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The Camaro Z/28 is coming in the Spring 2014 and it is a dedicated track car....

 

Chevrolet Camaro Z/28: TrackReady and Coming this Spring

Michael Allen

 

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You know we are no longer driving in obscurity when a major American automobile manufacturer develops a dedicated track car.  The Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is not a racecar, but a street legal vehicle designed to be used for track days and high performance driving events.  This activity that we are so passionate about has become so popular that we are now a market to be reckoned with.  This news is exciting for what it represents but what do we know of the car itself?  Just how capable is the Z/28 and for whom was it developed?

When just beginning as a track day driver, the vehicle’s track capabilities are not crucial.  You can literally sign up for an event with any car that is in reasonable mechanical shape and passes inspection.  Go to a track day and you will see cars ranging from full on race cars that must be trailored to the event to econo-boxes and even station wagons.  The track day world is a surprisingly accessible world.  One does not need to drive a track-oriented car, particularly when starting out.  The car’s speeds and stresses do not require high performance capabilities.  The capabilities of the driver are what are more critical during the early phases of learning the HPDE ropes.  After one has progressed from beginner to intermediate to solo, perhaps a more track-oriented car may be in order.

 

Track Cars

 

Among the candidates are such sporting vehicles as BMW's M3, Porsche’s 911 or Cayman, Nissan’s GT-R, Subaru’s Impreza WRX STI, Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution, Ford’s Mustang GT, Chevy’s Corvette, Dodge’s Viper, Mazda’s Miata and others.  Some cars come more prepared than others and can be used on the track out of the box.  Some require additional modifications to cope mainly with heat in such areas as brake performance and engine and transmission reliability.  Many require suspension stiffening to counteract the tendency for street cars to pitch and wallow, thereby upsetting the balance of the car under hard braking and turning. 

 

Camaro Z/28

 

The Z/28 is certainly a highly capable car for the track.  It comes with many of the features and modifications sought after by thez28racec advanced track day driver.  A definite positive is Chevy’s policy of not voiding the standard warranty if the car is used on the track.  The warranty on the powertrain is quite generous at 10 years, 100,000 miles.  This is not the case with other manufacturers.  Mitsubishi, for example, has been notorious in invalidating warranties for driving its Evolution model on a track.  It evens warns the owner in its manual.  Chevy did say that the warranty would not be honored if an owner does modifications such as to the engine or by adding a roll cage.  If you are into modifying, you need to keep this in mind.  The car does come with about everything you would need for track days and plenty of power, so modifying might be moot.  A down side is the weight of the vehicle which is in excess of 3,800 pounds; heavy for a track car.  An owner can expect to have high replacement needs and costs for such consumables as tires and brakes with all that weight.  The car needs its high horsepower and torque values to counter its high weight as every 100 pounds of weight equals 10 horsepower.  For example, the Porsche GT3 weighs 3,152 pounds or some 700 pounds less than the Z/28. The Porsche has 475 horsepower and so it actually has a better power to weight ratio.

 

GM vs. Nissan vs. Porsche

 

Based on comments below in our interview with GM, it seems that Chevy is trying to strategically place the Z/28 within the sports car track day market.  According to Mark Stielow, Performance Engineering Manager, GM seems to be targeting the lap times of the Nissan GT-R and the Porsche GT3, but at a significantly lower price point.  It may be 6 seconds faster than a Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca at the GM proving grounds track, but at $75,000 the Z/28 is about $25,000 more than the Mustang and has even more of a price disparity compared to others like the Evolution and WRX STI.  When car manufacturers complete the development of their racecars, they ship them to Nurburg, Germany and run them on the Nurburgring Track to test the cars’ lap times.  This has become the standard for comparison among racecars and a gauntlet as well.  The  Z/28, GT3 and GT-R’s lap times are 7:37, 7:25 and 7:08, respectively. In other words, the the Nissan bests the Chevy by about 30 seconds.  The Porsche bests it by 12 seconds.  Their prices are $75,000, $130,000 and $100,000, respectively.  How much of a premium will a buyer be willing to pay for a 12 or 30 second advantage over a 7 and a half minute lap?  Is $25,000 or $55,000 worth the difference?  The Z/28 may just hit the sweet spot for those who have the price of admission and want to have worry-free tracking what with a brand new and highly potent track ready vehicle with a 10 year powertrain warranty that will ostensibly be honored. 

