It was beginning to look as though the Pro Modified-style cars, finally showing their full potential on radial tires at Lights Out 10, might take the Radial vs The World record from Mark Micke and Jason Carter’s Malibu. That narrative was shattered in just 3.621-seconds Thursday evening by Missouri’s Tim Slavens and his very much stock-appearing 1969 Camaro. With that pass and big 217 mph, Slavens announced he is truly a force to be reckoned with in the small-tire world.
At the U.S. Street Nationals last month, Slavens turned a lot of heads when he lit the boards with a 3.64 pass, a new personal best for him in RvW trim. Being able to taste the rare air of the 3.60s on a radial tire was a big accomplishment for Slavens and his team, but that was just the preamble for what they could do on radial racing’s biggest stage.
“A couple weeks ago when we were in Bradenton and went 3.64 that was a big deal for us. Last night we were able to get down the track with a 3.75 so we knew we could swing for it a bit tonight. We just loaded the 3.64 tune into the car and tickled it in a few places where we saw an opportunity for improvement. It worked out and everything came together to lay down that 3.62. The 60-foot was a little bit slower than the Bradenton pass, but the car made up for it in the middle,” Slavens says.
For the past few seasons, Slavens has been seeing a marked improvement in his performances. The better numbers on time-slips and how consistent the car has become was born from improvements in his program with parts and people. For 2019 Slavens made some big changes to key components and those played a pivotal role in picking up the record.
“The biggest change we made for this year was going to the Neal Chance converter … that has helped us a lot. We also went to a bigger set of injectors so we could take advantage of the additional boost the engine was making. The new set of Menscer Motorsports struts we just put on the front of the car made a big difference on how it handles, and that let us put more power in,” Slavens says.
Getting to this point has been a very tactical affair for Slavens and his team. They treat every pass as an opportunity to learn something about what the car likes or doesn’t like. By avoiding the scenario of having a pile of junk time-slips Slavens has been able to build a solid database of information that allows him to build tunes that work.
“We’ve always been conservative from the standpoint of you don’t learn anything if the car isn’t going down the track. We have some really good baseline data to see what the car will do and that works wonders for us. It has given us a set of tune-ups that will get the car to run anywhere from a 3.70 to a 3.76, so now we’ve been just chipping away at those tune-ups to get it in the 3.60s,” Slavens explains.
The million dollar question is, does Slavens’ Camaro have more left in it?
“Looking at the data quickly after that 3.62 pass there’s still some areas in the graph where we can make some improvements. We haven’t really maxed the car out on boost yet because we haven’t asked it to make more. I don’t know how much room there is, but we can try and make some small tweaks to optimize what’s left on the table. The car is also 60 pounds overweight so we might try to pull some weight out and see if that helps,” Slavens says.
Even with the new record in hand Slavens plans on staying the course by only making reasonable adjustments to the car. The ultimate goal is to win the event — the records would be the extra icing on the cake.
“We’re going to be working on consistency so it can run fast and not be on the ragged edge. Since we have some good data we might see if we can push it a bit faster, but we could be at the threshold for what it could do. The big thing is we don’t want to beat ourselves this weekend.”