With the 2022 Chevy Camaro making the rounds as an affordable pony car from the bowtie badge company, a lot of enthusiasts are thrilled at the prospect of owning one, tuning it, and maybe even racing it. But how well do you think the new model year will hold up on the drag strip? A lot of you might be scoffing at the idea of an economy class roadster competing with upper-end performance vehicles, but the Camaro has always had a bit of a racing streak in it dating back to its early muscle car days. It’s just a matter of if the newest model year is up to the task.
Many car enthusiasts have been honing their skills and pitting the newer generation Camaro variations against other cars on the market, and the results have been quite impressive in favor of the Camaro. We can definitely get an idea of how well it should do on the drag strip based on the performance of other recent model years, such as the 2020 and especially the 2021 models.
Fine-Tuned for the Right Kind of Performance
For the longest time, the Camaro’s stock runs were without the help of turbochargers, superchargers, or other forced-air induction systems to increase the power output. The naturally aspirated engines meant that the Camaro was coming in at a huge disadvantage during most races against other roadsters, coupes, and even sedans housing turbo or supercharged setups. That was the case just up until the 2017 model year, which is where GM opened up the Camaro to the supercharged LT4 6.2-liter V8 power plant. The Camaro was given a fighting chance against some of its toughest competitors.
After the 2019 refresh, the Camaro was made more capable with the 10-speed automatic transmission, all-new launch control functionality, as well as line-locking for burnouts. More fine-tuning took place for the 2021 model year, where the engineers opted to add the 1LE performance package for the SS trims, including the 1SS and 2SS when paired with the 6.2-liter V8. The performance package includes Recaro bucket seats, 20-inch graphite forged aluminum wheels, magnetic ride control, a complete Brembo brake kit, and a 2.85 rear axle ratio.
Many have used the SS trims with the 1LE package to hit up the track because with the improved braking and the added ride control, in combination with the 10-speed automatic, there’s a lot more off-the-line stability, traction management, and performance to embrace. These minor but important updates to the 2021 model year carried over into the 2022 model year, which is why it makes it easy to see how well a 2022 Camaro would fare on the track based on the 2021 modifications and configurations.
2022’s Retribution for Past Losses
Anyone who has followed drag racing over the last few years knows that in the pony car department, even with a tricked-up trim and supped performance packages, the Camaro usually just couldn’t keep pace with some of its larger rivals. Even the ZL1 trim has been known to fall short in the comparison department against certain powerhouse performance. Though, to be fair, few production cars on the market can hang with the likes of the Dodge Demon or the Corvette Stingray.
However, the Camaro is an economical purchase, and even at the top end of its offerings, it attempts to keep the working man and woman in mind when it comes to the price. So you can’t expect Bugatti levels of performance out of a pony car. This doesn’t mean that the Camaro still can’t throw down on the track when tuned properly and set up against competition of near-equal performance levels.
Oftentimes the reason we see the Camaro taking the big ‘L’ on the drag strip is because it’s facing off against supercharged production dragsters or finely tuned supercars. When you consider that aspect of the equation, it certainly makes the Camaro seem more gallant than you may have first thought. It’s the little pony that actually punches up, and sometimes it wins. In fact, as more people become more comfortable with the way the Camaro handles and fine-tuning their car to drive to their liking, we’ve seen a comeback lately from Chevy’s economical muscle car on the drag strip.
The Camaro vs the World
With the 2022 Chevy Camaro sharing the same power plant configuration as the 2021 model year, you can gauge the performance of the 2021 model to determine how well the 2022 Camaro might fare on the drag strip as more enthusiasts give it a go and take it out to race against the competition. The latest iteration of the marque sports four different powertrain options, but if you were planning on heading to the drag strip, there’s really only one configuration worth considering: the 6.2-liter supercharged direct-injection V8 which is exclusive to the Camaro ZL1 trim.
The hungry V8 is paired with a standard 6-speed manual transmission, but there is the available automatic transmission with paddle shifters, even for the ZL1. However, serious racers prefer to read (or feel) the revs for themselves and shift according to what they know best to maximize the power output from the vehicle. And how much power does the supercharged V8 in the 2022 Chevy Camaro output? About 650 horses with 650 pound-feet of torque. No, it’s not Dodge Demon numbers, but it’s still enough to be quite capable in the hands of people who know how to burn rubber and time their launches.
In fact, the 2021 Camaro basically laid down the gauntlet at the drag strip in Florida, where it faced off against a number of opponents, including a Mustang GT and even a Dodge Charger, coming out victorious in many cases. It shows that it can still outperform some of its nearest rivals in the right hands on the quarter-mile strip. YouTube outlet AutoHaven1320 managed to capture the action where the Camaro looked mighty fine on the tarmac.
2022 Chevy COPO Camaro for the Win
While the stock 2021 and 2022 Camaro are already proving to be viable drag contenders in the right hands, Chevy decided to make things easier with the 2022 COPO Camaro. The COPO Camaro is specially outfitted with a big block V8 as a call back to the 1969 COPO Camaro. Sporting two different power plants, one is a supercharged 350-cubic inch 5.7-liter V8 that pushes out 580 horsepower, while the other is a naturally aspirated 427-cubic inch 7.0-liter V8 that puts down 470 horsepower.
I don’t think that you will be driving a 2022 COPO Camaro to your local grocery market, though. The COPO Camaro is only allowed to be used on the track, as it’s designed to compete in NHRA tournaments. If you specifically wanted a Camaro to go head-to-head against some of the other more beastly rivals in the form of the Dodge Demon, the Shelby GT500 Mustang, or even fellow siblings like the Chevy Corvette Stingray, then the COPO is the solution to all your problems.
Even still, without the larger V8 engines in the COPO model, the 2022 Chevy Camaro with the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 and the right kind of care, tires, oil, and fuel management can still be a huge threat on the drag strip against segment rivals. A lot of it boils down to how well a driver can match synergy with the Camaro’s capabilities. Even if it doesn’t have supercar performance ratings (and why would it be? It’s an affordable pony car), you can still eke out a win or two with precision handling and maximizing the Camaro’s off-the-line launch control.