When NASA Rocky Mountain member Perry Herrmann was racing in Camaro-Mustang Challenge, he and Joe Bogetich used to go at it pretty hard on track. In fact, there was a little animosity between the two.

Rocky Mountain Region member Joe Bogetich built the first fifth-generation Camaro for American Iron and he competes regularly with Herrmann. That their car numbers are the inverse of each other is a coincidence, Herrmann says.
Rocky Mountain Region member Joe Bogetich built the first fifth-generation Camaro for American Iron and he competes regularly with Herrmann. That their car numbers are the inverse of each other is a coincidence, Herrmann says.

“Joe and I were pretty fierce competitors, and when we first started racing each other, we pretty much disliked each other,” said Herrmann. “We had some good shouting matches in the pits.”

Fast forward a few years, the two have become fast friends, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the two are downright chummy. You see, Bogetich built the first — to our knowledge here at Speed News — fifth-generation Camaro for competition in American Iron. Bogetich told Herrmann he was going to build a new car for American Iron. Herrmann wanted to get out of CMC and into something newer and faster, so he followed Bogetich’s lead and built his own fifth-generation Camaro SS for American Iron.

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Herrmann comes by his latest racecar honestly. He owns two first-generation Camaros, a 1967 SS and a 1969 Z28, and a 1998 SS convertible, so building a Camaro was an obvious choice for Herrmann — though not the easiest route in a class populated predominantly by Mustangs.

To build his car, Herrmann started with two, or really, one and a half cars. He bought a body in white on eBay and also bought a 2013 Camaro with the 1LE package on it, which includes Brembo brakes, upgraded suspension and a lower axle ratio. He pulled all of the suspension and drivetrain from the 1LE car and installed it on the body in white.

Perry Herrmann’s American Iron Camaro started out as two cars built into one, a body-in-white car from eBay and a 2013 SS Camaro with the 1LE package.
Perry Herrmann’s American Iron Camaro started out as two cars built into one, a body-in-white car from eBay and a 2013 SS Camaro with the 1LE package.

“A lot of Chevy guys would be pretty upset because they only made a couple thousand 1LE’s in 2013,” he said. “And Joe killed one and I killed one, so there are even fewer of them now.”

Killed is probably the wrong word, because the 1LE is the track-oriented package. These guys did what you’re supposed to do with the cars: racing them.

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Herrmann had Black Dog Racing in Chicago install the cage, then ship the car to Painted Dreams in the Denver area where Joel Butland set to work turning two cars into one. The body-in-white tub was yellow, but eventually was painted to match the red donor car. Butland removed all the seam sealer and sound-deadening insulation that have no place on a proper racecar.

Once the paint work was complete, Butland started transferring parts from one car to another in a painstaking build that used a GM Performance Parts controller kit, which included a wiring harness, ECU, oxygen sensors and throttle pedal assembly.

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Herrmann even found a fiberglass dashboard from a company that caters to stock car chassis. That took some weight out of the car, as did switching to Lexan windows, using a one-piece aluminum driveshaft and gutting the doors and as much of the interior as possible. It’s quite a bit lighter than a factory 1LE car, but still a bit on the heavy side at 3,600 pounds with a driver on board. So what’s it like to drive?

“I was pretty intimidated by the whole thought of it, because going from 260 horsepower to 400 horsepower, I thought it was going to be a much different car to drive, but it’s a lot easier car to drive. It’s a nicer car to drive,” Herrmann said. “The old CMC cars are rattly and rough, and this thing is pretty well buttoned down and smooth. With the independent rear, it gets around the corners a lot better. Braking is better. It just rides nicer, handles nicer. It’s a more pleasant car to be in.”

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At press time, Herrmann’s Camaro, and Bogetich’s car, too, were in transit to Watkins Glen for the 2016 Eastern States Championships. These are the only Camaros in the field, so it will be interesting to see how they compare with the Mustangs. Time will tell, but Herrmann likes his odds.

“The Ford guys, unless they have a Coyote motor, they have to work pretty hard to keep up with the LS motors,” he said.

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Herrmann’s car is in its first season of racing, and he’s still getting some of the finer points dialed in, but overall he’s happy with it. He’s also grateful to his wife, Melanie, who willingly goes along with him to the track — even on holiday weekends — and to Joel Butland at Painted Dreams for his exceptional craftsmanship.

“I said I just wanted to make this thing so simple and so clean,” Herrmann said. “Make it so it’s really nice and clean, and the detail is there, and I think Joel just hit it out of the park. He’s a great fabricator. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

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Owner:  

Perry Herrmann

Year:

2013, body-in-white car

Make:

Chevrolet

Model:

Camaro SS, 1LE

Weight:

3,600 lbs. w/driver

Engine:

400 horsepower LS3 GM V8

Transmission: 

Tremec six-speed manual

Suspension:  

Front: Penske coilovers, single adjustable

Rear: Penske coilovers, single adjustable

Tires:

Front: Toyo Proxes RR 275-35-ZR18

Rear: Toyo Proxes RR 275-35-ZR18

Brakes:   

Front: Factory Brembo calipers, Hawk DTC70 pads

Rear: Factory Brembo calipers, Hawk DTC60 pads

Data system:

Traqmate

Sponsors:

E Light Electric, Blazer Electric Supply
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Image courtesy of Brett Becker