Robert Weathers was sitting at his home a couple of years ago when he was watching the Optima Ultimate Streetcar Challenge and decided, “I’m going to do that.” So in 2017, he purchased a stock 1LE Camaro he now calls McFly and went on to compete in the challenge; his first event was also the season opener of the USCA at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. According to Weathers, “Surprisingly, McFly actually did great!”
Weathers did have one glaring problem: the Optima Challenge takes a look at a lot of different aspects of the competitor’s vehicles and gives points based not just on the fastest car, but the most well-rounded vehicles. According to Weathers , the design and engineering segment of the judging is a huge dilemma for a new automobile like McFly. Basically, if your car is stock or has bolt-on parts only, you’ll not get any points for this section of the challenge — and you need every aspect you can get to be competitive.
To address this situation, Weathers needed to add some parts to the car with technology to back them up; but this decision turned out to be a double-edged sword. As he made changes to McFly, it upset the balance of the Camaro because he was removing weight and adding it at the same time. It became a balancing act for performance. This is also about the time the Camaro earned its nickname.
As the car would go to various shops and facilities, it would come back with the latest state-of-the-art technology. Weathers said, “It was like a scene from Back To The Future; the Camaro would keep getting these crazy upgrades every time we worked on it, and some of this technology seems like it came out of the future.”
Thus, McFly was born.
Lately, car manufacturers are pulling ideas out from what seems to be the future and putting this new technology to work by incorporating it into production vehicles. For example, magnetic-ride shocks are a factory suspension system that’s tunable from a laptop and allows for fine-tuning at any moment. According to Weathers “the suspension is fully adaptive for the Camaro and people don’t even know that it’s available.” Weathers worked with DSC Sport on the development of the suspension as well as the calibrations for the 1LE Camaro. The DSC controller allows you to do all kinds of suspension tuning by looking at specific tables like G-force, brake pressure, steering angle, speed, acceleration, shock calibration, velocity, and performance traction management.
As if that wasn’t enough adjustment for the SS, Robert worked with BMR Suspension and added all of their suspension components to the 1LE. To compound the tuning curve, Chevrolet Performance released their program for the Electronic Limited -Slip Differential (e-LSD). What was formerly a manual adjustment, is now made in a matter of seconds by just pushing some keys on a laptop. This just shows that we are living in a phenomenal time when remarkable technology is being utilized in the aftermarket industry.
McFly is still equipped with the factory powerplant and transmission, but the car is now fueled by E-85 rather than gasoline. Since the car already makes a decent amount of horsepower, Robert wasn’t as concerned about power as he was about weight savings. He did add 2-inch Texas Speed and Performance Headers, a 3-inch x-pipe, Kooks Headers and Exhaust brand mufflers, MSD intake manifold, and after tapping into the factory with HP Tuners, he was able to make 480 horsepower at the wheels. With the addition of the Katech aluminum flywheel and driveshaft, the 1LE has no problem getting up to speed and instantaneously.
At 3,778 pounds, it was no surprise that McFly would need to be put on a strict diet to be competitive. Weathers removed the factory wheels for the vibrant and lighter weight Forgestar Wheels. He also added Anderson Composites carbon-fiber fenders, hood, doors, Recaro seats, and removed the rear seat. All of these modifications netted a weight savings of 328 pounds, which now puts McFly at a much more aggressive 3,450 pounds for the GT class.
Unfortunately, the rigors of racing are still taking a toll on the new Camaro with the latest occurring at Las Vegas right after the SEMA Show. At the Optima Invitational event, the rear cradle of McFly was taking the brunt of the abuse after the guys decided to experiment with spherical bearings, and the results were unmerciful. Weathers noticed there was a problem because the rear alignment kept changing on the car after each event. When they finally had a chance to inspect the rear of the vehicle, the noticed that the cradle was in bad shape and needed to be replaced and reinforced. Weathers stated, “At USCA events, between autocross, speed stop, and hot laps, if there is a weak spot, you’ll find it.”
We wish Robert the best for next year and appreciate him taking the time to talk with us about the Optima Ultimate Streetcar Challenge. As new futuristic parts become available, McFly will definitely put them to the test in 2019. And we just hope to see a Mr. Fusion energy reactor mounted on McFly in the near future.