View Full Version : SCCA Trans Am Wheels

08-31-2004, 06:08 PM
Hi, I want to know where I can get very detailed specs on a Penske or Smokey Yunick SCCA Trans Am Camaro. I really want to build something close and streetable to Smokey Yunicks. Also does anyone know what size and backspacing wheel they used? Minilites right? In 15s? How wide? The tires? Also if anyone knows what mods were done to fit such huge tires up front. The vintage aftermarket and new aftermarket methods would both be cool! Lowering methods? Thanks

Also the only modifications to my 67 on suspension are front coil springs from a L6 Camaro that were cut I think (came with the subframe) and new Hotchkis 3 leaf springs on back. Can I work with those leafs to get the same ride height and stance as the Smokey Yunick Camaro? Or will I have to use a special spring and shock?

08-31-2004, 09:01 PM
Technical article on Smokey's Camaro (http://www.edelbrock.com/automotive/stories/hr601/best_camaro.html)

You'll read that the tires are not all that big. But they also dont elude to much into the sub-frame z-notching that changed the ride height. I had my hands on this car years ago, and there is a-lot of stuff that you have to stare at for a few hours to understand what was actually done. There is a-lot of stuff that wasnt explained or even included in the article.

08-31-2004, 10:06 PM
Aw, I read that before and it's not very informative. I just want the look of the Smokey Yunick Camaro - stance, wheels and tires, paint, and COOLNESS. I'm planning to keep my 400 and the crappy TH350.

So if the tires are 15x6 and 15x7, what does that translate in the new tire measurements? Like 245-275s? Can you give me a good guess as to what the fronts and rears are? Maybe around... 275/60 R15s in back and 245/65 R15s in front?

08-31-2004, 10:07 PM
Man, those fenders are sweet too, they don't even look bulged at all!

09-01-2004, 07:20 PM
What information are you looking for in the first place?? That is about all you will find in print.......other than that, you will have to ask specific questions to someone that has worked on the chassis. As I asked before, what are you looking for.....??

The fenders arnt buldged and what makes you think they have been modified, (with the exception of the front fenders being shortened)?? There are no flares to this chassis.......

Wheel translation, 15x6 would be around a 215. A 15x7 would be around a 235. But you can run a 245 on an 8" rim for the front and a 255 on the rear with an 8" rim as well.....you can fit more within the rear wheelwell.....you just dont have a lot of room with the shocks in their factory position.

I myself would go with a 16x8 on all four and run a 245 on the front and a 255 on the rear. Or the optional 17x8 front with a 245 and a 17x9.5 on the rear with a 275.

09-02-2004, 02:00 PM
Oh, I thought I read somewhere that the fenders were bulged without adding or taking away metal from the fenders. Maybe it was ona different Trans-Am car. Thanks for the wheel translations, but one more question, do you think that wheel tire combination will work for a stock suspension for the same car? If not what modifications do you recommend? Thanks!

09-02-2004, 07:34 PM
A stock 67 thru 69 suspension (track width, front and rear) with stock sheet metal will fit a 17x8 front with 4.5 to 4.75" back space, depending on spindle and brake set-up (it can and will change offset requirements). On the rear of any 67 thru 69, a 17x9.5 with 5.5" back space will fit, near perfect.

As for shoes, a 245 will and maybe a 255 will fit the front, but my money is on the 245. As for the rear a 275 will fit perfectly.

Steve Chryssos
09-03-2004, 05:44 AM
I had my hands on this car years ago, and there is a-lot of stuff that you have to stare at for a few hours to understand what was actually done. There is a-lot of stuff that wasnt explained or even included in the article.

I got the time if you got the keyboard. Tell us some highlights or tell us the long version.

09-07-2004, 08:39 PM
If you go to my web page and under Past Events, then under Watkins Glen you will see a few pics of one of the penske cars.
The Smokey Yunick car has so many illegal things on it, its amazing. If i remember correctly it never once past tech.

PAI Racing
11-01-2004, 06:03 PM
Mark Donahue's book "Unfair Advantage" gives a fair idea of what went into one of those vintage Trans-Am cars. Sam Posey's "Mudge Pond Express" is also good.

