There was a time when life was simple. Race cars were built using race parts and street cars were put together with factory parts. But as time progressed more street cars started being pressed into occasional track duty. The result was that parts that held up fine under “performance street” situations just weren’t up to the task of being thrashed on at the track. The obvious cure was to put race-bred parts into the street car, but bits designed for the track sometimes alter the demeanor of a street car. It’s a fine line that needs to be carefully negotiated.
Our 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 project car has been plagued with an annoying clutch issue. At high rpm, like seen on a road course or dragstrip, shifting was nearly impossible. It would either grind or just flat out refuse to go into gear. We replaced the clutch, added shims, and bled it over and over, to no avail. We even tried doing the “drill mod” to our factory GM clutch master, but the problem persisted.
Eventually, someone pointed us over to Tick Performance. After talking with them, it was determined that the problem was our GM clutch master. It seems like GM didn’t want to pay for transmissions and related parts under warranty, so they designed the clutch master to be particularly anemic and slow to transfer fluid. This slowed down shifts and, even though it killed performance, kept the warranty costs down. Our weak master became even more problematic with the addition of an aftermarket clutch, which tends to require more fluid to disengage.
Their solution was to fabricate a bracket, which would let LS-powered fourth-gens run a race (and street) proven Tilton clutch master. This is the same sort used in NASCAR and is capable of feeding enough fluid to even the most hard-core race clutch. The bigger bore results in a shorter pedal, which is great for quick shifts, and the adjustability enables the user to dial in their engagement and disengagement points.
The part prices out at just over $300 and expect to spend a couple of hours doing the swap. A lift isn’t needed, but you’ll need to get under the car to disconnect the clutch master line from the trans and wrangle out a few bolts holding in a heat shield. Considering what a pain iffy shifting can be, we think this is a mod every manual trans ’98- 02 Camaro owner should look into.
For the install, we cruised over to Don Lee Auto, in Rancho Cucamonga, California.