Mark Probst’s 1968 Camaro Drag Car
Mark Probst, owner of Probst Auto Body Inc. in Dieterich, Ill., started drag racing with his older brother at the age of 18. After racing a 1979 Malibu and a 1967 Camaro for several years, he stumbled upon his current car, a 1968 Camaro.
He found the empty shell of the car with a local man who had drag-raced it himself for more than 10 years. Though Probst instantly loved the car, he did not immediately buy it. Worried about the financial investment, he dragged his feet.
But after going out to dinner with his wife on Valentine’s Day in 2001, he came home to a surprise in his garage. His wife had bought the Camaro without his knowledge and, with the help of Probst’s older brother, had it parked in the garage while the two were out to dinner.
After overcoming the shock of the surprise, Probst put his racing engine—a 383ci stroker that makes 540 horsepower at the flywheel—into the car, along with a Powerglide transmission.
The body, which sported a white paint job with yellow, orange and red stripes, needed work, but Probst didn’t tackle that right away.
“It didn’t look terribly bad but there were rust spots and dents. The paint job showed age and obviously, since I own my own body shop, it bothered me,” Probst said.
After five years of racing the Camaro in its purchased condition, Probst took the plunge into what would turn out to be a four-year, off-and-on restoration. Doing everything in his own shop, Probst stripped the car down and began smoothing things over. He installed a fiberglass front end, hood and hood scoop, and eliminated as much as he could for weight purposes, replacing all the glass with Lexan polycarbonate.
Other than replacing the rear panel and buying a new deck lid, the rest of the car just needed a good “going over,” Probst said. With the help of his body shop staff, he fixed all of the dents and welded the cracks.
Lucky enough not to run into any big problems, Probst says the majority of the time was spent lining up all of the fiberglass pieces and perfecting the paint job, which imitates a Yenko Camaro. A white stripe splits up the Blood Orange base, wrapping all the way around the back of the car. “Probst Auto Body” is stenciled inside the stripe.
“The way the stripes and letters were painted on was a detailed process,” Probst says. “As far as putting the car together, laying the stripes on, painting it all and pulling the parts back off to clear it. This was done several times.”
The Blood Orange paint is a straight toner from the Spies Hecker line. With his heart always set on orange, Probst considered going with Hugger Orange, a classic Camaro color. But once he saw the Blood Orange, with more of a red tint, he knew that was the winner.
Probst raced the Camaro eight times last summer, coming in first in a 7-second index class. He also had two second-place finishes in the pro class. At 105 mph, the Camaro rockets down the eighth mile in 6.5 seconds.
He estimates the restoration took 300–400 hours, and, although he’s never had the vehicle appraised, he has seen similar race cars go for around $35,000.
“I would never sell it for that, though,” he says. “I’ve put way too much detail work into it to let it go anytime soon.”