The Chevy Camaro has evolved mightily over the course of its six generations, and these days, with the right options ticked, this iconic nameplate has the goods to challenge the best of the best on the racetrack. Of course, we’re talking about the Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE, and now, we’re getting up close and personal with this particular example built to slay the autocross circuit.
We caught up with this 2019 Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE and its owner, Ryan Thacker, at a recent autocross event in Southern California, where Thacker was laying down some quick times running against a variety of high-end machinery. Despite the competition, the Camaro was holding its own, blasting between the cones with a supercharged V8 chorus behind it.
Thacker has plenty of history in the car world. His family owned an auto parts store, and prior to his latest interest in autocross, he enjoyed drag racing diesel trucks. Now, however, his passion is throwing him some curves, so Thacker wound up leaving the oil-burners in favor of GM’s gasoline-fueled sports cars.
Prior to picking up his 2019 Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE, Thacker owned a 2015 Camaro Z/28, and prior to that, he had a built C6 Chevy Corvette Z51. However, after driving his buddy’s ZL1 at an autocross event, Thacker ended up selling the Z/28 to make room for a ZL1 of his own.
“I remember the exact moment in time [when I was driving his ZL1], I hit the corner and I hit the gas and it moved and felt like my C6 Corvette used to when I had it setup,” Thacker tells GM Authority. “The way I was able to use the power and rotate the rear of the car around the corner and then catch it with the brakes. It was like poetry in motion.”
“I really love Corvettes and that’s kinda where my heart lies,” Thacker tells GM Authority. “The reason I went with [the Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE] is because it is a turn-key race car. You don’t have to worry about the computer maybe trying to override what the suspension is trying to do on an autocross course and throwing the car into limp mode or any of that stuff.”
Of course, there’s always room for improvement, so to that end, Thacker added a set of Stainless Works headers with 2-inch primaries and 3-inch collectors, which feeds a Corsa exhaust system. The supercharged LT4 was fitted with a GripTec underdrive pulley, while in the corners, the Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE now rides on BC Forged wheels wrapped in 315/30R18 Yokohama A052 tires.
Thacker also added SPL suspension components and deleted all the rubber bushings with the intention of tightening it up and eliminating the sloppiness. Combined with the factory DSSV bits, it makes for a potent track weapon.
“With the stock rubber stuff, it felt a little bit lazy, and also the car felt real squirrelly, especially in the rear end,” Thacker tells GM Authority. “With as much power the car had, I would get on the gas and it was really a crapshoot on whether it was gonna go left or right. It was kinda scary in a way, and I’ve driven quite a few high-horsepower cars in my lifetime.”
Now, the Bow Tie brand’s front-engine street-legal apex hunter is sharper and even more capable, and with all that supercharged firepower under the hood, the competition is in store for some serious shock and awe.
Stay tuned, as we will have more photos of Thacker’s ZL1 posted very soon. In the meantime, subscribe to GM Authority for more Chevrolet Camaro news, Chevrolet news, and around-the-clock General Motors news coverage.