Remember the book “How to Build Max Performance Oldsmobile V8’s“? Remember the guy who wrote it? Well in case you don’t, author slash Olds engine guru Bill Trovato has now busted into the LSX scene with his own max performance LSX! It’s one mean car, especially when Trovato unleashes the silly juice worth about 400 ponies, courtesy of an Edelbrock direct port nitrous injection system.
So how does a guy go from specializing in classic Oldsmobile musclecars to racing a 5th Gen Camaro? It’s not as big a jump as it might seem, once you know the backstory…
Olds To New
As you may know, Trovato has traditionally been an Oldsmobile man until quite recently; in 2010 he starting considering a different platform to build. Bill did extensive research throughout the performance market and looked where others had success. He found the LS platform to be very popular and for good reason – it works! With a new appreciation for the power potential of the new Chevy small block architecture, Trovato then began to consider the appropriate car to wrap around it. A call to Scoggin-Dickey was made, and Trovato ordered up a 5th Gen Camaro body-in-white. Once it arrived to his doorstep, he began his journey to making this Camaro into the beautiful car it is today.
First off, Trovato had to find the other components to complete his car and get the build started off on the right foot. This included major elements such as the sub frame, suspension, wheels, tires, and rear end. Luckily for Trovato, he found and individual selling pretty much everything he’d need, except for the body.
Trovato’s vision for this 5th Gen was to maintain its street car looks, but be an absolute monster on the strip while competing in the NMCA Xtreme Street class. Now that he had the basic components of the car, it was back to the lab again as Trovato started contemplating the engine and transmission combination, as well as the suspension and rear end upgrades which would be required to be competitive in the Xtreme Street class.
Power To The Pavement
For starters, Trovato was determined to have a world-class suspension system which would properly launch the car off the line on the relatively small 275 radial tire or 10.75 bias ply slick the class requires. He explained some class competitors are limiting timing off the line to help get traction, but he didn’t want to sell himself short by pulling power to prevent wheelspin and built a suspension to achieve that goal.
To get the job done, Trovato enlisted the help of Penske Racing Shocks to absorb the brute force of this mean 5th Gen. The boys at Chassis Engineering helped get the power to the wheels through a custom fabricated Ford 9-inch rearend, with a Strange center section filled with 4.56 gears, hung from a four-link suspension setup. The whole deal turns a pair of Mickey Thompson slicks.
Trovato spent a majority of the 2013 season tuning in the suspension and ran into some issues with getting the proper setup. Finally, Trovato went back to square one and committed to simply figuring it out.
Trovato explained, “It’s a matter of, ‘Put it here and see what happens,’ and learn from it.” Careful trial and error got results, and he’s got it figured out now, as he ran an 8.04 second elapsed time at 173 miles per hour at the NMCA finals in Indianapolis last year.
Trovato says, “That’s about normal for the Xtreme Street class,” but still thinks there is more left to wring from the chassis setup as it stands.
The Recipe For Horsepower
Now on to what most would consider the “bread and butter” of Trovato’s setup, his motor. A 398 cubic inch LSX delivers 930 naturally-aspirated horsepower, but that’s just the beginning. An additional 400 horses worth of fuel and nitrous is delivered via Edelbrock direct port injection nozzles mounted into each individual intake runner on the high rise LS intake, topped by a C.F.M. carburetor.
Trovato is good friends with the owner of C.F.M., Dale Cubic, and he told us an interesting story about C.F.M. carburetors. Dale’s wife’s name is actually Flo, which is where the name Cubic Flow Modifications got its origin. Tuning a carb for a big nitrous engine like this LSX is never straightforward, and Trovato credits Cubic will being a big help in getting the combination set up properly.
Ignition timing and spark energy are critical components of a competitive nitrous engine as well, and you’ll no doubt notice that rather than a factory LS-style coil-per-plug ignition, Trovato is using an MSD setup with a conventional single coil and belt-driven distributor. Trovato also mentioned that he is not running a two step rev limiter or progressive spark retard controller since he only has one stage of nitrous injection.
Another interesting aspect of this engine setup is the use of wideband oxygen sensors mounted in every individual primary on the headers. This allows for further fine tuning and can also be helpful when trying to track down diagnostic issues such as lean conditions in individual cylinders, one of the leading causes of premature piston death in nitrous-fed mills like this.
To transfer all of that horsepower, Trovato is using a tried and true Powerglide transmission comprised of mostly ATI components, built by Dave Klaput at Proformance. While many racers have moved from the two-speed ‘glide to three-speed automatics, the compact, robust, and efficient Powerglide is still a good choice for a nitrous combination like this, where torque and horsepower are available in abundance across a broad RPM range and keeping the engine in the ‘sweet spot’ with gearing isn’t so critical.
Looks Like A Camaro Inside, Too
As for the interior, it includes a complete “funny car” style cage keeping Trovato safe in case of the unfortunate, while greatly stiffening up the chassis of the car. Despite the cage and other race hardware inside the car that shows this Camaro’s true purpose, Trovato kept a lot of the interior’s street looks such as the interior panels and carpet, staying true to his street legal drag racing roots, as well as his overall vision for the car.
Plans For The Future
Trovato’s journey to LSX greatness is far from over as he is already tearing into his motor to bore and stroke it even further to a stout 435 cubic inches! The new rotating assembly will include a Winberg crankshaft, GRP connecting rods, and CP pistons. Needless to say, this bottom end should hold up to just about as much spray as Trovato wants to throw at it.
Changes to the NMCA rulebook for the 2014 season meant a lower allowable weight in Xtreme Street, so it’s back to the drawing board for Trovato, as he has already purchased fiberglass doors and a decklid from Seibon to help this 5th Gen go on a bit of a diet. Bill claims the doors weigh in at only 20 pounds per side, making this heavy hitter a bit lighter and quicker.
It will be interesting to see how well Trovato does this next season, as he is planning on taking on the competition in full force, no matter what the cost. This particular 5th Gen Camaro definitely makes statements as its flying down the strip, yet looks like Trovato could drive it home from the track. This is ultimately what he was going for, and he appears to have put the proper pieces of the puzzle together to do it. Look for this mean 5th Gen to be tearing up the tracks this season!