Test Bred—Putting Chevrolet Performance’s GEN-6 Camaro drag power parts to the test

Written by Steve Turner

Photography courtesy of Daren Poole-Adams

If you caught our first installment on Daren-Poole Adams’ latest undertaking, you know that no one was more excited about Chevrolet Performance’s Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program than the longtime racer. Having raced in Stock Eliminator for decades, set records in major sanctions, and campaigned dedicated COPO drag machines, he still has a soft spot for the glory days of factory muscle machines that this factory-backed program really harkened back to.

With factory engineers developing a comprehensive, integrated package of parts designed to help the 2016+ Camaro “conquer the quarter mile,” Poole-Adams was so inspired that he put together a plan to acquire two Hyper Blue Metallic 2018 Camaro SS from Trapp Chevrolet in Houma, Louisiana. He would then build up the two cars—one with the chassis and suspension parts first and the other with power upgrades first.

Before heading to the drag strip, but after installing the Chevrolet Performance upgrades, Poole-Adams took his 2018 Camaro tester to Tick Performance in Mount Airy, North Carolina. There Jonathan Atkins ran the car on the dyno and tuned the new combo using HP Tuners software and hardware.

Previously we detailed the chassis and suspension upgrades to one of the cars, which set the stage for hitting the drag strip with both cars. The other car received the performance upgrades, which we are detailing here.

“The plan is to show the average Camaro owner what to expect from these parts,” Poole-Adams explained. “We are documenting everything to try to help people avoid aggravation, mistakes, and ultimately frustration. So far, I am beyond impressed with the whole deal. The cars both print time slips.”

Even in stock form the 2018 Camaro SS, which is only optioned with an eight-speed automatic transmission and magnetic ride control, delivered some impressive numbers at the rear wheels. It spun the Dynojet rollers at Tick Performance to the tune of 396.64 horsepower and 411.26 lb-ft of torque.

While the traction is obviously better on the car with chassis and suspension upgrades, the car with bolt-on power still delivered some impressive results on the drag strip and on the dyno.

“Honestly, having two cars has allowed us to show the right order and the wrong order when it comes to upgrading these cars. Without the work in the back of the cars, all the horsepower is wasted,” Poole-Adams explained. “Being able to test the parts back-to-back in the same air on the same track gives us excellent data to compare. The time slips don’t lie. When we say the part helped the car, we have real-world proof.”

To unlock more power, the first step in the modding process was swapping out the factory exhaust in favor of the Chevrolet Performance exhaust. The foundation of this high-flow upgrade is a pair of American Racing Headers 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers headers (PN CAV8-161783000LSNC) and Poole-Adams rounded it out with American Racing Headers midpipes and the Chevrolet Performance exhaust kit (PN 84028865). Just one look and you can see how the new exhaust will improve flow and performance. He reports it took about 4 ½ hours to remove all the factory exhaust components.

Before heading to the track with both cars, Poole-Adams installed the power-building parts from Chevrolet Performance along with a custom HP Tuners calibration dialed in with help from Jonathan Atkins at Tick Performance, where the cars were run on the Dynojet chassis dyno.

After removing the stock manifolds from the top, Poole-Adams tackled the header install one side at a time. Starting with the easy side, he installed the passenger-side header in a brisk 37 minutes. To ensure the stock aluminum heads were unscathed, he wisely dabbed the include fasteners with anti-seize.

“We did the intake and exhaust all in one day. The exhaust picked the car up without tuning,” Poole-Adam said. “For fun we installed the air box without a tune and the horsepower fell way off. It really messed with the mass airflow sensor. Once tuned, the complete package picked the car up over 40 horsepower! This really surprised me. It shows how good these cars are. Once we got slicks on the car, we gained three tenths on the time slip over the base car with slicks. That is a good return on investment!”

The driver side took a bit longer. It required removing a motor mount and the steering shaft and the install time clocked in at nearly three hours, but Poole-Adams got it done on his own.

A key piece of the puzzle was the addition of the Weld Racing wheels that are part of the Chevrolet Performance package. Paired with sticky tires that would deliver consistent results, these rolling test beds became consistent performers that ensured repeatable results.

To join the Chevrolet Performance mufflers with the American Racing Headers long-tubes, Poole-Adams utilized midpipes from ARH. It is important to identify the mufflers you are running when you order these pipes to ensure you get the proper pipes.

“It made a huge difference. When we did the initial testing, the car would spin all through first gear. Now it dead-hooks every pass,” Poole-Adams said. “We are running a bias-ply tire from Hoosier to keep both cars as consistent as possible. A radial would most likely be faster, but less forgiving. Maybe, once we have everything else worked out, we will put some radials on and see what happens.”

“The modified car was awful without slicks,” he added. “It would have been great for the burnout contest at the LS Fest!”

Since he planned to drop the exhaust system several times during the evolution of these project Camaros, Poole-Adams opted to TIG-weld the system instead of using the supplied clamps.

