The month of December is a magical month for many, especially those that own racecars. Although there were no parts under New York native Mike Castellanos’ tree, there were plenty of ideas.
“I gave my friend Chris McNeil, the owner of CJM Chassis, a call and told him I wanted to go racing.” Chris obliged, and the two agreed that a little 8.50 index racing could satisfy their need for speed. At that point, everything was set for the build … they were just missing a car.
“After the holidays, I got pretty sick and so I spent countless hours on eBay searching for the right car to build, Castellans says. The time off turned out well for Mike, as he found a 2010 body-in-white Camaro, purchased it, and took it to CJM. Chris and Mike agreed they would build the new 8.50 index car in between Chris’ other builds. As the project was moving along, Chris had some health issues of his own; he was diagnosed with colon cancer.
McNeil was forced to stop work on Mike’s Camaro for a short while but picked up where he left off after he defeated his illness. Chris refused to buy over-the-counter parts for the Camaro, and so he fabricated and cut every piece of metal — no stone was left unturned. Finally, in November of 2016, the chassis was completed: a double frame-rail 2010 Chevrolet Camaro that certified to 6.0 in the quarter-mile.
In February of 2017, Mike began on the body work on the Camaro and solicited Ian Hawkins from 660 Concepts to put his ideas to a rendering. Once the rendering was complete, the body was sent to body shop owner and veteran racer Bruce Mullins in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Bruce needed only six weeks to create his magic with Mike’s Camaro, dubbed Hot as Hell.
The final piece of the build was finding someone to assemble all of Mike’s engine parts he had lying around the garage. He went with former Pro Stock driver Tommy Martino, owner of Tommy Martino Racing Engines. “Tommy is the best engine builder out there and also the nicest guy you could have the pleasure to be around,” Mike exclaims. Tommy took Mike’s all-aluminum 615 cubic-inch engine and parts and went to work. On just a single carburetor, the new bullet produced 1,176 horsepower and over 926 foot-pounds of torque.
For the next several months, Mike and Chris put the finishing touches on Hot as Hell and it was completed in June of 2018. For the next few months the duo intend to do plenty of testing to work the bugs out of the new car. The Northeast 8.50 index scene is as competitive as they come but they vow to be a force to be reckoned with!