2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS: The Racer's Test
February 03, 2010
My friend Bill Cooper came into town from Montana this past weekend, so he took a look at our Camaro SS. As the former chief instructor at the Bondurant racing school, he knows a little bit about racing cars, and he raced a Camaro in the Trans-Am during the 1980s.
Cooper even went to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1981 to drive the wild, winged Camaro entered by Billy Hagan, only to have NASCAR champ Cale Yarborough stick the 210-mph car under a guardrail just 52 minutes into the race, an event described in a very funny story in Sports Illustrated.
So we happened to be driving our Camaro the same day as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, where Stevenson MotorSports was running its two, new Pratt & Miller-built Camaro GT.Rs (actually the former Pontiac GTO/Pontiac GXP.R chassis retrofitted with Camaro bodywork) in the Rolex race. And the day before, Stevenson MotorSports had put two Riley Technology-built Camaro GS.Rs (one a lookalike of the famous 1969 Camaro fielded by Penske Racing in the Trans-Am racing series of the time) in the Continental Tire preliminary event.
Cooper liked the Camaro SS pretty well, especially the engine and transmission (he has a 600-hp Corvette that he runs in a hillclimb series in the Northwest). But right away he noticed the terrible visibility. "It's perfect for kid drivers," he said. "When you look out the windshield, you feel like you're squinting. And you can't see anything behind you at all, so it's like driving while you're wearing a hoodie."
Later during the Daytona broadcast, we saw a clip of the Stevenson MotorSports Camaro going out for practice with a new driver, who promptly complained that he couldn't see out the back of the car at all. The crew chief advised him to look around for the rear-view parking camera or something.
Turns out the Stevenson Camaros finished the weekend pretty strong. The Camaro GT.Rs finished 11th and 17th overall (4th and 10th in class) in the Rolex 24, while the Camaro GS.Rs finished 5th and 8th in the Continental Tire preliminary event. We'll be seeing more of them this season.
Unfortunately it doesn't look like we'll see a Camaro in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, as Chevrolet has declined to prepare a Camaro body to fit the template for the new Car of Tomorrow, supposedly because of concerns about degrading the Camaro's styling impact, though perhaps aerodynamics might have something to do with it.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 11,352 miles