The 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1 packs an awesome 580 horsepower and recently lapped the famed Nürburgring in 7:41.27 seconds. While all that power and suspension upgrades helped the ZL1 reach 170 mph on the Nürburgring course, aerodynamics also played a role in helping the ZL1 maintain stability and steering response on the track.
“The Camaro ZL1 lapped the Nürburgring in an incredible 7:41.27 seconds, which would not have been possible without work of our aerodynamics team,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “The design of the ZL1 creates downforce like a race car, harnessing air pressure to press the tires against the track for extra grip and control at high speeds.”
GM’s engineers had a goal of generating downforce for improved handling, but at the same time minimizing the amount of increased drag, which would reduce fuel economy and the Camaro ZL1’s top speed.
GM made changes to seven elements of the ZL1 to contribute to the downforce:
1. The front fascia gets reshaped to minimize lift, while the lower opening is larger than in the Camaro SS to provide more airflow to the engine’s intercooler heat exchanger.
2. The ZL1’s hood has a vented, carbon fiber insert, contributing to both engine cooling and aerodynamic downforce. The vents draw air up from the engine bay, which helps keep the front tires connected to the road.
3. The ZL1 gets a racing-style splitter instead of a traditional front air dam.
4. The front tires have deflectors that push airflow around the wheels and tires more efficiently, which reduces lift and drag.
5. The Zl1 gets two belly pans, one beneath the engine cradle and one at the rear of the engine assembly. Both extend the width of the chassis out to the wheelhouse opening, to minimize airflow turbulence under the car.
6. Carefully shaped rocker panels help reduce lift and drag.
7. The ZL1’s rear spoiler that is taller and wider than the Camaro SS’s spoiler helps contribute approximately 150 pounds of down force at the cost of only 1 count of drag.