Have you ever wondered what happens to old magazine project cars? Are they cast aside like old movie props or do they live on in the hands of diehard enthusiasts? Mark Golovin and Black Betty are proof that some magazine cars actually perform as advertised. Furthermore, magazine cars can live productive lives long after their 15 minutes of fame expire.
Magazine editor Nick Licata built this car back when Camaro Performers was still was in print. Nick’s build was an inspiration to many enthusiasts, including Mark Golovin. The build included every trick part available for fourth gen F-bodies plus a lot of blood, sweat and creativity. The build sheet includes an LS3 with L92 heads, a Lunati bottom end. Breathing in and out is handled by a Holley throttle body, stock intake and JBA headers with Stainless Works exhaust. The chassis has a mix of parts including a UMI Performance cross-brace and Wilwood four-wheel disc brakes. The Weld Racing RT-S wheels highlight the car’s custom bodywork, including a custom hood and rear spoiler by RK Sport.
Before the Black Betty was built, Licata tapped artist Tavis Highlander to create a sinister black rendering to suit the namesake 1977 song by Ram Jam. “Whoa.. Black Betty Bam Ba Lam” Since Licata is a rocker, it’s no surprise that he chose a hard-hitting song to fit the car’s build theme. It’s funny how some project names really take hold. Upon close inspection, you’ll see subtle dark silver and red graphics that really set Black Betty apart.
After the build, Nick Licata enjoyed the car for many years and then sold it to ace photographer Robert McGaffin in 2015. One year later, McGaffin sold it to Mark Golovin. Black Betty’s first major event was at New Jersey Motorsports Park running with the Ultimate Street Car Association. Mark placed second in the autocross to Ken Thwaits. Mark’s relentless driving style earned Black Betty a Spirit of the Event Award, which resulted in a Golden Ticket to the 2016 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational in Las Vegas.
Following the New Jersey event, Black Betty received some enhancements. Al Carreon of Custom Machine Performance guided the camshaft and machining improvements with an eye towards drivability. Land Speed did the machining on the heads to CMPs specs. The mods pushed engine output to 517 horsepower and 528 Ft. Lbs. of torque at the wheels. Straightline Performance did the tune.
After competing in OUSCI, Mark started a program of continuous improvement including fitment of 315 tires and RideTech TQ Series Triple Adjustable Coilovers on all four corners. Mark has enjoyed two autocross wins in Chicago SCCA CAM C class and Pony Car in Windy City Miata Club. It must be fun running Black Betty in a pack of little Miatas.
Mark says he’s looking forward to running more events as well as learning the fine art of shock absorber tuning. With 315s and an LS3 swap, Black Betty continues to serve as a role model for the fourth generation F-body platform. She’s the kind of car that inspires us to buy a car, duplicate the build recipe and drive.
Check out Tavis Highlander’s Website HERE for some cool automotive art and services.
For Camaro Performers Magazine, click HERE
For RideTech 4th-gen F-body TQ Series Triple Adjustable Shocks, click HERE