If you’ve been following along with pro-touring for any length of time, then you have no doubt heard the name Mark Stielow. A GM engineer by profession, Stielow has had a hand in developing the current Camaro ZL1′s suspension, along with being a pioneer in the pro-touring scene.
Stielow has been turning first-gen Camaros into corner carvers for over twenty years and his creations have been seen at countless events all over the country. Of particular note is the “Jackass” LS9-powered ’69 Camaro that Stielow built for Charley Lillard a few years ago, along with Stielow’s own “Red Devil” ’69. While Lillard’s car has received lots of exposure, Mark’s Camaro has been making its rounds setting records and developing a fan base all its own.
Recently, the Red Devil was pit against a brand new 2012 ZL1 at the GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan for a video with Hot Rod Magazine‘s David Freiburger. In a tale of trying to pick between two of your own children, Mark was put behind the wheel of both cars in an effort to see which was quicker around the circuit.
To give you some background on the Red Devil, it comes equipped with a 427ci. LS9 developing over 750HP, a fortified 6-speed transmission, massive Stop Tech brakes, and a full assortment of Detroit Speed suspension upgrades. At first glance you might say the ’69 will have it all over the ’12 ZL1 given it’s lighter weight and incredible horsepower. However, the 5th-gen has independent rear suspension, magnetic ride control, and a wider track, allowing for optimum traction and handling.
So it basically comes down to an old school Camaro (infused with new technology) vs. a completely new car with the latest developments General Motors currently manufacturers. Taking the 21st century example around the track first, Mark netted a 1:42.05, besting an Indy Lights championship driver in another ZL1 by almost three seconds.
Not a bad benchmark. So once the “Zee” was left to cool down, Stielow set about besting that time in his personal toy. The fruits of all of his off the clock labor resulted in a 1:39.5, or roughly 2.5 seconds quicker than the yellow ZL1. Being fans of the big new Camaro, we’re not disappointed with the results at all. In fact we find it quite respectable that a purpose-built car only edged out a brand new (stock) Camaro by just two and a half seconds. Given the weight and 170HP advantage the ’69 had on the ZL1, it just goes to show you how well balanced the new Camaro truly is, and that’s something we can all be proud of.