billet center section, 9.5-inch Pro Gears from US Gear, and 40-spline Strange axles. An SKRC wishbone, anti-roll bar, and shock mounts for the Menscer Motorsports shocks with Hypercoil spring round things out. Strange’s Pro Carbon brakes bring things to a halt out back, while up front, Santhuff struts and Hypercoil springs are paired with Strange’s Strange Pro Series II spindle mount and brake kit. The whole package rides on RC Components’ stylish Hammer-S series wheels (15×3.5 front and 15×13 rear) wrapped in Mickey Thompson rubber (275 Pro Drag Radials on the money-making end).

Simpson’s Air Boss 10-foot air-launcher drag chutes help bring the car to a halt from nearly 190 mph, and if the thing ever gets a little warm, a Safecraft fire suppression system with a pair of 10-pound bottles filled with 3M Novec 1230 will tamp down the flames.

After the PPG Vibrant Collection ‘Kilauea Glow’ color was applied by Alan Pennywitt, SKRC got to work reassembling the Camaro, wiring and plumbing its many systems to get it turn-key. Alan did a beautiful job on the car, and soon it was buttoned up and on the way to FuelTech and ProLine for dyno testing.

With Pro Line master tuner Steve Petty on the keyboard along with Luis de Leon from FuelTech, there was a lot of brainpower assisting with the dyno testing. After eight dyno runs, the team ripped off 2,552 rear-wheel horsepower. Petty requested a change to a 1.45 gear set in the ProCharger CrankDrive, which would spin the F3-136 harder. After two additional runs, the Camaro made an impressive 2,729 rwhp out of the PLR Red/ProCharger 136 combo — pretty stunning for a fairly affordable engine platform.

The dyno session wrapped in just the nick of time, allowing the Dragzine crew to debut the car — untested — at the final big heads-up race of the season: the Street Car Super Nationals in Las Vegas in November. There, the car proved immediately capable, cracking off low 4-second runs through testing, qualifying, and eliminations.

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With the new PLR Red engine, the team slowly ground away at the new combination. Racing in SCSN Extreme Drag Radial (similar to LDR) and the N/T Pro 275 class, the Camaro went to the semi-finals in both classes, and delivered a best pass of 4.17 at 178 mph after only 10 runs.

BlownZ28 will foray into the cut-throat worlds of Limited Drag Radial beginning at Lights Out 12 in South Georgia in February, and with the class record now standing at 3.97 and a host of competitors aiming to up their game, no doubt we’ve got our work cut out for us in 2021.

Project BlownZ28 Specifications

Vehicle: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

Paint: PPG Vibrant Collection ‘Kilauea Glow’ – applied by Alan Pennywitt
Chassis: Skinny Kid Race Cars 25.3
Body: Classic Sheetmetal/Cynergy Composites
Body Trim: Classic Industries
Wing: Skinny Kid Race Cars
Wheel Tubs: Jerry Bickel 44″
Motor Plate: Jerry Bickel mid-plate and block plate
Dashboard: Cynergy
Windows: Optic Armor
Seat Belts: Simpson
Parachutes: Simpson Air Boss 10′
Fire System: Safecraft Pro Mod 2 10-lb. bottles
Switch Panel/Wiring: Speedwire
Battery: Altronics Powerlite VP2000 w/BMS
Steering Wheel: Grant

 

Front Struts: Santhuff
Rear Shocks: Menscer 7-inch, four-way adjustable
Springs: Hypercoil F/R
Front End Limiter: Racecraft
Rack & Pinion: Skinny Kid Pinto rack w/ tie rod ends and billet mounts
4-Link: Skinny Kid w/ 7/8″ rod ends
Wishbone: Skinny Kid
Anti-roll Bar: Skinny Kid
Brakes: Strange Engineering strut mount front Pro Carbon rear
Master Cylinder: Strange billet

 

Engine block: Dart billet
Crankshaft: Callies
Pistons: JE
Connecting Rods: MGP
Rings: Total Seal
Cylinder Heads: Dart 20-degree CNC ported
Intake Manifold: Billet Magnatron
Throttle Body: Billet Magnatron
Rocker arms: T&D shaft mount
Camshaft: COMP Cams custom grind
Lifters: Jesel
Timing Set: Donovan 1″ raised cam gear drive
Pushrods: Trend
Oil Pump: Moroso
Oil Pan: Moroso aluminum dry sump
ECU: FuelTech FT600
Ignition: FTSpark
Exhaust: Woolf Racecraft “zoomie” kit & flanges

Supercharger: ProCharger F3-136
Blowoff Valves: ProCharger
Gear Drive: ProCharger CrankDrive
Fuel Pump: Rage 1400 series
Fuel Regulator: Aeromotive Extreme Flow EFI
Fuel Hoses/Fittings: Earl’s
 

Transmission: ATI big shaft 3-speed Turbo 400
Torque Converter: Neal Chance billet
Shifter: M&M
Flexplate: Meziere
Bellhousing: ATI BBC
Rearend Housing: Skinny Kid 9.5-inch full floater
Axles: Strange 40-spline 300M
Center Section: Strange 9.5″ billet
Driveshaft: PST 4″
Gears: US Gear Pro Gears
Yoke: Spicer 1480

 

Front wheels: RC Components Hammer-S 15×3.5 Eclipse finish
Rear wheels: RC Components Hammer-S 15×13 Eclipse finish
Front tires: Mickey Thompson 15×4
Rear tires: Mickey Thompson 275 Pro Drag Radial

About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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