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Messages - Bruce302

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Trans-Am Camaros / Re: Firebird and the Trans-Am series
« on: March 14, 2011, 08:47:39 AM »
Here is a pic that shows one of the Titus tricks that made engine work a lot easier. The entire front end sheet metal complete with radiator and oil coolers lift off as a unit.
Once the radiator hoses, and the oil lines are disconnected, two quick disconnect pins are released, and the whole front end can be lifted off.
Not the best system for precise panel gaps, but this was not the show circuit, this was semi endurance racing were serious parts swapping was likely to be part of race day.

This pic shows the car with 303 Pontiac engine, reasonably early in the season. The car still uses the American Racing 200 wheels, and the grill is the '69 Trans Am Firebird item that was synonymous with the 303 use.

Pic by Kanji Satoh

Trans-Am Camaros / Re: Interview with Robert Barg, Trans-Am racer
« on: March 14, 2011, 06:51:09 AM »
Excellent interview and recollections.
Many thanks to Robert Barg, and to Jon for making it happen.  Nice to see the great pics and put faces to the names.


Trans-Am Camaros / Re: Firebird and the Trans-Am series
« on: March 14, 2011, 04:06:10 AM »
Here is a photo of Craig Fisher in his Titus/Godsall built '69 Firebird, that he ran for the first part (4 races) of the 1970 season.
These cars were built to equal any of the factory race cars from Ford, Chevrolet or Mopar.
They body shells were all seam welded, then acid dipped, and then the chrome moly roll cage was installed.

All body to sub frame bushes were sold aluminum, the suspension bushes were aluminum with nylon inserts. The front upright was a lengthened custom forged piece that is what we now know as a dropped spindle. This made for zero camber change and thus bump steer and gave the Firebirds a theoretically front line handling capability.
Brakes were GM race brake option code J-56, with the dual pin flanged brake pads, and thicker heat insulators.
The rear end had a frame mounted watts linkage, again supposedly an advantage over the more conventional rear axle mounted system.

Photo courtesy Roger Bolliger,and Henry Ford Museum.

Those are very neat, but I have also seen the version with the bolt on removable top plate, and even a Holman Moody version on the Smokey Yunick Camaro.
I believe some are adapted from aircraft use.

Any details on those ?


Trans-Am Camaros / Re: Firebird and the Trans-Am series
« on: March 09, 2011, 03:54:23 AM »
I guess there was a little subterfuge in the Canadian 302 Firebird story, but it seemed to suit all concerned to some degree.

The 303 was indeed doing pretty well into the 70's, and there was a 366 ci version in the NASCAR Grand American (Grand Am) series that ran without a restrictor plate.
It was pretty competitive against the 427 ci restrictor plate engines that they ran against. (features of the 303/366 were utilised on the production SD 455 Firebird engines, but i am getting a little of course here)

Buck Baker,  H.B.Bailey, Tiny Lund and even Herb Adams piloted the Nascar versions.


Trans-Am Camaros / Re: Firebird and the Trans-Am series
« on: March 09, 2011, 12:33:30 AM »
Kurt, re the Camaro 302 powered Firebirds, I will relate what I have gathered from period reports and publications.

The SCCA was very keen to get as many of the auto manufacturers participating in the T/A series. Their own rules stated no destroking of existing production engines was allowed, in order to meet the 5 litre engine size limit.

As Pontiac had nothing close to the 5 litre size limit in a V8, the enterprising Canadian businessman, Terry Godsall proffered a Canadian Firebird.
Canada  has it's own auto industry, and the Pontiac cars were, in the case of some models, re-trimmed and rebadged Chevrolets. In other words, a Canadian Pontiac could be Chevrolet powered from the factory, and it would be very different from it's counterpart.

The SCCA were perhaps a bit quick to accept that a Canadian Firebird could be had with a Z/28 302, but accept it they did. In 1968 Craig Fisher started campaigning a '68 Firebird with the 302, a Muncie transmission, but followed up by a Pontiac rear axle.

 This became the first of a two car team financially backed by Terry Godsall, The second car, driven by Jerry Titus, was an actual Camaro, cosmetically altered to look like a 68 Firebird. This car was initially built by John Ward.

