The pony-car wars that started back in the late 1960s in the Trans Am series are alive and well today in NASA’s Camaro-Mustang Challenge.

CMC isn’t just for Camaros and Mustangs. Pontiac Firebirds also make appearances and, in fact, the current CMC National Champion Kent Owens got the job done in a Trans Am.

Packing the right spares is a little easier in a single-make spec class like Spec 3 or Spec E46. If you don’t have it, there’s whole paddock of competitors who might be able to loan you a part so you can make the race. CMC is a little different in that you can’t borrow spares for your Camaro from your buddy across the paddock who’s racing a Mustang. That means there is an added measure of self-sufficiency in CMC, but racers are just as quick to loan you a part or some technical advice if they can.

We caught up with some notable names in CMC racing to see how they outfit their trailers with spares packages that will keep them on track for the weekend. The lists they compiled to share with Speed News readers is comprehensiveand an outstanding example of sportsmanship. Well done, gentlemen.

Name: Robert Weston
Region: NASA Rocky Mountain
Car: Gen IV Camaro
Years Racing: 5

Spares List
1 set each rain tires Toyo RA1
1 set each race tires Toyo RR
1-3 sets of brake pads, front and rear
Set of brake calipers, front and rear
Variety of rear springs and sway bars.
Wheel spacers
Serpentine belt and tensioner
Spark plug wires
Air filter
All fluids, engine oil, brake fluid, distilled water, water wetter, et al.
Alternator

Q: What is one spare part you have needed at the track, but didn’t have with you?
Slave cylinder

A: What have you always had on hand, but never had a need for?
Spare ECM

Q: How have you built up your supply of spare parts?

A: Mostly by having owned two cars over the years, but also through the advice of my fellow competitors. Almost always added on an as needed basis. The number one spare to have is a Randy English. LOL a fellow competitor who always has anything you need and is tireless at helping others.

Q: How many times have you provided a part to competitors so they can get their car back on track? Please explain.

A: Many times, an entire set of tires, my car. I loaned an entire set of tires to a new driver who was driving terrible tires. I have also loaned my car for someone to drive in the wet. Those are most notable

Name: Brian J. Tillett
Region: NASA Mid-Atlantic
Car: 2003 Mustang GT 4.6L 2V, @Sydwayz_Racing, sponsored by @TitanFuelTanks
Years Racing: 3

Spares List
Wheels and tires
Brake pads
Brake rotors
Brake calipers
Brake master cylinder
Brake reservoir cap
Brake fluid
Brake hoses
Brake lines
Misc. brake hardware
Electronic modules (OEM ignition, brake, etc.)
Fuel pump
Fuel filter
Oil cooler
Oil and filter for a full oil change
Rear axle gear lube
Transmission fluid
Oil fill cap
Gas cap
Radiator cap
Lash adjusters
Cam followers
Side mirrors
Spark plugs
Ignition coils
Radiator hoses
Front struts
Rear shocks
Power/kill switch
Lug nuts
Wheel studs
Fuel injectors
Fuel injector gaskets
Radiator
Front spindles
Inner tie rods
Bumpsteer kit/bolts
Wheel studs
Tail lights
Misc. OEM bolts and fasteners
Misc. nut, bolt, screw, fuse, zip-tie bins
Air dam
Accessory switches
Extra wire/pigtails
Electrical connectors and shrink wrap
Brake cooling hose
Alternator
Serpentine belt
Belt tensioner
Power steering pump
Pinion seal
OBDII scanner
Grease and grease gun
Two trailer wheel/tire spares
Wheel spacers
Hub centering rings
Vinyl graphics material
Temporary body panels (aka Silver Gorilla Tape)

Q: What is one spare part you have needed at the track, but didn’t have with you?

A: Front wheel bearing assemblies, Bump steer kit/bolts, Front Strut (carry your CC and know the overnight shipping address for the track. This was at the 2019 NASA Championships.) Hard brake line and flare connectors, Brake master cylinder

Fortunately, the smaller OEM replacement parts were available at parts stores not terribly far from the track. The car was always back on track in 24 hours or less, even after losing brakes in Turn 1 at VIR, and head on hit through two tire walls and sill finished fourth on Sunday (see inset).

Q: What have you always had on hand, but never had a need for?

A: Knock on wood, fuel injectors.

Q: How have you built up your supply of spare parts?

A: Personal experience, as well as my competitors’ experiences. If I’ve broken something at home, good chance it can/will happen at the track too. I own two parts cars, which I have pulled some parts from and carry. I also take note of wrecked cars at the track, and when I’m visiting a junkyard to see where integral parts have failed.

Q: How many times have you provided a part to competitors so they can get their car back on track? Please explain.

