At the NMCA West Finals in Bakersfield, the drivers were competitive, the air was filled with burnt rubber, and the cars came out in droves to blaze down the quarter-mile blacktop.
BlownZ, our very own 275 Radial ass-kicker Camaro, made a strong showing. The car demonstrated what our team was capable of by running in the high sevens down the quarter-mile, and that was just on Saturday.
Sunday showed the true colors of BlownZ as she managed to clinch the win for fastest in her class, giving James Lawrence, our CEO and proud driver, a Wally for his hard work. BlownZ wasn’t all there was to see perform that weekend, though.
While traipsing around the pits on Saturday, we caught a glimpse of the True Street racers. As we found out, it doesn’t matter what age, experience, or license you bring to the table when it comes to True Street, because there’s room for anyone provided he or she has the car and will to race.
What is True Street?
True Street is a class sponsored by Tremec, where regular Joes can take the opportunity to drag race in their modified cars for an affordable rate, no matter the year, make, model, or engine type. There’s also no minimum weight.
As far as what’s kosher within the scope of mods, the rulebook states simply that “multiple power adders are permitted,” meaning folks could equip their cars with just about anything shy of rocket propulsion. Sure enough, there were quite a few who owned some intimidating engine bays.
All of the bits and pieces of the car have to fit on the stock chassis, but everything past the firewall can be fitted with aftermarket parts. For tires, DOT-approved, true 10.5-inch wide tires are the law, and they can’t be shaved or changed prior to or during the event.
Further requirements for True Street racers demand that vehicles be street-certified and able to drive over a 30-mile distance before racing. At Famoso, the guys embarked on the trip at around noon, coming back and heading straight to the lanes after a short cool-down break.
At this point is where we walked onto the scene. Amongst the plethora of True Streets, we couldn’t help but notice all the Chevys waiting patiently for their next go down the track so we made a point to stop by and see who had what. Without further ado, here is our picks for the top five True Street Chevrolet vehicles.
Number Five: Chris Lee’s ’99 Z28
Hailing from Hesperia, some 160 miles southeast of Bakersfield, Chris Lee came to the races to show off what his Z28 was all about: speed for a pretty minimal cost. Practically everything on his Camaro was bone-stock, apart from the PCM, which he’d had sent to the East Coast to be tuned.
Other than the tune the sleek red muscle car, came with a 3000 stall converter which he’d had installed since first buying the vehicle. As it stood on race day, the 125,000-mile Camaro looked clean and poised for a photo finish, which Lee hoped to attain when we talked to him on Saturday.
Lee regaled us of the Z28’s recent conquests, among them the NMCA Pomona race, where he managed to attain victory with a perfect 13.00 average in the 13.0 index.
What Lee likes best about his car is that it’s a stock performer. He considers himself a Chevy guy, having owned and raced two other Camaros (1968 and 1977 models) as well as a 1970 Chevelle over the course of his favorite pastime in the past 30 years.
Number Four: Bob Zahner’s 1967 Chevy II/Nova
Bob Zahner’s red muscle car had all the right attitude and power to show off at the Finals. A racer since his high-school days, Zahner had taken a few years off of the sport to find his calling in life.
He came back to drag racing six years ago, and has made the best of it in his ’67 Chevy II/Nova. Since buying the car seven years ago from the newspaper classifieds, he’s tinkered with the 355 SBC to make the Nova a bit better while staying within class regulations.
Modifications included a Holley 750 double pumper, Air Flow Research 195 heads, a Comp Cams hydraulic roller with Keith Black pistons, and forged rods, with exhaust channeled through a set of Hooker Super Competition headers. Zahner claims his compression ratio is at 9.7:1, and he’s still able to get 20 mpg.
He gets his power to the Billet Specialties Street wheels using a 200-4R four-speed transmission with a 3900 stall lockup converter connected to a Ford 9-inch with a 3.70 gear ratio. This gets the rubber burning on his rear Mickey Thompson ET Streets.
