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Callaway Camaro Road Trip

Sandy beaches to snow drifts in a 572hp Callaway Camaro

Story Andy Bolig - June 20, 2011 09:00 AM

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INTERIOR Just like the exterior, inside the Camaro carries throwbacks to the first generation Camaro like the floor-mounted gauges and a gauge pod in the dash that sits high and directly in front of the driver. We gave the HVAC controls a complete workout during our three-day trip.

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INTERIOR Just like the exterior, inside the Camaro carries throwbacks to the first generation Camaro like the floor-mounted gauges and a gauge pod in the dash that sits high and directly in front of the driver. We gave the HVAC controls a complete workout during our three-day trip.

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INTERIOR Just like the exterior, inside the Camaro carries throwbacks to the first generation Camaro like the floor-mounted gauges and a gauge pod in the dash that sits high and directly in front of the driver. We gave the HVAC controls a complete workout during our three-day trip.

ImageWe never strayed far from the East Coast, and driving through Baltimore, it was obvious.
ImageWe’re entering New York from the New Jersey Turnpike via the George Washington Bridge. Keep all hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times. Even I-95 gets a little narrow at times through here.
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ImageOur short stop in Elloree, South Carolina. Disappointingly, we never could locate the Animatronic Mr. Snider.
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As we began to put some considerable miles on the Camaro, the seamless power and drivability became obviously transparent. How can that be you ask? It’s all a matter of how you hold your right foot.

The drive started with a set of keys for the 2010 Callaway SC572 package-equipped Camaro being tossed to us with a big smile from Sales Manager Mark Diaz at Callaway authorized dealer Tropical Chevrolet in Miami Shores, Florida.

The car had been delivered there after traveling to some shows and dealer visits and was slated for an appearance at the Callaway Cars shop in Old Lyme, Connecticut, for some upgrades and routine maintenance.

Our task was to pick up the car and head north, making sure that the car was at Callaway headquarters on Wednesday. Three days and 1,400 miles would make for some excellent get-to-know time for us, and we would be sure to exercise each of those 572 horses during the trip. The plan was for me to pick up the car at Tropical Chevrolet and then drive north, picking up Callaway Cars’ Chris Chessnoe along the way. We would both then complete the trip together.

Besides being able to enjoy a car that was supercharged and tweaked by the technicians at Callaway, this was also the first time that I’ve had an opportunity to spend some time with the new Camaro, so I was doubly interested in the opportunity. We’ve reported on several versions of the car, but until now, serious seat time had eluded us. We were finally going to rectify that, and we’re able to bring our readers along for the ride.

Not knowing what lay in store ahead of us as we drove the car north, we decided that the first order of business was to get some shots of the car around the Miami area. Driving around Miami can be harrowing at times; doing it in a borrowed, super-powerful, less-than-a-year-old Camaro can really make you nervous. Figuring out that point where your vision ends and the body panels start is best left to the conservative side. There are some serious blind spots to the new Camaro, but thankfully with some correctly adjusted mirrors, they were either eliminated or at least rendered ineffectual.

Just as the sun was starting to fall in the sky, we found a spot to get a few shots with the Miami skyline in the background. With that task completed, we began our trek north.

More than just a standard Camaro, the Callaway Camaro that we drove included more upgrades than simply the SC572 package. Other Callaway-engineered options are the nine-spoke wheel package that connects to the rest of the vehicle through the optional Callaway/Eibach suspension package. Callaway offers both an adjustable suspension and the non-adjustable version, which was fitted to our particular car. It offered solid footing and yet handled every stretch of highway that we would experience without issue. We never felt under-gunned in handling nor wearied due to excessive firmness.

To keep the fun factor high, a Callaway short-throw shifter was installed for our six-speed-equipped Camaro, and the Callaway low-restriction exhaust system directed the spent fumes and an exhilarating exhaust note out the rear of the vehicle. A throaty roar fills the void once inhabited by the Camaro’s body but fails to infiltrate the interior of the car, save for just enough to indicate the engine’s operation to adequately regulate its performance, and put a smile on its inhabitants’ faces.

With the factory 3.45 gearing, 70 mph in sixth gear was just around 1,700 rpm. With the more than sufficient torque supplied by the positive displacement supercharger, blazing past 70 mph would easily be accomplished without even trying, or shifting gears. That speaks well for the performance envelope of this package, but it doesn’t help much when every mile of highway headed north was posted with speed limit signs and state troopers, radar guns at the ready. We soon determined that safely working our way through the radar gun shooting gallery would best be done with the help from the car’s cruise control. We made our way north without incident from the police.