In '68 or '69 General Motors took Donahue's car to the proving grounds for a week, along with all the telemetry you could imagine. The end result was a little booklet commonly called the GM Competition Preparation Pamphlet. That document was available to people who wanted to race A-Sedan or Trans-Am and who knew to write Chevy and ask for it.

I understand that they are very hard to come by. Unfair Advantage is probably your best starting point.

Next step is to go to a vintage race and ask questions.

If you are going to copy someone's car, copy one that worked. Cami's car (Smokey 13) is bad looking, but didn't finish the few races that it actually passed tech at. I took a long look at the Penske cars...

Oh, yah and give Richard "****" Guldstrand a call (the system seems to think his name is a profanity). He knew it then and knows it now and he is a great guy to boot.

Finally, I run 15" x 8" with 4" of backspacking front and rear on my car.

Good luck!

02-09-2005, 09:55 AM

The old Trans Am cars ran 15x8 Minilite wheels. They can still be bought from Main Street Motorsports in CT , but they are aluminum, not mag. Their sales rep is a really nice and helpful guy, BTW

I bought a set for my '69 Camaro with 4.5" backspacing - they fit perfect and look awesome. It took a couple months for delivery after I placed my deposit because they are a custom order, but worth the wait


02-19-2005, 08:24 AM
I've heard from a good source (an owner of a Vintage Trans Am Camaro) that the fenders were bulged on many of the cars using english wheels. The rules didn't allow it, but many got away with it.

You don't think Smokey followed the rules do you? :) Most of those guys, espeically Smokey, had their own inturpretation of the RULES.

I like that swaybar on Smokeys car. It's mounted in front of the lower control arms. Hmmmm.

Tony Huntimer

02-19-2005, 11:27 AM
"There is no such thing as 'cheating'......... it's called 'innovation'."

~Smokey Yunick

PAI Racing
03-09-2005, 10:23 AM
By the way, historictransam.com has a lot of great photos of, well, historic trans-am cars.

03-22-2005, 02:09 PM
would it be possible that the penske used 14 inch minilites? i saw a penske clone in camaro performers and the guy had 14 inch minilites. I have a large picture book of 'trans-am' and it includes many photos of the penske car and the wheels seem small in diameter in some of the photos.

Also i haven't been able to find anything on the smokey yunick camaro in my trans-am book. did the car ever race?

03-23-2005, 10:25 AM
I think a lot of the vintage race camaros use Torque Thrust D's, I know many 1969's went to Minilites. I have 15x7 and 15x10 TTD's on my 1968, both with 3.375" backspacing, and they fit. The 15x8.5 TTD will not fit in the front because they also have the same 3.375" backspace, which isn't enough, the tire was hitting the fender lip. For tires, I have Goodyear Blue Streaks in 15x6 and 15x7, which are pretty big - roughly equivalent to 270/15 and 305/15, about 25.5" tall in front and 26.5" in the rear. They are bias ply, so they also flex a lot when cornering. I get a slight rub in the rear coming out of hard corners. My car is also not lowered very much. Hoosier also makes tires that are sized similarly and are cheaper, with a little less section width, I will get those after I burn up the Blue Streaks. None of these tires are DOT legal, with good reason, as they are paper thin and would probably blow if you hit a pothole. The car drives absolutely horribly around town when driving slow - when the tires are cold, the thing hunts all over the place. Once they are warm, and you are on a nice smooth surface and get moving, they are awesome.

03-29-2005, 09:45 AM

You're right, TTD were the standard wheels early in the series and around '69 people started using Minilites, including the Penske guys.

Like I said, my car has the 15x8 Minilites (4.5" backspacing) in front and rear.
I used Dunlop GT Qualifier tires front and rear (black wall facing out) 265/50-15 in back and 225/50-15 in front.

PAI Racing
03-29-2005, 02:15 PM
In Unfair Advantage, Donahue said that they switched to Mini-lites in '69 beause they were having problems breaking wheels. The Minilites are still available, Panasport makes a nice copy, and PSE build some really nice race only torque thrust copies that are significantly stronger than the original. I run the Hoosier TD's mentioned above. They are about $160 per tire from Hoosier Racing West and seem to wear really well.