A: All the time. I’ve provided brake pads and calipers, wheel spacers, radiator, serpentine belt, fuel filter, that I can think of immediately.

Honestly, I’ve never been a Mustang fan. I’ve always favored GM. A few of the guys I race with have been in my circle through offshore powerboating and similar endeavors for the past 20-plus years. As they were roping me into this, it was clear that they all happen to drive/race Mustangs, and the thought process made sense: We share setup notes and swap parts around left and right. Our group helped me dial in my car, while I was tightening up the loose nut behind the wheel during HPDE. Having this oversight expedited my path through HPDE on many levels, and immediately I was given/loaned hand-me-downs and spare parts for my car, even from future competitors I had not even met before.

When we are heading for events farther away, we coordinate who is bringing the bigger extra parts and tools. We’ve had as many as 12 competitors on deck replacing head gaskets on a Mustang at the track. We all pitched in with labor, parts, and tools for such. The same happens when there is any incident in CMC. Most folks know I bring a large amount of tools and parts, which have gone on many cars, CMC and beyond.

Last year at the Pitt Race Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic crossover event, a fellow competitor and great friend did some “agricultural racing/turf management,” jumped the car, and blew out a front strut on his CMC Mustang. Through a very odd chain of events, and after I loaned him a replacement Koni DA strut, and as he was removing and replacing it on his car, he experienced an incident which exposed an unknown very, very, serious medical condition which has now been successfully mitigated.

So, yes, we take care of our own on multiple levels, on purpose and sometimes not.

Name: Kent Owens
Region: NASA Great Lakes
Car: 1995 Pontiac Trans Am
Years Racing: 14 years with NASA

Spares List
Asking a CMC racer for an itemized spare parts list is like asking a hoarder how many tubs of Cool Whip are in the freezer. There’s a lot, and you never know when that piece of three-day-old carrot cake is going to need a little pizzazz!

In no particular order:
Sensors. All of them. Including a spare PCM. It’s a 25-plus-year-old EFI car.
Hoses. All of them.

Accessory items: Power steering pump, water pump, alternator, serpentine belt.

OptiSpark, plugs, and wires. A side note: I have replaced the Opti at the track 3 times over the years chasing various “why doesn’t this thing go” issues. In each instance, the Opti was not the problem. I know I’m on borrowed time, and the series recently approved the LS coilset up for the LT motor, so if/when I do have an OptiSpark failure, the fix might be to go to the more modern ignition system.
Steering rack (replaced 2 over the years)
Rear end (ditto, and the spare also has a shorter gear in case I need to change for ‘competitive’ reasons)
Clutch, slave cylinder.
Obligatory nut and bolt collection.
Seals/bearings/U-joint
Mandatory setup items (sway bars, springs, links, shims). Chasing lap times my first few years included daily — some would/did say excessive — bar/spring changes, and as much seat time as I could afford. The payoff was a good understanding of how to ‘fix’ handling issues. The down side is I still carry a bunch of stuff I haven’t used in years. I’d take it out of the trailer, but that always ensures you’ll need it the next race. And, of course, the consumables. Brakes, tires, fluids, etc.

Q: What is one spare part you have needed at the track, but didn’t have with you?

A: This is a tough one. If I didn’t have it, one of my competitors did. And, they usually helped swap it out. The only time I’ve been sidelined for wanting a part at the track is from impact damage that has buggered up front suspension parts past the point of heavy-hammer repair.

Q: What have you always had on hand, but never had a need for?

A: Really??!! You know if I answer I’ll be dragging this part out and dusting it off to make the next race. Jeesh, I’ve already jinxed my Opti….

Q: How have you built up your supply of spare parts?

A: While we don’t run the prettiest cars on track — well, except for that red Third Gen — we do run in a series where parts are readily available. Between Craigslist, Rock Auto, your friendly neighborhood NAPA, and the local bone yard, we can usually source what we need quickly and cheaply. Our National Director has a weekly Wednesday appointment with his local Pick&Pull. Many of us have parts cars sitting behind the shop. Most of them were free, or at least very, very cheap.

Q: How many times have you provided a part to competitors so they can get their car back on track? Please explain.

A: As a group, we have swapped parts and helped each other get back on track so many times I have lost count of who did what for whom and when. Steering racks, rear ends, pumps, belts, hoses, clutches, electrical parts, all have gone out of my trailer onto other cars, or came out of others onto my car. It’s just one more example of the camaraderie and sportsmanship shown by the NASA family in general, and the CMC gang in particular.

