Did you see the wicked second gen Corvette that graced Speedhunters a few weeks back? That was the car that first put Brian Hobaugh on my Speedhunting radar, when I witnessed him ripping around (and kicking some serious ass) at a Goodguys AutoCross event.
Just imagine if that widened, track-ready ‘Vette was passed down to you by your Pops! Now, what if I told you that Brian’s story was just getting started with that big Corvette? And what if I told you this autocross fantasy includes not just one, but two vintage autocross demons? Well, that fantasy is Mr. Hobaugh’s reality…
While Mike told the story of the classic Corvette that’s been aced by Brian and his dad for three decades, this ’73 Camaro has a much more recent history. It’s not an accumulation of years and miles, but rather of experience that’s embodied in this build.
Brian Hobaugh’s Camaro isn’t just built to look good, although it certainly does. It’s not built to go fast in a straight line, but it could probably spank most cars at that too. This car was built to slay cones and corners, and the only way to build it correctly was to first get out there and do as much road course driving as possible.
While the ’73 is most certainly a nice build, it required years of seat time for Brian to know exactly what the right combination would be when it came time to start a new build from scratch. I don’t think we can go any further without seeing and hearing the Camaro at full-tilt though, so you’d better watch this POV video of Brian tearing up the autocross course.
Looks fun, doesn’t it? Sounds even better, right? Now you can really appreciate Rod’s panning shots of Brian competing at the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational.
While the red Corvette had gobs of history, Brian’s Camaro build isn’t exactly without sentiment. The first car he ever autocrossed was his mom’s daily driver ’74 Camaro, before he and his dad moved on to a purpose-built ’72 Z/28.
The ’73 you see here is a whole different beast though – it was completely stripped and built from the ground up to compete specifically in the SCCA C-prepared class.
Obviously this wasn’t just built to race, or it wouldn’t be finished this nicely. Brian’s secondary requirements were that the car be driveable on the street and look great doing it.
The pursuit of building a race car that also looked like a show car was certainly aided by Brian’s job as General Manager of Car West Elite, a luxury car body shop. That’s where they fabricated the flared wheel arches and expertly straightened and painted the car.Beneath The Surface
It takes more than short springs and big wheels to make a road course car. That’s where the collective decades of racing between Brian, his dad Steve and Mike Maier came into play.
Brian knew the handling characteristics he wanted in the Camaro, and he knew Maier Racing was the shop to make it happen.
Maier had to work around the stock front subframe rails according to the SCCA rule book, and after seam-welding every last inch, they started adding tube to the right places. JRI coilovers work in conjunction with fabbed A-arms, uprights and a rear three-link to set the ride height and dial in a functional alignment.
Part of sorting the chassis was integrating a late-model Mast Motorsports LS3, with tubing running around it to stiffen the chassis. The bark you heard in the video above was a touch over 600 horsepower to the rear wheels.
Of course, getting that kind of power around a road course requires some wide and sticky rubber, and not just for the rear.
At the time of this shoot the car wore 315-wide rubber with a light stretch at all four corners. This is just one of the many wheel and tire combos the Camaro has been seen rolling around on. I have to say I like these three-piece CCW 18s the best.
The fabrication work at Maier Racing extended into the cabin with a custom rollcage.
The cage tucks tightly against the headliner and doors, so tightly that these custom-molded door cards were required.
The interior has been simplified, with a fiberglass dash housing Speed Hut gauges and a Momo steering wheel added. Working in the auto body industry gave Brian access to interesting finish ideas for his build, like the 3M gravel guard paint that was applied to the dash before being coated in SEM trim black.
Did you notice the third pedal, or the trio of master cylinders under the hood? The old school Hurst stick shifts a manual four speed G-Force transmission, no doubt making this pro-touring Camaro a blast to drive.Heavy Chevy
The C-prepared class that Brian runs the car in requires a minimum weight of 3,100lbs – just a few hundred less than the stock configuration. This didn’t require anything drastic, but the weight distribution was watched carefully as the car came together. Items like a fiberglass hood, fenders and doors removed weight up high and compensated for the added tube work.
A bit of aero was tacked on the rear with a Lexan spoiler.
And a simple splitter was added to the front too. I suspect the Camaro relies a lot more on chassis setup than aerodynamics to get around the track though.
The split-bumper front-ends were always the best looking to me. Brian went with a semi-gloss black on the bumperettes to contrast the bright PPG orange paint. The gravel chips look right at home on this purpose-built car.
The coordinating matte black stripe is reminiscent of his dad’s old Camaro, and was actually applied in vinyl over the completed paint job.
Of course, the rest of the trim had to be blacked out in semi-gloss to complete the look.
The final touch to the body was a side-exit exhaust right in front of the tire.
In the end it took Brian and his team about three and a half years to complete the Camaro build. He says it could have been done in half that time if he hadn’t insisted on making it a road-worthy race car. The result has been worth it though, as Brian has gotten to take the Camaro on the road and enjoy it in a completely different way than when competing.
Even so, the car can certainly scoot around the track – especially with the experienced hands of Brian Hobaugh on the wheel. He’s already proven to be extremely competitive, racing in the Optima Ultimate Street Car Challenge, SCCA, Goodguys AutoCross, U.F.O. and American Autocross events to name a few.
The best part of the build for Brian though, is the fact that he can track it, throw groceries in the trunk and turn a few heads at the gas station too!
Photos by Rod Chong
Story Produced by Elizabeth White