View Full Version : Behind the Wheel with Efrain Diaz powered by Optima Batteries

11-23-2017, 02:40 AM
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Written By Brandy Phillips
Photos By Brandy Phillips and Efrain Diaz's Facebook Page

The term pro-touring has evolved to various meanings, but the root of the term still
honors those who take an old car and make it handle like a new vehicle. In today’s
automotive industry there are several different options to make this happen from
suspension upgrades, performance brakes, LS swaps, various tire options, and build
shops scattered throughout the country to help accommodate the non do-it-yourselfers.
Yet, when you hear about those who build there cars in their garage without the help
of others, there is a new level of respect for that car and driver, especially when the
vehicle can outperform most of its competition.


On the West Coast there are a handful of do-it-yourself guys who have built some well
handling, beautifully built cars. They have been very competitive over the past couple
years and have been successful in not only the NMCA West Autocross series, but SCCA,
Optima, Goodguys and various other one-off events. This car though is not like the
others. It stands out from the rest, not only in visual appearance, but in it’s story.


The Goodguys Rod and Custom Association has had a huge part in influencing the
pro-touring industry is today, but there are also several drivers that paved the way for
the pro-touring industry and the popularity in autocross. After watching Mary Pozzi slide
her Camaro around a Goodguys Autocross, Efrain Diaz was not sure what to make out
of the whole spectacle. So he turned to the Internet to do more research and came
across forums like Pro-Touring.com and Lateral G. This newfound knowledge led Diaz
to tear apart his entire car and rebuild it with pro-touring and autocross in mind.


Over the past three years Diaz has participated in several events including the NMCA
West Hotchkis AutoX Series, Optima Ultimate Street Car Series, SCCA, Speedlimit
Racing and a handful of other events. He has been very successful at these events and
overcome several hurdles along the way.


This year was the most challenging year for Diaz and the 1969 Camaro. Diaz‘s struggle
at several events continued throughout the year as the ’69 Camaro refused to
cooperate and run smoothly. Though Diaz ran into several problems with the car, it
was the aftermath of those problems that really makes this story standout.


Everyone reading this knows the pro-touring community is filled with those wanting to
help and see people improve. Rather than race series focusing on those who win, our
community likes to reflect and congratulate those who have overcome obstacles and
persist on to the next day. Efrain Diaz is definitely one that should be recognized.
Though one would probably not like to reflect back on the issues that were presented
in 2017, the fact is the obstacles Diaz faced brought our community together and the
outcome was quite phenomenal. I guess you could say maybe things happen for a
reason, especially in Diaz’s case.


The best memory many may have of Diaz for the 2017 season was during the
Optima Ultimate Street Car Fontana, CA event. Diaz was on his way to Auto Club
Speedway to compete in the Fontana event when a shock mount broke not far
from the track. It caused quite a bit of damage and the weekend could have been
easily over before it even began. This though was one of those moments that
showed the pro-touring community’s true colors. Several of the people who were
already at the track went to help Diaz. They were able to get the car running,
allowing him to get it back home and finish the rest of the repairs before going
back to the track early the next morning to race.


The icing on the cake came when Diaz was awarded the GTV Class OUSCI Invite.
He did some of his best driving throughout the two-day event, earning him a
spot to attend SEMA and compete at the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational.
That was probably a surreal moment for Diaz knowing only two days before he
was broken down with considerable damage to his car.


When asking Diaz what was one of his most memorable moments in his car he recalled
when he first finish the rebuild three years ago:

“I finished my car in the very early morning of the USCA event in Fontana 3 years ago,
registered it, drove it there and raced both days and drove it home. When the results
came out I had finished last, but I had a great time anyway not ever having done
autocross, road course or speed stop. Over these 3 years I have learned tons and have
several top 3 finishes at USCA and 1 first place at Hotchkis. The best thing that
happened was actually during a Super Chevy Challenge in 2014. I drove the car to
Willow Springs and the car placed 3rd (with Mary Pozzi driving) and ended up as a cover
and feature in the April 2015 Super Chevy Magazine.” – Efrain Diaz


It is important once again to realize that the pro-touring community is one giant
family. Though there are people that may hit a rough patch with others or friends that
also consider themselves “archenemies,” at the end of the day the type of racing we
all participate in is really just for fun. Yes sometimes egos fly and people can get overly
competitive, but besides OUSCI, there’s no large sum check at the end of these events,
which honestly probably helps keep moral high, mental states in check and allows for
this form of grassroots racing to
continue to grow.


