The Creation of a Race Car: Pontiac introduces SC/T Ram-Air Hood on NHRA Pro Stock Grand Am. DETROIT, May 22, 2002 - Driving excitement is the proud heritage of the Pontiac Motor Division. For more than 75 years Pontiac has led the way ...
The Creation of a Race Car:
Pontiac introduces SC/T Ram-Air Hood on NHRA Pro Stock Grand Am.
DETROIT, May 22, 2002 - Driving excitement is the proud heritage of the Pontiac Motor Division. For more than 75 years Pontiac has led the way in producing high-performance automobiles that have captured victories on the racetrack and the adventurous passion of consumers in showrooms across America. In keeping with its commitment to driving excitement, Pontiac will introduce the SC/T Ram Air front-end on its Pro Stock Grand Ams this weekend at the O'Reilly NHRA Nationals in Topeka, Kan.
The impetus for incorporating the sportier SC/T Ram-Air hood was simple; to further promote Pontiac's motorsports legacy of "racing what we sell," while capitalizing on the shared DNA between the SC/T Ram-Air Grand Am and its quarter-mile counterpart.
"We race the Pontiac Grand Am in Pro Stock for two reasons," said Grand Am Marketing Director Jim Panaretos. "We want to sell as many Pontiacs as we can to NHRA fans, and leverage our outstanding on-track performance with non-race fans, solidifying our marketing positioning of sports car excitement with room for everyday life."
The term Ram Air strikes a long and thunderous chord with the American sports car enthusiast. Since 1965 Pontiac has used the designation to describe the cold-air induction system on its stable of high-performance, gasoline-burning gladiators. Ram Air was first introduced in mid-year '65 on the Tri-Powered GTO as an over-the-counter accessory package. In 1966, Pontiac built 190 GTOs with a Ram-Air engine that included not only the Ram-Air pan that made the open-hood scoop functional, but it also came equipped with special camshaft and valvetrain.
In 1967, Ram Air was released on both the GTO and the first-year Firebirds, and continued on Pontiac's fleet of muscle cars until it was phased out in the '70s. In 1996, Pontiac reintroduced Ram Air on the Firebird Trans Am, which was equipped with the WS6 LT1 5.7L V8 engine.
Since 1999, Ram Air has been standard on the Grand Am GT and GT1, which come equipped with the 3400 3.4L OHV V6 engine. The Ram-Air enhancement helps boost output to 175 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 205 lb-foot of torque at 4000 rpm.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Pontiac Grand Am SC/T Roadster NHRA pace car in 2001, plans were put in place to make the SC/T performance package available to the consumer starting in '02. This is the same, sporty front-end configuration now being applied to the Grand Ams' NHRA Pro Stock counterpart.
But applying the new production-car contour to the racecar without losing any performance was no small task.
In mid-December of 2001, a steel production-car SC/T Ram-Air hood was shipped to Kirkman Composites in Monmouth, Ill. With assistance from six-time NHRA champion Warren Johnson, Kirkman Composites developed a workable prototype that was installed on WJ's Pro Stock Grand Am for a January 11 wind-tunnel test session at the GM Tech Center.
After adding some final cosmetic touches to the front end at his Georgia race shop, Johnson shipped the entire racecar back to Kirkman Composites where lasers were used to eliminate any design flaws, and to match the back-half of the race car with the new SC/T front-end. During the entire design and manufacturing process, GM Racing and the NHRA worked together to ensure that the new front end met the NHRA Tech Department's strict guidelines. After close scrutiny and eventual approval by the NHRA Competition Committee, the final piece went to Five Star RaceCar Bodies in Twin Lakes, Wis., for production. The new SC/T Ram Air hoods were then shipped to the various Pontiac Pro Stock teams for installation just in time for the O'Reilly Summer Nationals.
Although the main focus of the new Pro Stock Ram-Air hood centers on complimenting Pontiac's drag racing marketing strategy, the reconfigured front-end should also help to improve the on-track performance of the Grand Am.
"From a racing perspective, it's a question of balance," said Josh Peterson, GM Racing engineer. "The 2002 Ram-Air front end improves the car by shifting more downforce towards the rear of the car. That equates to more weight on the rear tires so we can accelerate them a lot quicker through the gears. Going through the air there are some slight improvements, but nothing significant, although there are some slight reductions in drag based on the improved balance of the racecar."
GM Racing Marketing Manager Fred Simmonds adds, "The great thing about it is that we're killing two birds with one stone. From a marketing perspective, the NHRA provides us with an outstanding arena to showcase the sportier SC/T Ram-Air Grand Am, and from a racing standpoint, we get an improved car with neutral balance. It's a win-win for Pontiac."