Ever wondered what becomes of the magazine project vehicles that you spend months reading about as they’re transformed from vision to reality in the pages of your favorite print or digital publication? More often than not, they’re sold off to live a quieter life out of the limelight, becoming Sunday cruisers for lucky car enthusiasts rather than magazine testbeds flogged for all their worth for the cameras.
But for one of our former project vehicles here at Power Automedia, known as All Air, there’s been a whole new, even more prosperous, lease on life.
All Air, affectionately titled as such because it was intended to be a naturally-aspirated track warrior, was a fourth-gen, 2001 year model Chevrolet Camaro we hoped to press into the nine-second range using an LS454 powerplant with the full racing treatment inside and out. But before making it to the track, the car was sold, eventually falling into the hands of noted EFI tuning wizard Brian Macy of TheEFIStore and Horsepower Connection, who has put the car right on the proverbial map — most recently completing Hot Rod’s grueling Drag Week with the finished product.
Macy, perhaps best known as one of the industry authorities on electronic fuel injection through his EFI University training courses and expert knowledge of FAST’s popular EFI systems, acquired the former project vehicle a little over a year ago, with plans already drawn up to get it prepared and ready for Drag Week. From there, Macy envisioned some heads-up racing action on the West Coast to follow after first completing what many consider the ultimate test of a street legal machine.
Needless to say, Macy was waltzing right by the shallow waters and diving into the deep end. Because despite having been into the sevens with the same engine combo before, making such a powerful race car survive hundreds of miles of highway driving was certain to be no easy task.
For power, Macy utilized the Britco Racing Engines-built, 406 cubic inch small block Chevrolet pulled from the familiar 1966 Nova that he’d owned and raced for more than a decade, centered around a Dart Iron Eagle block, filled with a crank from Callies, GRP aluminum rods, and JE turbo pistons, with a custom Jeff Johnson oil pan residing underneath. The short block is topped with 14-degree RHS cast iron heads and an RHS intake manifold converted to run EFI with a Wilson Manifolds 90-degree elbow and 90mm throttle body, resting under the FAST XFI fuel injection system. In order to fit the traditional SBC under the hood originally set up for an LS motor, Macy had to cut off the motor mounts and rework the transmission crossmember.
The valvertain combo features Isky Red Zone bushing lifters, IRC pushrods, T&D shaft-mount rockers, and SCE copper head gaskets, controlled by a custom Comp cam with an LS1 firing order.
Macy plumbed a pair of fuel systems — one for the track and one for the road — into the car, creating one of the more unique attributes found on the spec list. The race setup features a five-gallon tank with a MagnaFuel 650 pump running on 91 octane, while the road setup centers around an aluminum 22-gallon tank with a Cadillac CTS-V pump from VaporWorx capable of handling 700 horsepower and intended for reliability. Macy would simply switch tanks and pumps and head down the road, then switch it back upon arrival before taking to the track. Using a system of shutoff valves, the return and feed lines could be swapped and the other pump turned on to make the transition. Only the MagnaFuel regulator is shared between the two setups, which pushes the fuel though eight, 200lb. Injector Dynamics ID2000 injectors, with the spark provided by FAST’s E6 ignition and coil via a FAST crank trigger and MSD distributor that’s modified to run on a cam sync.
The boost is then delivered by a forward-facing 106mm Precision G-trim turbocharger, plumbed up with custom stainless steel piping to the air-to-water-intercooler located where the back seat used to be.
The power is transferred to the rear end through a TCI Pro-X transmission built within a Reid Racing case with a 1.80 first gear, mated to a TCI 9.5-inch, 5,000 RPM stall torque converter, cooled with a TCI trans cooler and shifted via a TCI Outlaw shifter. From there, everything is moved through an Inland Empire chromoly driveshaft to the Moser M9 race housing and Moser axles out back.
As Macy shared with us, the powerplant made 800 horsepower on just seven pounds of boost on the dyno, but a higher-boost pull wasn’t made prior to loading up for Drag Week. As He tells us, “at that point, we knew we had enough information to go to Drag Week. We didn’t want to beat on it too bad, and to be honest, we didn’t have a lot of time.”
