Camaro Celebrates Many Great NHRA Wins in 34 Years

September 29, 2000

Camaro, dubbed “America’s honest sports car,” is celebrating its 34th birthday this year and has never performed better! The world was introduced to Camaro at Chevrolet Dealers coast-to-coast on Thursday, Sept, 29, 1966 and has been a part of America’s landscape ever since. Camaro was the first Chevrolet to feature the small-block 350 c.i. engine, standard equipment in the new Camaro SS. The 1967 Camaro offered 15 colors, 17 different interior colors and materials, three stripe options in three colors and two vinyl top colors or three convertible top colors. What’s more, there were seven available engines, six transmissions, four models, six equipment models and over 75 “free-flow” options, making well over 15 million build combinations possible!

In NHRA history, to date the Camaro has won nearly 500 titles since it began racing in 1967, more than any other Chevrolet model

FIRST CAMARO WIN

Chevrolet drag racing legend Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins put the Camaro in the NHRA record book with its first win at the 1967 U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Ind. Racing against the behemoth Chrysler Hemis and high-riser Fords that dominated Super Stock eliminator in that era, Jenkins’ victory made the 396-cubic-inch Camaro a legitimate muscle car in the eyes of many enthusiasts. Competing in the SS/C class, Jenkins’ fleet F-body sprinted down drag racing’s most famous quarter-mile in 11.55 seconds to take the US Nationals title. Jenkins was joined in the US Nationals winner’s circle by Ben Wenzel, who won Stock eliminator with a brand-new B/Stock Camaro Z28 powered by a 302-cubic-inch small-block V8. This double win by Chevy’s sports coupe established the Camaro as a legitimate contender in drag racing. (Wenzel is still racing his rare Camaro 33 years later. Now competing in the E/Stock class, Wenzel’s Chevy is a regular on the Division 3 circuit.)

FIRST CAMARO CHAMPIONSHIP

Dave Strickler drove a Jenkins-prepared Z28 Camaro to the Super Stock World Championship in 1968, defeating Jenkins in the final run for the title at the NHRA World Finals in Tulsa, Okla.

CAMARO COMEBACK

Kurt Johnson put the Chevy Camaro back in the Pro Stock winner’s circle after a decade’s absence with a victory in the Sears Craftsman Nationals in Madison, Ill., on June 28, 1998. Harry Scribner was the last Camaro driver to win previously in NHRA Pro Stock competition. He defeated Don Beverley’s Olds Ciera in the final round at the 1988 Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, Calif., on a holeshot, 7.498@184.50 to 7.493@194.25.

CAMARO FUNNY CAR FIRSTS

Ron Capps achieved several milestones in Don Prudhomme’s ’97 Camaro Z28 Funny Car. Capps became the first driver to top Rockingham, N.C., in April, 1997. The following month, he recorded Camaro’s first 300 mph run in national event competition in qualifying for the Western Auto Nationals in Topeka, Kan.

Capps scored the fourth-generation Camaro’s first Funny Car victory at the Craftsman Nationals in Madison, Ill., On June 19, 1997, with a winning time of 5.165@268.81 mph, Camaro’s first funny Car win in NHRA national event competition since John Collins won the Funny Car title at the 1985 NorthStar Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.

Two fourth-generation Camaro Funny Cars raced in a final round for the first time at the Atsco Nationals in Phoenix, Ariz., on Feb. 22, 1998. Chuck Etchells defeated Ron Capps in the all-Camaro final, 4.944@312.82 to 8.630@92.40.

Camaros captured eight wins in 22 events in 1998, ore than any other brand. Capps won five races and Etchells won three.

So far, in 2000, Camaros have won five Funny Car titles, and five Pro Stock titles.

Happy birthday, Camaro! Here’s to 34 more!

Content by Judy Stropus. Edited for the web and used with permission.

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