Today Chevrolet and 16-time NHRA champion John Force introduced the all-new 2016 Camaro SS Funny Car that he’ll race this weekend at the NHRA Kansas Nationals, in Topeka, Kan.
The new Funny Car body is the first based on the sixth-generation Camaro SS. Force’s teammates Courtney Force and Robert Hight will introduce new Camaro SS Funny Cars later this season.
“I started my career in a Chevrolet and I couldn’t be more excited to put this new Camaro SS Funny Car on the track,” said Force. “With all the assistance from Chevrolet, it not only looks great, it’s designed to perform better than anything we’ve had before, with a shape that should help us get down the track quicker and with greater stability.”
The team conducted computational analysis and scale-model wind tunnel testing to help give the new body the airflow management qualities necessary to deliver the downforce required by the 10,000-horsepower supercharged race car, as it accelerates from 0 to 330 mph in less than 4 seconds – and in a mere 1,000 feet.
Among the unique aerodynamic elements is a new, integrated front splitter that helps direct more air over the body to increase downforce. The design also incorporates new, dual blow-out – or “burst” – panels, safety devices that relieve underbody pressure to help keep the body on the chassis in the event of an engine failure.
Additionally, the new body, which is lighter than John Force Racing’s previous Camaro Funny Car bodies, carries the distinctive styling signatures of the 2016 Camaro SS’s front- and rear-end designs.
“The 2016 Camaro has been a great success in the showroom and Chevrolet is proud to contribute to its debut in NHRA’s Funny Car class,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. “It joins the 2016 COPO Camaro in the Sportsman classes, strengthening Chevrolet’s presence in drag racing, which dates back nearly 60 years.”
Camaro at the drag strip
Camaro’s legacy in drag racing dates back to 1967, when longtime Chevy racers such as Dave Strickler and Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, pushed the new pony car up through the Super Stock ranks. Jenkins would go on to pioneer the new Pro Stock class, giving the Camaro its first win there in 1970.
Enterprising racers and dealers used Chevrolet’s COPO (Central Office Production Order) special order system to create high-performance Camaro models intended for one thing only: winning on the drag strip. That included the legendary 1969 Camaro ZL-1, powered by an all-aluminum 427 originally developed for the Can-Am road racing series.
Camaro Funny Cars also began appearing on strips shortly after the car’s introduction, shaking up the burgeoning class with Chevy power. Bruce Larson and Dick Harrell were leaders, pushing their blown fuel “floppers” into the 7-second range.
Texan Lee Shepherd lead Camaro into the 1980s, with four consecutive Pro Stock titles, his performance enabled by the groundbreaking Big Block engines developed by his partners David Reher and Charles “Buddy” Morrison.
More recently, Camaro has become a fixture of the Pro and Sportsman ranks. Behind the Pro tree, John Force Racing has returned Camaro to the Funny Car class, while Camaro drivers have dominated the Pro Stock field – including consecutive championships in 2014 and 2015.
The Sportsman classes are driven by the COPO Camaro, Chevrolet’s factory-built race car that uses a production body and specially developed Chevrolet racing engines. New 2016 COPO Camaro models are hitting the strip this season, advancing the COPO legacy and pushing Chevrolet drivers farther and faster.
“Racing improves the breed and that’s why Chevrolet races,” said Campbell. “The wins we record on the track help us design better cars customers will buy in the showroom.”