While Florida isn’t known for its severe elevation changes, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any differences as you travel along the length of the state. As we weaved our way back up north, the shoreline gave way to thousands of acres of sawgrass and everglades. Then, just as quickly, the two-lane ribbon of roadway was flanked by vast expanses of sugar cane, ripe for processing.

We continued our drive up through the state, curving around Lake Okeechobee and heading up through Florida’s interior to our home, the starting point for the next day’s adventure.

The 800-mile Long Day

We finished out the rest of the state the next day with our planned destination being somewhere around Washington, D.C., by day’s end. Typically not a problem, except for our previous late night return from Miami, and the fact that we wanted to try out a new App that we just put on our iPad that will highlight areas of interest during our travel and convert the road trip from simply burning up miles into its own multi-state adventure.

While not a major concern in sunny Florida, the major portion of the rest of the United States had recently been hit with a substantial snowstorm, and there was another one on the way. The uncertainty of what we were about to face helped keep the anticipation levels high. Compared to navigating this super-car through white and fluffy landscapes, we may soon be wishing to be back in that warm, sunny Miami traffic.

As we began to put some considerable miles on the Camaro, the seamless power and drivability became obviously transparent. How can that be you ask? It’s all a matter of how you hold your right foot. With just a flick of your ankle, the power supplied to those massive 20-inch tires can go from sufficient to obsessive in an instant. An over-zealous throttle foot will turn both rear tires into instant asphalt crayons in either of the first two gears. The LS3’s low-end torque also helps when starting out, giving the car a very forgiving nature for those “almost-perfect” starts that we all have from time to time.

There are no compromises to be made when considering the drivability of the car, even with the performance ceiling being raised into the stratosphere. Lighting the afterburner at anything over 3,000 rpm provides a surge of power that isn’t easily controlled by the pair of 20-inch Pirelli tires in any but the taller gears. Traction control does its best but is no match for the horses that are yoked to that limited-slip differential.

Before long, we were crossing into Georgia, and our fuel gauge reminded us that if we wanted to continue our driving, we’d need to find a fuel pump. The supercharger increases the need for running premium fuel to get the most out of the engine and to ensure longevity. We averaged around 24 mpg on our drive with mostly highway driving, sprinkled with some city driving while we took in some of the local app-suggested sights. When you consider the power potential of this engine, the addition of the supercharger brings more plusses to the equation than minuses.

Waking in a White World

I arrived at Chris’ house that evening. Other than what was illuminated by the HID headlights as I turned into Chris’ driveway, the entire trip so far had been void of any appreciable snow, despite the reports of a snowstorm that had carpeted the nation just the week before.

Waking morning light revealed that somewhere along last night’s drive, brown terra-firma had been replaced with a blanket of fluff in shaded areas, and as the day wore on, the average of brown to white would not only turn, but get thicker as we headed north.

Our route along Interstate 95 carried us through the heart of Baltimore, through the tunnels where Chris and I intersected on a previous trip and directly into the heart of New York City. As we drew nearer to the Big Apple, seeing the Manhattan skyline off in the distance always emphasizes the immense scope of the city and interestingly, finding room in such a large place can be quite difficult. Growth in such a metropolis either comes by growing up or closer together, and Chris and I conversed on how, even with three lanes, I-95 can get quite narrow at times. We kept all of our limbs securely inside the Camaro as we weaved our way from the George Washington Bridge to New Rochelle.

We kept our eyes focused on arriving at the Callaway facilities before close of business so our sightseeing was limited to only what we could take in through the glass panes of the Camaro. We weaved up I-95 through New Haven, Stamford and various other towns until Old Lyme, Connecticut, was achieved. Being my first trip to the Callaway shop, I was granted a tour of the facilities, a treat for anyone who recognizes the history and contributions that this company has afforded on the automotive realm.

 

Friendship and Frostbite

The crew at Callaway could not have been more cordial. Above and beyond allowing me to drive their car from Miami to their shop in Connecticut, they continued their hospitality into the evening by introducing me to a taste of the local New England flavor. After a tasting of fabulously fresh seafood at Flander’s Fish House, Chris and I were ready for some shut-eye in preparation for the next day.

