Joseph DeLano’s personal goal is to set a land speed record for a street-legal Camaro. The current record for a Camaro is 263.2 mph at The Texas Mile, DeLano has his sights set on going 300 mph to break it. The idea to set a speed record came to him from his hero-turned-mentor, Kenny Duttweiler. Duttweiler, of course, is known for his work with George Poteet and the Speed Demon Team, DeLano had been following his career when he began building motors to setting land speed records at Bonneville.
When DeLano decided to build a car to break the record, he bought a new 2015 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 and had been following the Mojave Mile events, which were one-mile, standing start events that held at the old airstrip in Mojave, California.
“I knew starting with a factory race car would make the build much easier; thus the investment in the Z/28” DeLano said.
Modification was needed to make the factory Z28 capable of setting a record. DeLano used the Mojave Mile rules to base the build off, as he found them to be the most strict.
To be eligible to compete and set the record in most any event, DeLano needed to add a cage to the Z28. “It was a little scary taking apart a brand new, very expensive car in preparation for the roll cage, and this wasn’t going to be just any roll cage either,” DeLano said.
“I wanted to create this seamless look of the roll cage blending in with the factory interior like it was meant to be there. I never wanted it to look like an add-on with a stripped out interior like everyone else’s,” DeLano said.
DeLano added that he and his team at Left Coast 32 started by removing the front and rear glass from the car and stripping the interior, including the dash. Every single item was bagged and cataloged so it could be put back together again while all the interior panels were modified to accommodate the addition of the roll cage. The idea was that we would re-assemble the interior to stock after the cage was welded in.
Consequently, the roll cage bars disappear behind the rear passenger seats and the interior panels, and the front pillars disappear behind the dash.
DeLano said the roll cage is his favorite part of the build as it was the most fun to design and the least frustrating part of the build. “This is not just any roll cage; this is a gentleman’s roll cage, the Rolex of roll cages,” DeLano said. He added “it’s a work of art. I designed it with my partner, Tony.”
Next, DeLano and his team focused on the installation of the dry carbon fiber roof.
There were over sixty tack welds that had to be drilled out to remove the factory roof and install the carbon fiber replacement. “This was probably the hardest thing to do because it was completely irreversible and the car was brand new.”
For even more added pressure, DeLano commented that he and his team had never performed a roof install and the part was $2,400. With only one shot at getting the install correct, DeLano said his extreme attention to detail served him well.
“We took our time and measured everything multiple times. We set the fitment over and over until it was perfect. I’ve got to say it came out pretty amazing. Since then we’ve installed two more with great results.”
Next, DeLano transitioned to the body modification phase, and this meant replacing every stock part, panel, and component possible with any available carbon fiber from Anderson Composites to offset the 200 lb + weight gain from the roll cage.
As a result, DeLano replaced every panel that was bolted down including the doors, fenders, hood, trunk, and the complete Z/28 aero package. The only remaining stock body component was the rear quarters and plastic bumpers from the original car.
“When we finished, the weight on the build was down to 3,718 lbs. with fluids, which is lighter than stock.”
As if that wasn’t enough work, every piece of carbon fiber was taken back off the car and sent out for paint and buff. “I wanted to make sure the fitment was perfect, and all of the carbon weaves were aligned the way we wanted it before we painted it. The carbon fiber was sprayed with 5 coats of PPG Vibrance Clear, then blocked and buffed,” DeLano said.
DeLano also needed to add some aero for downforce, “I ended up designing and fabricating rocker extensions and a sub splitter. My team and I made these out of .125 6061 aluminum to minimize adding additional weight while maintaining the strength needed.”
After the paint had cured, the car was re-assembled and a complete Xpel protective film wrap installed by AutoArmour. Completion of the wrap signaled a turning point for DeLano and his team as they could move on to the engine build.
“All of the efforts, time and planning really paid off. The car is nothing short of beautiful.”
One of the challenges DeLano has had to overcome with the build was making parts he could not find. For example, the sub splitter was manufactured to be strong enough to handle the speeds while creating more downforce to be able to get 200+ mph. DeLano said he looked around, but nothing on the market at the time met his performance requirements. “The nice thing about this ‘problem’ is working with our partners to create the performance parts we need. This enables us to do things that other shops may struggle with,” DeLano said.
Recently DeLano and his team have transitioned to the engine phase of the build. Together with Magnuson Superchargers and Duttweiler Performance, DeLano is building a new DART 427 LSnext topped with Magnuson’s new TVS2650 blower. “Our goal is to make 1500hp on boost alone,” he said.
According to DeLano, the final phase of the build consists of adding the last bits of required safety specifications, including a fuel cell with bladder, fire suppression system, parachutes, and external/internal kill switches.
Unfortunately, though, the body which ran the Mojave Mile no longer holds such events, so DeLano is looking at competing in the Texas Mile, and other half-mile events staged throughout the country.