This 2015 Z/28 Camaro Aims to Break Records
Joseph DeLano’s personal goal is to set a land speed record for a street-legal Camaro. To do this, DeLano bought a new 2015 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 in may 2015 and got some help from his hero-turned-mentor, Kenny Duttweiler.
Duttweiler of course is known for his work with George Poteet and the Speed Demon Team, DeLano had been following his career when he began building motors to setting land speed records at Bonneville.
When DeLano decided to build a car to break the record, he had been following the Mojave Mile events, which were one-mile, standing start events that were held at the old airstrip in Mojave, California.
“I knew starting with a factory race car would make the build much easier, thus the investment in the Z/28” DeLano said.
Modification was needed to make the factory Z28 capable of setting a record. DeLano used the Mojave Mile rules to base the build off, as he found them to be the most strict.
A major item that needed to be added to the Z28 was a cage. “It was a little scary taking apart a brand new, very expensive car in preparation for the roll cage, and this wasn’t going to be just any roll cage either,” DeLano said.
DeLano said he and his team at Left Coast 32 started out by removing the front and rear glass and completely stripping the interior, including the dash. Every single item had to be bagged and cataloged so it could be put back together again.
All the interior panels were modified to accommodate the addition of the roll cage. The idea was that we would re-assemble the interior to stock after the cage was welded in.
“I wanted to create this seamless look of the roll cage blending in with the factory interior like it was meant to be there. I never wanted it to look like an add-on with a stripped out interior like everyone else’s.”
The end result? The roll cage bars disappear behind the rear passenger seats and the interior panels, and the front pillars disappear behind the dash.
Next, DeLano and his team focused on the installation of the dry carbon fiber roof.
There were over sixty tack welds that had to be drilled out in order remove the factory roof to install the carbon fiber replacement. “This was probably the hardest thing to do because it was completely irreversible and the car was brand new,” DeLano said.
For even more pressure, DeLano commented that he only had one shot at getting the install correct on the roof. “It was a 2400.00 part and we hadn’t ever done one before,” DeLano said, adding his extreme attention to detail served him well. “We took our time and measured everything multiple times. We set the fitment over and over until it was perfect. I’ve got to say it came out pretty amazing. Since then we’ve installed two more with great results.”
Next, DeLano transitioned to the body modification phase, which meant replacing every stock part, panel and component possible with available carbon fiber to offset the 200 lb + weight gain from the roll cage. Consequently, DeLano replaced every panel that was bolted down including the doors, fenders, hood, trunk, and complete Z/28 aero package.
The only stock body components left are the rear quarters and plastic bumpers from the original car. “When we finished, the weight on the build was down to 3718 lbs. with fluids, which is lighter than stock.”
As if that wasn't enough, every piece of carbon fiber was taken back off the car and sent out for paint and buff. “I wanted to make sure the fitment was perfect and all of the carbon weave was aligned the way we wanted it before we painted it. The carbon fiber was sprayed with 5 coats of PPG Vibrance Clear, then blocked and buffed.”
Once the paint had cured, the car was re-assembled. This was a turning point for this phase of the build. After putting the car back together DeLano planned to move on to the engine build.
“All of the efforts, time and planning really paid off. The car is nothing short of beautiful,” he said.
After the car was re-assembled a complete Xpel protective film wrap installed by AutoArmour.
Following the wrap, DeLano had discussed what he could do to increase the downforce he needed to keep the car on the ground at the speed required during competition. He ended up designing and fabricating rocker extensions and a sub splitter. "My team and I made these out of .125 6061 aluminum to minimize adding additional weight while maintaining the strength needed."
Recently DeLano transitioned to the engine build phase where he is working with Magnuson Superchargers and Duttweiler Performance to build a new DART 427 LSnext with Magnuson’s new TVS2650 blower. "Our goal is to make 1500hp on boost alone," DeLano said.
According to DeLano, the final phase of the build will involve completion of required safety specifications including fuel cell with bladder, fire suppression system, parachutes, and external/internal kill switches.
Unfortunately, they are no longer running the Mojave Mile so DeLano is looking at competing in the Texas Mile and other half-mile events that are staged throughout the country.