03-29-2005, 03:13 PM
Who is PSE? For that matter , any company that has 15 by 8 ttd's with 4 1/2 " backspacing . I am looking for a similar stance on my car.

03-29-2005, 03:39 PM
PSE is Phil Schmidt Engineering in California. Phil makes old style Trans Am wheels. His wheels are very expensive and very nice/well made. I run a set of Phil's wheels on my vintage race 66 shelby.

Phil "can" be difficult to deal with sometimes as he can be very slow in delivery. He is very hard to get a phone call returned. He can make most any backspace wheel you want. You got the money, he will make the wheel.

03-29-2005, 04:48 PM
not trying to hijack, but does anyone make the minilites in 17-18" diameters?

03-29-2005, 04:57 PM
How expensive is expensive? I am sitting down.Also how slow is slow?

03-29-2005, 05:06 PM
there is a company called vintage wheel works , they make those sizes. www.vintagewheelworks.com

03-29-2005, 05:29 PM
there is a company called vintage wheel works , they make those sizes. www.vintagewheelworks.com

the mini lite style only comes in 16x8

03-29-2005, 05:36 PM
sorry , I will tell you if I see any.

03-30-2005, 09:56 AM

As far as who makes 4.5 backspacing - almost everyone! But they are sometimes a custom order. And if not interested in Minilites, You can also get Torque Thrusts in 15x8 with a 4.5" backspacing also. I was considering them also.. They would be a custom order and would be about $300-320 a wheel. The TTII you can also get in larger diameters if you want...
For comparison, my Mini's were $300 a wheel (they were custom drilled for the long mag style lug nuts)
And.. Minilite also makes a 16" wheel, but I think it would look silly on a Camaro, Mustang, etc. You can check it out on their website...

03-30-2005, 04:59 PM
Mike who is everyone? I called american racing they said no and i also stuck out at vintage wheel works . I am looking for the d's with the black center. I also think they would look great with the long lugs . thanks .also any photos of your car with the 4.5 backspacing? is the car lowered ? I dont mean to grill you but not many others use the 15 inch rims.

03-31-2005, 10:03 AM
Wow, it was about a year ago i was trying to decide between the Torque thrust D and the Minilites. American Racing's website used to show that custom offsets were available and the 4.5 backspacing on a 15x8 was possible.

Try giving a call to one of their dealers. All I can say is that the 3.75 offset will not work with a 15x8 wheel on a 67-69 Camaro....

No pics yet of my car, but the Minilites fit great both front and rear.

03-31-2005, 04:08 PM
Mike I called them and they said no ,I'll try again. PLEASE send me pics of your car when you can , I would love to see it. thanks

Neil B
04-01-2005, 09:38 AM
I have 15x8 4.5BS Trans-Am Minilites on my '69Z. The 15x8's fit both front and rear with no fender mods or lip rolling. 255-60-15 tires in the rear, 235-60-15 tire in the front. It's a very tight fit in the back.

I purchased the wheels from www.minilitewheels.com. These are real Minilite wheels and are correct repros of the vintage T/A wheels except they are now made from aluminum. I received excellent service but they take approx. 12 weeks as mentioned because they are built to order in England.


04-01-2005, 02:24 PM
Neil B You are killing Me , i have the same rims , backspace and goodrich t/a's with 235 60 15s and they rub in the front constantly! I know what your thinking but I only weigh 220 so i don't know why they rub so bad. If i look at your car in the photo it looks lower than mine. I am at a loss. i was at the minilite site and I stared at the thumbnails of your car , it's really nice . If you pm me more photos and spring info I would really appreciate it. thanks for the help.

Neil B
04-01-2005, 04:49 PM
Neil B You are killing Me , i have the same rims , backspace and goodrich t/a's with 235 60 15s and they rub in the front constantly! I know what your thinking but I only weigh 220 so i don't know why they rub so bad. If i look at your car in the photo it looks lower than mine. I am at a loss. i was at the minilite site and I stared at the thumbnails of your car , it's really nice . If you pm me more photos and spring info I would really appreciate it. thanks for the help.

