Stephen Sorenson; Morgan Hill, California
1970 Chevrolet Camaro #11 - Originally driven by Larry Drove, Larry Dent, Larry Bock, Hiroshi Fushida, & Carmon Solomone

Engine Type: Small Block Chevy V8
Displacement: 302 c.i.d.

Documented History: 

Laurel Racing owned and raced this Camaro. Laurel Racing was owned by Larry Drover, who is also one of the drivers of the car. In 1968 and 1969, Laurel Racing successfully campaigned a 1968 Camaro in Trans-Am, A Sedan, and endurance races. As a result of this success, in 1970, Chevrolet Product Performance was willing to support Laurel Racing’s race effort in Chevrolet’s new Camaro body style.

Chevrolet Product Performance assigned Bill Howell to engineer the effort. Bill Howell was the Chevrolet engineer assigned to Penske when Mark Donohue raced Camaros in the Trans-Am series. When Penske moved to American Motors, Bill Howell became available to other Trans-Am teams.

In addition to engineering support, Chevrolet Product Performance provided parts to construct and race the car.

Trans-Am Races:

  • Lime Rock, 1971
  • Bryar, 1971
  • Road America, 1971
  • Mid-Ohio, 1972
  • Road America, 1972

In 1971, Fushida Racers approached Laurel Racing about the possibility of sponsoring the Camaro in the Trans-Am series. One of the requirements of the sponsorship agreement was that the car be driven by Hiroshi Fushida. Hiroshi was an accomplished driver in many forms of racing. In addition, he had funding. Hiroshi Fushida is the son of the owner of the largest kimono manufacturer in Japan.

A deal was struck, and Hiroshi raced the Camaro at the Bryar Trans-Am race in 1971. By qualifying fourteenth, Hiroshi established that he could adapt to the car quickly. Two months later, he drove the Camaro at the Trans-Am event at Road America. This event ended poorly for all concerned. Hiroshi wrecked the car spectacularly. He went through a guard rail and hit a tree. He was trapped in the car for two hours. He suffered some broken bones, but no lasting injuries.

Hiroshi never raced in the Trans-Am series again. However, he did make a successful return to racing. He raced in Formula 1 Grand Prix and in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He was also a Toyota works driver. After retiring as a driver, he stayed active in car construction and racing. He is operations director at Bentley, and spearheaded their return to Le Mans in 2001.

The Laurel Racing Camaro was fixed and returned to racing.

For those of us passionate about the Trans-Am series, there is a silver lining to Hiroshi’s spectacular crash. In 1971, a Japanese race driver in the U.S. was unusual. In fact, Hiroshi was the first Japanese driver to compete in the T/A series. This event generated stories in the press. The wreck itself was so spectacular that many photos of the car were taken.  These stories and photos have contributed to the accurate restoration of the car.

Sponsors:

  • Chevrolet Product Performance
  • Goodyear
  • Fushida Racers

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