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Car Feature: Hawks’ Project Moe Dirt

photos by: the author

Bruce Hawkins wanted to Build a Go-Kart Out of an IROC — We Think He Succeeded

No, your screen isn’t broken, you’re not imaging this, and nor is this an unfinished project car. This is most definitely a thing, and we’re proud to be the ones to cover it. “It,” as you may or may not already know, is Moe Dirt. A homegrown, purpose-built track car commissioned, built and owned by our good friends at Hawks Motorsports.

Wanting something completely out of the box, Bruce Hawkins, the car’s owner, builder, and Hawks Motorsports founder, gave us a heads-up on the plans for the car a couple of years ago, and even we thought he was crazy — which says a lot.

But the final execution far outdid the verbal planning, and what we’re looking at on this page takes things to a level that has never been achieved.

Yes, we’ve seen third-gens attached to Blazer frames and we’ve seen show-quality examples with 4-digit horsepower levels. We even built a patina-riddled ’84 T/A ourselves. But this IROC is something else. Something else entirely.

You see, Bruce and his amazing team at Hawks build some top tier cars day in, day out. We’ve featured a bunch of them over the years, and have made several visits at Hawks to encounter examples we simply haven’t had a chance to publicize yet. Trouble is, as much as Bruce spends making each of his personal and customer projects unique, there was one route nobody has yet to go. At all.

Being in the business of not only building cars, but selling parts for these cars for twenty years, bruce has seen all kinds of project cars, parts cars, show winners — you name it. Evidently, there was something that caught his attention about the rebuilding process that intrigued Bruce. When you rebuild a car from scratch, every detail comes together in real-time, in stages. It’s at the mid-rebuild stage that Bruce realized that nobody had build a near 1,000hp track car, sans hood, doors, fender or a front fascia.

It was then that he realized that he wanted to build a car that as he describes, as a “full-sized go-kart,” we think it’s a modest description. Truth is, it’s packing some serious attitude.

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Starting with a Yellow Gold ’85 IROC-Z, the car was completely stripped down and gutted. The original small-block was pulled and set aside, along with every moving part from the original driveline. In its place went int something a bit more modern, and powerful.

The heart of the engine begins with a fresh LS3 block, displacing a full 388 cubic-inches. The bottom end consists of a forged K1 crank and K1 6.125 connecting rods, that are bolted to a set of Thompson Motorsports-exclusive Wiseco slugs. Melling provides the oil pump for extreme lubrication duties. A stout rotating assembly is needed, when you’re dealing with 15-psi. of boost.

Oh yeah, we should probably have mentioned, the car is supercharged with the help of Magnuson. With 2300cc of TVS blower, the car produces a full 1000hp, and over 900 lb-ft of torque. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, because sitting in the center of the block, is a custom grind, “Big Boost” camshaft of Hawks own specs.

Also aiding in the Camaro’s horsepower output, are high-flowing Brodix BR7 heads stuffed with stock LS7 1.8 ratio rocker arms with a trunnion upgrade. Even with a 10.5:1 compression ratio, the engine is built with durability, longevity and sheer performance in mind. Attached to the heads, are Holley‘s 1-7/8 long-tube headers, Y-pipe and mufflers, w/dual 2.5-inch diameter. This setup maximizes exhaust flow, and provides an awesome soundtrack, while keeping the decibels in check for the track.

MSD coil packs and NGK BR7 plugs provide the spark, with Fuel Injector Connection 120-lb/hr. injectors, twin E85-friendly 450-LPH pumps, and an Aeromotive boost reference regulator (set at 58-psi.) handling fueling duties. Joe Davis calibrated the car’s ECU, utilizing a Holley HP EFI system.

Sitting behind the boosted LS, is a T-56 Magnum that has been modified by Hawks for durability and competition. It’s paired with a RAM twin-disc clutch and a Carolina Driveline 3-inch ‘moly driveshaft — which then connects to a Hawks-modified 8.8-inch rear, stuffed with 3.73 gears, 33-spline Moser axles and an Eaton TrueTrac differential.

Even with most of the body panels MIA, you can clearly tell the car has been lowered, thanks to a complete suspension upgrade from UMI Performance; the front and rear springs, sway bars, torque arm and Panhard bar are all UMI, with fully-adjustable coil-overs from Viking. Steering is brought to the next level, thanks to a Turn One steering box. Detroit Speed subframe connectors keep the chassis from flexing, as does a Hawks weld-in moly roll cage.

Also adding to the functionality to the cockpit, is a set of Dakota Digital gauges, Corbeau seats and harnesses, and Hawks’ recently released billet steering wheel — which if you aren’t paying super close action to, might not notice. It’s a lightweight, but strong, wheel that will not warp, crack, fade or generally turn funky over time, like the OEM piece. The one in Moe Dirt is the correct shade of black, with a matte black wrap on the wheel itself to make it look more like the factory wheel. It’s a pretty trick piece. Bruce tells us that they teamed up with Eddie Motorsports to make that happen, not only for Moe Dirt, but for their Camaro customers.