Vanzuuk1 - I have Hotchkis 2" drop springs and Koni shocks in the front. I also replaced the wheel well trim bolts with button-heads. I run aggressive camber settings (about 1.5 degrees neg.) which gets the top of the tire away from the fender. Let me know what you would like a photo of and I'll send it to you.


04-01-2005, 07:45 PM
Neil I should have thought of the camber settings that probably explains it.I just wanted shots of the car in general with some front and rear shots to show the stance.
I think your car is right where I want to end up as far as rims/tires/stance. you can email me at [email protected] if thats easier. thank you again.

Neil B
04-02-2005, 10:23 AM
Vanzuuk, you have mail.

PAI Racing
04-04-2005, 08:53 AM
I looked at the PSE's about 2 years ago and as I recall they were around $500/wheel. I do suffer from brain fade, so it could have been more or a little less, but that's the ballpark that I recall.

04-04-2005, 02:05 PM
if anyone is interested ET wheels make a wheel just like the torq thrust d's . they are available with ( among other sizes) 4" and 4" 1/2 offset , polished or cast , for about 300 bucks . Neil B is right on the money with his specs and the proof is in the pictures, his car looks great. I have been trying to get a definitive answer for months about 15 inch rims and now I have it .go to www.etwheels.com and check them out.

04-04-2005, 04:44 PM
If you want to see an "unfair advantage", go to a vintage race where Mr. Pat Ryan is entered with the REAL 1968 Penske "lightweight" Camaro. He has actively raced this car in over 200 vintage races since 1989. The car is beautiful. His son Shaun also races a real 1970 Trans Am Camaro. Shaun "spanked" my ass this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park at the HSR (Historic Sportscar Racing) Birmingham Historic Races this weekend.

If you want to see how a REAL Camaro Trans Am car really looks and is constructed, go to a vintage race and look at the real thing!

04-04-2005, 06:50 PM
Mike I would love to go to a vintage race again but the trans am cars will not be at lime rock this year, supposedly they were not invited ! The glen is a long haul from me.
I know that Neils car is not a real race car , I just think it's a great example of how to get a 69 to look nice without chopping it up. It fits my skill level and budget. I plan on just giving my car the trans am look with a few things like wheels and stance, window straps , aluminum spoiler , lemans cap. etc.

PAI Racing
04-06-2005, 08:01 AM
What about Pocono? That isn't too far off from Westchester. I would think that most vintage racing groups (HSR, etc) would have a couple of A/Sedan cars show up at their regional events even if Historic Trans-Am isn't invited. VARA and HSR-West usually get two or three cars to turn out for most of their monthly meetings.

04-06-2005, 02:52 PM
I will probably go to the glen . the glen has a lot of history , I always feel like the infield at pocono is a parking lot with turns . I also want to see the penske cars in person.

PAI Racing
04-07-2005, 08:34 AM
I can't blame you. I grew up within an hour and a half of the Glen. It was always worth the trip for me. Heck, I drove down for an SCCA regional the last time I flew back to NY.

Seeing those cars in person is, without question, the best way to get an understanding and perspective. Plus you can get all the photos you need of the stuff you want to copy. I did that at Monterey when I built my car.

By the way, did you get a chance to look at the Historic Trans-Am site. There are tons of great photos.

04-07-2005, 02:47 PM
PAI You're gonna laugh but today I was trying to figure out why people are lining up to see the popes body. that made no sense to me but I'll drive hours to see a thirty year old race car! yes I looked at that site , excellent . I rode race bike at pocono years ago, it was not exactly nurburing. (sic?)

PAI Racing
04-07-2005, 04:20 PM
Funny! The only time I ever went to Pocono was for the old WERA Formula USA races. I rode my GSXR 1100 down from Buffalo. I had an awesome time. Of course the only running I did, was some dyno time and a little late night back tire killing.

04-07-2005, 05:36 PM
did you say GSXR? or , at least a gsxr frame.

PAI Racing
04-11-2005, 08:34 AM
Bitchen Streetfighter early Gix! I'm guessing that is an '86 or '87 chassis. I've seen the underside of one of those before...

