My first Camaro
From the day I got my first big wheel I wanted to drive. At the same time I was day dreaming about cars. One in particular, A dusk blue 1969 Camaro.
My father Louis Lapham (RIP) a history nut and a lover of cars. He Alonso had a photographic memory. He grew up in Dearborn Michigan and had really great stories about the some very cool cars in the sixties. My grandmother told me when he was a very young boy he could name every cars he saw to the make and model and later he was pushing, towing or driving something different home almost every weekend. Cars were cheap back then and weren’t really worth much” he would tell me when I was a young kid. He would tell me stories of when he rode his bike ny the railroad tracks near Dearborn Steel Tubing (who built the ford Thunderbolts) before he had his drivers license and saw some white a heritage burgundy fairlanes sitting on flattened slicks. This was before they ever hit the strip or magazines which he read constantly. And that Dearborn Steel Tubing had a parts truck that used to cruise Telegraph Rd. That had a High rise 427 ford motor and would clean people’s clocks. Or my favorites of when he had ordered his first brand new car and later would become president of the Michigan Camaro club in 1969-70. He ordered a Burnish brown 350 2bbl, 4spd, posi traction rear end, spoiler package, heavy duty suspension Camaro with a black custom interior. No center console. He told me about his friend in the club that bought a Rally Green, black vinyl top automatic COPO. He said the car was fast. But when his friend bought a set of headers and they retuned it the car was a rocket. They went cruising on Woodward Ave. One night and two guys in white hurst lab coats pulled up next to them driving a hurst olds cutlass with a wing and rear fender canards asking if they wanted to run. They did. They were dead even until third gear and the Olds pulled away. They pulled over and talked and turns out the Olds was a test mule and had a highly worked and blueprinted experimental big block olds. They said his Camaro was the only car that was able to keep up with them.
Those and many, many more are the stories that fueled my passion for cars as well and my love for Camaros. Unfortunately I grew up in the time when muscle cars started to become worth money and the 69 Camaro was and still is out of my financial reach. But in 2015 things changed. I was working for $!?$ Guldstrand (Mr. Corvette) at Guldstrand Performance. $!?$ was a world renowned road racer in the sixties in Corvette and also Camaros. He taught me about suspensions, racing and life. He was a dear friend. He threw the match of the gas that was my passion for Camaros and driving. I had fallen in love with the 5th gen 1LEs since they came out. I was driving my wife nuts talking and day dreaming about them. Then one day she surprised me and said “you’re getting your dream car” A Silver 2015 1LE I had pined over for months. I first saw it when I had flown home to Dearborn from Los Angeles for Christmas. It was on the lot. I watch that car on the internet for months to see if it had sold. At the same time I had been watching a dusk blue 69 327 4spd original 2nd over car on Craigslist which became the one that got away. In April of 15 my wife told me to go get my Camaro. I flew to Dearborn and my Dad picked me up and we went straight to the dealer to pickup my 15 1LE. My dream had come true. I spent a week there and put in 500miles and then drove it back home to LA. Right away I started thinking about races, Autocross and things that $!?$ had taught me. Later that year we had moved to Florida and I started looking into driving events. This was a whole new world to me. My childhood dream come true. In February of 2016 I found a local Autocross group and did my first lesson with an instructor. My Dad was there and got to watch me run for the very first time. My instructor told me I had real talent and that I should think about competing. Gas on the fire. That led to finding a driving event at Palm beach international Raceway with Hooked on driving. My first road course. Again my instructor was amazed and said I should look into get a race license. More gas. He pointed me in the direction of the National Auto Sports Association (NASA) and I signed up for their HPDE program in April. By October I went from HPDE1 to HPDE4 and check off for Time Trial competition. I was the first in NASA Florida history to go from HPDE1 to 4 and TT in 3 events and earned a trophy for the 2016 NASA HPDE driver of the year. I started TT competition in January of 17 taking 2nd place in my very first race and would later become the 2017 NASA Florida TT3 points Champion and took 3rd at the East Coast Championships in my rookie year. Since then I have held a couple of track records at PBIR and Homestead and looking to further my driving and put the car in a full race class. Either Super Touring or American Iron NASA Pro Racing classes. I couldn’t have done it without my family, friends, Detroit Speed, Aero Sport Concepts and NASA. It really is a dream come true. We’ll see what the future holds. I don’t make much and do the best I can, but run on a very tight budget. More to come...