For Macy, the biggest challenge to getting the car Drag Week-worthy was in the cooling system. A large radiator was sourced from Ron Davis Radiators with twin fans and a shroud, and as he tells us, a lot of time was put into working with the nose of the car, building bulkheads sealed with foam to help funnel fresh air directly into the radiator to keep things running cool. A strong 140 amp East Coast Electric alternator mounted backwards was used, which also required a cool-running engine compartment to keep operational on the highway.
“It all really paid off — the highest temperature we saw while driving down the road was 175 degrees, even on the hotter days,” he said.
To further help with operating temperatures, Macy made spacers to prop the hood open a couple of inches during the hundreds of miles of driving, which as he explains, delivered cool air over the top of the engine and other hot components and driving it out between the hood and the windshield.
Macy turned to the team at Racecraft for a full front suspension package, including a stiletto K-member, A-arms, and rack mount, and added Strange Engineering coilover front shocks to complete the setup, leaving the Wilwood brakes that were already on the car. In the rear, the aforementioned Moser Engineering M9 aftermarket housing that was installed while the car was still a project vehicle was left in the car, while a set of Varishock double-adjustable coilovers handles the ride. A set of Weld Racing 15×4’s wrapped in 25-inch Mickey Thompson’s are situated up front, while 15×10 Weld’s wrapped in M/T 275 Drag Radials reside out back.
Inside, you’ll find the stock door panels and dash and the factory carpet, leaving a very original look. But in the midst of it, there’s no denying this is a race car. Macy has added some Kirkey road-race seats with Simpson harnesses, Painless Wiring and switch panel and the full gamut of FAST hardware is evident, including their EDash and FAST touch screen logger dash. The air-to-water intercooler has been positioned just behind the seats — the piping of which is routed along the passenger-side floorboard.
There’s definitely a lot more in it — we’ve got a little work to do with the torque converter and some other things that we were fighting. But overall, I’m happy that it finished and ran an 8.79, but I know it’s got some low eights or high sevens in when we’re finished and have it dialed-in. – Brian Macy
“It was definitely some long hours getting it done. We basically started three months before Drag Week because I’d been so busy with work, and the last three to four weeks we really put all of our efforts into it,” said Macy.
“We didn’t get a pass one, Macy continued. “We drove it to Kingman [Arizona] and back from our shop, which is about an hour drive each way, and that was our test. We loaded it in the trailer that night and headed to Drag Week.”
Entered in the Pro Street Power Adder category along with sixteen other racers, Macy not only finished the event, but notched a fifth-place finish in the class with a 9.28-second average, with runs of 9.86, 9.65, an event-best 8.79 at 165 miles per hour in Noble, a 9.05, and a 9.07 on the final day in Tulsa. Despite the very positive result, Macy tells us the week wasn’t without its challenges.
“We actually had a broken valve spring when we got to Tulsa and didn’t know it, so we fought that during some of our test hits, “explains Macy. “But once we figured that out, we changed the springs out at the second stop in the parking lot at our hotel and made some improvements. We then broke another spring the following day and changed it out again, but after that, we didn’t have another problem the rest of the week.”
Continued Macy, “there’s definitely a lot more in it — we’ve got a little work to do with the torque converter and some other things that we were fighting. But overall, I’m happy that it finished and ran an 8.79, but I know it’s got some low eights or high sevens in when we’re finished and have it dialed-in.”
With Drag Week checked off the to-do list, Macy, who has plenty of heads-up racing experience on the West Coast under his belt, has turned his sights to Outlaw 8.5 and NMCA WEST True Street competition, envisioning the small-tire car as the perfect piece for such venues.
“The next plan is to hit some of the PSCA and NMCA races with it, and really kind of gear the car toward the 8.5-inch tire outlaw class — I think that’s a good place for it.”
Macy has poured not only the last three to four months of his life into making his plan a reality, but also many thousands of dollars, telling us that he eventually just stopped keeping track of the expenditures. But in the end, his Camaro did what many others have not on its first attempt — successfully complete Drag Week and arrive home in one piece. And with more time to hammer out the gremlins, there’s no telling how quick and fast Macy can get this sleek machine to go before next go-round of Drag Week. Not that there’s anything else to prove.
Photos by Dominick Damato