Camaro Boss Has Lofty Goals: Sub-7min ‘Ring Lap Time, Road-Legal Drag Racer

The new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is an impressive machine that not only packs a wallop, thanks to the 650-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine under the hood, but can also be a comfortable vehicle for daily use. The Camaro’s chief engineer, though, wants a lot more out of the vehicle.

Al Oppenheiser, the man behind the current Camaro, sat down with Hagerty at the Detroit Auto Show and outlined some of the goals he hopes to achieve with the pony car.

When asked about the Demon, Oppenheiser revealed that the Camaro team is working on a similar drag-oriented package for the street. “Would we do a streetable package like that with drag radials and so on? We’re always looking at it,” he said.

Oppenheiser also revealed that a more powerful version of the Camaro could be in the works when asked if the ZL1 1LE is the cap on the lineup. “We’re looking at performance drag packs for the street, we’re looking at any available horsepower that will fit in the car, trying to stay relevant and on top,” said Oppenheiser. A more powerful Camaro that is fitted with a performance drag pack sounds like a direct competitor to the Dodge Demon.

Hagerty also questioned the Camaro boss on whether he thought the ZL1 1LE could beat any of the Dodge Viper ACR’s lap times. “I think there are,” Oppenheiser said. “We think there’s more in it. We’re gonna keep tinkering around with it. Wouldn’t it be cool to see a Camaro under 7:00 at the Nurburgring? I’d like to see it.”

Last summer, the ZL1 1LE managed to circle the ring in a time of 7:16.04. That time made the Camaro the fastest pony car from the automaker to get around the iconic track. For the record, the Viper ACR managed to set a lap of 7:01.03, which is roughly 15 seconds quicker than the Camaro. Shaving 16 seconds off of a lap time would be pretty difficult.

While the majority of information from Oppenheiser sounds like it deals with high-performance machines that will wear a large price tag, there’s some good news to share about the cheapest Camaro. The boss in charge of the pony car stated that his team is working alongside Chevrolet Performance to bring some upgrades for the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

The new Camaro may be the best one in the pony car’s history, but there’s still a lot of performance left in the car’s future.

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  • That Ross Chap

    To be frank, to achieve an under 7 second lap time of the Nurburgring with anything this side of a photon would be a ‘lofty goal’…

    • exeptor

      Made my day!


    Meh, the Corvette will be the one to set the sub-seven minute lap time long before the Camaro. Still, though, a sub seven minute time in the Camaro would be nice.

    • Bo Hanan

      I Like that GM has finally given the cars teams “authority” to go for it. And if the Corvette is threatened by the Camaro then the Corvette team needs to get to work.

      • SteersUright

        Now thats the right attitude for excellence! Push your teams to compete, don’t bury them in politics and bureaucratic crap.

  • LouInPA

    Carscoops: I think you mean sub 7 MINUTES 🙂

  • brn

    Is it a drag car or is it a track car?

    • This, ZL1 supposed to be “muscle car” and that track car would be the Z/28. They make it confusing with 1LE.

  • I’m a bit confused with all Camaro positioning, didn’t ZL1 supposed to be the classic straight line, Why don’t they bring Z/28 as the teack oriented one.

    • DMax

      Z/28 will be NA, they may release it for the last year or two of this gen as some stripped track special. And pony cars are not classic straight line anymore, the ZL1 will out handle just about everything out there south of 100k.

      • By the performance alone, Z/28 will need extreme aero to keep up with ZL 1LE. Otherwise would be funny to see ZL1 is faster at track than the Z/28.

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