History of Big red

Prepare for a journey through time and speed as the legendary Big Red Camaro, driven by RJ Gottlieb, continues to dominate racetracks worldwide since its electrifying debut in 1987, proving that its legacy of performance knows no bounds even to this day.  Renowned globally, this iconic red rocket isn’t just a car; it’s a symbol of raw power, speed, and the relentless pursuit of victory.

Before 1986

The Early Racing Adventures of RJ Gottlieb

Before 1986, Richard and Dan Gottlieb's shared passion for speed and racing laid the groundwork for their iconic journey. From tinkering with cars to drag racing, their determination and love for motorsports paved the way for the creation of Big Red Camaro, marking the beginning of a legendary racing legacy.


The Birth of Big Red Camaro at La Carrera Classica I

In spring break 1986, Richard, Dan, and Chris embarked on the inaugural La Carrera Classica.  Inspired by the experience and determined to dominate, Dan vowed to return with something special, leading to the birth of Big Red Camaro and marking the beginning of a legendary racing journey.


Surviving the Devastating Crash at La Carrera Classica II

Dan & Richard had an idea to do something truly remarkable: take a stock 1969 Camaro and stick a Full Race 540ci Lingenfelter Big Block in it. They took this creation to Mexico seeking to challenge the world's finest European exotics. During the race, at 150mph in a sweeping left hand turn, steering components in the Camaro let go and the car smashed into a rock wall. RICHARD and co-driver Chris Kaufman were ok, but the car was totaled and a valuable lesson was learned.

Big Red Camaro Roars Back After Crash for a Triumph in La Carrera Classica III

Despite setbacks in previous years, Richard and the transformed Big Red Camaro returned to the La Carrera Classica in 1988 with a vengeance. With Richard’s determination and Bill Osborne's engineering prowess, they conquered the race, setting record times and garnering attention from the press, solidifying Big Red's status as a legend in the racing world.


Outlaw Racer: Big Red's Banishment from La Carrera Classica IV After Dominating the Track

In 1989, the Big Red Camaro's unparalleled dominance led to its expulsion from the La Carrera Classica, amid allegations of being a heavily modified racing machine rather than a stock car. Despite its banishment, the legend of Big Red continued to grow, solidifying its reputation as the "Outlaw Racer" and symbolizing a defiance against conventional racing standards.

1989 Silver state

High-Speed Drama: Big Red's Triumph at the 1989 Silver State Classic Despite Police Chase and Fatal Crash

In the 1989 Silver State Classic, Big Red defied expectations and solidified its legacy as a speed demon, reaching a blistering 222 mph on the desert course. Despite facing a police chase en route to the starting grid and witnessing a fatal crash during the race, RICHARD piloted Big Red to victory, averaging an astounding 197.99 mph and showcasing its unmatched performance capabilities.


Double Triumph: Big Red Secures Back-to-Back Wins at Silver State Classic Amidst Media Frenzy

In 1990, Big Red continued its winning streak at the Silver State Classic Challenge, claiming top honors for the second consecutive year. The media buzz surrounding Big Red's victories intensified, with feature articles in Popular Hot Rodding, Road & Track, and Joe Pettitt's legendary account capturing the thrill and danger of riding in Big Red.


Continued Domination: Big Red Triumphs Again at Nevada Open Road Challenge

In 1991, Big Red maintained its winning streak at the Nevada Open Road Challenge, showcasing its unrivaled performance with a top speed of 208 mph. Despite facing rougher road conditions, Richard secured another victory in the unlimited class, solidifying Big Red's status as a formidable force on the racing circuit. The car's iconic status garnered further attention with featured spreads in All Chevy and Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance magazines, highlighting its enduring legacy in the automotive world.

1992 to 2002

Big Red Goes Global: International Acclaim for the Legendary Camaro

Big Red's fame extended internationally with featured spreads in Finnish magazine Street & Race and French magazine Nitro, titled "Evil Red" and "Porsche Killer" respectively. However, as Richard transitioned into adulthood and pursued a career, the era of Big Red's racing dominance was put on hold and it was displayed at Don Laughlin's Classic Car Museum.
2003 to 2004

Reviving the Legend: Richard Gottlieb's Journey to Restore Big Red and Return to the Asphalt

In 2003, Richard Gottlieb's return to California sparked a desire to resurrect Big Red and hit the road once more. Thanks to the advocacy of Hot Rod magazine, the restoration project gained momentum, with confirmation of Big Red's revival appearing in the June 2004 issue. The restoration journey, documented in the magazine's "20 Hottest Project Cars" feature, showcased the evolution of Pro-Touring racing and culminated in a triumphant ride with Joe Pettitt, symbolizing the enduring legacy of Big Red.

