NMCA West Street Car Shootout, Part Two: Fifth-Gen Camaro and Nova

Street Car Shootout 2

We came, we saw, and we shot a lot of pictures at the NMCA West Coast Shootout at the AAA Dragway in Fontana, California, back in June of this year. To get those pictures, we had our cameras trained on the fan favorite index class: True Street.

IMG_1656As the name implies, these cars have to go through a 30-mile real-world hustle to show that they can be made to trot before they even get a chance to sprint down the track. The cars we focused on don’t have the thrust of quicker classes like those in Pro Mod or Outlaw 10.5, but those vehicles burn twice as bright for half as long; True Street cars have license plates, and can tear down the drag strip as easily as they can cruise through town.

A short time ago, we learned more about Ted Borges’ 1964 Nova and Mark Smith’s 1971 El Camino when we showed their drag strip antics in our big-block/small-block shootout. They were both fine cars, and each made their mark in their own way. Ted’s Nova was a rejuvenated tribute to his dearly departed cousin, while Mark’s El Camino would never have been built if he had have been home-schooled. This time, our attention shifts to a couple more tire-frying Chevys with Nacho Bernal’s 2012 Camaro and Bryan Corey’s 1971 Nova.

Black Beauty: Nacho Bernal’s 2012 Camaro


Nacho Bernal’s fifth-gen Camaro is a car that speaks for itself, both literally and figuratively. Abusing the rear tires with over 1,300 horsepower, the coupe has made appearances at events all over the Southern California landscape. Nacho and his car race whenever they can, eight-mile drags to full-blown half-mile shootouts, it’s all fair game. Interestingly enough, the genesis of the car dates back to a 2011 service job at a Chevrolet dealership.


One look was all it took. Nacho bought this Camaro when he stopped at a Chevy dealership in 2011 for service to his truck.

“I was bringing my truck into the lot for some service, and I saw this car and bought right then and there,” said Nacho. “I was a truck guy through and through, but something about the Camaro got my attention. I took it home and planned to keep it stock, but as they say, things change.”

Within a year of purchasing the car, Nacho was busy reshaping the Camaro into a race car that would leave others in the dust. A supercharger-equipped 427ci LSX block was built and installed in place of the factory-installed LS3 that came under the hood, but Nacho kept the six-speed manual despite its disadvantages in racing applications.

“Having driven a car that had a ton of horsepower and an automatic gearbox, I prefer the manual,” commented Nacho. “It’s just about control to me. The automatic cars seem to get squirrelly and out from under me really quick, whereas the cars with a manual transmission still lets me be in command.”

IMG_1629Nacho wanted more power out of the LSX block and added twin-turbochargers in 2012. With that completed, he had the car tuned by Cunningham Motorsports. He never looked back, and it’s a decision that’s paid off. “I’ve made 1,341 peak horsepower with the LSX,” he said. Supplemental parts include a quadruple-disc carbon clutch, a Tranzilla transmission, a ZL1 rearend, and more.

Recently, Nacho has been busy prepping the car to receive a 436ci monster from QMP Racing Engines out of Chatsworth, California. Equipped with Ross pistons, Manley connecting rods, a Winberg crankshaft, and All Pro heads, it will be a beast to be reckoned with once it’s finished.

“My favorite part about the car is that it not only looks fast, but it is fast,” said Nacho. “A lot of people think they can take me on because it still has a stick, and I get a lot of heat for it, but I’m not gonna change to a slushbox anytime soon.”

Cool Coupe: Bryan Corey’s 1971 Nova


Bryan Corey was doing the deed at NMCA in his classic-blue Nova coupe. A CNC machinist by trade, he’s had plenty of experience in the ways of metalwork. Between that and the modifications he’s done to this 1970s musclecar, it’s paved the way for him to have a fun hobby in drag racing.


The Nova went through several engines in the past five years, including a 383ci, 540ci, and 427ci before finally settling on a 400ci that has been getting the job done.

Bryan first came to own the car when he was 16 years old. “It had a busted 350ci V8 when I first got it,” he said. “My uncle, who was the one that got me into drag racing, helped me yank out the broken engine and swap in a 383ci V8.” Bryan later sold the car to his uncle, but he still gets to race the car when the opportunity arises.

In 2010, the 383ci V8 followed in the footsteps of its predecessor, and went kaput as well. It got replaced by a 540ci big-block running on pump gas, but it strangely and ominously grenaded as well, when two of the connecting rods decided to take a spontaneous vacation. The 400ci small-block installed after that incident is what powers the Nova these days, and has a 250 horsepower shot of nitrous oxide injected to help run in the 9.50-second bracket.


Bryan is considering a supercharger upgrade for the Nova.

“The 400ci V8 has Oliver rods, Edelbrock heads, T&D shaft-mounted rocker arms, and an Edelbrock nitrous system,” said Bryan. It’s mated to a Turbo 400 transmission, followed by a 9-inch rearend. The exhaust system was custom-made by Bryan. Mickey Thompson drag radials help the car hook as it launches, with Moroso old-school “pizza cutters” up front. Braking  is handled by Wilwood disc brakes on all four corners, and suspension consists of double-adjustable front shocks, Global West control arms, and monoleaf springs with CalTracs are in the rear.

“As far a future mods go, I’m interested in getting a ProCharger supercharger so I can get into the 8-second territory,” commented Bryan. “We can probably make 1,200-plus horsepower when we do that modification and get it dialed in. As it stands, I’m going to go back to Fontana, soon and see if it feels right just to stick with what I have, or go ahead and mount a blower.”

Until Next Time!

We hope you found our shootout articles interesting, and keep an eye out for us at the next NMCA event in Fontana. We’ll be wearing those devilishly handsome blue media vests. Come talk to us and show us what you and your ride are all about!

About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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