 

Track Ready Features

 

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“Our new Camaro restores the mission of the original Z/28....” said Mark Reuss, President of GM North America. “The build sheet is the wish list of any racer: lightweight, high-revving, dry-sump LS7 engine; carbon-ceramic brakes; integrated coolers for track use; true aerodynamic down force, and a significant reduction in curb weight….”

The first Camaro Z/28 was introduced in 1967, created to compete in the SCCA's Trans-Am 2 class.  It featured a smaller, lighter, 302-cubic-inch V-8 for improved weight balance, as well as quick-ratio steering and a heavy-duty suspension for track use.  In keeping with its road-racing focus, the 1967 Camaro Z/28 was not available with an automatic transmission or air conditioning.

 

Track Capabilities

 

While the new Camaro Z/28 does not have to meet any rule specifications imposed by professional racing rules, it does deliver in the category most important to us HPDE enthusiasts, which is its track capability.  In initial testing, the Camaro Z/28 is three seconds faster per lap than the Camaro ZL1.  That extra speed comes from three areas:

Increased grip: The Z/28 is capable of 1.05 g in cornering acceleration, due to comprehensive chassis revisions

Increased stopping power: the Z/28 features Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes capable of 1.5 g in deceleration, and consistent brake feel, lap after lap

Reduced curb weight: The naturally aspirated Z/28 weighs 300 pounds less than the supercharged Camaro ZL1, with changes ranging from lightweight wheels to thinner rear-window glass

Like the original, the 2014 Camaro Z/28 is offered only with a manual transmission.  In a nod to modern convenience, air-conditioning is available, but only as an option.

"We set out to make the fastest road-racing Camaro possible that was still street-legal,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer.  “While the Camaro ZL1 offers exceptional performance on the street, the drag strip, and the track, the Z/28 is entirely focused on the track performance.  The Z/28 will be too track-focused for most drivers, but offers road-racers one of the most capable track cars ever offered from an automaker.”

2014-Chevrolet-CamaroZ28-109-440pxcThe Camaro Z/28 also features a full aerodynamic package designed to produce down force at track speeds.  At the front, the Z/28 features a large splitter, connected to an underbody panel that further reduces lift.  In profile, the Z/28 features fender flares over the front and rear wheels, as well as extended rocker panels that contribute to aerodynamic stability.  An aggressive rear spoiler and functional diffuser complete the aerodynamic package.

The rear seats of the Z/28 have also been modified for weight reduction.  A total of nine pounds (four kilograms) were saved by eliminating the seat-back pass through, as well as using high-density foam in place of the rigid structure of the seat back and steel mesh of the seat bottom.

“...we felt it was important to keep the 2+2 configuration of the Camaro Z/28....” said Oppenheiser.  “By modifying the construction of the rear seat, we were able to reduce the overall weight of the Z/28 while still preserving the flexibility of 2+2 seating.”

Like the original, the new Camaro Z/28 forgoes ultimate horsepower and torque for improved weight balance and track performance.  In 1967, the most-powerful engine available in a factory Camaro was a 396 cid V-8 with 375 horsepower.  To prepare the Camaro Z/28 for road course racing, engineers specified a lighter, 302 cid V-8, officially rated at 290 horsepower.  While the 302 was not the choice for drag racers, it proved ideal for sports-car racing.

 

Driveline Specifics

 

Today, the most-powerful engine offered is the Camaro ZL1’s supercharged 6.2L LSA, which delivers 580 horsepower.  The heart of the 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the lighter, naturally aspirated 7.0L LS7 first introduced in the Corvette Z06.  “The LS7 is ideal for road racing because it delivers amazing performance in a compact, lightweight package,” said Jordan Lee, Small Block chief engineer and program manager.  “The broad torque curve and high redline of the LS7 mean fewer shifts are required for each lap, while the lightweight design improves the front-to-rear weight balance for better handling.”