2005 to 2008

Big Red's Revival: Racing Triumphs and Silver Screen Stardom in the Fast & Furious Franchise

Between 2005 and 2008, Big Red experienced a remarkable resurgence in both racing and pop culture. Following its restoration and cover feature in Hot Rod magazine, Big Red raced in the Baer Brakes Z2Z Challenge and the Nevada Open Road Challenge. Moreover, Big Red gained widespread recognition by appearing in the 2009 movie "Fast & Furious," solidifying its status as a legendary car both on and off the screen.

Big Red's Thunder: Dominating the Texas Mile with ‘The Bullet’

In 2009, Big Red made a formidable appearance at the Texas Mile event in Goliad, Texas, equipped with "The Bullet," a single-carbureted 1,100-horsepower 598 engine. Despite its altered appearance, Richard piloted Big Red to a blazing 204.793 mph pass, securing a spot in the prestigious Texas Mile 200 MPH Club, while emphasizing the crucial role of the rear spoiler in maintaining stability at high speeds.

Big Red's Need for Speed: Conquering the Mojave Mile in California

In September 2010, Big Red showcased its speed at the Mojave Mile, held at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. With its fastest run reaching an impressive 210.4 mph, the Gottlieb team recognized the need for continuous improvements in power to maintain their winning streak in such high-speed events amidst advancing technology.

Another Victory at the Silver State Classic

In 2011, Big Red embarked on a series of exhilarating races, marking memorable milestones in its storied career. From achieving record speeds at the Texas Mile, earning a spot in the prestigious 200 MPH Club, to conquering its first hill climb in Virginia City's Speed by Spectre 341 Challenge, Big Red showcased its dominance on the track. Additionally, Richard and Big Red secured victories in the Silver State Classic Challenge and impressed at the Vintage Auto Racing Association Big Bore Bash, solidifying their status as racing legends.


234 mph Record-Breading Run at Mojave Mile

In 2012, Richard and the Big Red team delved into land speed racing, participating in events like the Mojave Mile and Mojave Magnum. They achieved remarkable speeds, including a record-breaking run of 234.4 mph at the Mojave Magnum, showcasing their dedication to pushing boundaries and achieving new milestones. Additionally, their strong performance at the Big Bore Bash secured them a second-place win, highlighting their ongoing pursuit of excellence on the track

227 mph at Bonneville Salt Flats

In 2013, Big Red embarked on a transformative journey, venturing beyond asphalt to test its limits on dirt and the iconic Bonneville Salt Flats. Richard and the team meticulously prepared for the challenges, making significant modifications and upgrades to adapt Big Red for land-speed racing. Big Red showcased its resilience and determination, hitting a remarkable top speed of 227 mph marking a monumental chapter in its racing legacy.


More records at El Mirage and Mojave

In 2014, Big Red embarked on new challenges and triumphs, participating in events like Mike Cook's Shootout at Bonneville and achieving its fastest run on the salt flats at 228 mph. The year also saw record-breaking performances at El Mirage and Mojave, alongside an impressive showcase against modern-day track cars, earning Big Red a second appearance on the cover of Hot Rod magazine.


238 mph at Mojave Magnume and 233 mph at Mojave Mile

In 2015, Big Red made waves with its appearance on the cover of Maximum Drive magazine and a feature in Bonneville/El Mirage Land Speed Racing setup, a first in its history. The car also graced the SEMA show, captivating fans worldwide and promoting the Big Red documentary series. Despite challenges like wet salt at Bonneville, the team achieved remarkable speeds, including setting a new event record of 238.1 mph at the Mojave Magnum and hitting a top speed of 232.9 mph at the SCTA Mojave Mile.


Revitalizing Big Red: A Comprehensive Rebuild Project Documented

In 2016, Big Red embarked on a monumental journey of transformation, meticulously documented at every step with vivid pictures and detailed descriptions. From the initial dismantling of key components to the refurbishment of the engine and interior, the rebuild project aimed to breathe new life into the iconic racing machine, ensuring its continued legacy on the track.

