We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you drive.” The saying is derived from many factors – age, sex, family size, economic status, etc. When talking about Bobby Scolo, it’s easy to see how deep road racing roots shaped his awesome, corner-carving Camaro RS ownership.
Robert Scolo is a Long Island native, and he’s been a GM/bowtie head since his earliest days. His dad, Bill, was a service-writer for a Brooklyn Chevy dealer and his mom, Catherine, had an affinity for cars too. This parental openness to the automobile was definitely an influence. By his teens, Bobby was frequenting street races, wrenching on anything with four wheels, and buying and selling them too.
At 17, Bobby received his first car. It was a ’63 Buick Riviera, dark blue with a beige interior. Bobby had the big Riv’ for three years, using it to go to work at a lumber yard and delivering prescriptions for a pharmacy. Although the Bill Mitchell-designed, personal luxury car was a nice ride, it was a huge departure from what came next.
By 1977, Bobby had enough of his big Buick and started to look for something more his speed. Bobby had an eye for the second-Gen Camaro. It had smooth European styling and a reputation for superior handling.
He soon found what he was looking for in Long Island’s Newsday classifieds. It was a real deal 1970 Camaro RS, with a not-stock 327-cube motor and a floor-shifted three-speed Saginaw trans. It was a factory split-bumper car with the deluxe interior, but manual steering/brakes. And it was originally a green car, which someone had painted light blue. Bobby describes the first year of the second-Gen bowtie pony car as being “a real s**tbox,” but it was rust-free, running/driving, so he snagged it for a grand.
Bobby had no intention of flipping his new Camaro. Rather, he saw it as a keeper, something he would work on and improve over time. Bobby recalls being enthralled by the ’68 movie Bullitt. Although the Stang and Charger in the iconic car chase were not known for their handling prowess, watching them negotiate the hills and streets of San Fran, left a lasting impression.
Mixing and Fixing:
Bobby wasted no time whipping the Camaro into shape. First, he rebuilt the rearend. Next he yanked the trans and installed a wide-ratio M21 four-speed. Then came a full black interior and headliner and a new ignition system, to make it a comfortable and reliable driver. Wrenching on a working man’s budget, Bobby got everything from scrapyards or rebuilt components from local shops.
Bobby beefed-up the suspension with KONI shocks at all four corners and a pair of Herb Adams sway bars with solid metal joints. It all rolled on Western slot wheels, wrapped in Goodyear Wing Foot all-weather race-rubber. This set up was only the beginning, since Bobby’s daily driving habits and hardcore highway antics, blew the trans and/or rear more than he’d like to remember.
To open the ‘80s, Bobby changed to a Doug Nash five-speed, or “Doug trash” as he calls it and set of 3.73 gears. Then, he dropped-in a 10.1 compression Chevy 350ci motor. From 1983 to ’85, Bobby attended the College of Aeronautics in Queens, graduating with honors. Combining his higher education and self-taught mechanic skills, Bobby tweaked his Camaro constantly through the ‘80s and ’90s.
Walking the Walk:
In 1986, Bobby was ready to test his ambitions and his guts. He enrolled in the Bertil Roos Racing School at Pocono Raceway. After the $900, three-day course was complete, Bobby attained half of his Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) license. He would have to finish a regional race without incident, for the other half. As a perk, the instructor let Bobby burn down the main straight in his Camaro. He proudly states, “I got it up to 140 mph.”
In ’87, after a winning stint piloting a Renyard race car in Formula Continental (F2) class, the four-cylinder open-wheeler broke. This forced Bobby to start looking for a sponsor. In 1991, he found one and raced a GT1-class Camaro in the 24-Hours of Daytona. Even though mechanical issues ensued, the owner was impressed and invited Bobby back for the ’92 event where he completed more than 110 laps, finishing seventh in class.
In ’94, Bobby was sponsored by Dura Lube in a televised International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), six-hour event at Watkins Glen. Then he went on to race in a Ralt RT40 for Formula Atlantic class. These multiple-sanctioned racing competitions not only made Bobby a better and more experienced driver, but it also cemented his knowledge of what makes a real road race car. Soon he would apply this knowledge to his ride.
Road and Track:
By Y2K, Bobby was ready to take his Camaro RS to the next level. After 23 years of daily cruising, rubber roasting, and transporting Bobby to interstate racing events, it was showing its age and a little rust too. Bobby admits to putting at least 100,000-hard miles on the pony cars clock.
