(Text and Photos by Rodney Prouty) We all say it, we all quote it, but is modern muscle, really muscle? Having a chance to travel to big-ole Texas and the Royal Purple Raceway, who played host to this year’s Camaro 5 Fest, and race RideTech’s 5th Gen Camaro around, just sounded like fun. Big state, big raceway, big cars and big fun -I was all in. I arrived at RPRW Thursday for the two day event which allowed me and my teammate to set up our booth in the afternoon before the event started. Our setup efforts were quickly put on hold because it was crazy windy! So we set off to attend a meet and greet put on by the club at one of the host hotels in the local city of Baytown, Texas. Of course the meet turned into a giant night time car show with food and beer with Camaros from all over the USA and some Canadians sprinkled in for fun.
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Friday morning and it was picture perfect, just the lightest breeze and about 85 degrees, it couldn’t get any better for a car show with autocross and drag racing. The folks at the Royal Purple Raceway run a top notch site, clean with full time security! Autocross started the day out with drag racing closely behind. It was my first time driving a 5th Gen Camaro; the car I was lucky enough to wield for the event was a 2010 SS out of the RideTech stable, equipped with the new RideTech coil-overs. After one warm-up lap, I pushed the car hard only to discover it had …nothing? “Really?” I thought to myself, “sweet suspension, a Lingenfelter super charger and I’ve got no game?” Off I went to ask the real 5th gen’ers about how to get this modern muscle around the course in a respectable fashion. After asking a few questions here and there, I determined I needed to change the car to competition mode; the car was better, but still missing something. Even limping I managed to run the fastest time (24.2xx) of the day on Friday until later in the afternoon when it was taken away from me by Jason Priestly of JPD in Utah (23.9xx). Meanwhile, I made my way to the drag strip and got a chance to watch a few drag cars. I didn’t even want to attempt to drag race in a shop car, those barriers on each side were a little too close for my liking. Ironically, my boss (and the car’s owner) would have probably pushed me to the drag strip with all sorts of encouragement and name-calling but lucky for me, he was back at the shop and none the wiser. After about a few laps around the autocross I, along with everyone else, headed back to the host hotel for yet another night time car show, where the informal competition was about after-market lighting and body mods instead of speed and agility.
Saturday morning was even better than the day before at about 80 degrees and only a very slight breeze. Awesome day for racing! I got to run the car once in the morning and it still felt sluggish; I couldn’t crack the 23 second barrier while a few other cars did, and pushed me to 4th overall. Priestly must have seen the frustration in my face because he came over to see how I was and asked about the car set-up. At this point, I didn’t change any shock settings, I figured that whoever drove the car before me was probably better at tuning the 5thgen than I could be in the short amount of time I’d spent behind the wheel. After Priestly gave me the 20-questions about the car’s settings he did show me how to turn off traction control and stabili-trak – wahoo! Now I was running in full-fun mode! (Or, as it’s known in Modern Muscle: Full Retard – but I risk offending folks if I tell it like it is: Full retard is the turning off of all automated traction and stability modes.) The next 3 runs felt like real muscle car, fast, quick and could throttle-steer around corners as needed. Yep, Modern Muscle is not a lie; that ‘ol 5th gen drove like a true muscle car, smoking up some tire in the corners and sliding its tail in the slalom.
When things were all said and done, I didn’t win, but I did get the car to a 24.005 with Priestly running a weekend’s fastest lap of 23.5xx to win it all, leaving me a few ticks off the pace. The Camaro 5 Fest event was well run, the folks there were great fun, Baytown and H-Town Camaro club were great hosts to all those crazy 5th gen’ers. If you get the chance, get your 5Th gen butts out there and drive the next event; show your support, eat bad food with us, and maybe next time I’ll turn off the radio and air conditioning and go really fast.