|Engine/Horsepower||Katech A2 sealed motor|
|Front||Double wishbones, Penske single-adjustable shocks|
|Rear||Quick-change multilink live axle, Penske single-adjustable shocks|
|Front||Pirelli P Zero 275-695-15|
|Rear||Pirelli PZero 275-695-15|
|Sponsors||Pellegrini Performance Group, NOLA Motorsports Park, Capitol Wraps|
When Alexis Hocevar was looking for a track car, he did what he always did: He bought a Pontiac Firebird. Until that point, the only racing he had done was drag racing. Hocevar owns a variety of nine first- and second-generation Pontiac F-body cars, so when he found a replica of the 1968 Firebird Jerry Titus drove in the 1969 24 Hours of Daytona race, he jumped on it and started driving it hard at his home track, NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, La.
“We began to track it, which was not a good idea,” Hocevar said. “Even though it’s a replica, it’s still a historic piece.”
Right about then, NOLA Motorsports Park started a NASA Region. Hocevar went out to watch the racing and was immediately hooked on the idea of wheel-to-wheel competition. He could have raced his Titus replica in American Iron, but that didn’t make financial sense, so he set about looking for a bona fide racecar.
He considered Miatas, Porsche Cup cars, maybe even a Ford Mustang FR500S, but being GM kind of guy, he didn’t really want to race a Ford. Sure, he had owned Porsches and an Audi RS5, but all the cool cars in his stable came from General Motors, and that began to narrow his search.
He eventually found a well-equipped Howe chassis Camaro that was co-owned by a few members of the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill. Hocevar and his son jumped in their RV one Friday with their Yorkshire terrier and a car trailer in tow. Because it was November, he couldn’t really do any laps in the car, so his test drive consisted of a few laps around the parking lot. They made the deal, bought the car and got back to New Orleans by 2:30 a.m. Monday morning.
“I did compare the price to a new Howe at the time, but the price difference was a good $10,000 and this one only had five, 10 hours on it,” Hocevar said. “These cars had a good reputation. They’re way safer than any of the other junk I had looked at, which were supposed to be racecars, but they were just a factory body with a roll cage and a big motor. Some of the cars I looked at locally scared the hell out of me.”
At the time, Hocevar didn’t even have his competition license. He was using it for track days and beating up on all his buddies with the car. But racing was calling, so he went to Texas World Speedway for competition school. Now he’s racing the Howe Camaro in Super Unlimited in the NOLA Region with some measure of success.
He won the 2017 Super Unlimited Championship in the NOLA Region, and came in second in 2016 behind his son. The car can be a bit outgunned in Super Unlimited, but running it in ST1 would mean restricting the motor’s output and adding weight.
“At some point, we’re really doing this for the fun of it, for the love of racing, and if we get the win, great,” Hocevar said. “A bad day at the track is better than a good day at work, so that’s kind of our motto, and we’re just having a good ol’ time racing. Again, the luck of the draw or the lack of competition has allowed us to race up front a lot with a car in Unlimited with a car that probably isn’t going to be up front in most NASA environments.
“It’s not ideal, but we’re kind of stuck in the middle,” he continued. “I don’t want to slow it down that much more, and I want to stay near the GT2 horsepower to weight ratio, so when the PCA comes to town I can go play with those guys.”
Lately some SU cars have been coming over from the Texas Region to provide more competition.
Not long after he got his Camaro, Hocevar’s son Ben got Howe chassis with a Corvette body. The two cars are pretty evenly matched, and the two men are having a blast racing each other. As the years wear on, they might sell one car and devote their efforts to whichever driver is faster. So far, that has been Ben, but Alexis still gets the better of him sometimes.
“I’m enjoying what I’m doing and the most fun part is the fact that my 21-year-old son and I are chasing each other around a track. I pinch myself sometimes when I’m out there,” he said. “If I win or not, it really doesn’t matter. The fact that we get out there and get after each other is great. The worst part is when one of us breaks and the other wins by default. The best times we’ve had — and we’ve had some doozies — is when we’re swapping first and second.”