Photos by Scott Schwartz / Video by Sam McConnell
6LE’s Mark DeLisle Brings Back the IROC-Z!
The IROC-Z is a car that has inspired many, one of those people being Mark DeLisle, owner of 6LE Designs. When he filed for the trademark for the IROC-Z named back on March 18th of last year, no one knew what to think, or what to expect, but everyone was excited to find out. We were at SEMA and got the full download of the creation that would come as a result of the trademark acquisition, and learned a lot about what inspired Mark DeLisle to move forward with such a bold and complicated project.
It was back in 1985 that Chevrolet started offering the IROC-Z as an add-on to the Z28 Camaro. In 1988, it replaced the Z28 as its own model, and production would cease in the early part of 1990. During its relatively short run, it became an icon. However, the IROC moniker has roots that go way deeper than GM, or the 80s.
IROC actually stands for International Race of Champion, an automotive racing series similar to NASCAR. In 1974, the IROC racing series had nothing to do with Camaros, but instead kicked off with Robert Penske built Porsches. After deciding that it was too expensive to maintain a Porsche for racing, he opted to bring in the Chevy Camaro in 1975, where it would be used through 1991. Wanting to capitalize on the success of the series, IROC and Chevy entered into a licensing agreement which would allow GM to use the name on a production Camaro.
The IROC-Z was a wildly popular car that has become a legend in the automotive world, but a bad decision by GM not to renew their licensing/sponsorship agreement with IROC would mean the end of the car. A total of 166,976 IROC-Zs were made during the production time, but that doesn’t mean they are all still on the road. Many have been wrecked, parted out, or left to rust in a field somewhere.
Back when the IROC-Zs were still new to the world, Mark was one of the many who fell in love with the car. Although, Mark didn’t actually own one, it was his high school best friend who owned the IROC-Z that made such a great impression on him.
During the time since high school, Mark started his own company, 6LE Designs. He started the company based on the desire to have splitters available for the 4th-gen F-Bodies. Since no one else was willing to step up and make them, Mark decided that if they were ever going to get made, he was going to have to do it himself. The funny part is, that’s the same philosophy that prompted him to bring the IROC-Z Camaro back to life.
We’ve all heard the rumors about the return of the IROC-Z, ones that started almost as soon as the model was pulled from production. When the internet became a part of our everyday lives, the rumors only got worse, and the fake news fire was fueled by hopeful enthusiasts who seemed to just want to spread the rumor long enough until someone stepped up.
Mark was one of those people who got excited every time a new rumor started making its rounds, but he always got to the bottom of it pretty quickly, and ultimately got tired of the internet lies. So once again, Mark had to make a decision, if he wanted a modern IROC-Z, he was going to have to step up and do something about it.
“This car took three months to make.” -Mark DeLisle
The first thing Mark had to do was figure out how he was going to legally make an IROC-Z. He knew GM no longer had the licensing deal with IROC, but was absolutely shocked to discover that IROC hadn’t actually maintained the trademark on the IROC-Z moniker. After all these years, no one had even bothered to make sure the name’s trademark was up to date, so Mark pounced on the opportunity to take the lead.
As you can imagine, IROC wasn’t exactly thrilled over the discovery that they lost the trademark, but they were too late to do anything about it. Honestly, the trademark is way better off in the hands of someone with the vision and resources that Mark has, as opposed to sitting in a file somewhere, with no chance of it ever seeing light again.
So with the trademark to the name, it was time to really figure out what it would mean to build a modern IROC-Z Camaro. This meant that Mark had to try to get in the mindset of a GM engineer when it came to the design and function a 6th-gen Camaro IROC-Z would have. After a lot of brainstorming, Mark and his team were ready to get things rolling.
“Everything you see on the body is factored into the performance of the vehicle.” -Mark DeLisle
Starting off with a 1SS Camaro, everything on the car was re-designed or upgraded to promote performance. This is because that’s what the original IROC-Z was intended to be, a total performance Camaro.
Even though most people will only see the rearend of this thing when it’s in motion, the front end is where you really start to get the idea that this is no ordinary production Camaro. The hood is a hood that’s been lowered quite a bit for daily driving, and has added functional hood vents that are reminescent to the third-gen hood. The rest of the front end is very similar to the ZL1 1LE, with some modifications and winglets added since the IROC-Z is actually a widebody car. To get all of the lines and design right, Mark enlisted the help of Albert Shakhnazaryan, who owns ASD Concepts.
Under the hood is a Whipple blown LT1 engine that brings the power up to 700-horsepower. Factory Reproductions helped to create the modern forged multi-piece IROC-Z wheel, and 6LE Designs offers them in a cast version. Wilwood Disc Brakes made the entire brake kit for the car from scratch for the front and the rear. These kits are six-piston in the front, and four-piston in the rear, with a two-piece rotor setup. Renick Performance helped to transform the handling with their coilover kit and sway bars in use.
The roof is full glass and crafted into a reverse mohawk design. Unique Customs helps to show the car’s IROC-Z distinction with custom emblems, dash plaques, and so on. The gauge overlays and IROC-Z reflective door decals are made by All-Star Signs. At the back end, you’ll notice the super aggressive three-piece spoiler that brings it all together.
The car was still in progress when we caught up with Mark. He had been working tirelessly to get the car to the 2017 SEMA show on time, so we can’t wait to see the interior and some other parts finished out.
▪ CAR: 2016 Camaro IROC-Z
▪ OWNER: Mark DeLisle
▪ ENGINE BLOCK: LT1
▪ CRANKSHAFT: LS9 (forged)
▪ POWER ADDER: Whipple Supercharger
▪ SUSPENSION: Renick Performance
▪ BRAKES: Wilwood
▪ WHEELS: Factory Reproductions Forged Multi-Piece
Shawn Henry is a Texas native who has spent the majority of his career building and selling F-Bodies and Corvettes. Now studying journalism, he is taking a new direction with his love of GM Performance vehicles.