Around this time Pontiac Division knew they had to build a 5 litre engine, and work began on a 303 cubic inch race engine, a version of which was slated to be available as a production option.  According to SCCA regulations, there had to be 1000 production units made and sold, for any item to be homologated.

The Pontiac engineers with help from Al Bartz built several versions of the 303, but it is a long slow road to the chequered flag for any race engine.
The small block Chevrolet had by this time, had the benefit of over 15 years of development work, and it had been tinkered with by literally hundreds of engine builders and racers. The Pontiac team of Titus/Godsall were forced to keep using the 302, both from a lack of development point, and the fact that it still had not reached 1000 production units.
But, the 303 did see some track time in the T/A series, though briefly, and without any significant success.

It was 1972 before the 303 powered Pontiac took a chequered flag, Milt Minter gave the Firebird it's win at Mid Ohio.

Here is a pic of my Titus/Godsall built '69 Firebird,  it had a 303 in it at one point, and it did start life as a '68 Camaro.   


This pic is not exactly as it seems. It is a Camaro, but before this it was a Titus/Godsall (Pontiac T/A Team) built customer car.
One of 6 cars constructed for the '69 season, it had a lot of trick parts. The Pontiac factory was giving a bit of help to the team and providing engineering advise and parts.

There is one train of thought that these cars were Camaros to start with, but they would have been body shells, and separate panels perhaps.

This particular car was supplied to Richard Brown, Canadian racer, and he campaigned it originally as a Firebird in orange from the 69 St Jovite race onwards, and later, 70 onwards as a Camaro, to legitimately use the Z/28 302, which the Pontiacs had been allowed to use in 68 and 69, as it helped get another manufacturer on board.

The car was raced as a Camaro by several subsequent owners, but when it was no longer deemed to be raceable it was stripped of the brakes and gauges (which went into a street car) no doubt the engine and gearbox found new homes, but the body was literally buried. It will not be unearthed.

I do not know who took this pic, but I ould like to graciously thank the rightful owner, and credit that person.

Trans-Am Camaros / Recommended Reading
« on: March 07, 2011, 08:26:49 AM »
I thought it would be good to share books, magazines and other publications that are what I consider recommended reading.

At the core of any camaro enthusiasts library has to be "the unfair advantge" The book by Mark Donohue, written with the guidance of Paul van Valkenberg.
Published in 1975, and selling for a measly  $ 11.95, this is the story of Mark's racing exploits, from the starting point, to the time of publication.

Sadly Mark was to die in an F1 car in Austria, the safety fence system of the time was not as good as it could have been.

While there are in depth chapters on most of the cars Mark raced, and the people he raced with and against, the real gem for us is the section on the T/A Camaros.

For many years this book was out of print, and gained almost cult status within the devotees of Mark Donohue. It was republished a few years back as a paperback, and the prices are very reasonable.


Here is the 1968 T/A taster from the DVD.


Trans-Am Camaros / Gary Morgan Camaro
« on: March 04, 2011, 07:22:50 PM »
I'd like to thanks Jon Mello, and especially Gary Morgan for the great interview. It sure is good to hear the stories from the guys that were there doing the racing.
Real stories from the independants.

Can you tell us about the Gary Morgan car now, It looks like it has been nicely restored, but I haven't seen it on a track lately.

Thanks again guys.


Trans-Am Camaros / Re: Intent of the 1st-Gen Trans-Am Camaro Forum
« on: March 03, 2011, 07:52:03 AM »
Well done Jon!  I just signed up! and hello to Bruce "down under".

Robert Barg

Hello Robert, nice to see you here.  I will give Craig Phillips a nudge and get him involved, or would you like to do that ?

Now we can talk about the real race cars,  without the interuptions of open wheelers.


Trans-Am Camaros / Re: Intent of the 1st-Gen Trans-Am Camaro Forum
« on: March 03, 2011, 05:34:54 AM »
Congratulations Jon,

A fantastic idea and site.  I can't wait to get stuck in to some serious F body talk.


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