Lakeside "The Professor" 71 Camaro
2012 SEMA Mothers Shine Award
2012 Goodguys Muscle Machine of the Year
2012 CASI Cup winner at Detroit and Omaha
With street machines in vogue these days, it is not difficult to see that the bar has been raised many times in the past. Builders from all over the nation and many parts of the world strive to build the perfect car, and while the perfect car is unobtainable, the cars built in this current age are getting closer to that lofty goal.
Dave and Karen Leisinger from Wall Lake, SD are Camaro enthusiasts to an extreme. Some of the more notable cars in their collection include the "Grumpy" Jenkins 1967 Camaro, a 70 Camaro named the "Crusher" and most notably a 67 Camaro named "Scar" which was awarded the Goodguys Street Machine of the Year in 2010. All of their past builds have been built using exquisite styling with fit, finish form and function as priorities accomplished and adhered to. By the way, none of their builds are "trailer queens"! Rather, their collection of Camaros have been run hard on the Autocross tracks across the nation and have been at or near the top of all races that they participated in. Josh Leisinger, Karen and Dave's oldest son piloted the "Professor" to a 44.407 second lap at the Goodguys Midwestern Nationals in Kansas City, good enough to place third in the highly competitive Street Machine class. Josh later took the 70 Camaro known as the "Crusher" to the win that day in the same class! Jared, Dave & Karen's youngest son is also a Camaro enthusiast and will be piloting one of the Camaros one day soon. Sounds to me like Josh and Jared could be "double trouble" for the competition in the future!
With Karen coordinating the "Scar" build and doing so quite successfully, it was now Dave's turn to organize a build that would become known as the "Professor". This 71 Camaro was about to become a very radically restyled street machine, and rightfully so since it is a tribute car for one of the all time great pro stock drivers and team owners, Warren Johnson! Initially Dave contacted and then conversed with artist Eric Brockmeyer about all aspects of the body reshaping and personally when I saw the early renderings my jaw hit the ground. The body lines were much improved and better than the original GM design in both beauty and function.
Enter Roger Burman. Roger, his crew at Lakeside Rods and Rides and all specialty shops involved were about to embark on a journey that was going to push all of our collective skills to "warp factor 7". With such a radical build at hand, ways in which certain jobs are accomplished were reinvented and done so quickly so the build could progress on schedule. Visualized in one of Eric's renderings, body mods were many and the "degree of difficulty" was set at a very high level. Not only did Lakeside perform all the necessary body mods, they also painted the car using 2010 Porsche Silver PPG base coat/clear coat with Hot Licks blue accent in a satin finish used to highlight the striping.
We (J & B Microfinish) milled the solid billet hood scoops that provide fresh cool air to the hungry Warren Johnson power pant. Starting life as a chunk of 1 ½" thick billet plate, that weighed 19 pounds ended up, after all the milling operations were completed top and bottom, weighing just 4 ½ pounds! The weight reduction of the scoops reduced the total weight of the hood so that standard billet hood hinges could be used. We were also asked by Roger to make some taillight bezels with divider bars and a license plate frame, both machined to have the same outer and inner angles to coincide with the Brockmeyer rendering.
The "Professors" drive train consists of a Warren Johnson built 800 plus HP, 500 cu in LX1! This incredibly powerful power plant is hooked up to a 4L85E transmission that was modified and prepped with billet parts by Gearstar so it would withstand the large quantum of horsepower and torque this Warren Johnson built engine freely gives. We (J&B Microfinish) made a stout ¾" thick transmission cross member, complete with milled triangular holes cut into it to decrease weight and add style. The mounting bolt holes were countersunk so the bolt would have a flush fit to the cross members face. Lakeside fabricated the 9 inch Ford differential housing and then used a Watts link with coil overs for the rear suspension. Art Morrison provided one of their tube chassis' and it was modified by the Lakeside crew to accommodate the above mentioned driveline components and other factors. The chassis and suspension were expertly powder coated by Greg Peterson owner of Extreme Powder Coating of Blooming Prairie, MN. The front suspension consists of a C-6 Vette with coil overs. A set of Boze wheels 18 x 8 up front and 20 x 12 rear were utilized and mounted to Michelin rubber.
Dan Weber Custom Interiors performed all of the stitch work in black leather. Dan and his crew also fabricated the aluminum trim that was fastened to the lower dash and door cards. The five dash bezels and divider bars were made by us (J & B Microfinish) and again were turned and milled to coincide with Eric Brockmeyer's rendering to encompass a very unique frontal shape. A one-off set of Dakota Digital gauges designed with back lit faces were installed and wired into the "Professors" wiring harness.
The first event the "Professor" was scheduled to participate in was the Detroit Autorama. Detroit has a reputation for attracting the worlds best custom cars. When everything was said and done, the "Professor" was awarded the CASI Cup (which is the Autorama's Best of Show award). It also was awarded the Best Custom and Pro Touring awards. The Omaha "World of Wheels" was next up and again the "Professor" won the CASI Cup, Best Custom and Pro Touring awards. It also was awarded the Mid America Gold Cup at this event. Most notably the "Professor" was awarded the 2012 Goodguys "Muscle Machine of the Year" award and will appear at the Goodguys Scottsdale event as one of the "Terrific Twelve" award winners and also has been awarded the highly sought after 2012 SEMA Mothers Shine award in Las Vegas. Congrats to the Leisinger family! The Professor was also awarded a Goodguys Street Machine of the Year Finalist award at Columbus.
So with a culmination of many hours of hard work and thought by the entire team, from the initial drawings Eric & Dave created to the final bolts that were installed and tightened by Roger, Marshall Starrett and the Lakeside crew, and every process in between, the final result is a successful build that will be admired for years to come.