Clark Rosenstengel always wanted to build a car capable of competing in both high-speed land and drag racing, and he got his opportunity when a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro—totaled due to an engine fire—came up at auction in 2014.
In the ensuing years he completely overhauled the car, pushing the street-and-strip machine north of 2,000 horsepower and achieving his first-ever class win (Super Street Small-Block Power-Adder) at Hot Rod’s 2016 Drag Week with a 7.99 1/4-mile average, including a 7.80 pass at 177 mph—while riding on Mickey Thompson radials, no less. During an East Coast Timing Association Speed Challenge event earlier this year, he managed to break 205 mph in the 1/2-mile event and 232 mph running the mile.
Rosenstengel will continue to push the limits of his Camaro, but for the inaugural 2019 Midwest Drags—a three-day, drag-and-drive event taking place June 5-7 at three Indiana and Ohio tracks—his goal is a bit less lofty: enjoy the ride.
“My wife and I have decided not to put so much pressure on the results this year and concentrate more on just having a lot of fun and making sure the car still drives after every event,” Rosenstengel said.
Why the mellow approach? For starters, as Rosenstengel pointed out, the Midwest Drags event features a 1/8-mile strip, which his vehicle isn’t optimized to handle.
“The 1/8-mile is new for this car and a little more difficult because it is such a heavy car, but I am looking forward to the challenge, and it is always a great time to just hang out with other racers,” he said, adding that he expects to run his Camaro in the Modern Muscle category. “…We are now concentrating on getting the 1/8-mile time down, which is taking some doing because the car still weighs 4,000 lbs.”
Of course, all that weight has a lot of power behind it. Rosenstengel runs twin Bullseye 83mm turbos on a 2,500-hp 427 LSX engine that was custom-built by Steve Morris in Muskegon, MI.
“This is my fourth engine with [Morris],” he said. “I stay with his work because he builds quality engines, and he stands behind them. When there is a failure, he is just as disappointed as I am. It also helps that he is 30 minutes from my house.”
The Camaro also features a Rossler Turbo 400 transmission, Neal Chance racing converter, Gear Vendors overdrive kit, and a COPO suspension—oh, and the A/C system it came with (comfort is important, after all). Rosenstengel said that for an event like Midwest Drags he doesn’t have to change much beyond the rear gear and tires.
“Because I built the car knowing I wanted to do everything, it is already set up,” he said. “We do change the tune because the power is different in each case. With the races on the runways I am not allowed to do burnouts, so I have to keep that in mind also.”
Rosenstengel’s other goal for the Midwest Drags? To meet new people and give them ideas for their own vehicles that will allow them to race in more types of events.
“We have met so many awesome people doing this sport—it is truly unique,” he said. “Many people have helped me along the way, and I try to help others whenever I can. That is what is really special about the drag-and-drive events, especially. It is very difficult to do it on your own and way more fun as a group.”