By Jake Drennon, Email:

It’s not often that you get on a plane in Orlando, Florida and it’s 32 degrees outside, and you arrive three and a half hours later in Detroit, Michigan and it’s a Sunny 42 degrees! But that’s what I faced a few weeks ago when I braved the cold to see the debut of the new 2009 Concept Camaro. I’m sure you’re asking “What in the world is Jake doing, going to look at a Camaro, when his whole life is based around Corvettes?”

That’s a good question, so I’ll try to answer it. Over the last nine years I’ve been visiting with the greatest Corvette enthusiast in the world, our C5/C6 Registry members. Inevitably, during the course of our conversation, I hear a very common statement, that goes something like this:  

“Corvette was not my high school driver, but it was my high school dream!”

And then this common story continues kind of like this:

“I bought my first Corvette in (such-and-such a year), but my love affair with Chevy’s began with my first Camaro. It was a fabulous (what ever year he had) Ralley Sport, Z28, with a Super Duper small block or rare Big Block, etc., and the story always ends with:  All I did was modify it for more and more horsepower, and man, did I love that car!”

I’m sure they also broke it a lot, but no one really remembers that part of it – only the good times! All their friends pilling in with them to go to the high school football games, driving it to the beach with their bikini-clad girlfriend decorating the passenger seat, showing up at all the 60s drive-ins they could cruise to in a night, and talking BIG to their buddies about how they had beat the pants off those pitiful Cuda’s and pathetic Mustangs. Yes, that is the story of young guys and their Camaros.

I know this story well. When I was 15 and growing up in Miami in 1970, I was fortunate enough to be able to hang around with my best buddy, Mike Surles. Now Surles (that’s what we called him) had a brother named Rick, who was Mr. Everything at the high school.  He had that wonderful charisma that everyone was drawn to.  It was his senior year, and there was no mistaking him in his # 50 football jersey.  He was the fastest and toughest linebacker the North Miami “Pioneers” ever had, and his father had given him a ’67 Camaro Ralley Sport Convertible, Butternut Yellow, black guts, with a black rag top as an early graduation present. It was HOT!  By the way, did I mention that Rick also dated the hottest cheerleader in the entire North Miami Senior High School? So, whenever Rick was heading somewhere in that hot Camaro with that hot cheerleader, Surles and I were always bumming a ride. We didn’t care where he was going with the top down, we just knew we wanted to tag along! The back seat was just fine with us! We also had the opportunity to see how many bodies we could fit in his Camaro for the Saturday night drive-in theater. The answer, in case you were wondering, was seven people who paid at the gate, and one in the trunk with the full-size spare tire, for a total of eight!

With these memories fresh in my mind, when the call came in that there was a ticket available for this very prestigious Camaro unveiling on January 9th at the Cobo Convention Center, I said “Count Me In!” The special surprise was that when I arrived, I found out that I would be invited to a private reception at the Chevrolet Heritage Center along with other hard core Camaro enthusiasts from all over the country to get inspired for the next day’s big event. This wonderful time was lead by Scott Settlemire, the former Camaro and F Body Brand team manager. Scott has always lived and bled F bodies. He can tell you about anything related to these fabulous automobiles. He is the un-official guru of Camaro and Firebirds.  We also had a very special treat in that Jim Perkins, past president of the Chevrolet Motor Car division, and a strong advocate of Camaros and Corvettes, spoke to the group about the excitement that Camaro has brought to people in the past and the enthusiasm he expected the new Camaro to bring in the future. Mr. Perkins still has a couple of Camaros still in his garage and he is certainly in favor of the 2009 Concept being the Camaro of the future.