As the holidays are upon us and Thanksgiving is here, I think Efrain sums up the
feelings of gratitude best in the description below:

“When I set out to build my pro-touring car, the forums were my biggest source of
information. Through those I met James Shipka, (I bought his old LS7 engine as well
as other parts) which led me to his friends David and Mary Pozzi, which then became
my friends. From there it just dominoed to all sorts of people like Jim Campisano, Steve
Rupp, Mike Hamrick at Wilwood, Jonathon Bradford at Falken, and Will Baty at
Centerforce. Through events I met several people like yourself and Rob, Suzy Bauter,
Chad Ryker, Mike Cuthbertson, and Casey Cronin who helped me learn how to drive
along with the Thurmonds and many others. I just never knew or thought that my car
would take me places and meet people I had read about in magazines and make me
a person that others got to read about. It is truly humbling.”- Diaz


When reflecting about how all of us got started in the hobby and those who made a
major influence in our lives, there are always those couple people that stand out among
the rest. Diaz had several people to consider, but there were a couple special people that
Diaz still keeps close and wanted to thank. Three key people that helped throughout the
rebuild of his 1969 Camaro RS were: James Shipka, Mary and David Pozzi. The cars of
all three of these pro-touring influencers were templates for Diaz’s build in addition to
providing parts that Diaz purchased from them to build his own pro-touring influencer.


Diaz also wanted to thank his sponsors and companies that came onboard the project to
help him throughout the years.

“In terms of vehicle support I couldn’t do this as often without Jonathon Bradford at
Falken Tires. I am a very little fish in a big pond and he was the very first person to help
me out with product. Mike Hamrick also has been a great supporter with knowledge and
parts. Will Baty at Centerforce is helping me put power to the ground with a bad ass
TRIAD clutch. Bret Voekel at Ridetech. Shaun Dove over at EVOD Garage helped get the
motor back together after an engine failure last year. Lastly, Steve Rupp for his endless
years of experience and knowledge.” –Diaz


Most importantly, Diaz wanted to take a moment to reflect on his family.

“Performance racing has been something I always wanted to do. Even though my family
never really understands it they know it’s my dream so they support it so a huge thanks
to them.”


Owner: Efrain Diaz

Engine: LS7 dry sump

Engine Details: GM LS7, stock crank and Titanium rods. Mahle pistons, stock LS7
heads with port work, Came is a custom Comp Cam and matching springs. Titanium
retainers, FAST 102 intake, rails and injectors, MEFI4b engine management. ATS dry
sump pan, Peterson oil and breather tanks, Concept1 drive system and Stainless Works
headers, Spectre air filter and carbon 4 inch intake tube.

Horsepower / Torque: engine dynode at 650 HP and 580TQ

Transmission: TREMEC T56 Magnum 6 speed

Clutch: Centerforce TRIAD triple metallic disc clutch

Exhaust: Magnaflow stainless 3 inch full exhaust

Differential: currently running 3.89 gear on a Strange pumpkin. Tru-Trac and
Speedway Engineering 31 spline axles. Housing is a heavily modified DSE quadralink
converted to a full floater using GMR billet hubs

Brakes: Wilwood Aero 6 calipers on 14 inch floating rotors on the front. Forged Super
Light 4 calipers on 13 inch rotors rear. Manual Wilwood master.

Wheels: Fikse Profil5 3 piece 18x11 front 18x12 rear.

Tires: Falken 615k+ 315/30-18 front and rear.

Body & Paint: Paint and body were done by me in my garage 15 years ago. Color is
2000 Corvette millennium yellow with a bit more tint to darken the shade. The car
retains all of its original sheet metal except the front lower valence. Hood, front and
rear cowl and trunk lid are ANVIL carbon fiber. Vinyl top and all original glass.

Interior: Seats are Recaro repurposed from and 03 Evolution, dash is ANVIL carbon
fiber. I grafted the original AC controls and vents (yes it has functioning AC and heat)
to the dash and used SPEK Nascar and Autometer gauges. Ridetech Tiger Cage and
race harness. Rea seat is a modified original seat to wrap around the mini tubs.
Remainder of the interior is restored to 69 Camaro specs.
see above

Any other modifications/ things you would like us to know: Front subframe is a
modified Scott Mock/Morrison style with Corvette C5/C6 A-Arms, uprights and hubs.
It utilizes a Speedway engineering Sway bar. DSE Subframe connectors and Chassis
Works Mini tubs. It also used a Ricks tank and the bullet proof Vaporworx system with
a 5th Gen Camaro ZL1 pump and Vaporworx PWM controller.