04-11-2005, 03:11 PM
thank you , it's an 86 frame with 92 wheels and forks , 1226 katanah motor and i made the tail section from scratch . It's not a hayabusa but it aint exactly slow! It has been in streetrace or two back in the days of nathans on central ave in yonkers .

06-03-2005, 05:08 PM
darn you PAI Racing, that was the website i was gonna list(historictransam.com). I am making my 79 into a tribute to the blue on white 70 firebird. of course it isnt a clone cause its not even the right year so i can "update" some things. i dont know too much about the series since im only 20 and wasnt even a though in my parents heads... heck they wernt even together. another book i like is titled "Trans Am" which is actually listed on historictransam's website under historic photos. Im also thinking of going with TTD's but once again not being a clone im gonna update it with probably 17x8's with 245/45R17 BFG G-Force T/A KD's in front and 17x9's with 275/35R17 BFG G-Force T/A KD's out back.

Damn True
08-08-2005, 02:59 PM
Check these guys out.
17" two piece wheel so you can have any offset you like.

http://www.team3wheels.com/index.html (javascript:ol('http://www.team3wheels.com/index.html');)


08-08-2005, 04:28 PM
that link didn't work. do they have them in 18's?

Damn True
08-08-2005, 05:28 PM
Just go to www.team3wheels.com

I don't think so.

08-17-2005, 08:08 PM
Last time I checked, no 18's. Only 17's but they have a good selection of backspacings and widths. I ordered some for my 70 Boss 302 Mustang from team3wheels and they are top notch. I did not like the ones at minilites.com (http://www.minilites.com/) since if you look at their larger sizes, the centers are not larger, the rim is stepped up to accept the larger tire but the centers all look the same size regardless of rim diameter.

08-21-2005, 12:06 PM
So I was looking at Edelbrocks Smokey Yunick Camaro and I looked up the tire and wheel size she runs. On the Good year site, the front tire is said to have a section width of 10.6 on a 15x8 wheel. Could you fit that on stock Camaro suspension? I know that the car has stock lower A-arms that are boxed, but is the rest custom suspension pieces?

I have stock LCAs with GW UCAs, 15x7.5 wheels with 235/60R15s in front with a section width of 9.3 and I can't imagine being able to stuff one more inch under there. I'm rubbing on base of hills, speed bumps and potholes slightly on the outer lip with the top of the tire, and also rub a bit against the side of subframe behind the brake line. I'm pretty sure the latter is just alignment issues.

08-22-2005, 07:56 AM
For all intents and purposes, the 13 car is a 7/8th scale model of a camaro. I wouldn't try to draw parallels between it and a stock first gen, especially regarding wheel wells.

Damn True
08-22-2005, 09:33 AM
The Yunick Camaro cannot be compared to anything like what you have in your driveway. It has boxed OE A-arms, but.....the subframe is narrowed and Z'd, the fenders are bulged, there are no inner fenders, the steering arms are different, the swaybar mount is different etc etc etc. I snapped some photos of it and a bunch of other Trans-Am cars this weekend at the montrey historics. I'll post them in the multimedia forum tonight or later this week.

08-22-2005, 10:35 AM
oh wow, i never knew. 7/8th!? but how did the shrink it?? but i'd very interested to see your pictures. you got a website?

08-22-2005, 10:53 AM
The windsheild is layed back a few degrees, the roof is sectioned, the body is chanelled, the fenders& quarters have more E-wheel hours in them than a West Coast chopper... My buddy has been racing against that car since it was new. It's a funny car. They didn't have templates in T/A back then.It's not untill you get to walk around an old T/A car that you realize just how worked they really are.
Very cool.

08-22-2005, 02:41 PM
love to see close ups of that car.

Damn True
08-22-2005, 02:43 PM
Ask and you shall recieve


08-23-2005, 01:34 PM

I wish jessica biel would appear behind me...didnt work.

08-23-2005, 01:35 PM
OK, Kate beckinsale...

That girl from cvs...

I give up.

