The retro Camaro is closer to becoming a Pro Stock reality.
Veteran chassis builder Jerry Bickel has gained NHRA approval for a sportsman version of the 2011 Camaro and plans to begin taking orders as early as this weekend’s PRI show.
“There are a couple of companies out there who have knocked off the Camaro bodies,” Bickel said during an interview on WFO Radio. “That’s strictly in stock form and without GM’s approval. We approached the NHRA about a year ago and with GM being out of racing, I let NHRA [Director of Tech] Danny Gracia know that someone needed to do this car and I was willing to do it. I let him know I wanted to do it with their blessings and guidelines and that if it was approved for Pro Stock, that we could build a car.”
GM approved Bickel’s design for use in sportsman applications but in doing so, he created his version of the new Camaro using the NHRA’s Pro Stock box rule which mirrors the design of the Pontiac GXP.
“I have to believe the handwriting is on the wall that eventually this will be approved for Pro Stock,” said Bickel, referring to the demise of the Pontiac brand , the discontinuation of the Cobalt model and the resurgence of the Camaro.
According to another major Pro Stock chassis builder, the Camaro Pro Stock race car building is at a standstill awaiting body design approval. Kirkman Composites, the fabricator of the bodies Bickel plans to market, is also designing the Pro Stock shell.
The approval, if it comes within the next month, could ensure a debut of the first Camaro at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Ca. However, even with the approval, getting a race car built and properly tested; will be an overwhelming challenge.
Bickel believes if or when the new Camaro is approved for professional drag racing, Chevrolet racers will have a sleek race car in their arsenal.
“The challenge is in that the car is so big, that in order for it to be competitive, it must be in the [NHRA’s] box rules,” explained Bickel. “That gives you a height, width, length, overhang and wheelbase the NHRA approves for their Pro Stock cars. We are starting out with a car that is considerably larger than the box.
“The key is to make it fit the box and not lose its identity and still be able to incorporate the big tire in the back. Mark Kirkman has done an absolutely great job of incorporating all of the above. It’s taken a good bit of time. He’s made everything look proportionate including the headlights. I’m so excited and can’t wait to debut the thing.”
LISTEN TO THE FULL WFO RADIO INTERVIEW WITH JERRY BICKEL
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