It’s called the Silver State Classic, a balls-out blast across the floor of the Nevada desert. Conceived nearly a quarter century ago, the Silver State has attracted vehicles of all sorts, from bone-stock Malibus to twin-turbo Audi R8s and everything in between. During its infancy, the Silver State saw several high-speed mishaps caused by automotive components stressed beyond their limits. Tires shredded, wheels flew apart, cars went airborne. It’s the sort of stuff professional race teams sort out with engineers and pro drivers. The thing is, the Silver State is an event for average Joes, guys who change their own oil and paint their own houses. They don’t have a team of engineers behind them. They usually have some guy named Bob, you know, the guy with a Coors Light surgically attached to his hand.
Still, the allure of the Silver State caused more than a few high rollers to build cars specifically for the event. The most famous of these was Big Red, the '69 Camaro of the Gottlieb family. Although it looked pretty tame from the outside, beneath its skin laid stuff culled straight from the NASCAR bin-tube chassis, revised aerodynamics, racing suspension, and lots of expensive technology.
Setting an average speed of 198 mph on the 94-mile course, the entire car community was left in awe. After all, the ’69 Camaro is the cornerstone of American hot rodding. It’s a car built for average Joes.
The front sheetmetal has been modified to include a cowl-induction scoop; massive side pip
Tim Hulcher of Crestline, California, was one such man who dared to dream big. A former cop on the mean streets of South Los Angeles, Tim put in his 20-plus years and decided to spend his remaining time in rest and relaxation. Actually no, he did just the opposite. Rather than chase bad guys through trash-strewn alleys, he was going to chase the legend of Big Red. "I told the guys at Hotrods To Hell I wanted the fastest stock tub and body car in the Unlimited class for the Silver State Challenge."
Anyone with a rudimentary grasp of physics can understand this was a daunting proposition. After a certain point, going faster becomes geometrically more difficult. Simply making the leap from 180 mph to 200 mph requires more than a 20 percent increase in power. Factors like wind resistance, balance, gearing, rpm, and downforce come into play. Screw one of them up and you can fail big time. Oh, and a hell of a lot more horsepower doesn’t hurt either.
Hotrods To Hell is known mostly for the chassis and suspension expertise, but proprietor S
Tim's Camaro started life as a base model car. It was clean, straight, and most importantly rust-free. Pristine as it was, however, the chassis would be subjected to stresses far beyond its original design. Imagine putting a Pratt and Whitney turbofan jet on a Cessna. Sure, it would work great until the extra thrust tore the wings from their roots.
Led by Steve McClenon, the well-honed crew at Hotrods To Hell in Anderson, California, stretched the frame 2.5 inches for a wheelbase of 110.5 inches, and revised its chassis to move the engine 14 inches south of its birthplace. The idea was to move the center of gravity more toward the center and keep its mass low to the ground. The whole frontend sheetmetal was also drooped down and a large cowl-induction hoodscoop was added; this would provide more downforce on the frontend at high speed. The floorboard includes a custom-built transmission tunnel that houses a carbon-fiber driveshaft. Following substantial reinforcement including a fully integrated rollcage, the chassis was fitted with a Hotrods To Hell first-gen Camaro Roadrace front clip. Comprised of lightweight tubular lower arms and revised coilover mounting points, the Hotrods To Hell front clip lends a wider stance while lowering the unsprung weight. It’s beautifully built, featuring gorgeous welding and substantial gusseting on stress points. The bits are dampened with coilover units fitted with QA1 double-adjustable shocks. The steering rack is based on a Woodward unit with a 16:1 ratio and lends itself well to high-speed usage where input changes must be carefully modulated.