I just got back from hosting the inaugural Classic Industries F-Body Nationals at Memphis International Raceway.
It was a really great event!
I knew it was gonna be awesome as soon as I spotted these two beauties parked right next to each other in the hotel parking lot Friday morning still covered in morning dew.
A beautiful 1967, the car that started it all, next to a 2017 ZL1 in Hyper-Blue Metallic.
That’s 50 years of the Camaro right there and we hadn’t even left for the event yet.
And when we got to the event, it did not disappoint.
The F-Body Nationals had some serious quality cars there.
For example, last year at The Woodward Dream Cruise I was there when Chevrolet debuted the first Camaro – Camaro serial number #100001.
Hand build in May of 1966 – the first Camaro ever.
It’s a beautiful little gold straight-six car.
I saw it again at SEMA last year in honor of the Camaro’s 50th Anniversary.
The Camaro’s 50th year!
The F-Body Nationals had The First Camaro in attendance too!!
And Logan was kind enough to let me sit in it.
It’s the first-car of the first 52 hand-built Camaro “Pilot-Cars.”
And it’s a part of the National Historic Vehicle Regisrty, a very special honor.
Not only was Number 1 in attendance, so was Number 31.
That’s right, Camaro #100031.
Pretty little red convertible with a luggage rack on the trunk lid.
It also has the factory 8-Track Tape Player above the center console and almost every option they could throw at it back in 1967.
I love the Bowtie on the 8-Track door.
Some of the other cars “under the big tent” were a:
Super-clean LeMans Blue 1968 RS-SS 396 with special order L-89 Aluminum Heads, M-22 4-speed and 3.73 gears.
An all-original Rallye Green 69 Z/28 with an original dealer-installed cross-ram intake manifold, cowl-induction cross-ram hood, M-22 4-speed, and JL8 4-wheel disc brakes.
The cross-ram was an “over the counter” option and either you or the dealer had to install it.
There was even a sweet barn find.
A numbers matching, 69 COPO with the original 427/4-speed and Keystone mag wheels.
The original wheels are at home in his garage.
And what’s better than that?!?
The owner taking it down the Memphis International Raceway drag-strip all weekend long.
It was awesome.
He raced it down the drag-strip multiple times a day, every day.
Ya gotta love the F-Body Nationals.
The Gen-2’s were out in force too.
One of my favorites was this all original Placer Gold 71 RS Z/28 packing an LT-1 with an M-22 4-speed and 3.73 rear end.
The interior was beat-up but it was original.
The paint was beat up too but the car was a time capsule.
There was some info on the hood that read partly: “Plan To Begin Restoration This Fall.”
If you own this car and you’re reading this…
Please don’t touch it.
It’s only original once.
Just drive it and enjoy it.
It’s beautiful just the way it is.
The other Gen-2’s that really made an impression on me were Brian Finch’s 70 and Kyle Tucker’s 71.
These things are purpose built weapons designed for dominating the auto-cross course.
And that’s exactly what these guys did all weekend long.
They even gave rides to show participants!
At one point I saw a group of guys lifting a man out of his wheelchair and strapping him into Kyle’s Camaro.
I caught up to him after his ride and he was shaking.
I asked him if he’d ever done anything like that before and he screamed:
“No man. That was the coolest thing ever!”
Kyle’s blue 70 straight bumper has a Mast Motorsports Black Label LS7 hooked up to a Tremec T-56 Magnum 6-Speed gearbox, Baer 6-piston brakes, and basically every go-fast goodie & suspension part for Second-Gen Camaros in Detroit Speed’s catalog.
It’s the car that gets all the Gen-2 prototype parts to test out before they go in the DSE catalog.
Kyle was telling me the car really hasn’t changed since they built it about 10 years ago which is amazing.
It’s testimony to the engineering behind their products because after 10 years of abuse, the thing is still a corner carving G-Machine.
Then there’s Brian’s white 71 split bumper Camaro.
It’s got a 660hp LS7 under the hood, a T56 6-speed, Baer 6-piston brakes, JRI remote reservoir coil-overs and DSE’s full line of suspension parts underneath it.
Oh yeah, and it’s riding on Forgeline wheels wrapped in the stickiest BF Goodrich rubber he can get.
Brian’s a BF Goodrich Brand Ambassador.
