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Published: 4/3/2023

7-Second 6th-Gen Camaro

Author: DAN HODGDON

Photos: LUCAS PRIAMO and COURTESY of JUSTIN KEITH

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When Justin Keith bought his 2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 brand new, his goal was to have "the fastest stock supercharged ZL1 around." Today, the LT4-powered Camaro features twin turbos and has gone far beyond that original milestone. In fact, it now holds the world record for a Gen-6 Camaro in the quarter-mile.

Justin Keith's 2019 Camaro ZL1 has set a world record in the quarter-mile.

 

Keith, a native of the area around Kansas City, Missouri, is a fixture in the performance world. He owns a shop near Kansas City called Killer Performance and also owns the drag racing series Street Car Takeover. The series is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023 and has grown from four events to 20. It gives cars like Keith's Camaro the ability to test their mettle in a controlled environment on the drag strip.

"It's at every event with us, it gives me a good platform to go out and race a lot," Keith said during last year's PRI Trade Show in Indianapolis. His orange car, affectionately known as "Nemo," was on display in the G-Force Engineering booth.

Immediately upon buying the car Keith had a roll cage installed and also upgraded the cam, heads, pulleys and other performance components in the engine, but still utilized the LT4's stock supercharger. He also installed GM solid rear cradle mounts to increase rigidity and handling on the strip.

 

The car features a modified LT4 engine under the hood.

Keith maintained the Camaro's stock interior, and with the upgrades, the car consistently ran in the mid-to-low nine-second range in the quarter-mile. While those numbers are impressive, Keith soon decided he wanted to take the car "to the next level."

That meant swapping out the stock 10-speed transmission for an RPM Transmissions Turbo 400, upgrading the rods and pistons in the engine, and perhaps most notably, adding twin turbos. In addition, a Frankenstein-built intake replaced the supercharger.

"The car at that level made like 1100 horsepower and it was running 8.60s pretty consistently," Keith said. "But you know how it is, you always want to go faster."

That soon led to more upgrades, including a new custom Garrett Motion turbo kit and a G-Force rear-end conversion to improve the gear being utilized with the Turbo 400 transmission. Keith added a Circle D Specialties billet torque converter to the drivetrain setup as well.

The car's race weight is now around 3900 pounds and it has been in much of its current configuration for two years. Late Model Engines in Houston was responsible for the long block, and after more than 200 passes, Keith has had no issues with the engine or transmission.

The Camaro known as "Nemo" is a stout competitor on the track. Photo courtesy of Justin Keith.

During last fall's Street Car Takeover event at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, Keith ran consistently quicker passes in the seven-second range, shattering the Gen-6 Camaro record along the way. His quickest time was a 7.568-second blast at 181.30 mph to set the current record time.

Keith is proud of being a trendsetter in drag racing with his late-model Camaro mount.

"The car gets raced a lot and it's super reliable," he said. "It's kind of funny because a lot of people see this car at the track and it's like, ‘Oh it's a sixth-gen Camaro.' Then they see it run down the track and it kind of grabs everyone's attention.

"The sixth-gen Camaros and the fifth-gen Camaros really haven't made a huge footprint in the drag racing stuff, but cars like this are making people think, ‘Well man, maybe I should go get one of those.'"

Justin Keith utilizes the LT4 platform in many builds at his business, Killer Performance.

 

Keith's knowledge of modern Chevrolet performance platforms also has translated to his work at Killer Performance.

Among the shop's offerings are OBS regular-cab, short-bed Chevy pickup trucks with modified modern Chevrolet Performance LT4 crate engines* and SuperMatic 10L90-E 10-speed automatic transmissions. The shop maintains the truck's original paint and interior, but will complete a full frame-off restoration, powder-coat the frame, and add coilover suspension and larger brakes in addition to the upgraded powertrain. The result is that the truck drives like a new Camaro might.

"I prefer the LT engine because that's the latest and greatest stuff," Keith said. "It's also the latest, up-to-date swap. It keeps it current and the LT4 in my opinion is probably one of the best all-around engines that Chevrolet's ever made."

Keith is a fan of maintaining the OE look on his projects, as exemplified by both his Camaro and his truck builds. Plus, there is plenty of crossover between the two.

"What we do with the trucks with the LT4s absolutely transfers over from (the Camaro)," he said. "Honestly, a lot of the stuff that I've learned on the LT engines was by working on this car. As a matter of fact, the first truck that we built was with the LT4 and the 10-speed that was actually in this car. So, we put it into the truck. That's how that all started. Now, we just call the dealership up, order brand-new LT4 crate engines and the transmissions and do it that way."

 

This Camaro looks mean even standing still.

 

Keith is a proud Chevrolet fan and even has his orange Camaro tattooed on his forearm. His passion for the brand comes naturally, he remembers riding in 1990s-era pickup trucks with his dad and grandfathers – which is where his desire to build modern versions of the trucks comes from. 

He's owned Corvettes and Camaros throughout his life and his first car was even a Camaro. Plus, he once made a name for himself years ago as a diehard Bowtie enthusiast on internet message boards.

Now, he's setting records with them.

Be sure to keep watching The BLOCK for more on Chevrolet Performance builds and all motorsports disciplines.

 

*Because of their effect on a vehicle's emissions performance, these engines are intended exclusively for use in competition vehicles. These engines are designed and intended for use in vehicles operated exclusively for competition: in racing or organized competition on courses separate from public roads, streets or highways. Installation or use of these engines on a vehicle operated on public roads, streets or highways is likely to violate U.S., Canadian, state and provincial laws and regulations related to motor vehicle emissions.

 

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