Contact Johan Schwartz if you are interested in a private coaching session.
The little restrictor plate-restricted four-cylinder Chevrolet Sonic is a bit different than a thundering V8 Trans-Am car with a torque curve that can pull most stumps out of the ground.
However, when racing different platforms, you have to step up, adapt quickly and make it happen. It is important to be able to change your mindset to the car you are racing next.
So what is different between the Sonic to a Trans-Am Camaro?
It’s hard to believe, but the cars weigh almost the same and both are Chevrolets. They both have a steering wheel and four tires to manage, and both are a blast to drive….and the similarities pretty much stop there, as they are very different.
Camaro TA2: Tubular chassis, just like a NASCAR Cup Series car
Sonic: Production-based chassis
Camaro TA2: Rear-wheel drive
Sonic: Front-wheel drive.
Camaro TA2: 49% front – 51% rear weight distribution
Sonic: 60% front – 40% rear weight distribution
Camaro TA2: Coil-over spring package, with custom-made shocks and a plethora of spring combinations
Sonic: A fixed spec package, with spec springs and shocks
Camaro TA2: 500 rumbling horsepower from the LS3 platform
Sonic: A little over 100 with the restrictor plate
Camaro TA2: Fully vented brake rotors with none ABS racing calibers
Sonic: Stock brakes and calibers with ABS, racing pad allowed.
Camaro TA2: Dog gear box where the clutch is not needed for up and down shift, just a little lift to release the engagement of the gear, and bang, you are in the next gear by a blink of an eye. It makes it possible to left foot break while downshifting. Still have to blip throttle to match RPMs. Possible to change gear ratios.
Sonic: Standard synchro transmissions with a fixed gear set and you have to be gentle while shifting to you don’t wear out the synchros,
Camaro TA2: In some corners, a later apex is more beneficial, as I have the power available to accelerate and open up the corner with a bigger radius on exit.
Sonic: Maintaining speed through the corner is more important, with constant radius through a corner, or sometime an early apex to maintain entry speed - hard for the little Sonic to get up to speed after you take it off.
Considerations when driving the Camaro TA2:
Tire management is very important in both cars. One needs to make sure there is some tire left toward the end of the race.
The Roehrig Trans-Am Camaro is not a big fan of trail braking, as we run a soft spring package and can overload the tire, so much of the braking is done in a straight line and only a tiny bit of braking on turn in in. Flat platform and tire friction circle is super critical.
The tire on the Trans-Am car is a bias ply tire, so it can handle some pretty substantial slip angle and still retain grip. The driver can't overdrive the tire as this 100-mile race puts some strain on it. Again, tire management is critical in insuring you have some tire left towards the end.
Ever since the first Trans-Am race I saw in the streets of Dallas in the ‘90’s, I have been intrigued by these cars and wanted to race one! I am impressed by the technology in the new GTs in the same way I am intrigued by the ground stomping, pushrod V8 with traction control determined by your right foot, and where optimal braking is determined by your foot and not by ABS in the Trans-Am cars. This type of racing is as American as it get, and I can’t wait.
When you get a call like this, are no excuses. You step up, adapt quickly and make it happen. I am always up for a challenge, and one should always be prepared when an opportunity like this comes up.
I am looking forward to adding the Camaro TA2 to my racing resume.