You are looking at the fastest and quickest all-motor LS-based car in the country. With a factory chassis, there is none faster. In Memphis, it ran an 8.58 at 158.7 mph with a 1.27 60-foot (weighing 3,500 lbs). In fact, this car is so important that it is almost a celebrity around the racing world, with a slew of past features in magazines that hardly ever turn an ear to the LSX racing world. But, what really makes this car special isn't what it has done on the track, but what it has done to people's lives. This car has launched careers and helped educate a slew of now well-known LS-based mechanics, tuners, engine builders, and shops. And this is accomplished by building, racing, and breaking records in real cars, built and maintained by the students of the School of Automotive Machinists. So let's take a look inside and see what makes this car, and its students, stay on the top of the LSX game.
Beginning all the way back in 1999 when, interestingly, this car started out as a stock six-speed Camaro, which was purchased by Judson to act as a rolling testbed for his students. In 2000, Judson teamed up with Hot Rod magazine, to begin teaching the world and, more importantly, his students what it would take to build a serious LS1 racer. Remember, this was 10 years ago and the students of SAM managed to run well into the 11s, eventually running a 10.80 on the stock bore LS1, which was a truly impressive feat. It was in July 2001 that Hot Rod asked, "Can 9-second naturally aspirated runs be far off?" Indeed, they were just around the corner. In February 2002, the Camaro clicked off another record-breaking time of 9.96 at 136 mph. This was done with a re-sleeved LS1, measuring 418 cubic inches, and ported LS6 heads (done at SAM). As time marched on, the combo was tweaked again and in 2004 the powerplant grew to 427 cubic inches, with a new set of sleeves to handle the 4.125-inch pistons. The students worked and tuned on the car, sending it deep into the 9s with a best of 9.17. With 8-second runs on the horizon, the students at SAM decided to build an entirely new engine to get there. In 2007, the 427ci C5R race block was chosen, along with a set of C5R cylinder heads and a Beck sheetmetal manifold. At the inaugural LSX Shootout, the SAM Camaro qualified #1 with a 9.04 and weighed in at 3,375 lbs. However, drivetrain problems kept them out of the winner's circle. That fall the students took the car out for some test runs. The Camaro reset its own record, rocketing down the track in 8.75 seconds at 153 mph. For 2008, the School switched to a slick dual throttle body setup, but yet again drivetrain problems kept the record-setting car from showing its full potential. And with that, the SAM students decided it was time to set the car to kill.
Believe it or not, the next part of the journey starts with a carburetor. Well, we should say it started with parts of a carburetor. You see, to make over 1,000 all-motor-horsepower, you need first to consume a massive amount of air, so much so that SAM had to actually build its own throttle body, beginning with a Braswell 7825 main body. The students then cut it down, drilled it out, and filled it up, turning it into one of the best-flowing throttle bodies ever made. As the throttle is cracked, a ton of air begins to fill a massive Beck sheetmetal intake manifold, which is bolted atop a pair of CNC-ported C5R heads. Tucked inside the tight chambers of these heads are a set of massive 2.190 intake valves, which are actuated by a set of Jesel 1.85:1-ratio roller rockers, commanded by a top-secret, custom ground Comp Cams solid roller camshaft with 0.540 inch of lobe lift. As air enters the cylinder it is met by a rather large, extremely fast-moving Wiseco piston, which has been specially built to bring compression to a staggering 16:1 ratio. A lightweight titanium pin is the only thing holding the slug to the GRP aluminum rod, which is spun around a custom Sonny Bryant 4.000-inch billet crankshaft. All of these pieces have been balanced, tweaked, and massaged to sustain high rpm and they all sit in an LSX block, which has been treated with the same attention to detail. Since oiling is always a priority in a build of this caliber, it was decided to dry sump the engine, using a five-stage Barnes pump to supply the pressure from a Moroso oil tank and a solid billet oil pan from Katech. Exhaust is handled by a pair of American Racing long-tube headers, which are muffled by a pair of 3.5-inch Flowmaster mufflers.