Bobby called-upon his brother-in-law Kenny to get the wheels of progress turning. Bobby describes Kenny as a talented body and paint man with Jedi-like metal-fabrication skills. Kenny was working for multiple dealerships down in Daytona Beach, Florida, at the time, so Bobby took a road trip to bring him the car. Having painted the Camaro once before, Kenny had a few reservations about the project. But, after some brotherly coaxing, he took on the job.
After a quick strip-down of the car, Kenny massaged the Camaro’s body for a further two years. This included the necessary body/metal/paintwork and hand-laying fiberglass for fitment of the cowl hood, decklid, and front-grille surround (nose). The deep finish is Astro Blue, a 1970 Camaro color. Kenny also took charge of installing a full, fresh interior. By the spring of ’02 Kenny’s work was complete and he shipped the Camaro back up to New York.
From this point on, Bobby was hands-on all the way. He first beefed-up stopping power, installing Baer slotted and drilled Eradispeed aluminum hat rotors, 14-inch fronts and 12-inch rears, with four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers.
For the suspension, Bobby applied his racing acumen, maximizing and modernizing the stock system. In front are Hotchkis single-adjustable shocks and thick upper control arms with Delrin (thermoplastic) bushings, for minimal deflection.
Out back, Bobby fabricated and installed his own tunable third member, replacing the stock multi-leaf springs with constant-rate monoleaf units. Bobby says this eliminated wheel hop and shed about 50-pounds off the car. Completing the firm race-bred ride, are QA1 single-adjustable shocks.
Cut/weld-in aftermarket subframe connectors tie it all together and keep things rigid. It all sits on sick, chrome Intro wheels, 17×9.5 front and 17×11 rear, wrapped in Kumho V710 soft compound DOT street-legal racing slicks, 275/40R17 front and 315/35R17 rear.
In 2013, Bobby finalized the heart of his beautiful blue beast. He sought the invaluable expertise of Lee at Lab Engine Specialists in Lindenhurst New York Again, using his racers knowledge, Bobby knew his Camaro had all the right components to handle big power, so, that’s exactly what it got.
Top- and bottom-end internals include a forged Callies Dragon Slayer 4340 crankshaft with H-beam connecting rods, JE pistons, chromoly pushrods, and JESEL Pro Shaft rocker arms and titanium retainers. Down below, a Stef’s Performance aluminum road race oil pan holds the necessary lubrication.
Wielding the dyno-proven 625-hp/540 lb-ft is a Richmond Gear Super Street five-speed/overdrive transmission and an Eaton Truetrac (LSD) with 3.42 gears. The rear axles are Moser 31-spline pieces with custom-fabricated Ford 9-inch hub plates welded on. Bobby gives loads of kudos to his buddy Sean for helping install the rear, rebuild the trans, and fit the scattershield (bellhousing) and Quicktime clutch block plate.
Emitting what can only be described as a deep race-car-like howl are Dynamax 1 3/4-inch-primary longtube headers with 3-inch collectors breathing through 3-inch mandrel-bent pipe. It all exits from a pair of Flowmaster Super 40 race mufflers with 2 ½-inch factory-style tailpipes.
As the icing on his race-inspired cake, Bobby added a few neat and functional features. In the cockpit, to keep his butt securely-planted and comfy, Bobby installed Recaro front sport seats with four-point race harnesses. He grips a smaller GT steering wheel and monitors RPM, oil pressure, temp, air/fuel ratio, and volts via a set of white-faced Autometer Phantom gauges.
Even more trick – under the hood, Bobby custom-fabricated an opening to seal with the air cleaner and a vent for cowl-inhaled outside air to cool the firewall-mounted MSD ignition box. The trunk is a thing of beauty, with a rear-mounted battery and kick-ass stereo components. To emulate its great SCCA Trans-Am road race history and because he “likes ‘em,” Bobby applied a full adornment of Z/28 badges.
Bobby is content with his 42-year-old project and has no plans to add anything at this time. The Camaro hasn’t seen a road course since ’04, and Bobby states, “how much can you beat on something”. It seems, even a true road warrior knows when to say when.
He enjoys going to shows and roasting the rear meats every chance he gets. Once again, Bobby extends thanks to Lee at Lab Racing Engines for sorting the motor, his bother-in-law Kenny for his bodywork artistry, his buddy Sean for helping with the trans and rear, and of course his wife Diana for all her support.
See ya on the road, Bobby.