The Pro-Touring trend has really changed the way older cars are viewed. In the past, old vehicles were expected to drive poorly and lack everything that makes a modern vehicle perform better. With this movement, though, we can now build a vintage car and add cutting-edge equipment like ABS, sequential shifters, modern drivetrains, and engines. Mike Dusold, the owner of Dusold Designs, knows this better than anyone and has built some of the coolest Pro-Touring cars that we’ve seen, with the latest being the Texaco Camaro. However, his craziest creation to date is his first-gen Camaro, which started out just a few years ago as a daily driver.
Photos courtesy of Cole Reynolds
Dusold’s ’67 Camaro is a wild creation that keeps getting better, as it mixes vintage style with modern technology. While it might have started as a Pro-Touring build, the Camaro has gone far beyond that now. We have seen this car a lot over the past few years at LS Fest, SEMA, and on television with Optima’s Ultimate Street Car Challenge. And with every outing, it seems the DuSold team is making changes to the car in preparation to push its limits.
The latest transformation, and the wildest one yet, was getting the Camaro ready for Pikes Peak in 2020. Some of the significant changes included a sequential paddle shifter mechanism, new electronics, suspension upgrades, and aero modifications, including a monstrous wing on the back. And while the haters loath the wing and aero, we have taken a liking to it– it’s aggressive, in-your-face, and unlike anything we have ever seen on a muscle car.
With the paddle shifter, the clutch only needs to be used when launching the car from a dead stop– after that, you can ignore the third pedal and bang through the upshifts and downshifts with the hand controls.
For the 2020 Pikes Peak race, Dusold selected a hired-gun to drive the sometimes treacherous course instead of handling the wheeling duties himself. Tommy Boileau was placed behind the wheel of the Camaro. While Boileau had only raced up the hill once, in 2019, where he claimed rookie of the year, he is very experienced in driving cars in and out of turns. He is a former instructor at Bondurant High-Performance Driving School, a former chief driving instructor at Pikes Peak International Raceway, and a former driving instructor at BMW Performance Center.
The ’67 Camaro is a street car, despite its radical looks, and DuSold is not scared to drive it all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area. For the Pikes Peak event, the F-body still houses a twin-turbo LSX engine that produces over 1,000 horsepower on only 16-pounds of boost, making it a rocket out of the corners. The body sits on a custom tube chassis built by DuSold and utilizes drivetrain parts out of a C6 Z06 Corvette.
Watching this practice video is a treat. It gives us an idea of not only how fast the DuSold Camaro actually is, but how technical and unforgiving the racecourse can be. Pikes Peak is considered the world’s most dangerous race and offers an absurd number of corners — 156 to be exact. As you’ve probably seen in the past, a small slip can have a disastrous ending for a team.
While Boileau was able to make it up the mountainside somewhat effortlessly, it looks like a wild ride in the 1,000-plus horsepower Camaro. You can see spots where traction is a problem as Boileau quickly reacts with lightning-fast steering input.
So, what’s it like to drive this car? Boileau explained, “Honestly, it is almost hard to put into words how violent that car is. The first half dozen times I drove the car and got full throttle for the first time, it lifted my stomach into my throat and gave me that childhood ‘riding a roller coaster’ feeling. Once I trained my eyes to look even further ahead than what I am already used to and got a feel for how quickly the car built speed, it was time for me to adapt to the crazy rear wing and colossal racing slicks. The Camaro has a massive amount of grip, and learning to trust the car, especially on Pikes Peak, was a bit of a mental challenge.
“There is a term in racing known as the ‘aero-bubble,’ which is basically the gap between where your mechanical grip ends and where your aero grip/downforce starts to take over. It just comes down to trusting the engineers and data behind the build and throwing a car into a corner faster than you’re comfortable with and hoping it works out. Once you do this a handful of times, your brain starts to accept this as normal, and you can really start pushing the limits. Another challenging task is understanding that almost all of the braking zones on Pikes Peak are going uphill. As a result, your braking zones can actually be much later than what you think. Telling yourself to slam into the brakes, which work incredibly well in the Camaro, and letting the ABS do its job while barreling towards a cliff is something that is not for the faint of heart.”
Unfortunately, the DuSold Camaro broke on the hill this year and put the team out of the competition. The Camaro was plagued with steering system problems. Boileau said, “The day prior to our incident, qualifying day, we had a power steering pump that failed. Miraculously we were able to get it replaced overnight. Then on Friday, the pump failed again, and then the steering rack itself failed at the same time. I think Mike determined that it was the servo in the rack, so I had input in the wheel, and when the thing failed, the steering wheel was no longer working and just free-spun without turning the car.”
Fortunately, Boileau was not injured in the crash, but the Camaro took a beating. After the steering failure, the car turned into the mountain instead of going off of it. Thankfully the car will live to challenge the mountain another day and was not a total loss.
“I have been racing for the majority of my life and was the first to admit to Tim, our engineer, that I was being overly cautious and losing time in the braking zones. On Pikes Peak, you need the mentality that you can only drive at about 90-percent of the limit. This course is unforgiving, and you have to give her 10-percent every time you strap in,” Boileau explained.
Boileau also informed us that DuSold and his crew are currently repairing the damages and addressing the problems that caused the failure, which ultimately led to the crash that ended their event. Right now, they plan to have the same crew return to Pikes Peak next year with Boileau back behind the wheel. Boileau added, “We’re out to get that win that we know we are capable of.”
We look forward to seeing Boileau pilot the DuSold Designs 1967 Camaro at Pikes Peak again, but with a different result. We want to wish Boileau and the entire DuSold team good luck with their 2021 venture.