The 1980s: when car companies had long forgotten the days of the big-cubic-inch, gas-guzzling carbureted powerplants. It was a decade of tinkering with new technologies, such as Tuned Port Injection (TPI) and other means of electronic fuel injection. Matt Goins’ 1988 Chevrolet Camaro was no different. Sporting a TPI 305 engine, which was brand new for ‘88, the IROC-Z was packaged with 220 horsepower Camaro and was pretty impressive considering most of the automotive industry was focused on improving fuel mileage and adding creature comforts like air-conditioning and radios.
Goins, who is now 28, found his ride at the tender age of 15. It was his first car, and although he was never much of a car guy, he had a knack for building things with his hands. The IROC purchase would soon change his life and point him in the direction he’s in now. He started working at Tick Performance a few years later doing installs and learning anything he could. Matt performed upgrades when he had extra cash and eventually began learning to fabricate so he could handle the updates on his project. Tick Performance is a well-known late model GM performance shop based in Mt Airy, NC, and has grown quickly. And so has Matt’s skill set. He now oversees product development for Tick’s new machine products, many of which Matt tests on his Camaro. He’s even fabricated some new parts for his own car, as well.
I regularly test new and upcoming products on it, being the head of product development has its perks. – Matt Goins
Like most builds, Goins’ Camaro started off relatively simple. He decided to replace the old 305 TPI mill with a stock 243-headed 5.3-liter LS and added a Vortech Superchargers T-trim unit. This combination turned out to be reliable and was quite fast. Matt and the Tick team were able to get that setup to go 5.28 in the 1/8-mile, which is quite impressive considering it was still a stock bottom end and cylinder head setup, and the car itself was in street trim. At that point, Matt knew he had been bitten by the speed bug we all share and hatched a plan to invest in a good engine.
First things first: Matt called up Dart Machine and ordered an LS Next block with a 4.125-inch bore and a 3.750-inch stroke, equating to 400 cubic-inches. He then called up the guys over at Callies for a Magnum crank and a set of ultra I-beam connecting rods, which were used with a set of Diamond Racing Pistions. The block was fitted with ½-inch main studs, enlarged .904-inch lifter bores, diamond honed, pinned main caps, and was prepped all in-house by Matt and Team Tick.
Without lifeblood coursing through its system, a top-of-the-line mill just won’t last very long, and that’s why the oiling system got the best from Aviaid with its four-stage dry sump. To get this fuel-thirsty horse trotting, Aeromotive supplied a 12-gallon-per-minute pump and a Tick-built pump drive, along with an extreme flow regulator. The showerhead-like injectors were supplied by Billet Atomizer, which flow a ridiculous 425-pounds-per-hour.
All of that serious metal and machine work wouldn’t be complete without some type of compressed air unit to force boost down its throat. For that, Matt once again made a call to Vortech Superchargers, except this time the much larger V7 YSI-B eight-rib unit was ordered. The unique thing about this kit is that it wasn’t a kit at all — they supplied Matt with the mounts, and he handcrafted it himself based off an A&A Corvette kit he had installed hundreds of times in the shop.
For the exhaust, Matt custom fabricated a set of zoomies — we couldn’t think of a more appropriate setup with a supercharger. This beast of a car is controlled by a Holley Dominator system and the owner of Tick performance, Jonathan Atkins, handles all of the tuning duties. You might be curious to what all of this work and parts add up to in the power department? How about 1,350 rear-wheel horsepower (rwhp) and 950 rwhp on 25-pounds of boost!
One might ask what all it takes to get that kind of power planted and moving down the track, and to be honest, it’s quite simple. All of that power is sent through a custom Cameron Converters torque converter and a Powerglide transmission built by FTI Performance out of Florida. Once the power is through the transmission, it is sent through a custom fabricated 9-inch rear end stuffed with a lightweight spool, 4.10 gears, and Moser Engineering 40-spline axles. The rear suspension is quite unique, as well: hung by Menscer Motorsports shocks coiled with Afco springs, Matt fabricated the sway bar, torque arm, panhard bar, and subframe connectors all himself. Racecraft supplied the upper and lower control arms, both front and rear, and Matt once again put his skills to use by making some travel limiters for the front.
The IROC-Z rides on Weld 15×3.5 Magnums wrapped in Mickey Thompson 26×4 frontrunners and Weld Alpha1 15x10s with Mickey Thompson 275/60/15 ET Street Rs out back. All that ‘go’ means nothing if you ‘can’t get it stopped, and Aerospace Componets brakes handle those duties with a set of Pro Street billet disc brakes.
As far as the looks go, this is another area where Matt’s Camaro stands out. If the gold and polished welds didn’t catch your eye, maybe the VFN Sunoco hood, Scott Rod Fab spoiler, and IROC ground-effects did. If all else fails, the matte red wrap by Copperhead Graphics out of Canon, Virginia will definitely get some attention. The interior is all go and no show sporting a certified 25.5 cage along with a Holley digital dash to keep an eye on the vitals.
The Camaro is built for Ultra Street drag racing competition, and in the current trim, Matt’s been a best of 4.73 at 153 mph with a blistering 1.09 60-foot time. The record for the class is 4.613, and he has his sights on the 4.50 range this year.
The feeling of going 150mph with the supercharger and engine howling at 8500rpms is almost indescribable. – Matt Goins
Matt says he owes all it to Tick Performance for giving him the dream that he’s chasing and the opportunity to be in an environment to learn new things. He’s also quick to thank his loving wife for putting up with it all these years and not leaving him, and his part-time driver, Tyler Hull, and Eli Walton for being there with him at every track outing and in the shop under the hood.