And get this – not only are these guys fierce competitors, but they’re also close friends and team-mates.
Every year they vacation together down in Mexico for about three weeks.
But their vacation isn’t relaxing on the beach with a cold Tecate.
Their vacation consists of pre-running, racing and even winning the Baja-1000 off-road race.
How awesome is that?!?
Not only were Brian and Kyle giving rides to show participants, but so were a few of the auto-cross hard-cores.
If I had a “Spirit of the Event” Award to give, I’d have to have three of ‘em.
One for Todd in Black Betty.
“Black Betty” is a 2001 Camaro that was Chevy High Performance Magazine car that Mark bought, beat-up, drove to the event, ran 91 passes thru the auto-cross and drove it home.
That’s Mark and Nick Licata, the Editor of Chevy High Performance Magazine and the former owner of Black Betty.
Val in her screaming red Pontiac GTA that she and her husband had driven out from Arizona in.
They were hitting six car shows in eight weeks out on the road.
The paint was almost as loud as the car with its Black Widow exhaust howling down the back straight.
I think it was the best sounding car out there.
And then Dick in his red 69 Camaro with a Mast Motorsports Black Label LS3.
It’s essentially a clone of Stacy Tucker’s (Kyle’s wife) DSE Gen-1 Camaro.
And it is bad!
Here’s a link to The Block’s photo gallery of the F-Body Nationals.
These three participants drove around the auto-cross course tirelessly, and when they saw a line of people waiting to get rides in Brian & Kyle’s cars, they fired up their cars and jumped right in giving rides to anyone and everyone who was interested.
It was a pretty cool thing to see.
Kyle Tucker helped fuel my love for Gen-3’s with his super-clean 87 IROC-Z which has now been dubbed: “DSE-Z.”
I hadn’t been a fan of Third-Gen Camaros since I was in college when my buddy had a sweet red IROC-Z with the darkest tint ever and a license plate that read: “BAD HUH.”
Then I saw “Hell or High Water” last summer.
The two bank-robbers drove a beat up Gen-3 at the beginning of the movie and that’s when I started to notice ’em again.
The DSE-Z is a beast!
It’s got a de-stroked Mast Motorsports Black Label LS7 under the hood, Holley Dominator EFI system, Baer 6-piston brakes, Tremec 6-speed, CenterForce Clutch, and BF Goodrich tires.
And that engine… it shifts at 8500rpm!!
And we got to watch some nasty Pro-Mods boogie down the drag-strip and even a Jet-Car!
Yeah… that 855 on the front fender means there’s 855 cubic inches under that long carbon-fiber hood.
One of my favorite moments was meeting Robert and his wife in a liquid black 2017 ZL1.
We met ‘em early Saturday morning while we were scouting the place in our golf-cart.
Robert told me it had only 5000 miles on it and he rarely drove it.
On Sunday I see him again and I ask him if he’s been thru the autocross yet.
When he said no I told him that what the car was built for.
And the beauty of the F-Body Nationals is that if you’re a registered participant, not only can you win a 1967 Camaro and other cool prizes like a Chevy Performance Crate Engine, you can take your car down the drag-strip and on the auto-cross track as many times as you want thru out the event.
Pretty cool huh?
After Robert and I emptied out the contents of his trunk he and his wife followed me in my golf-cart over to the Classic Performance Products Auto-Cross Course.
It was a tight course which I’m pretty sure I put down the slowest time of the event of 83.41 seconds in my unmodified EZ-GO golf-cart.
I told Robert exactly what they told me at my first auto-cross:
“Have fun on your first lap and get to know the track a little. Then come back and drive it again. Your second lap is always faster.”
It’s always a good excuse so you can do at least two laps.
I heard he went from a first run of 49 all the way down to a 42 and change on his third run.
Not too shabby.
His wife saw me and said: “Thank you for making him do this. He wasn’t going to. Now I think he’s addicted.”
My job here is done.
The inaugural F-Body Nationals was a huge success.
It was an intimate gathering of the F-Body faithful with drag-racing, auto-crossing, a swap meet, lots of fun, some shenanigans and serious F-Body history.
I can’t wait ’till next year.
I almost forgot…
And David Glidewell won the 1967 Camaro give-away car.
See ya there next year!