Behind the Scenes with Mark Stielow
by Scott Gulbranson

The Behind the Scenes Interview Series is a look at how people in the industry got to where they're at.  We all know the cars, now we find out more about the people behind them.

Mark Stielow

If you're involved in the pro-touring g-machine movement to any extent, then you already know the name. Stielow. We know the cars - Red Witch, Mule, Thrasher, Malitude, and more - but with the Bio Series, we get to learn more about Mark, his background, his accomplishments, and what drives him to build some of the most well known cars in the country.

Growing up in North Kansas City, Missouri, Mark was always busy at his Dad's garbage hauling business. Access to the shop allowed Mark to develop his skills and build a love of wrenching that he still enjoys today.

After finishing high school, Mark waited two years before enrolling in the University of Missouri Mechanical Engineering program. While in the program, Mark joined the Formula SAE Team. It wasn't long before he moved up to become Team Captain and eventually, the school's Formula SAE President. Their entry consisted of a turbocharged 600cc Ninja motor. Almost all of the car was fabricated in house, designing and building their own chassis and suspension components.

In the Spring of '88, Mark applied for a Summer Internship at General Motors. The impressive resume' that Mark assembled while working on the Formula SAE program caught the attention of Chuck Hughes, who at the time, was the Chief Engineer for the 4th Gen F-Body program. Mark's Summer Internship job was to travel to SCCA events around the country to help with the homologation requirements of the 1LE package.

During the summer of '88, Mark was at Watkins Glen to support a 24 hour race, and it was then he first saw a One Lap of America competition. Mark decided then and there that he wanted to build a car to compete, and he already had the car. A white 69 Camaro. Mark and a couple of close friends that included Kyle Tucker, would transform it to a car that came within a few laps of winning the Vintage Class in One Lap of America on their very first try.

The white Camaro already had an interesting history. While Mark was spending a few weeks at the GM Desert Proving Grounds, he found a non-running 69 Camaro in the local classifieds. It had a BBC 427, TH400 and a 4.56 geared 12 bolt rear. He brought it to the parking lot of the Embassy Suites where he was staying and proceeded to work on it in the evenings under the parking lot security lights. He bought the tools he needed at the local Sears and borrowed a few from the hotel maintenance staff who took an interest in what Mark was doing. After rebuilding the valve train, the car was ready to go back to Detroit when his time at the DPG was done. He planned on driving the car back from Mesa, Arizona to Detroit, but a chance meeting with a car hauling company driver freed Mark from the torture of driving a big block powered, 4.56 geared Camaro across country.

At GM, Mark's first job as an Engineer was in Caprice Development and Caprice Police Package Development. While in that position, he was offered a position in GM Motorsports Technology. This allowed him be fully involved with Showroom Stock Development and Support which included the IMSA Firehawk Series and the SCCA World Challenge. From there, Mark moved on to NASCAR Powertrain Development.

Shortly after, he was recruited by Summit Racing to be their Chief Engineer for Product Development. While at Summit Racing, Mark built the Quadra-Duece, an all wheel drive 32 Ford street rod. Quite an achievement for only being 29 years old. It was also while at Summit when Mark built the Red Witch. A beautiful, cutting edge 67 Camaro that is still considered a benchmark in the g-machine world. Mark considers the Red Witch to be his favorite build, as have many others. It was selected as Hot Rod Magazine's 1996 Car of the Year. A truly amazing accomplishment considering the car was built in 6 months.

After a three and a half year stint at Summit, Mark was ready to move out of the snow belt to sunny SoCal to join Gale Banks as their Chief Engineer.  Never to be one without a project, he built the Thrasher while living in California.

In early '99, Mark headed back to General Motors. His job was in the design and release programs at the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan. Duties included designing and developing such items as door handles and trunk releases. Quite a change of pace for someone who's all speed and performance. While the position may not have the excitement that he was used to, he made up for it by taking the Thrasher on the One Lap of America, making it his 5th time doing the event.

It only took a year for Mark to find his way to a position within GM that had him involved with performance. Moving to the GM Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan, he now had the title of Ride and Handling Engineer. He's worked on several platforms, including the Saturn Ion Redline, the Cobalt SS, and the STS-V. In that capacity, he's traveled to the famed Nurburgring in Germany 6 times. He's logged over 400 laps on the track with a personal best lap time of 8:35 in an STS-V. It was then Mark began working on the Mule. The Mule may very well be the most well known 69 Camaro every built. The build was featured in Popular Hot Rodding for 22 consecutive months. No other car has ever had that much exposure in a magazine series.

In the Spring of '06, Mark was promoted to GM High Performance Vehicle Operations Engineering Group Manager. This puts him in charge of HPVO platform integration and develop tech specifications for future performance vechicles. He also develops and tests race products and oversees race product integration. Also in '06, Mark built his 10th Camaro, appropriately named Camaro X.

In building the many custom cars over the years, Mark tells me that the most rewarding part is the expression of his ideas and vision. He takes pride in the execution and being able to stick with a theme. Too often, people are caught chasing trends and not following a vision from concept to conclusion. This has never been the case with Mark.

What might we see coming out of his 2 car garage next? Muscle cars have always been his passion, but don't be surprised if Mark rolls out a street rod. Whatever he builds next, you can count on seeing pictures right here on


Cars owned in chronological order:

71 Mach 1
77 Triumph TR7
70 AMX 390 Auto
70 AMX 360 4spd
71 Javelin 360 4spd
66 Ford Stepside
69 Datsun 1600 Roadster
69 Triumph TR6
67 Mustang Fastback 289 Auto
66 Mustang Coupe 289 Auto
66 Lincoln Continental
67 Mustang 390 4spd
67 Mustang Fastback 351C 4brl (was going to be the first pro-touring project)
69 Boss 302
73 Vette 454
70 Boss 302 (college car)
84 SVO Mustang
66 Mustang Fastback 289 4spd (drove it to Detroit for 1st Summer internship @ GM Tech Center)
69 Camaro RS
69 Camaro RS
69 Camaro
69 Camaro (first One Lap of America car)
69 Camaro
88 Chevy Truck
95 Chevy Truck
67 Camaro (Red Witch)
69 Camaro (Thrasher)
69 Camaro
69 Camaro (Mule)
64 Chevelle (Malitude)
69 Camaro (Camaro X)



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