Name: Derek Wright
Region: Great Lakes
Car: 1998 Chevrolet Camaro (LS based engine)
Years Racing: 10 with NASA (very close to 100 events)

Spares List
– Tires and Wheels, I generally bring five sets of wheels and tires to an event. Three dry sets (one new, one half worn, one two-thirds worn) and two wet sets (light and heavy rain). Spare impact wrench, batteries and charger, spare torque wrench, spare jack, trailer ramps for changing trailer tires, which can be one of the most dangerous things you ever do associated with racing.
– Front and rear brake calipers, rotors, pads, lines, brake ducting, brake master cylinder, brake cleaner, brake fluid (two bottles), fittings and bleeders.
– Front wheel bearings, front and rear wheel studs, lug nuts, wheel spacers.
– Lower control arms, upper control arms, spindles with ball joints and all associated hardware.
– Torque arm, driveshaft, front and rear anti-sway bars with bushings and end links, steering rack with tie rod ends.
– Transmission mount, torque arm mount, transmission seal.
– Complete rear differential with new fluid in the differential, plus additional rear axle bearings and seals, pinion seal
– 8 quarts of engine oil and filter, 4 quarts transmission fluid, 3 quarts rear differential fluid, 2 gallons of water, 2 quarts of power steering fluid.
– Clutch, pressure plate, throwout bearing, pilot bushing and bearing, bleeder line, clutch master cylinder and hose, shifter and shifter boot. Sometimes bring spare transmission.
– Radiator, radiator hoses and clamps, radiator cap, water pump.
– Power steering pump and hoses along with pullers, alternator, belt, starter with bolts.
– All engine sensors (IAT, MAF,TPS, MAP, coolant temp, oil pressure, camshaft position sensor, crankshaft position sensor, O2 sensors with thread chaser) miscellaneous sensor connectors, fuses, kill switch, miscellaneous wire and connectors. Spark plugs, spark plug wires, coils, fuel injectors, computer.
– Drivers gear – I bring a whole second set of driver gear (helmet, Balaclava, safety sun glasses, HANS, suit, gloves, socks and shoes. I’ve seen suit, gloves and shoes become damaged and not be usable. Ear plugs!
– Haynes manual for 98-02 GM F-body.
– A large assortment of metric bolts.
– My motto is if I have one of something, I better have two of them because eventually one of them will fail.
– And last but not least zip ties, every size imaginable.

Q: What is one spare part you have needed at the track, but didn’t have with you?

A: Early on I broke a torque arm at the start of the first race of the weekend and subsequently damaged the driveshaft. I didn’t have a spare for either one and I had to pack it in for the weekend. I have spares for both now.

Q: What have you always had on hand, but never had a need for?

A: For this car, I have never changed the spark plugs at the track. I don’t believe anyone has ever asked me for spark plugs either.

Q: How have you built up your supply of spare parts?

A: This is a relatively slow process. For most people it will take years, we don’t have the resources and time to gather all the parts needed in a short amount of time. Storage capacity also plays a role in how much you can carry with you. Four years ago I bought a 32-foot, triple-axle trailer and it is full.

When I’ve taken parts off the car that are still functional, I will keep them as spares, I purchased a donor car with no engine or transmission but everything else early on and that has been completely stripped of every useful piece you can imagine, Almost all spare engine sensors and stock parts (rear brake calipers, rear rotors, rear brake pads, wheel bearings, seals) were purchased from Rock Auto. I buy front rotors and brake pads from Coleman Racing Products. Because it’s an American pony car, a lot of performance-oriented parts available at Summit and Jegs.

Q: How many times have you provided a part to competitors so they can get their car back on track? Please explain.

A: It has to be in the neighborhood of 50 times in the last 10 years. It has been so many times I don’t even think about it anymore. It just happens. If I have a part, and it doesn’t affect my car getting on the track, I will let the person in need take the part.

Last event in early August 2021 a competitor broke a rear axle during qualifying Saturday morning. I removed an axle from the spare rear differential and let one of my competitors use it for the rest of the weekend. I am owed a rear axle. At the same event Saturday evening, another competitor was looking for a transmission rear seal. In a couple minutes he had the rear seal in his hand. Also at this same event on Sunday morning, one of my competitors broke his driveshaft at the start of the Sunday morning race. I provided my spare driveshaft to him. He had to salvage the u joints off of his driveshaft and put them on the one I had. He made the third race on Sunday afternoon. We will work something out for the driveshaft.

The previous event in late July 2021, a competitor broke the clutch in his car on Saturday afternoon. He was ready to go home, but the CMC group had a clutch and helped him remove the transmission, change the clutch and put the transmission back in in less than 2 hours. In the process of replacing the clutch, we drained the transmission fluid. The competitor didn’t have any so I provided 4 quarts of fluid. He replaced it at the next event. Same event one of my competitors from the Mid-Atlantic region had a 1-inch by 2-inch hole in one of his exhaust manifolds after the Saturday race. I welded in a patch and he competed on Sunday.

