While growing up in Middletown, Indiana, Camren Massengale spent a lot of time with his dad, Rodney Massengale, at tracks near their home.
He would watch his dad work on his various Corvettes and wheel them down track, and at the same time, he would dream of doing the same.
That day came in 2011, when a 15 year old Camren coaxed his dad into letting him climb into the driver’s seat of his bright yellow 2007 Corvette Z06 during a track rental for RPM Transmissions, which Rodney owns and where Camren works.
With its stock LS7 engine enhanced by a ProCharger and paired with an RPM Transmissions-massaged 4L60-E transmission, Camren clocked 10.00s with Rodney in the passenger’s seat.
Confident in Camren’s skills behind the wheel, Rodney offered him the use of his blue 2003 Corvette Z06 featuring an LS3 engine and RPM Transmissions-massaged 4L60-E transmission in 2012, and in it, Camren cruised to high tens in the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series’ ProForm Rumble category.
“I consider that to be my first real race car,” said Camren. “Even though I didn’t win rounds in it that first year, I learned a lot and became even more interested in racing.”
Meanwhile, Rodney was piloting Al Brodbeck’s red 2001 Corvette Z06 powered by a BES-designed, RPM Transmissions-assembled and nitrous-enhanced 440ci LS6 engine in the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series’ Holley EFI Real Street category, and wound up in the winner’s circle when the series joined the NMCA event in at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana that year.
“At that time, the car had a full interior, air-conditioning and only 4,000 miles on it,” said Camren. “Al had brought it to us at RPM Transmissions for an automatic converter swap for his 4L60-E transmission, and we had a rollcage installed in it. Then we put nitrous on it and did a Powerglide conversion for him and went to the track with him, but the engine blew. Then we built a new LS7 engine for him, but with a supercharger instead of nitrous, and that’s what put the car in the low 9s. Dad bought the car from Al in 2014.”
Rodney also bought a Cobra Jet with a supercharged 5.0L engine in 2014, backed it up with an RPM Transmissions-massaged Turbo 400 and turned it over to Camren for NMRA ProCharger Coyote Modified at the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing at Route 66 Raceway, where he blasted to 8.90s.
But Rodney sold the car not long after, and purchased a 2015 COPO Camaro for Camren to campaign in Holley EFI Real Street as well as local eighth-mile races, and in the black beauty, Camren uncorked 8.70s via a supercharged 350ci LSX engine and RPM Transmissions-enhanced Turbo 400.
“I only raced the COPO Camaro three or four times before we sold it to NMCA racer Glenn Pushis,” said Camren.
It was at that point, in 2015, that Camren climbed into the red 2001 Corvette Z06 which Rodney had been piloting in Holley EFI Real Street and which had recently received a 25.5 cage by Norm Boutot. With its BES-designed and RPM Transmissions-assembled 440ci LS engine amped up on nitrous, it was running 7.90s.
“The whole time that I was watching my dad drive this car, I knew I wanted to drive it,” said Camren. “A Corvette C5 Z06 is my favorite car, and I know that sounds silly because there are a lot of cars out there.”
While Camren didn’t win races in his first year driving the car in Holley EFI Real Street, he did secure a tenth place finish in points.
“It was a learning curve for sure,” said Camren. “We were still getting the tune-up right, and I was still learning how to drive. By the time we got to the end of 2015, I felt like I had a chance to do pretty well in Holley EFI Real Street the following year, in 2016. The race in Atlanta was first, but I couldn’t go because I was graduating from high school and there was no way that my mom, Shawndell, was going to let me get out of taking part in my graduation.”
He made up for it later, as he earned his first win in Real Street when the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series joined the NMCA event at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana. By then, the car was blistering the track with mid 7-second elapsed-times, and the feat was made more meaningful by the fact that Rodney had won a race at the track in the same car a few years prior.
“I knew we could do well because we were running fast and not tearing things up,” said Camren. “Soon after that, we went to the race at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio, and I got the number one qualifier in Real Street with a 7.54, set a class record with that elapsed-time, a mph record with a 183 and won the race.”
Camren followed that with a runner-up at the last race of the season at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky, which helped the new but notable driver secure the 2016 Real Street championship. Adding even more sizzle to his season was the fact that he also secured an eighth place finish in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street points after taking part in three races.
“To be honest, it’s still soaking in that I was able to earn the championship,” said Camren. “I was just so proud of our team, including my dad, who stopped racing when I started racing this car because he said he has more fun watching and helping me, and Kenny Johnson, who maintains all of our cars.”
With the same combination he was running last year, Camren kicked off the 2017 season by entering the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series’ Holley EFI Real Street at the 16th Annual NMCA QuickFuel Technology Bluegrass Nationals at Beech Bend Raceway Park in mid-May in Kentucky. There, in the independent rear suspension-equipped car with the transmission still located in the rear, he flew to a 4.99 to qualify in the third spot in the category which is now contested on the eighth-mile and advanced to the semifinal before exiting competition with a 5.08.
“We made a few changes to the overall combination, but we’re keeping the details on the down-low,” said Camren, who also campaigns the car in Ultra Street races across the country.
Camren, whose car currently carries a number 1 on its windows to remind everyone that the reigning Holley EFI Real Street champion is a force, has his sights set on backing up his championship, and he’ll be one to watch as he has been overheard at the track saying “We came here to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and we left the bubble gum at home.”
“Camren is an excellent driver,” said Rodney. “I have way more fun helping him with the car. I have put him in the beams on every pass and wouldn’t have it any other way. Racing has really kept Camren and me very close, and we don’t plan to quit anytime soon.”
Owner: Rodney Massengale
Driver: Camren Massengale
Hometown: Middletown, Indiana
Occupation: Shop supervisor at RPM Transmissions
Class: Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series Holley EFI Real Street
Crew: Dad, Rodney Massengale, and Kenny Johnson
Engine builder: BES did machine work and RPM assembled it
Block: RHS aluminum
Rods: MGP aluminum
Cylinder heads: All PRo
Carburetor or EFI system: Holley EFI
Power-adder: Nitrous Pro-Flow
Fuel brand and type: C23
Headers and exhaust: American Racing Headers
Transmission: Turbo 400
Transmission builder: RPM Transmissions
Clutch/shifter/torque converter: Coan converter
Rearend: 9-inch and IRS suspension
Body and/or chassis builder: 25.5 cage by Norm Boutot
Suspension (front): TRZ
Suspension (rear): Menscer shocks
Brakes (front): Strange
Brakes (rear): Strange disc
Wheels (front): Weld
Wheels (rear): Weld
Tires (front): Mickey Thompson
Tires (rear): Mickey Thompson 275
Fiberglass/Carbon body components: Cowl hood
Vehicle weight: 2850 pounds with driver
Quickest ET: 7.54
Best 60-foot: 1.13
Fastest mph: 183
Sponsors: None at this time, and, dad doesn’t want any stickers on the car.
Feature by Mary Lendzion with photos by Brian Hogan in the August 2017 Fastest Street Car