Co-developed with Corvette Racing, the hand-assembled 7.0L (427 cid) V-8 uses a number of high-performance components, including:

Titanium intake valves and connecting rods, and sodium-filled exhaust valves

CNC-ported aluminum cylinder heads

Forged-steel crankshaft and main bearing caps

High-lift camshaft

Hydro formed exhaust headers2014-Chevrolet-CamaroZ28-006-440x293c

For the Camaro Z/28, the LS7 features unique induction and exhaust systems, and delivers at least 500 horsepower (373 kW) and 470 lb-ft of torque (637 Nm).  The racing-style, cold-air induction system and large K&N air filter provide increased air flow.  The standard dual mode exhaust system and larger-diameter pipes also enable improved air flow.  By bypassing the mufflers during acceleration, the system increases both the torque and sound generated by the LS7 engine.

The Camaro Z/28 is offered with a Tremec TR6060 manual transmission.  The six-speed features close-ratio gearing and 3.91:1 final drive ratio, both optimized for the power characteristics of the LS7.  Power is distributed to the rear wheels via a limited-slip differential featuring a helical gear set, rather than traditional clutch packs.  The design enables the driver to apply more power and get through corners faster by continually adjusting the torque bias to maximize available traction. The differential works in unison with the Performance Traction Management system, which allows drivers to adjust the level of throttle and brake intervention to match their capability and driving environment.

 

Track Package

 

Unlike other “track package” offerings, the Camaro Z/28 makes standard all the cooling systems required for track use.  This includes the dry-sump oiling system for the LS7, which is connected to an integral liquid-to-liquid cooling system for engine oil.  A second liquid-to-liquid system provides cooling for the transmission and differential.  This system pumps overcooled transmission fluid to a heat exchanger in the rear differential before traveling to the transmission.  This reduces differential temperatures as much as 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it came to the chassis, “We used the very best components in the industry to deliver uncompromised performance, lap after lap,” said Stielow.  “We made nearly 200 changes to improve the track performance, which cumulatively make the Z/28 capable of 1.05 g in cornering.  For perspective, with all other things equal, increasing maximum grip from 1 to 1.05 g can cut up to four seconds per lap.”

The Camaro Z/28 is one of the first production cars fitted with race-proven, spool-valve dampers.  Compared to a conventional damper that offers only two-way tuning for bump and rebound, a spool-valve damper allows four-way adjustment to precisely tune both bump and rebound settings for high-speed and low-speed wheel motions.  The wider tuning range allowed engineers to dramatically increase the damper stiffness on the Camaro Z/28 without a significant change in ride quality.  Additional chassis changes include stiffer string rates and suspension bushings for improved cornering response.

2014-Chevrolet-CamaroZ28-106-440x293cThe Camaro Z/28 features 19-inch diameter wheels and tires, which reduce unsprung weight by 42 pounds (19 kilograms) per car compared to the 20-inch wheels standard on Camaro SS and ZL1.  In addition, the smaller diameter wheels lower the center of gravity by 33 millimeters, further improving handling.

At all four corners, the lightweight, forged aluminum wheels are wrapped in massive 305/30ZR19 tires.  This is the first production application of ultra-high performance Pirelli PZero Trofeo R tires, and believed to be the widest front tire on any production car.

To fully exploit the grip of the Pirelli tires, the Camaro Z/28 also features Brembo Carbon Ceramic Matrix™ rotors and fixed, monoblock calipers.  The large 394 x 36 mm front rotors are paired with six-piston calipers, while the 390 x 32 mm rear rotors are paired four-piston calipers.  Compared to similar-size, two-piece steel rotors, the lightweight carbon discs save 28 pounds (12.5 kilograms) per car.

The combination of tire grip and braking power enable the Camaro Z/28 to achieve up to 1.5 g in deceleration.  Standard front brake cooling ducts reduce fade during continuous hard lapping.

“What makes the Z/28 so addictive is it inspires confidence through every section on the track,” said Stielow.  “The incredible, balanced performance helps you carry much more speed through every corner:  the brakes are so good you can adjust your braking points later and later; the grip and suspension damping allows you to carry more speed through the apex; and then the limited slip allows you to make the most of the LS7 as you power out of the corner.”

