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GM Gets a New Camaro SS into the mid-10s for SEMA

Leading up to the start of the 2016 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, General Motors has announced the results of the Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program, which put a new Camaro SS into the mid 10-second range with modifications which the company believes to be the most common among grassroots racers – and this program could lead to new high performance goodies from the Chevrolet Performance division.

The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS has proven itself to be one of the quickest factory-stock Camaros of all time to ever wear the Super Stock moniker when it comes to storming down the quarter mile drag strip, but anyone who spends any time at the track knows that very few cars are factory-stock. The performance aftermarket for cars like the Camaro is one of the key reasons that American muscle cars have always been so popular, and in recent years, General Motors has worked to get a bigger piece of the drag racing aftermarket. However, with their new Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program, it looks like the automaker could soon be offering some very serious performance parts for the 6th gen Camaro SS – all of which will help if get down the drag strip in the mid-10 second range.

“More than simply achieving quick ETs in the Camaro, we are exploring the supporting components that help the car to go quicker with great durability,” said Mark Dickens, director, Performance Variants, Parts and Motorsports Engineering. “We’ve tested stronger axles and chassis components aimed at improving launch and traction attributes.”

Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program
The team working on the Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program started with a new Chevrolet Camaro SS with the LT1 V8 and the 8-speed automatic transmission. The team added some of the most commonly changed components of the Camaro SS, making at least some changed to every portion of the drivetrain. GM hasn’t offered exact details, but the announcement of this program touched on each of the key changes as part of the Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program.

The LT1 V8 in the Camaro SS Drag Race Development car has a unique set of cylinder heads, a new camshaft and a set of exhaust headers which, when tuned, allows the test car to produce around 530 horsepower (GM does not state whether that is wheel horsepower or brake horsepower). There is also an unnamed source of forced induction, which lifts output up over 600 horsepower.

Next, the Camaro SS Drag Race Development test car was fitted with a 4,200rpm high stall torque convertor, which allows the car to launch at a more ideal point in the powerband and this particular transmission was tuned to shift harder than a stock Camaro SS. Behind a strengthened driveshaft, the team added half shafts from a 6th gen Camaro ZL1 along with the Chevrolet Performance drivetrain upgrade from the 5th gen Camaro ZL1, which adds a heavy duty rear gearset with a 3.73 ratio.

Finally, the Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program test car had a set of 16 inch rear wheels with sticky racing slicks, which required smaller rear brakes for the smaller wheels. This car also has a proper roll cage, a Recaro racing seat and a 6-point harness, to keep the driver safe and to keep the car NHRA-legal to run this quick.

So, the Camaro SS Drag Race Development test car had an LT1 V8 with forced induction, a cam, new heads, full exhaust and a tune, a 4,200rpm torque convertor with a specially tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, a 3.73 rear gear in a strengthened differential, high strength half shafts, smaller rear brakes and lightweight rear wheels wrapped in racing slicks.

Those are all very common modifications for a Camaro SS owner who wants to go racing and go very fast, so the Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program has done a nice job of creating a project car that accurately mimics so many privately owned vehicles.

Serious Results
While this Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program test car packed an impressive figure of 600 horsepower, the numbers compiled over the course of more than 100 test runs were even more impressive. Mind you, the team has tested all sort of different combinations with different results, but these are the best numbers laid down by the test car thus far.

The best 60 foot time by the Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program was a 1.425 and if you aren’t well versed on drag racing figures – understand that is a very good time. A 60 foot time that low proves that the Camaro SS drag car gets away from the line in a serious hurry.

That great launch has led to a best 8th mile time of 6.764 at 100.85 miles per hour and in the full quarter mile, the best time has been a 10.685 at 125.73 miles per hour.

“The Camaro SS Drag Race Development concept is a work in progress, but Chevrolet is serious about developing parts and packages tailored for drag racers,” said Dickens. “As we continue to develop the car, we’ll be listening intently to customers’ reactions to it and what they believe would help them the most on the drag strip. This is only the beginning.”

While this is only an in-house testing program right now, the progress made by Chevrolet Performance in recent years leads me to believe that some (or all) of these components could soon be available through your local Chevy dealership. Some of the components, including the 5th gen and 6th gen ZL1 parts, the LT1 heads/cam combo and the performance exhaust system are available now, but with the ability to get the car into the mid-10s, I expect to see more of these items showing up in the Chevrolet Performance catalog.