Zahner’s best time in the car was 11.70 @ 115MPH, yet he was there to race in the 12-second bracket, so he wouldn’t be able to put his foot down all the way. He came pretty close to winning, however, achieving an average of 12.043 over the weekend.
Number Three: Brad Russell’s 1973 C10
Underneath the hood, we got a peek at the flaming red 400 SBC, hiding its powerful internals like a Callies crankshaft and a hydraulic roller Comp Camshaft. A slush box TH400 transmission meant this truck could deliver the goods and still have time to mess around in the parking lot.
In the rear, Russell had installed a Ford 9-inch with a Detroit Locker and Moser axles for better traction. All these modifications had been done as time and money allotted. The owner had opted to convert the truck into a drag truck back in 2008. The paint job was done by Russell himself back in the beginning of the year.
Overall he’s pleased with how the truck has performed over the years. “She runs 12s all day,” said Russell, “and I plan to finish the interior someday, but in the end, I just want to the drive the wheels off of it.” A grin flashed upon his face as he said this last part, likely because he was aching to do just that after we finished our interview.
His final average time for the Finals was 12.024 seconds, edging him past Zahner’s Nova. Unfortunately, it was not enough to clinch the win for the 12.0 second bracket. Lacie Phinney’s ’06 Trailblazer SS would take home that honor, at 12.011 seconds.
Number Two: Michael Adams’ 2006 Corvette
Simple as the Corvette’s stock characteristics may seem, Michael Adams’ 2006 C6 was a real pleasure to see amidst the coterie of Chevys present at Famoso. This Corvette was equipped with an Edelbrock nitrous kit, and little else besides a Vararam cold air intake, Hoosier rears, and Nitto fronts. We liked it that way.
This sleek red beauty didn’t need to show off or make some sort of statement–all the get-up-and-go was right there under the hood. Packed inside the engine compartment was a great big LS2, which got 380hp at the rears. “I like the LS platform for its simplicity and power, it’s just very universal,” said Adams. So all-encompassing is Adams’ love for the V8 that his license plates reflect the plain LS-engine lifestyle: “STOCKLS2.”
Just over a year ago, Adams walked onto a Chevy dealership with his late-gen GT500 and admitted he’d gotten tired of the problems with boost and traction. Trading the Stang in for the Corvette, Adams states, was one of the better decisions of his life, if for nothing else than the higher reliability and peace of mind–improved performance notwithstanding.
He got his start in racing just over seven years ago, and has since gone on to participate in both this NMCA Series as well as the NHRA Summit Sportsman Series. His best run? 12.31 seconds @ 117mph.
Adams would ultimately fall short of his intended time for the weekend–he was hoping to win the 11-second bracket–coming out with an average of 11.881 seconds. He’s got some future plans to improve his odds, like getting a new stall converter, but fun is what matters most to this racing dude from Bakersfield.
Number One: Tony De Azevedo’s ’69 Camaro
Getting him to the peak of his bracket that weekend were a host of quality parts. At the heart was the 355 SBC with an Edelbrock manifold, World Products Sportsman II heads, Comp cam, MSD ignition, Dynatech headers, nitrous and a relocated NATA battery. His transmission is a Jericho 4-speed with a Centerforce clutch.
Tony’s history in racing stretched back a ways to the early 2000’s, as he progressed from running test and tunes to trying out for True Street. He’s had the Camaro since 1997, however, but only recently opted to have it fitted for the trials of drag racing.
De Azevedo purchased this roller-only pony car and transformed it to the performance machine it is today. A new engine, transmission, rebuilt suspension, and front yard paint job soon had the car up to snuff, taking three years to complete.
All that work has paid off for De Azevedo, if this weekend’s results are any indication. He won the 11-second bracket at the Finals, coming in at an average of 11.083 seconds. We’re sure the drive back to Tulane was a happy one for this Bowtie brawler.
The Virtues of True Street
Approachable but still fast and fun, the True Street class proved it’s a great place to go for the everyman who wants his dose of high speed delivered on the weekend. True Street provides a good entry point for newcomers or reliable fun experience for veterans alike.