 

Weight Savings

 

To optimize the track performance of the Camaro Z/28, the engineering team subjected it to an intensive lightweighting program, saving 100 pounds (45 kilograms) compared to the naturally aspirated Camaro SS and 300 pounds (136 kilograms) to the supercharged Camaro ZL1.

“We looked at every subsystem for opportunities to save weight,” said Oppenheiser.  “Our goal was to get rid of everything that didn’t make the car faster, and keep only what was required by law.  For example, we wanted to eliminate the audio system completely, but we had to keep a single speaker for the seat-belt chime to meet safety requirements.”

Other examples of weight savings include:

Eliminated the tire-inflator kit, except for Rhode Island and New Hampshire, where it is required by law

Removed interior sound deadener, and carpeting from the trunk

Replaced the standard LN4 battery with a smaller, lightweight, LN3 battery

Specified thinner, 3.2-mm glass for the rear window, compared to 3.5-mm glass on the standard Camaro

HID headlamps and foglights are not available

Air conditioning is only available as a stand-alone option

“The team was so fanatical about saving weight, we even stripped the unused wiring out of the harness when we eliminated the fog lights,2014-Chevrolet-CamaroZ28-108-300x450c speakers, and air conditioning,” said Oppenheiser.  “Every ounce saved contributed to making this the most track-capable Camaro we have ever built, and a worthy successor to the Z/28 name.”

 

The Race Version

 

“The original Camaro Z/28 was designed for racing and became an iconic performance car through its hard-fought victories,” said Mark Kent, director of racing for Chevrolet. “A new chapter in racing begins this week, as the new Camaro Z/28.R makes its competition debut in one of the most hotly contested series in motorsports.”  The Camaro Z/28.R will be participating in the upcoming IMSA Continental Tires SportsCar Challenge.

Developed alongside its production counterpart, the Z/28.R incorporates the same performance elements that make the 2014 Camaro Z/28 the most track-capable Camaro ever.  To enhance grip, for example, the Z/28.R’s body shares the same down force-generating aero package as the production model, including:

Front splitter

Rear spoiler with wickerbill

Hood extractor vent

Rockers, wheel-house extensions and front tire deflectors

Belly pan.

The Z/28.R is also powered by the same LS7 7.0L V-8 engine as the production Z/28 and employs the unique, helical-gear limited-slip rear differential found on the production model.  It is standard in the Z/28, helping the driver put down more power to the pavement when exiting corners.

“Apart from series-mandated equipment and the specialized suspension components needed for endurance racing, the Z/28.R is as close to a production-spec race car as you’ll find,” said Kent. 

As Stevenson Motorsports and CKS Autosport kick off a full season of racing in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge with their new Camaro Z/28.R race cars, they’ll advance the legacy of Camaro endurance racing that dates to the original Z/28’s 1967 introduction, when it was developed for the Trans-Am series.  More recently, the Camaro GS.R won six races from 2011 to 2013 in the Continental SportsCar Series Grand Sport class, helping Chevrolet achieve a runner-up finish in the GS championship last season.

“The new Camaro Z/28.R is a significant advancement from the GS.R that won multiple races in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge the last three years,” said Lisa Talarico, Chevrolet program manager for the Continental Tire series.  “We expect the new engine package, suspension components and aerodynamic improvements to help our teams to further successes in the 2014 GS class.  The GS class is full of great competitors, and we believe the performance level of the new Z/28.R will provide us the opportunity to contend for a championship.”

 

Managing Project Engineer Q & A

 

Auto TrackDay Monthly’s Q and A with Stielow was quite revealing regarding Chevy’s route to the development of the Z/28:

 

Q:  Our magazine is focused on track day participants because we believe this is an expanding group.  I am interested in hearing from Chevy about what information or data went into the decision to come to market with a track car.  How did the project get sold to the "suits?"

A:  Simply put, the “suits” wanted it.  Mark Reuss challenged the team to create a true track car that lived up to the original Z/28 name.  This was a very focused project, to build the most track capable pony car Chevrolet has ever produced.