2016 Fire

Big Red's Rebirth: From Devastating Fire to Triumphant Resurrection

Following an extensive rebuild, Big Red was poised for new challenges, including Pikes Peak. However, tragedy struck during testing as a catastrophic fire engulfed the car due to a failed bolt. Despite the devastation, the team's determination and support from fans fueled a remarkable recovery, culminating in Big Red's triumphant return from the ashes, embodying resilience and triumph.


252 mph at Texas Mile

At the Texas Mile, the Big Red Camaro underwent adjustments for the one-mile course, different from their usual 1.5-mile configurations. RJ's initial licensing run successfully hit speeds between 200 and 215 mph. Subsequent modifications increased boost and supercharger gearing. The team also refined the body for better aerodynamics and alignment. Big Red set impressive records, achieving 251.9 mph in the mile, marking a significant year of advancements and milestones for the team.


259 mph at Bonneville

In 2018, Big Red had an eventful year, achieving new records and participating in notable speed events. At the Arkansas 1-Mile Challenge, Big Red shattered the old class record with a top speed of 240.5 MPH. Later in the year, during the Bonneville Salt Flats event, the car continued its impressive performance, setting records and capturing significant media attention for its speed and historic impact on racing.


256 mph Harvest 1.5 Mile

In 2019, the Big Red Camaro continued to dominate in high-speed racing events, setting new records across two significant venues. At the ECTA-LSR Mile Event in Blytheville, Arkansas, Big Red set a new class record with a top speed of 246 mph. Later in the year, during the Harvest 1.5 Mile event in Limestone, Maine, it broke AA/CBFALT class records by reaching speeds of 238 mph in the mile and an impressive 256 mph in the 1.5-mile stretch.


251 mph at Spaceport Half Mile

In 2020, the Big Red Camaro achieved remarkable feats, including a record-setting speed of 251.396 mph at the Spaceport Mile Half in New Mexico. This milestone, covered extensively by Torq Talk, showcased the team's dedication and the car's capabilities. Throughout the year, the team prepared rigorously for events like the Shift Sector California Airstrip Attack, where Big Red again demonstrated its formidable performance. Reflecting on the year's successes, the team looked forward to future challenges with renewed ambition and enthusiasm.


249 mph Arkansas Mile

In 2021, the Big Red Camaro team embarked on a series of high-speed events across various terrains, demonstrating its legendary capabilities. Starting in March at the Shift Sector California Airstrip Attack, Big Red showcased its speed, reaching a top speed of 249 mph at the ECTA Arkansas Mile in May. At the Indy Airstrip Attack, it hit 213.27 mph. The year's highlight was the Bonneville Speed Week, where Big Red raced on Utah's salt flats, testing its adaptability and technical prowess. Throughout the year, each event contributed to Big Red's ongoing evolution and the team's experience.


Domination at Big Bore Bash

In 2022, Big Red participated in several prestigious racing events across the United States. Starting at the Sonoma Speed Tour in April, Big Red showcased its prowess amid vintage and modern cars at California's Sonoma Raceway. At the SVRA Vintage Festival in May, it raced at Wisconsin's Road America. The Goodguys Summit Racing Nationals in Ohio followed in July, where Big Red joined other classic cars in exhibition runs. In August, Big Red was featured at Nevada’s Hot August Nights. The year wrapped up with the Big Bore Bash in November at California's Willow Springs, impressing fans with its performance among big bore cars.


Domination at TX2K Street Racing

In 2023, the Big Red team successfully rebuilt the iconic '69 Camaro after a devastating fire. They restored and enhanced its performance, culminating in a triumphant moment at the Mojave top speed event. Big Red broke its previous speed record by reaching 253 mph, demonstrating the team's dedication and the car's enduring prowess. This year marked a significant recovery and resurgence for Big Red.


Upcoming Races & Events

Get ready to ignite your passion for speed and power with Big Red Camaro’s exhilarating lineup for 2024! From the historic tracks of the Permco Vintage Grand Prix to the high-octane showdowns at the Big Bore Bash, join us for a year filled with pulse-pounding races and showcases. Witness this legendary muscle car as it roars past the competition and celebrates automotive excellence at some of the most prestigious events across the country. Buckle up—it’s going to be an unforgettable ride!