Tom McGilton’s 3500-hp ZL1 wins Rocky Mountain Race Week 2.0

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Phillip Thomas

Rocky Mountain Race Week 2.0 has wrapped up and, once again, Tom McGilton is the overall winner. McGilton won the first Rocky Mountain Race Week of 2020 earlier this summer and was the man to beat all week. This second RMRW of 2020 was put together to fill in for Hot Rod magazine’s Drag Week, which was canceled earlier this year.

McGilton’s 7.356-second ET on the first day of racing put him in the overall lead from the get-go. A string of low seven-second passes on the four following race days sealed his win with an average ET of 7.2816 seconds. Four other drivers in three other race classes managed to average ETs in the sevens as well, proving that Rocky Mountain Race Week has no problem attracting a variety of wickedly fast cars.

Tom McGilton’s ZL1 is one part 2013 Camaro, with all its creature comforts, and one part Pro Mod drag car. Multiple Drag Week winner Larry Larson was tasked with transforming the Bow Tie from a balanced strip/track car into a quarter-mile missile capable of long-distance highway hauling. That meant a custom rear suspension with a solid axle and a roll cage to tie it all together. The car was built in 2014 and has been competing in the fastest street car events ever since.

Phillip Thomas

Its current engine has about as much in common with the supercharged 6.2-liter, 580-hp LSA that was unceremoniously ripped out of its engine bay as it does with its 427-powered 1969 namesake. Like most of the fastest street cars in America and across the pond, this Camaro uses a twin-turbo big-block Chevy. Again following the fast street car recipe, power is routed through a three-speed Rossler 210 transmission (based on a Turbo 400) before it heads to a Gear Vendors overdrive unit and then to the rear axle.

For this event, McGilton was running on his spare engine, since his chief racing engine was being refreshed. The 540-cubic-inch V-8 produces around 3500 hp when spooled up and at full-throttle on the track. The beauty of a turbocharged engine is that on the street, when it’s not making boost, it’s docile. Relatively speaking. That’s key for surviving the hundreds of highway miles that these cars must travel between race tracks.

Congrats to McGilton on his repeat performance. We wish him luck as his Camaro gets closer and closer to breaking into the sixes.

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