The next morning we were out in the cold to board the busses for a 6:30 AM departure to the Cobo Center. It was my first experience in Detroit bumper-to-bumper traffic, (20 miles took over an hour) as we all headed downtown for the big unveiling. Once we arrived at the Cobo Center, we were treated like VIPs. The busses unloaded by a back entrance and we were all escorted in to the Hall. We came out right in the middle of the huge Chevrolet display area. It’s now 8:00 and the unveiling is planned for 10:30, so we had time to visit at all the General Motors exhibits. This was Press Only Day, so we really felt like we were something. Since we didn’t have to follow the press groups, we had the exhibit areas all to ourselves. This was really an unexpected pleasure in that every booth I went into, I met the marketing person and the chief engineer of each brand of vehicle. It’s not often that you are looking at a GM product like the Pontiac Solstice GXP and Lori Queen, chief vehicle engineer walks up and asks if she can help me with any information I’d like to know about the Solstice Product Line. I’ve read about Lori Queen for the last couple of years, and all the accomplishments she has realized, and she was everything that I had read about. She really knows her stuff. The best part was that I felt like I was having a one-on-one audience with her. This was repeated at every GM venue I visited.

The Big Hour arrived… It wasn’t hard to miss, as a marching band came down the center of the GM exhibit. This was way cool, as it got everyone’s attention. This was a nice intro as Chevrolet has always been about America, Mom and Apple Pie. We watched as the press began falling all over themselves, trying to get the best picture taking angle for this unprecedented unveiling about to happen.  First we see the past flash before us – a ’67 Camaro, then a ’68, followed by a fabulous ’69 Z28, leading the way on what was to follow! Then the music got louder…the smoke poured out, and out drives Bob Lutz (the MAN) in a Silver 2009 Concept Camaro. And the place went WILD! My recollection was that is was just like the President had walked into the room with 1,000 cameras clicking away. This new Camaro is awesome! So sleek and retro looking, it took my breath away, but it was all because of the memories that Rick gave me and Surles back in 1970.  From that time forward, my love for fast and fun cars grew each and every year until I was able to purchase my first new Corvette in 1978 and go on my honeymoon in it! And then I bought my next Corvette, and the next, and the next… and all that drives me to the hobby I enjoy today.

On April 17, 2005, when I got the phone call from my good buddy Surles, I never thought that he would be calling to tell me that his brother Rick at age 52 had suffered a fatal heart attack and the Good Lord had called him home. Rick always loved his family first, married 31 years to his beautiful wife, and had three wonderful car crazy sons. He always loved having a FUN car to drive. I’m sure he’s back to enjoying that ’67 again!  While I will always miss Rick, he knows I’m still enjoying the memories he gave me!

Now for the Power Chat –

A Moment of Adrenaline... A Lifetime of Performance!

Billy Boat has been a friend of the C5/C6 Registry and a dedicated supporter of our Corvette membership and activities since December 1998.  Billy has always lived by his “performance commitment” which simply means that his exhaust systems are a commitment to excellence and consistency in every detail.  We were very excited when we received his newly updated and redesigned 32-page B&B Performance Exhaust catalog.  Its pages are loaded with hand fabricated performance exhaust components.  By the way, the design of this catalog is truly an eye-catching piece with over 500 part numbers!

Billy Boat Performance Exhaust [Corporate Member WC015] was established in 1989 with a reputation of producing the finest exhaust systems available in the world.  His continued success has allowed him to move into their new 50,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

You can rely on Billy Boat Performance Exhaust for aircraft quality, T304 stainless steel headers and exhaust systems for Corvette, Porsche, Viper, BMW, Cadillac, and most sports cars, trucks and SUVs.

Billy Boat Performance Exhaust has a full array of experienced professionals skilled in the design, development and production of complex exhaust systems and header designs.  Mandrel bending and hand-fabrication insure the exact fit and finish for each application.  You are never expected to compromise and buy a mass-produced product.  From design to delivery, Billy Boat Performance Exhaust offers the best exhaust products and customer service possible.

Members, don’t forget to check out Billy Boat Performance Exhaust web site for all their latest Exhaust products. Give their technical sales staff a call at 888-228-7435 to find out how they can enhance your C5 and C6 Corvette Exhaust needs.

You can visit their web site at  or or you can email their sales staff at . Of course, don’t forget to call them at 888-228-7435 for this fantastic new catalog or visit them in person and take a tour of their state of the art facility at 23045 N. 15th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027

Early Summer 2006 Power Chat

Spring 2006 Power Chat

Winter 2005 Power Chat

Fall 2005 Power Chat

Spring 2004 Power Chat


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