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1999 Chevrolet Camaro SS - The Judmobile

We Follow Along With The School Of Automotive Machinists' Hella-Fast LSX Camaro... You Comin'?

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If you don't know who Judson Massingill is, let us give you an introduction. In the late '70s, Jud was a drag racer and a car guy just like you or me. His racing exploits began on the streets with a '69 Z/28 Camaro that eventually evolved into an NHRA stocker. Jud was successful for a while. Then as the rules began to change and the cars got faster and more expensive, money got tight and he was unable to compete in the faster classes. This was during the time when circle track racing was still cheap, so Jud hung up the wheelie bars for a funny offset chassis and went roundy-round on the half-mile oval.

If you know anything about drag racing and circle track, you know those two sports eat parts. To feed the appetite, Jud worked at garages that built race cars to learn a little more and earn the money he needed to race his cars and attend the University of Houston during the day. Despite the two competing responsibilities, Jud won some races and attracted some attention. Soon, he was offered a job working with a fledgling Winston Cup team, which he took on in place of the evening job, and his career was on its way.

After graduating from college, Jud opened his own shop, Northwest Engine and Supply, to handle the demands of circle track racing and ensure the quality of the machine work and engines that went into his race cars. His reputation for quality attracted clients as well as lines of potential employees looking to learn something about the industry. Business was good, but Jud began to notice that his employees would stay for a year, learn what they needed to know, then move down the street and start shops of their own. Jud was bringing sponsors in to teach them how to work on their own cars as well. Facing a growing number of people wishing to learn about engines, Jud hatched the plan to start the School of Automotive Machinists (SAM). Working from his machine shop, he quickly built a roster of potential students, and the school was born.

Today, SAM cranks out students who work on most of the major NHRA Pro Stock teams, in addition to people who want to start their own shops or get a cool job building race engines. Each year, Jud teaches between 125 and 140 students using nine different theory and hands-on classes to get them ready for jobs in the industry. The school uses what is called continuous start, where students take an orientation course, a hands-on tool course, then rotate into the curriculum until all the courses are completed.

It's not all schoolwork and classrooms. Jud takes students out to races to see how a serious operation works. He's not satisfied with merely watching the race; he wants the students to understand what decisions are made in the pits and how they relate to the race itself. The races aren't mandatory, but everyone has the opportunity to attend. Jud had 36 students attending the NMCA finals to race the school's '99 Camaro SS. It would be nice to have that kind of a crew, wouldn't it?

The car is on wheel blocks and jackstands, so don't hyperventilate about the 2x4s under the pumpkin.

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