What does a 1998 Camaro with a v6 plus 31 years of autox experience equal? 2nd place in the SCCA Solo2 National Championship and one cool ride!
What’s your real name? (What’s your online screen name?)
Jesus Villarreal (jesvilla)
Where do you live?
San Lorenzo California, SF Bay area
What do you do for a living?
I am a Co-owner of La Mexicana Inc., we specialize in Corn Tortilla products.
What GM(s) do you drive?
I have a small collection of GM cars. A ’69 Camaro 327 auto, ’69 Corvette rdstr 350 4 speed, ’96 Camaro SS, ’06 GTO, ’04 2500 HD crew cab and the 98 Camaro Racecar (for autox).
How long have you had your GM(s)?
I have had GM cars since 1968. My first was a 57 Chevy, I wanted a ’68 Camaro but at 16 years old I couldn’t afford one.
What got you into GM(s)?
When I was 11, my neighbor bought a new ’63 Impala, I fell in love with that car. Then one of my uncles bought a ‘64 Olds 442, he took me for my first fast ride on a freeway onramp. I was instantly hooked.
What made you want to AutoX your Camaro?
Well, I’ve been autoxing since 1979. I started with a ‘66 Vette Coupe. I drove several different types of cars in 5 or 6 different classes. I bought the autox Camaro as a roller with no drivetrain to build it specifically for autox.
Have a favorite story to tell about your Camaro?
Whenever I go to an autox where not too many people know me, I almost always have guys come over after my runs to see the car. They always want to know what I have done to the engine because it sounds “different”. When I tell them it’s a V6 and that might be why it sounds different, their jaw usually drops, they also won’t believe me until I take the hood off and they can see it for themselves.
What are your goals for your Camaro and how close are you to achieving them?
The ultimate goal would be to win an SCCA Solo2 National Championship, last year I got pretty close and got a 2nd place.
Who has done most of the modifications on your Camaro?
I did the bulk of the work myself. I got a lot of help from Mike Maier of Maier Racing in Hayward California. He and I would discuss the things I wanted to do and he would tell me how to do it and then help with the welding after I had fabricated the parts. I’m not a welder and I also didn’t have much experience with fabricating, so I got a lot of help from Mike.
What was your favorite modification? Why?
The rear suspension is probably the most important mod that has been done to this car. Camaros have a history of wheel hop when doing hard braking maneuvers. Mike Maier designed a 3 link setup like many of the SCCA TransAm roadrace cars had in the timeframe that we were building my Camaro, in early ’03. Getting the complete car to 2690lbs race ready is something I’m proud of too.
Is there a particular shop you’d like to recommend?
Maier Racing Enterprises, they provided the shop space and let me work with all their equipment as long as I bought all the materials from them. Yes I know it’s a Ford shop, but I have known Bill Maier since 1970, and he is a good friend who has saved me thousands while I was building this Camaro.
Who has helped you the most along the way with the car?
With this car, Mike Maier has been a tremendous help along with his Dad Bill.
The people I would consider my mentors would be Manny Pretty and the late Larry Park, they started me in autox when I had Manny paint my ’66 vette. Manny simply said, “OK Jesus, now that you have this nice Vette what are you going to do with it and would you like to run the autox coming up in a few weeks?” I ran that autox and have been autoxing ever since.
It might be simpler to list the things I haven’t done LOL
Full Rollcage with Subframe connectors and strut tower brace
3 link rear suspension, Speedway Eng. Full floater axle housing with Wilwood calipers and rotors
Tubular upper and lower front A-arms, Willwood 6 pot calipers and rotors
Penske 3 way adjustable Coilovers on all four corners, H&R springs
Full race, dry sumped, Bowtie 4.5 liter V6 putting out 415 RWH, (late 90’s ASA engine)
Weaver 4 stage oil pump with custom oil pan, Coleman Racing 10 Qt sump tank
Jericho 4 speed, McCleod dual disk clutch with custom aluminum driveshaft
Corbeau racing set, Momo removable steering wheel, Autometer gauges, Painless Wiring system
Coleman Racing pedals with Hydraulic dual masters, balance bar and proportioning valve
Radiator is moved to the rear just in front of the rear axle, with dual electric fans
5 gal fuel cell, Holley fuel pump, all aeroquip braided lines everywhere