Blackdog Speed Shop Visit and Shop Tour

On October 20th, the Chicago Region SCCA members and friends were guests of Blackdog Speed Shop to visit and tour their brand new facility which houses a state of the art Speed Shop.  This shop features a full race shop, full hot rod shop, Dyno room, and performance car dealership. Blackdog Speed Shop is also home base for Blackdog Racing Team Chevy Camaro GT4.R.  Four time Pirelli World Challenge GTS Champions, 2013, 1014, 2015, 2017. The Chicago Region SCCA invited our membership and race fans in the area to join us for some coffee and doughnuts and to tour the Blackdog Shop.  Mike Hawley, Tony Gaples; President and Team Principal, and Ray Sorenson; Vice-President and Race Team Manager were all on hand to meet and great our visitors. Sixty Five people came to the gathering and Tony, Ray, and Mike took the time to speak with everyone and answered questions about the Speed Shop and the Race Team.

Photos by Mark Hirt

As you walk in the front door of the Speed Shop the first thing you see is the team’s 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GTS class Camaro race car.  On the wall directly behind the Camaro was a display case with all of the trophies and awards the race team has won and collected.  The display was very inspiring and a true testament to Tony and Ray’s hard work and commitment. Their new facility and championship winning race team is guided by their enthusiasm and dedication and they deserve all of their success.  From their humble beginnings in 2002, when they were competing Chevrolet Corvettes simultaneously in SCCA T1 and World Challenge, their passion for racing came from a pure love of automobiles. They’re car guys.After several years of building and maintaining their own cars, Blackdog began receiving numerous requests to help others with their own vehicles. As a result, Blackdog Speed Shop was born in 2005. 

The speed shop’s business design is to take cars new or old and modify them to perform at higher levels. Most of the shops projects take older cars and update them to achieve performance standards of current modern cars with engine and suspension modifications.  But some projects take a different path.  Tony (Gaples) really liked the new Chevrolet Camaro convertible, but it only came in SS trim with a limited performance level.  Tony wanted more.  He liked the look and performance of the Camaro Z/28, but it wasn’t available in a convertible.  So the Speed Shop set out to build one.  They took a Camaro SS convertible, acquired all of the performance and body trim pieces for a Z/28 and constructed a one of a kind Camaro Z/28 Convertible. They finished it off with a few custom items like a fiberglass tonneau cover for the retracted roof.  This one of a kind car is on display in the shops showroom along with a verity of many other cars that are for sale.  

With the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge season coming to a close, the team wasted no time beginning the preparations for the 2019 season.  Our guests to the Speed Shop found the two GT4.RCamaros already stripped down to their bare bones.  The engines and engine management computers already sent back to Chevrolet for examination and assessment, the team is anxiously awaiting delivery of the new units. The cars will undergo a complete rebuild as they are prepared for next year. Their first race of the year, March 2019 at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg where they begin the hunt for their fifth Pirelli World Challenge GTS Championship.  

If you missed this event there will be more. The Region’s Fun Committee is working tirelessly to identify and locate new and exciting events for the coming months. Watch the Region’s Web-site, our newsletter Piston Patter, and Facebook for more information about up-coming gatherings and events.