2014-Chevrolet-CamaroZ28-107293x440Q:  Many companies come out with track oriented cars and then some do not support them, vis a vis, their warranty policies.  What will be your policy on covering warranty claims when cars have been driven on the track?  What will be the warranty on the car?  Will there be exclusions if cars have been driven on the track?  Will there be exclusions for failures that occur during a track event?  What will be excluded from warranty coverage?

A:  The car was developed with track capability and durability in mind.  As such we will honor the standard warranty (3 years, 36,000 miles bumper to bumper and 10 years, 100,000 miles powertrain), even with track use.  Obviously wear items such at tires and brake pads are not covered under warranty.  The exclusion is if the vehicle has been modified – engine mods, roll cage, etc…the warranty is obviously void as we cannot control what the customer did to the car.

Q:  I am interested in hearing about the decision making process in designing the car for the track.  Which are considered to be the most important modifications for track events?  How were they tested?  What was the guiding design philosophy?  Which features were left off the car and what went into those decisions?  In other words, were their compromises made? 

A:  This is one of the least-compromised production cars I have worked on.  Typically, we have to balance track performance with real-world use.  With the Z/28, we expect the majority of owners will use the car for track days, so that was our primary focus.  Our focus for modifications were three fold: lightweighting – removing anything that didn’t make the car faster or was required by law; improved aerodynamics, generating true down force at speed; and improved grip and braking, including 1.08 g in cornering and 1.5 g in braking.

One of the signature tests we put all of our performance cars through is the 24 Hour Test, which accumulates a total of 24 hours of track driving on a single vehicle to simulate a year’s worth of track days for a customer.  During the test, the only parts that can be replaced are brakes and tires. If there are any other problems, then the clock is reset to zero and the test begins again.

Q:  I note that the car will be campaigned in a professional race series with Stevenson Motorsports.  How will these cars differ from the street cars?  How will they be the same?  Will the race cars be made available to the public through Chevy as is done with the Dodge Viper SRT-10 ACR-X or the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, for example?

A:  Yes, the Z/28.R will compete in the new SportsCar Challenge series.  As a production-based series, the factory rules require we use many of the production-car parts.  The race car shares production-based parts such as the exterior / aerodynamic details; the 7.0L LS7 engine; and the helical limited slip differential.  One of the biggest differences is the rules prohibit using the production cars’ carbon ceramic brakes and DSSV dampers – so in some ways the production car will be more sophisticated than the competition version.  Currently, the Z/28.R is not available for sale to the public.  However, we expect to deliver the production Z/28 to customers beginning in the second quarter.

Q:  Which are considered to be your competitors and how do you stack up against the Mustang Boss 302, for example?

A:  Honestly, there are very few competitors – simply because there aren’t many other production cars as capable and as track focused as the Z/28. In our own tests on our 2.9 mile track at the GM proving grounds, the Z/28 is 6 seconds faster than the Boss 302 Laguna Seca edition.  As such, the Z/28 is positioned against cars like the Porsche GT3 and Nissan GT-R.  It may not beat those cars in terms of outright lap times, but will certainly be a viable alternative for a track-day car.  

Q:  Are there any videos of the car on the track?

A:  Yes, we have a video of our development driver, Adam Dean, driving the Z/28 at the Nurburgring.  Despite rain for the last ¼ of the track, Adam turned an impressive 7:37.40.  

(See the video of the Z/28 at the Nurburgring below).

Q:  What are the various levels of traction control settings and can the system be turned completely off?

A:  The Performance Traction Management system has 5 settings and traction and stability control can be turned off completely: 

- Mode 1 - Rain is the most conservative, and assumes you are on a track with standing water.  Stability control is on in this setting

- Mode 2 - Dry is the default mode when you enter PTM, and is most conservative of the dry settings.  Stability control is on but with relaxed control.

- Mode 3 - Sport 1 offers slightly more aggressive traction control and still retains the stability control settings from Mode 2 

- Mode 4 - Sport 2 offers the traction control settings from Mode 3 but stability is off

- Mode 5 - Race offers the most aggressive traction control settings with the intention of setting the fastest attainable lap times.

The new 2014 Camaro line will arrive at Chevrolet dealers in late 2013.  The Camaro Z/28 is expected to appear at track events across the United States in spring 2014.

