Pit to Pavement: NASCAR Ace’s ’85 IROC-Z Becomes a Roaring Street Beast

NASCAR drivers lead very exciting lives on the track, and they usually don’t struggle with boredom when they retire! Many of these experienced professionals turn to broadcasting, as they already have a knack for what audiences love. One NASCAR Ace’s ‘85 IROC-Z becomes a roaring street beast in this very interesting story. 

NASCAR Ace’s ’85 IROC-Z Becomes a Roaring Street Beast

After a few formidable wins that yielded some cash, driver Jason Keller was able to fulfill one of his long-time dreams. He had long been itching to build his ideal ‘85 IROC-Z Camaro! His very capable friends at Hawks Motorsports helped him re-construct this car into a snarling street beast. 

Head-Turning Heritage: The ’85 IROC-Z’s Classic Appeal

The ‘85 Camaro IROC-Z hit the pavement with a 302-cubic-inch 5.0-liter Chevy V8. This powertrain’s outdated emissions hardware was not very earth-conscious at all! A 6.2-liter supercharged LSA V8 from a later Camaro ZL1 has proven to be more efficient. 

To evolve from the 302 to the LS it took some very detailed engineering work. The full drivetrain had to be completely stripped down. Custom engine mounts were fabricated to accommodate the more modern V8. This is 100% a car for those who love everything about spirited driving! There’s also a Tremec Magnum six-speed manual gearbox mated to a twin-disk clutch. 

High-Octane Upgrade: Turning the IROC-Z into an 800 HP Beast

With a much heftier ported supercharger, this LSA now cranks out nearly 800 horsepower! When the quarter-mile test rears its head, this IROC-Z now compares to the Hellcat Redeye. The rear end is now a custom 8.8-inch Hawks Motorsports masterpiece. It is now able to launch without the worry of the back end becoming an overheated mess.  

The 3.5-inch stainless steel exhaust provides the ultimate and voracious roar! The AutoEvolution blog team declared that this is the coolest IROC-Z remodel they have laid eyes on in years. Another very sweet additive that the team cooked up is their Wizard Radiator and Brushless Fan Combo. There’s even a hand-wrapped and stitched ZL1 IROC steering wheel & shift knob. 

Tuned In and Decked Out: Can’t Forget the Stereo and Spoiler

This sweet IROC-Z build wouldn’t be quite the same without a few more goodies! There’s a Hawks 5” Spoiler included that is excellent for reducing drag. There’s also a custom stereo onboard from Elite Audio to enhance things in the audio department. 

You won’t have any problems aptly scorching the pavement with the Custom ZL1 Baer 65 front and rear brakes. The track you are preparing to scorch will fall victim to custom ZL1 Forgeline 18×10 wheels. These beauties are wrapped with Falken Azenis RTK615+ 315/30/18 Tires. The Hawks crew also has other great add-ons such as Panhard bars, torque arms, and rear LCAs. 

Meet the Mavericks: Hawk’s Tuning Dream Team

Hawks Performance president Bruce remembers being an avid car enthusiast his whole life. At the age of 16, he received a secondhand Corvette and began honing his expertise. He prides himself on preserving the longstanding heritage of the GM muscle car

His personal masterpiece is the scorching-hot “Sally”. This is a 2000 WS6 Formula with a 370 Iron Block. It also boasts a Hawks custom cam and 8.8 rear end. This amazing and very fiery model cranks out 730 horsepower and 690 lb-ft of torque. He also is the proud owner of a 2002 SOM Formula Firehawk.

Behind The Badge: The Genesis Of The IROC-Z

The 1980s was not particularly kind to the beloved muscle car! Most were becoming performance cars for long-distance tracks. The International Race of Champions made the switch from the Porsche Carrera RSR to the Camaro Z28 in 1975. The IROC-Z was born in 1984 as a trim-level upgrade of the Z28

It had some of the same designers as the Corvette, which is why it was so great in the performance category. It included the Vette’s TPI V-8, sway bars, and an upgraded suspension. Car and Driver then found that the IROC-Z handled better on the track than the Ford Mustang LX 5.0. Since not many were produced, it can be difficult to find one that is restorable. 

Seriously, Doesn’t This I-ROC Rock?

What do you think of this fully-flexed enhancement? The IROC-Z is one of those models that many aficionados bypass in their “appreciation chain.” The reason why is because it has long been seen as a temporary fixture, as well as a stepping stone to evolving Camaro greatness. The color is definitely awesome, and it does a great job of evoking the era! These models are a bit longer and wider than what is deemed as now commonly sleek. The side stance of the IROC-Z is a bit like a hammerhead shark, and we believe that it still can hang with the best of them. Let us know what you think in the comments below, or check out another article about the outgoing Z28.

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Jon Weirman
I am a freelance writer in the Midwest who specializes in vehicles built for expert-level off-roading, and anything with a staggering amount of horsepower. In my first life I worked in broadcasting for Starz Network and Discovery Channel. I also love retro video games and sci-fi movies. Everything from the loud and burly muscle cars of the late 1970s to new crossover SUVs with futuristic tech features have populated my inbox!

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