The interior door panels and seats were lent a correct, and retro look, thanks to the help of the people of Bucket Stitch.

Going fast, and having razor-sharp handling are two great things to have, but can both be pretty terrifying if you don’t have sufficient braking power. Bruce installed a set of Baer Pro+ calipers on the front, and Baer SS4 calipers on the rear for maximum gripping capabilities. Bruce had the team at Baer inscribe Moe Dirt logos to the calipers to lend the car some additional personality and uniqueness.

 

They’re tucked nicely behind an upsized set of recreation Ronal R15 wheels, courtesy of Forgeline. They’re a squared set of 18×10.5-inch rollers, with Nitto NT01 rubber at all four corners. There are some other details one might gloss over if they’re not looking hard enough — like the smoked taillights, the dual/dual exhaust tips, the Hawks 5-inch rear spoiler — that’s a full two inches taller than the stock piece. The rear glass is missing, obviously, but Bruce didn’t stop there.

He had a insert piece made that fits inside the rear hatch, and mounts along the edge where the glass would go. Bruce also installed an insert that seals the rear trunk closed, just in case he needs to lock something in, and it also helps with wind noise.

Back up front, the Camaro is completely lacking in body panels, but makes up for in character, with the air intake mounted through the core support, where he driver side headlight will go. And one feature that you just can’t overlook, is the giant aluminum radiator from Wizard Cooling. The windshield is the only piece of glass in the car, because who wants bugs in their face?

As Bruce tells us, the car was completely stock when he found it in a field in South Carolina, his home state. Although mostly complete, and completely stock, it was pretty much left for dead. Sure, he could have performed a simple nut-and-bolt restoration on the car, or modified it in a way that would appease just about everyone. But that’s not the direction he wanted to take.

Some might not like it, or “get it,” but that’s OK. Bruce has an entire collection of F-bodies that would appeal to just about anybody, but this one was something special and unique, for him. And to be honest, that’s what it’s all about! Bruce couldn’t put it together, though, without the help of his amazing team at Hawks, and his friends at Forgeline, Dakota Digital, Kolorworks, Thompson Motorsports, UMI Performance, Wizard Cooling, Magnuson, Holley, Baer Brakes, Turn One Steering, Bucket Stitch and Charles Calvin.

TECH SHEET

  • CAR: 1985 Camaro IROC-Z
  • OWNER: Bruce Hawkins
  • ENGINE BLOCK: LS3
  • DISPLACEMENT: 388 cubic-inch
  • CRANKSHAFT: K1
  • CONNECTING RODS: K1 6.125
  • PISTONS: Thompson Motorsports-exclusive Wiseco (4.130″ -8cc)
  • CAMSHAFT: Hawks Motorsports; custom hydraulic “big boost cam”
  • ROCKER ARMS: Stock 1.8 ratio LS7, w/ trunnion upgrade
  • CYLINDER HEADS: Brodix BR7
  • COMPRESSION RATIO: 10.5:1
  • IGNITION: MSD spark plug wires, stock style coils and NGK BR7 plugs
  • INDUCTION: Magnuson TVS2300 Heartbeat supercharger, custom 108mm throttle body, no MAF (speed-density)
  • BOOST: 15-psi.
  • OILING: Melling pump, F-body pan
  • EXHAUST: Holley 1-7/8 long-tube headers, Y-pipe and mufflers, w/dual 2.5-inch diameter tubing
  • FUEL DELIVERY: FIC 120-lb/hr. injectors, twin E85 450-LPH pumps, Aeromotive Boost Reference regulator (58-psi.)
  • TUNING: Holley HP; tuned by Hawks Motorsports
  • TRANSMISSION: T-56 Magnum by Hawks
  • CLUTCH: RAM twin-disc clutch and flywheel w/floater plate
  • DRIVESHAFT: Carolina Driveline; 3-inch moly
  • REAREND: Hawks 8.8 rearend, 3.73 gears, 33-spline Moser axles and Eaton TrueTrac
  • SUSPENSION: UMI Performance; front and rear springs, sway bars, torque arm and Panhard bar, Viking coil-overs
  • CHASSIS: DSE subframe connectors
  • STEERING: TurnOne 7:1 ratio
  • BRAKES: Baer; Pro Plus w/Moe Dirt stampings front, with Baer SS4 on the rear
  • WHEELS: Forgeline; 18×10.5 Ronal R15 Tribute Wheels
  • TIRES: Nitto NT01
  • HP/TQ.: 1000/900

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