Big Red History 2023

For the new car, less horsepower simply was not an option. Once you make a decision like that, you have to figure out a way to keep that beast under the hood in between the lines. Father and son were going to have to think long and hard about safety. The lesson from La Carrera Classica was that dropping a race-car engine into a factory Camaro simply wouldn’t work. But part of the magic, RJ insisted, was that he didn’t want to drive a race car that just looked like a ’69 Camaro, but one that actually was a ’69 Camaro. It was a critical directive that added that spark to the new car’s legend. It would be a car that everyone could relate to, like the one they had driven themselves and worked on; something they knew. The car would be christened “Big Red” and it wouldn’t be a glossy, pretentious starlet on the silver screen, it would be the drop-dead-gorgeous girl next door.More than a beauty, the Gottliebs wanted a wolf in sheep’s clothing to put the owners and drivers of the high-end European sports cars at ease when the fire breathing race car lurking under that Camaro skin came storming out of the gate. Underneath that skin, it
truly was going to be something else. Bill Osborne had a hell of a project on his hands. It’s relatively easy to drop the shell of a car onto a racing chassis. What Bill did was actually build the racing chassis into the\ original   GM/ Fisher body of the car. And why not? The ’69 Camaro is an awesome vehicle.

 The ’69 Camaro is an awesome vehicle. The floorpan was altered and trimmed to accommodate the new frame, which, according to All Chevy magazine, had rollbars “the size of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biceps.” Still, the general design of the cockpit was largely retained, including the original dash assembly that had a working glovebox and gauge cluster. The illusion wasn’t
perfect, of course. The 11-inch setback mounting of that monster engine was pretty obvious, but Dan insisted that they paint that fancy (and expensive) all-aluminum block GM orange so he could point, and say, “look, it’s just a stock 427 iron block.” And then he’d chuckle a little bit Early garage photos of the car show a raw steel cage, stripped of any paint. A massive Modine radiator was installed with racing front sway bushings and a cross brace in front of the engine. As Bill continued to work, the motoring press couldn’t help but take notice. In the September 1987 issue of Hot Rod magazine, the Mexico crash was mentioned in its one-page coverage of the event, which hinted at a “re-birth,” and the Gottliebs possibly building another “audacious” Camaro.
And it was. It was also a work in progress. In photos of Big Red’s maiden drive at Willow Springs racetrack, it was without trim, stripes and some of the soon-to-be familiar hardware — including the extra diagonal braces on the main loop of the cage. Big Red was taking shape into something fans would .recognize, the gold center wheels and a shiny coat of red as bold as the engineering, just waiting for those classic white Z/28 stripes. 

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Big Red Camaro embarked on a notable tour across some of the most significant automotive events in the United States. Starting in February, Big Red appeared at the prestigious Detroit Autorama in Michigan, capturing the attention of automotive enthusiasts. In March, the car participated in the final TX2K event held in Houston, Texas, before its move to Dallas, showcasing its capabilities in both roll racing and drag racing. September saw Big Red at the Goodguys Summit Racing Lone Star Nationals in Texas, continuing its tradition of thrilling performances at Goodguys events.

The year rounded off with an appearance at the industry-exclusive SEMA show in November, where Big Red was part of the largest collection of new automotive products.

FEBRUARY: DETROIT AUTORAMA

Big Red’s year kicked off at the Detroit Autorama, a cornerstone event in the American custom car scene. Coverage from On All Cylinders and a YouTube feature highlighted Big Red’s storied history and recent updates, drawing in fans both old and new who were eager to catch up with this legendary machine.

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MEDIA SPOTLIGHT AND EVENT ACTIVITIES

At Detroit Autorama, Big Red was more than just a show car; it was a centerpiece that drew crowds and automotive aficionados who appreciated its rich history and ongoing contributions to the custom car culture. The event was a perfect start to the year, setting a high tone for the upcoming appearances.

MARCH: TX2K IN TEXAS

March brought Big Red to the TX2K event in Houston, Texas, known for its intense roll racing and drag racing competitions. This year was particularly poignant as it marked the last time the event would be held in Houston before moving to Dallas. Coverage by Motor Trend captured Big Red’s powerful performances at the raceway.

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FAREWELL TO HOUSTON

Participating in the final Houston TX2K, Big Red honored the tradition of this high-octane event with memorable runs that underscored why it has been a favorite among racing enthusiasts for years. The team looked forward to continuing this legacy in Dallas in future years.

SEPTEMBER: GOODGUYS SUMMIT RACING LONE STAR NATIONALS

In September, Big Red competed at the Goodguys Summit Racing Lone Star Nationals at the Texas Motor Speedway. Reports from Good-guys and Fuel Curve celebrated Big Red’s participation, which was a highlight for many attendees, demonstrating its timeless charm and racing heritage.

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NOVEMBER: SEMA SHOW

Big Red’s year concluded with a show-stopping appearance at the SEMA show in Las Vegas, an exclusive industry-only event that attracts the world’s largest collection of aftermarket automotive products. Here, Big Red was part of an elite lineup, showcasing the latest in automotive innovation and design.

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