I bring a 110-volt MIG FLUX Core welder to the track. I’ve repaired more than 20 exhaust cracks on manifolds, couplers and mufflers. I think half the CMC cars in the Great Lakes region have had something on their car welded by that welder.

The parts that I’ve provided over the years that I can remember are front and rear anti-sway bars, anti-sway bar end links, torque arm mount, driveshaft, rear axle, rear differential, rear differential fluid, rear differential gasket, rear pinion seal, rear axle seals, tires, wheels, front and rear brake rotors, front brake hub, front and rear brake calipers, front and rear brake pads, brake hoses, front spindle, front wheel bearing, wheel studs, radiator cap, radiator hose, torque arm, fuel injectors, O2 sensor, alternator, starter, coils, engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, electrical kill switch.

Name: Russ Carter
Region: NASA Mid Atlantic
Car: 1996 Ford Mustang, CMC 720
Years Racing: 8

Spares List
In no particular order, and this is going to be long!
Tires/wheels
Headlights/tail lights
Side mirrors
Front pads
Rear pads
Front rotors
Front calipers
Rear calipers
Brake lines
Front hubs (two, with extended studs installed, 35mm socket in box)
LCA bushings
Inner/outer tie rod ends
Power steering pump
Brake booster pump
Starter
Water pump
Fuel pump
Alternator
Ignition coils
Injectors
Radiator hose
Clutch cable
Wheel studs
Fuel cap
Radiator cap
Power steering cap
Fuses
Radiator
Air dam
Sway bar
Transmission (only to major events)
Lots of fluids/filters
Wiper blades
Spark plugs
Plug wires
Thermostat
Air filter
Various nuts/bolts/fuel lines, etc.

Q: What is one spare part you have needed at the track, but didn’t have with you?

A: Ignition coil pack (but I do now!)

Q: What have you always had on hand, but never had a need for?

A: Engine accessories (starter, water pump, power steering pump)

Q: How have you built up your supply of spare parts?

A: Long ago it became apparent to me that you seem to break what you don’t have a spare of. My first hobby was offshore powerboats and although I always had some spares, you simply couldn’t have them in the boat with you at all times. You never want a mechanical problem to end a weekend, and when I started racing cars I realized I could make room in the trailer for lots of spare parts. Before my first trip to Nationals in 2015, I made a list of most of the items that I could conceivably change at the track, and brought them all. It’s ironic that this interview takes place one day after a race weekend where I had to replace a snapped rear brake line and also provide brake-line crush washers to an HPDE guy that was paddocked beside us.

Q: How many times have you provided a part to competitors so they can get their car back on track? Please explain.

A: Unknown, but I’ve provided parts over 10 times. Being one of the few 4.6-liter Mustangs, that number would be higher if my combo was more common. I’ve also witnessed dozens of parts exchanges among my competitors and have been on both ends of countless hours spent working on competitors cars so they/I can get back on track. I certainly want a win, however winning while a friend/competitor is sidelined isn’t really a win.

Name: Hunter Lydic
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Car: 1995 Ford Mustang
Years Racing: 5 years

Spares List
Hubs
Brakes (pads, rotors, calipers)
All fluids
Coils, distributor, plug wires
Radiator/fan, hoses
Tie rod ends
Gasket sets
Alternators

Q: What is one spare part you have needed at the track, but didn’t have with you?

A: Steering rack, but we did find one at a local auto parts store

Q: What have you always had on hand, but never had a need for?

A: We have used everything we have ever brought at some point or another or someone else has needed it.

Q: How have you built up your supply of spare parts?

A: Whenever something breaks, we order two and keep the second one as a spare in the future.

Q: How many times have you provided a part to competitors so they can get their car back on track? Please explain.

A: Every event for 20 years straight we have either given a competitor a part or someone else has given us one. Every competitor in CMC Mid-Atlantic does their best to make sure that all their other competitors/buddies can make it out on track. Everyone shares parts and pitches in to work on each other’s cars all the time.

Images courtesy of Robert Weston, Brian Tillett, Brett Becker, Downforce Media, Derek Wright, Russ Carter and Hunter Lydic

2 COMMENTS

  1. It would be interesting to know what type of trailer each of these racers are using, open flatbed or enclosed. I suspect the parts list size is at least somewhat influnced by strorage space. Pranav Patel in the Texas region utilizes the space underneathe his open trailer to carry an impressive amount of large parts including torque arms and an extra trailer axle.

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