If we were not completely awake as we checked out of our hotel, the almost single-digit temperatures that greeted us as we walked to the car were sure to complete the task. After breakfast, Chris went into the Callaway offices to get some work done and I was again, handed the keys to the Callaway Camaro to “get some work done” by taking some more pictures for this story. A quick trip to the coastline to get a few photos confirmed two things: I was dressed totally different than when in Miami and it was indeed going to be quick! While the roads the entire trip were clear and the skies were blue, remnants of a previous snowstorm were still prevalent in the piles of snow that were higher than the car, and the sheer number of trucks wielding snowplows decried their readiness for the next impending storm.

With the car securely back at Callaway’s facilities, our task was done. There was nothing more to do but make our way to the airport to catch our respective flights back home. If at the beginning of our adventure, the task were to simply drive and test an automobile, we could have accomplished that task by driving around close to home and possibly even putting in a little bit of track time. If our goal was to head up the East Coast, fighting off the bitter cold and experience all the flavor and beauty that it has to offer, a plane ticket and hotel would have sufficed. Instead, our goal was to experience an amazing car, while at the same time creating memories that would last a lifetime. The opportunity to do both doesn’t come along very often, so seizing the day, hoisting anchor, and setting sail for the adventure carries the most returns for one’s investment. To locate an authorized Callaway dealer and begin your high-powered adventure, go to www.callawaycars.com.

The very design of this automobile hearkens back to a time when such cars played a much bigger role in our movement around this nation and phrases like, “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet!” were still rolling off people’s tongues. One has to wonder exactly when we lost the desire to include our cars in the adventure of experiencing this great land. And, just like today’s resurgence of styles and designs that hearken back to a simpler time, whether or not we can get it back.

Mod List:

2010 Callaway Camaro

TVS 2300 Supercharger (Chrome)

• Callaway Carbon Fiber Injector Covers

• Callaway Low-restriction Exhaust

• Callaway Embroidered Floor Mats

• Callaway Embroidered Headrests

• Callaway Short-throw Shifter

• Callaway/Eibach Suspension system

• Callaway 9-Spoke Alloy Wheel Package

• Callaway Power Window Hood

• Callaway Carbon Fiber Rear Spoiler

• Callaway 3 yr/36,000 mile warranty

or optional 5 yr/100,000 mile warranty

So Much More Than A Road Map!

We knew we would be taking this trip, and we wanted to do something more than simply burning up the miles between point A and B. We came across an app by Roadside America and decided to give it a try.

Some readers might already know of Roadside America for their cataloging all of those quirky, side-of-the-road sightings that were so prevalent in years past but have more recently been forgotten in our fast-paced super-highway lifestyle. Items like the World’s Smallest Post Office or the largest ball of string haven’t gone away, we simply don’t drive past them anymore.

The folks at This Exit LLC have compiled over 6,000 of these interesting sites into an app that can be downloaded into many smart phones or iPads and taken along for the ride.

You can purchase various regions of the United States or the entire country for an additional upgrade fee. We purchased the Southeast Region and wanted to give this app a try for ourselves.

Users can either search for particular items or, the app can use your current location and show you the local opportunities for you to explore. As we drove along the interstate, we updated our position and found curious landmarks such as a Welcome Center for UFOs, The World’s Largest 7-Up can, and the Civil War Ironclad CSS Abermarle. We picked two that were relatively close to the highway and sounded intriguing to us. We swerved off of Interstate 95 in search of the Animatronic Mr. Snider and a stuffed mule. They were reportedly residing in a small town called Elloree, South Carolina. The app gives pretty good directions and led us straight to the address where said Mr. Snider and his mule companion resided. The Museum was still there, but sadly, we could not locate either the moving man or stuffed beast.

We headed back to the Interstate and kept heading north. A little further, we spotted the site of a nuclear bomb explosion around Mars Bluff, South Carolina. We really wanted to check out this site, as it is reportedly the only spot of a nuclear explosion that is accessible to the public. It turns out that a nuclear bomb WAS dropped at this site but only the non-nuclear explosives of the bomb detonated, leaving a huge crater in the South Carolina countryside.

The crater was there and relatively easy to access by traveling down a short, paved (although debris-lined) road, which ended at the site. Resembling more like a pond instead of a potential disaster, you can read about the mishap through a signpost marker that is erected where the neglected road meets up with Route 301. After taking in the sights and smells of the area, I was soon headed northward to my destination for the evening and meeting place with Chris Chessnoe, program manager for Callaway Cars.

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