Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Photography by Caleb Painter/BMJxProductions
A leader in turn-key builds, Tin Soldiers Racecars (TSR) of Covington, Kentucky, is known for producing wicked heads-up, small-tire racecars. Co-owners Jason Terrell and Brad Schnieders also are revered for their impressive program on the track, and Terrell will be taking the reins for one of their customers this season in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street.
In late 2016, Terrell was approached by the father and son team of Mike and Samuel Farmer about putting together a new project based around the ’80 Chevy Camaro that Sam drove to high school as a teenager.
“When we first started talking, they just wanted an 8.50-cert cage,” remembered Terrell, who especially enjoys the father-son dynamic his two customers share as his father, Ron, is a well-known NHRA Super Stock racer and a huge inspiration for his own career. “But, they decided they didn’t want to do the chassis work more than once, so we agreed to build the nicest car they could and gradually put in better engines as Sam got more acquainted with driving it.”
TSR makes purchasing its racecars easy with complete car packages, and the Farmers selected the Ultra Street/X275 bundle, which includes a dual-cert 25.2/25.3 SFI chromoly chassis and Smith Racecraft tubular front end, as well as many other high-end items.
“We literally built it from the ground up. The floor and everything came out, and it’s all carbon fiber from the main hoop back including the carbon tubs,” noted Terrell of the top-of-the-line Camaro.
Menscer Motorsports front struts and rear shocks are also a part of each TSR package, but the Camaro was destined to reuse its factory-style leaf spring setup. TSR had an upgrade for that, too, of course, as the company’s adjustable leaf spring mount kit offers a wide range of adjustability, similar to a standard four-link setup. Similarly, Smith Racecraft Assassin traction bars were added to complement the leaf springs.
A TSR-fabricated 9-inch rearend housing along with Strange Engineering 40-spline axles come standard with the Ultra Street/X275 package, and the Farmers’ Camaro was also equipped with a set of Strange brakes and RC Components wheels.
“We spent a lot of time gutting the body and doing all the carbon work, so the car makes weight even with the factory doors and roll-up/down windows still in place,” Terrell explained. To facilitate maintenance and working on it, though, a one-piece fiberglass front end was installed. “It fits the classes really well while still being street car-ish.”
The TSR team wrapped up work on the Camaro in early ’17, and the Farmer men raced it locally for a few years. At the time, it had a stock bottom end LS engine, a bit unusual for a car of its caliber, but the engine has since progressed along with Sam’s driving skills.
The Farmers had a goal of running in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street and Ultra Street, but still needed a bit of assistance from TSR in getting everything sorted out. And, as the TSR guys were already in the process of building a new NMCA Mickey Thompson Street Outlaw/X275 entry (an LS-powered and turbocharged ’86 Mustang), they were in need of an interim shop car.
In a mutually beneficial agreement, it was decided that Terrell wound take the reins of the Camaro for NMCA duty, while Schnieders would continue to tune its Holley EFI engine management system as he had already been doing for the past several seasons.
As it now sits, the Camaro is equipped with a stock block, 365ci LS engine that’s been upgraded with a complete Brian Tooley Racing valvetrain. The smaller displacement will enable the men to enjoy a bit of a weight break for the category, while a 76mm class-legal Precision turbocharger provides enough boost to put the power level where it needs to be. Finally, an RPM Transmissions-built Powerglide and PTC converter were added to complete the combination.
“We’re planning to be at every NMCA race for the rest of the year with me driving and Brad tuning, starting in Atlanta,” stated Terrell, who missed the season opener in Florida so that he could be with his wife for the birth of their son. “Sam will step in locally and maybe run some Ultra Street races along the way.”
Considering the success Tin Soldiers Racecars has had with its sick builds over the years, as well as the success that Terrell and Schnieders had with their Limited 235 SN95 Mustang, it looks like the group will be bound for glory right in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street from the hit.