 

The Finish Line

 

One does not need to brake the bank to have fun and reliability on the track.  Do not be discouraged by the relatively high prices mentioned above.  If you can find someone else’s track toy and that car has already been modified for the track, you can save yourself a bundle.  Modifications do not generally increase the selling price of a used car.  One thing is sure though.  Track day driving has arrived when Chevy builds a dedicated car for us.  Hopefully more track cars from mainstream manufacturers will be on the way to a driveway and track near you. 

 

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2014 CHEVROLET CAMARO Z/28 SPECIFICATIONS

        

Overview

 

Model:

Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 coupe

Body style / driveline:

four-passenger, front-engine, rear-drive coupe

Construction:

unitized body frame, one- and two-sided galvanized steel

EPA vehicle class:

coupe

Manufacturing location:

Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

 

Engine

 

 

7.0L V-8 (LS7)

Displacement (cu in / cc):

427 / 7008

Bore & stroke (in / mm):

4.125 x 4.00 / 104.8 x 101.6

Block material:

cast aluminum

Cylinder head material:

cast aluminum

Valvetrain:

overhead valve, two valves per cylinder

Fuel delivery:

SFI (sequential fuel injection)

Compression ratio:

11.0:1

Horsepower (hp / kW @ rpm):

505 / 376 @ 6100 (SAE certified)

Torque (lb-ft / Nm @ rpm):

481/ 652 @ 4800 (SAE certified)

Recommended fuel:

premium required

EPA-est. fuel economy (city / hwy):

TBD

 

Transmission

 

 

Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual

Gear ratios (:1):

 

     First:

2.66

     Second:

1.78

     Third:

1.30

     Fourth:

1.00

     Fifth:

0.80

     Sixth:

0.63

     Reverse:

2.90

Final drive ratio:

3.91

 

Chassis / Suspension

 

Front:

double-ball-joint, multi-link strut; direct-acting, 25mm solid stabilizer bar; progressive-rate coil springs; inverted monotube shock absorber

Rear:

4.5-link independent; progressive-rate coil springs over monotube shock absorbers; 26mm solid stabilizer bar

Traction control:

StabiliTrak electronic stability control

Steering type:

electric power steering with variable-ratio, variable-effort rack-and-pinion

Steering ratio:

16.1:1

Steering wheel turns, lock-to-lock:

2.5

Turning circle, curb-to-curb (ft / m):

TBD

 

Brakes

 

Type:

four-wheel disc w/ ABS; Brembo carbon ceramic matrix ventilated two-piece front and rear rotors; six-piston monobloc front and four-piston rear calipers

Rotor diameter x thickness, front (in / mm):

15.5 x 1.4 / 394 x 36

Rotor diameter x thickness, rear (in / mm):

15.3 x 1.3 / 390 x 32

Wheels / Tires

Wheel size and type:

19 x 11-inch aluminum (front)

19 x 11.5-inch aluminum (rear)

Tires:

P305/30/ZR19 summer (front) – Pirelli PZero Trofeo R

P305/30/ZR19 summer (rear) – Pirelli PZero Trofeo R

 

Dimensions

 

Exterior

 

Wheelbase (in / mm):

112.3 / 2852

Overall length (in / mm):

192.3 / 4884

Overall width (in / mm):

76.9 / 1953

Overall height (in / mm):

52.4 / 1330

Track, front (in / mm):

66.14 / 1680

Track, rear (in / mm):

64.65 / 1642

Curb weight (lb / kg):

3820 / 1732 (without air cond.)

Weight balance (% front / rear):

TBD

 

Interior   

       

Seating capacity (front / rear):

2 / 2

Headroom – coupe  (in / mm):

front: 37.4 / 950

rear: 35.3 / 897

Headroom – convertible  (in / mm):

front: 37.8 / 960

rear: 35.7 / 907

Legroom (in / mm):

front: 42.4 / 1077

rear: 29.9 / 757

Shoulder room (in / mm):

front: 56.9 / 1444

rear: 42.5 / 1080

 

Capacities

 

Cargo volume (cu ft / L):

11.3 / 320

Fuel tank (gal / L):

19 / 71.9

Engine oil (qt / L):

10.5 / 8.5

 

  

 

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