At the time of this writing, the next upgrade slated for testing is the Chevrolet Performance high-stall torque converter. Designed to increase the stall speed by 45 percent, this converter is designed for racing with performance and durability in mind. It should improve both short and elapsed times.

Here is the completed exhaust system, which Poole-Adams sounds much better.

“This is the one modification that I can’t wait to test,” Poole-Adams enthused. “I have my fingers crossed that this will have a major impact on the 60-foot times.”

Hitting the Tick Performance with the Chevrolet Performance/American Racing Headers exhaust installed and no other mods, the 2018 Camaro SS put down 421.65 horsepower and 441.02 lb-ft of torque accounting for gains of 25.01 horsepower and 29.76 lb-ft at the rear wheels.

With the converters installed, Poole Adams plans to tweak the HP Tuners calibration accordingly to maximize performance. Once these upgrades are maximized and verified, the two cars will be modified to the same specifications so that they can showcase the potential of the Chevrolet Performance’s Camaro SS Drag Race package.

With the exhaust system installed and verified, Poole-Adams moved on to installing the Chevrolet Performance cold-air kit and race filter created as part of its Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program. First they ran it with no calibration, but quickly discerned that the car would run rich and lose power.

Before dialing in a new calibration with HP Tuners gear, Poole-Adams decided to drain the fuel tank and poured in five gallons of VP Racing Fuels C10 to ensure maximum performance. He also changed the oil and filter and replaced the factory fill with Mobil 1 0/20 full synthetic oil.

“We will be bringing both cars to all the NMCA events,” Poole-Adams added. “The plan is to do some match-racing and to answer any questions that people may have about the program.”

With all the mods in place and an HP Turners calibration designed to maximize the combo, this 2018 Camaro SS put down 437.85 horsepower and 451.71 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. In all the car picked up more than 41 horsepower and 40 lb-ft of torque with the package in place.

To ensure consistent performance on the drag strip, Poole-Adams had Maxxdrive install the 2016+ Camaro line lock system from SJM Manufacturing with solenoids from Hurst.

The Mod List

Part                                                                                                    Part Number

6.2-liter Cold Air Intake System w/ Race Filter                         84329125

American Racing Headers 1-7/8-inch Long-Tubes                CAV8-16178300LSNC†

BMR Suspension Driveshaft Safety Loop                                DSL019

Chevrolet Performance Exhaust Kit                                           84028865

High-Stall Torque Converter System                                         24290897†

ProCar by Scat Pro-Sport Seats                                                 80-1790-XX

Rear Small Brake System                                                              84396515†

Weld Racing Rear Drag Wheel                                                   88B-610SB-GM†

Weld Racing Drag Frontrunner Wheel                                     88B-1806N-GM†

ZL1 1LE-Spec Solid Rear Cradle Mounts                                  84341929†

ZL1-Spec Heavy-Duty Halfshaft System                                   84398126†

ZL1-Spec Heavy-Duty Propshaft System                                 84398125†

A great car and plenty of power doesn’t mean much if you can’t apply the output to the track surface. That’s why Chevrolet Performance included a set of Weld Racing wheels in its upgrades. Poole-Adams installed the 17×10-inch rears wrapped in Hoosier 28-inch, bias-ply slicks. He says radials might be faster, but these are more consistent. The wheels tip the scales at 44.6 pounds, which is 16.6 pounds lighter than stock.

In front he installed the matching 18×6-inch wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson SR rubber. Each wheel weighs only 37.8 pounds stock, which is 22.8 pounds lighter than stock.

To put the new combos to the test, Poole-Adams rented Shadyside Dragway in Shelby, North Carolina, for a private, eighth-mile test session. The car with only chassis and suspension upgrades ran a string of 7.8-second passes at around 90 mph, while the car with the power upgrades ran consistent 7.5-second passes at more than 94 mph. On a return trip with better air the cars delivered bests of 7.76 at 92.12 mph and 7.42 at 96.03 mph respectively.

With only torque converter testing remaining, the plan for the two cars remains bringing them out to all the NMCA Muscle Car Nationals events for some match racing as well as pulling display duty in the Scoggin Dickey Parts Center display, like this one did at the season opener in Bradenton.

So if you are a fan of 2016+ Camaros, be sure to head to the grandstands when you see two matching Camaros adorned with the Chevrolet Performance logo in the staging lanes. When they hit the drag strip, it should be one close match race.

Sources:

American Racing Headers

(631) 608-1986

Americanracingheaders.com

 

Chevrolet Performance

Chevrolet.com/performance/gen6camaro/drag-race

 

HP Tuners

Hptuners.com

 

Maxxdrive

(704) 600-8684

Maxxdrive.us

 

Scoggin Dickey Parts Center

(888) 749-4281

Sdparts.com

 

SJM Manufacturing

(724) 478-5580

Sjmmanufacturing.com

 

Tick Performance

(336) 719-0599

Tickperformance.com

 

VP Racing Fuels

(210) 635-7744

Vpracingfuels.com

 

Weld Racing

(800) 788-9353

Weldwheels.com

 

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