One might think when you have three NHRA world championships to your credit, spend sixteen weekends a year competing and countless more testing, while toiling away at the shop during the week enveloped in race preparation, that the drag racing side of life would be more than satisfied. But for popular two-wheeled star Eddie Krawiec, that simply isn’t the case.
The Jersey-born racer, now an Indiana transplant, traces his straight-line roots back to four wheels, and although he’s made a household name for himself on a motorcycle over the last decade, it’s behind a steering wheel and in the cozy confines of a roll cage that he finds himself returning to the track for nothing more than the pure enjoyment of racing.
Begun five years ago, Krawiec’s on-again-off-again radial tire project finally reached the proverbial finish line late last year. Following promising shakedown outings last fall and earlier this spring, he made his competition debut in X275 at the Ohio Valley Prize Fight in Kentucky in May. And with that, the 38-year old who won nine times in the AMA Prostar ranks and has three world titles and 27 national event wins in 12 seasons aboard a Pro Stock Motorcycle became perhaps the most experienced and accomplished rookie that radial tire racing has ever seen.
It was in early 2010 that Krawiec, an admitted fan of radial tire racing who was a regular fixture at Dave Hance’s Shakedown at E’Town doorslammer races, devised the plan for his personal project. What he found was a Navy Blue Metallic 2000 Chevrolet Camaro that was in the possession of Dennis MacPherson and his team at DMC Racing in Massachusetts. As Krawiec explains, the car had some work already done to it, but was placed up for sale before it was completed.
I’ve always loved cars and outlaw racing. I thought with how the radial craze is now there wasn’t ever going to be a better time to own one.
A deal was made, and DMC got to work on building the 25.3-spec chassis Krawiec would need for competition. Around the same time, Michigan engine builder Billy Briggs was commissioned to assemble a 440 cubic inch, LS-based powerplant for the Camaro.
“I’ve always loved cars and outlaw racing. I thought with how the radial craze is now there wasn’t ever going to be a better time to own one,” Krawiec says.
From the very outset, Krawiec’s vision was a universal platform for which he could compete on both 315 and 275 radial tires in Outlaw Drag Radial, X275, and other comparable categories, with minimal work in switching over combinations. The Briggs-built mill would serve as excellent centerpiece for small or large turbo setups, and at Krawiec’s request, the DMC crew went to great lengths to design a multi-use race car that was not only user-friendly to work on, but could accommodate a range of combinations and power levels.
As well, maintaining a very factory-like appearance inside and out was at the top of Krawiec’s wish list, giving DMC a tight set of guidelines to work within. But the team took those cues and ran with it, delivering a visually stunning piece.
“My favorite part of the whole thing is how DMC worked within the stock structure,” says Krawiec. “The car wasn’t gutted and then all new metal put into it. Dennis wanted to build it so we retained some of the OE aspect of the car, and I think that sets it apart from what most people do. Don’t get me wrong, the car has everything that any state-of-the-art car has, but DMC took the harder road to make it happen. I can appreciate craftsmanship and I think they kept a fine balance between a street car and a Pro Mod.”
But as does often tend to happen, Krawiec admits things got a bit carried away in arriving at the finish product.
“It just kept evolving. I think as you start one part of a project it snowballs really fast. What I mean by that is as you make changes to each area you end up affecting other parts and changes just keep occurring. It was never intended to get as extreme as it did, but after it got to a certain point I told Dennis and his crew to just go wild and think outside the box when building it. I didn’t want a cookie cutter car and I wanted to be set apart from all the other Camaros.”
It’s just a very well thought-out car. I wanted to have something that was still a street car — it still maintains some a lot of its character.
“It’s just a very well thought-out car,” Krawiec went on to say. “I wanted to have something that was still a street car — it still maintains some a lot of its character.”
Krawiec picked the car up in late 2013 and hauled it back home to Avon, Indiana. There, he spent the next few months finishing it up in his garage in the evenings, including some wiring, powdercoating, fabrication of weight bars (360 pounds had to be added to get to legal weight), and other small remaining items the checklist.
At long last, he finally got on track last October at the Lucas Oil Raceway just a few minutes from his home, where it went 5.30 on its very first pass, a planned early shutoff. He followed that with a 5.03 at 152, and added other five-oh runs in subsequent outings.
“I knew at that point this thing really had a lot of promise. From the second I let go of the transbrake it went dead-straight, and I didn’t really have to drive it at all. I really attribute that to Dennis and those guys for their work on the chassis.”
Krawiec has also been working with noted tuner Patrick Barnhill of PTP Racing, who helped dial-in the combination remotely prior to that first test and who has provided input along the way.