08-24-2005, 11:29 AM
Any more pics of your camaro? I love the plane jane racer/COPO look of the dark body w/ black wheels. A refeshing break from the "20 inch blades" scene. Killer car! specs?

08-24-2005, 01:22 PM
Thanks , there are pictures in the non racing events forum, go to ne cruise/ thank you. My car seems to look good with steevos car,they go like chocolate and peanut butter. Heres a photo before the the bulldozer front spoiler. The specs are a little mundane now, in the spring it will have a lot more hardware to display, suspension, cage, rear spoiler etc.

08-25-2005, 04:45 AM
the pics from the NE cruise are what sold me. Maybe you don't need to "have a lot more hardware to display..."

08-25-2005, 10:49 PM
vanzuuk1, you got anymore pictures of your ride? or a website? i really really think your car has 'it'. at first i liked the whole 'pro-touring' pop look, with really big wheels and crazy hardware and flashy paint, but my car is heading towards the more stock style due to budget and i like it way better. your car is awesome and just show that ralley wheels will always look good. i'm glad i kept mine just in case.

08-26-2005, 02:52 AM
I guess I am not the only anti-bling guy out there! I will post some more pics soon, I wanted to finish the back spoiler first.Thanks for the compliments, a lot of people look at my car and just dont get it. I dont have the means to do a mega trick car so I tried to find a niche that I like, which is the vintage t/a look. At first it was for budget reasons but I like it more and more. Steevos car influenced me also.

Damn True
08-26-2005, 04:26 PM
I dig the car van. I am going for the t/a look as well, but I want to get as deep as I can into the suspension. Paint and 'bling' factor are like 5th priority. Hauling a$$ is at the top of the list.

08-26-2005, 05:12 PM
Damn true, guess where I am going october first. Hint , they usually open with "ring of fire".

Social distortion, times square, new york city.sweet.

Mr and mrs streetfighter might even go.

08-26-2005, 05:16 PM
And you will be encouraged that my car is one of the most affordable on this site, a little over twenty grand so far and about twenty five thousand when I do the cage, suspension and a few tidbits. I saved a ton by finding a clean car at a reasonable price.

08-26-2005, 05:33 PM
Check these guys out.
17" two piece wheel so you can have any offset you like.

http://www.team3wheels.com/index.html (http://javascript<b></b>:ol('http://www.team3wheels.com/index.html');)


I wonder if they realize that they have spelled Camaro wrong... Or, is it some insider "cool" thing that I have no idea of?

Damn True
08-26-2005, 06:31 PM
Probably not. It's a common mistake. Though a buddy of mine who races a C-sports and a spec miata car routinely does it just to tick me off.

SD in NYC? Nice! I lived in Brooklyn from 91-94 and was fortunate enough to see the Ramones live twice at CBGB. The Yunick Camaro, Steve's car and now yours, are my inspiriation. Steve's paint is a lot nicer than mine will be, but I have no aspriations of seeing my car in print (unless it's an SCCA newsletter).

The plan thus far is:
Stock interior with racing seats and a 8pt cage.
Baer or Willwood brakes f/r
383 or 406 engine @ no less than 450hp EFI at a later date, centrifugal supercharger even later.
Tremec TKO 5sp
Team III minilite wheels

Suspension is the big question mark right now. I want stuff that works right the first time and will provide the right balance of performance and ride quality. Answers are hard to find. I think I need to get out to some track days and beg some rides in peoples cars.

08-26-2005, 06:49 PM
damn true, I used to hang out at cbgbs and gildersleeves, back in the day. A lot of drinking and dr..., well, times have changed!

I am not a suspension whiz, but I am sorting out my car soon.Bling is expensive , creativity is free. Forget what "qualifies" as p/t and build what you want.

I will post more pics soon, keep me up to date on your car.photos?

Ralph LoGrasso
08-27-2005, 12:08 AM
Speaking of CBGBs, I heard they were being bought out and closed down or something like that? I saw something on the news. A bunch of bands/musicians are rallying to keep the place alive.

Damn True
08-27-2005, 01:31 PM
Yes, there is a high likleyhood of it getting shut down. Something to do with an extraordinary hike in the rent for the building.