Growing up in a household where performance-oriented Camaros were a major part of the landscape, Brian Hobaugh's parents performed a tricky balancing act between attending his dad, Steve's, bi-monthly autocross events and keeping a young Brian involved in youth sports programs such as soccer, baseball, and football throughout his formative years. The Hobaugh clan was a busy bunch. Although Brian excelled at ball sports up to his high school days, the overwhelming influence of his dad's racing became more attractive as he got closer to getting his driver's license. There was no doubt that racing was in his blood.
Brian tells it best. “My dad had a ’74 Camaro until I was about 9 years old then purchased a ’72 Z28, which he raced throughout the rest of my youth. His fellow competitors also had first- and early second-gen Camaros – cars that should today be considered the first Pro Touring cars. They were all street driven, had the largest wheels and tires they could stuff under the fenders, used the best suspension components available at the time, and they raced them hard. I loved every minute of it.”
With racing in his lineage, the San Francisco Bay Area youngster was autocrossing his dad’s newly acquired ’65 Corvette at age 16, a mere four days after getting his driver’s license. This activity went on for the next 25 years and netted Brian some serious driving skills.
With the Vette getting a little tired it was time for a new project. So Brian and his dad set their sights on another second-gen – a car they could enjoy building and racing together. But this would be no average run-of-the mill autocross/street car. “If we were going to build a car from scratch,” informs Brian, “it needs to be the best handling Camaro that conforms to the SCCA C Prepared class and be street legal. With the time and money spent on this car, it also has to be competitive on a national level, and I want to be able to drive it on the street, too.”
Yet to have an actual car in their possession, the father and son duo did have a clear plan for the build. Casual conversation with fellow racer, national autocross champion, and Camaro Performers magazine columnist Mary Pozzi led to some discussion about a '73 she had behind the shop collecting dust and playing home to a number of freeloading wildlife critters. Although she had informal plans of using the not-so-nice, blue-vinyl-topped F-body as a future project, she could tell Brian was hot for it. The fact that he'd be building a full-on performance car sealed the deal as Mary is all about doing her part in keeping the hobby at the forefront - a decision that may have bitten her in the hindquarters, as she just enabled another fierce competitor into the fray.
With most of the parts torn from their newly acquired Camaro hitting the scrap pile, Brian and his dad were on their way. They sent the shell to second-generation racer Mike Maier at Maier Racing in nearby Hayward, California, with specific instructions: To design and build the most kick-ass suspension ever made for a ’73 Camaro. Nothing off-the-shelf here. Maier’s vast knowledge of suspension runs deep, as he’s a long-time autocross champion, and his father, Bill Maier, was a Trans-Am racer from back in the day. These guys know their stuff. The upper and lower control arms, spindles, sway bars, three-link rear suspension are all custom Maier one-offs. Even veteran national autocross champion Frank Stagnaro jumped in on the design and fabrication portion of the build. The team settled the system on Hyperco springs and JRI adjustable ST/08 shocks with remote canisters front and rear for easy accessibility and quick adjustment.
With welder and years of experience in hand, Steve Hobaugh got busy torching in the custom Maier Racing rollcage. Brian made it a point to ensure the car be absolutely safe, as it will see quite a bit of high-speed action during open track days throughout its lifetime.