The Briggs LS that makes it all happen features a Winberg center-weighted crankshaft swinging Carillo steel H-beam rods and CP pistons. A camshaft was spec’ed from Mike Moran, which manages the valvertain — including Jesel rockers — in the Mast Mozez cylinder heads. A John Marcella-built intake manifold receives the fuel and air from Moran 23 pound-per-hour injectors and an 85mm Precision turbo from Rick Head (a 106mm Exile turbo will be used if and when Krawiec enters Outlaw Radial).
A Dailey Engineering dry sump system and billet oil pan handle the oiling duties, while a Waterman fuel pump and Weldon filters and regulators manage the fueling side of things. A Big Stuff3 EFI and engine management system and an MSD Power Grid are also part of the equation. As well, DMC Racing fabricated a set of custom headers and all of the turbo piping which works together with an Exile intercooler, Tial wastegates, and a ProCharger blowoff valve to deliver the boost to the cylinders. Red Horse hoses and fittings are used throughout the build.
Krawiec relies on an ATI Superglide 4 transmission with a 1.64 low gear, along with a converter and transmission cooler from ATI, to transfer the horsepower back to the Strange Engineering third member via a Strange driveshaft. The axles and brakes (Pro Series 2) are also sourced from Strange. Midwest Chassis fabricated the rear end that houses it all.
Midwest Chassis also supplied the drop spindle front end and torque arm rear suspension setup, which is paired with a DMC wishbone and anti-roll bar combination. JRi coilover shocks are used both front and rear.
Mickey Thompson wheels wrapped in 275 Pro tires help to plant it all to the pavement.
Inside, you’ll find an impressive mixture of original styling along with the necessary attributes of a race car, along with some of the unique craftsmanship that DMC put into the car. For example, Krawiec preferred the look of a transmission tunnel over an exposed transmission, and so MacPherson and company constructed the tunnel as such that Krawiec could easily access the transmission bolts underneath for maintenance or removal from the inside in a matter of minutes.
The OEM doors and door panels were retained, as were many of the factory coverings. As Krawiec explains, the OEM interior pieces were utilized as much as possible, fitted around the bars and intercooler to keep a nice, clean appearance. The power windows are still present, as well. Kirkey seats replace the factory buckets, and a Racepak dash, as well as the Big Stuff3, Power Grid, and Leash Bump box are also housed inside the cockpit.
Outside, the Camaro is as minimalist in appearance as you’ll find, void of any large decals or lettering — instead allowing the Navy Metallic paint to do the talking. The front and rear windows are both lexan, and the rear hatch and hood are fiberglass to help cut down on weight. The rear bumpers are stock, as are the fenders, quarter panels, and nose.
In the Camaro’s debut, Krawiec clicked off a 5.00 in testing in the heat with a 1.27 sixty right off the trailer. “The track was hot and greasy. I was tuning the car and I just wanted to be safe and get some seat time.” He followed that up with a 4.87 at 150 on just 12 pounds of boost, and then added two additional pounds of boost and went 4.85 at 152. In a series of six runs that day, the car went between 4.85 to 4.89, showing impressive consistency for such a new, unperfected combination.
“I’m expecting to have something competitive for X275. My goal as of now is to work into driving it and playing it smart. I think it could go 4.50s with some tuning from Patrick and the guys at PTP, but I feel I’m not ready as a driver. It’s about having fun and not getting in over my head. I think as we get back to the cooler part of the year the times will start getting lower.”
“I have a lot of great people that helped make this build happen and if it wasn’t for them I would have never been able to do it. It was fun building it and I’m really looking forward to getting out and driving it.”
And how does a 3,000-plus pound door car feel in relation to a six-second motorcycle, which he’s made hundreds upon hundreds of runs on?
“It’s two totally different things. My bike sixty-foots 1.05 and the car should go one-teens, but the car at about 200-feet starts putting you in the seat, while the bike is settled down and cruising by the 400-foot mark. It gets really relaxed and starts to tail off. But this car is really an awesome experience, because after you let go of the transbrake button and start moving and get to 150-feet, it starts getting busy and keeps you planted. It really makes you smile.”
…after you let go of the transbrake button and start moving and get to 150-feet, it starts getting busy and keeps you planted. It really makes you smile.
“It’s built for the no-pressure. I built it for myself to enjoy. I’ve always been huge fan of outlaw racing, and I’ve been really involved with a lot of people in the outlaw community. I respect it and I think it’s some of the greatest under-rated racing, period. And for me, it’s just my way to go racing and relax and really enjoy myself — although it is more work than my motorcycle — but in the end, it’s the enjoyment of it all.”