As a former staff sergeant with the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, Kelly Fromm knows all too well the risks our military face. On Christmas Day in 2007, Fromm's good friend Sgt. Joseph Tutten was killed in Iraq, leading the then retired Fromm to pay tribute to his lost comrade by creating a patriotic-themed Chevy Camaro, named Veteran 1.
After auctioning off the car, Fromm donated all the proceeds to the Active Dogs Academy Service Dog Foundation (ADASDF), a non-profit that provides service dogs to wounded veterans. Fromm himself received a dog for free in 2009 after a four-year wait due to primary lateral sclerosis, a disease that forced his medically retirement from the army, but it costs the organization $30,000 to train each animal. The goal was to help fund the organization so they can continue helping veterans in need.
And his mission continues, now focused on a new assignment – an 850-hp one that will top Veteran 1 in every way.
Purchasing a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Fromm set out to forge a tuned Camaro that is as extreme and aggressive as you can get. It's called "Project Freedom Fighter" and boasts 850 hp from its Livernois Motorsports tuned LSA engine. "Veteran 1 was 650 hp, and honestly, it wasn't half as nasty as this thing is when you run it wide open," Fromm says on his Facebook page.
Decked out in a patriotic livery, featuring quotes like, "All gave some, some gave all," it took ten days of painting and airbrushing by Jason Oberly of Demented Customs to complete the murals, paying special tribute to each U.S. military branch.
Project Freedom Fighter, according to Fromm, is the first ever wide-body ZL1. It took 300 man-hours of work, adding seven inches of muscle to the rear. Custom 22-inch USW Forged wheels were added with stickier Pirelli rubber, and a pair of Lamborghini-style scissor doors. All in, it has taken 2,000 hours to turn this 2012 Camaro ZL1 into the rolling work of art it is today.
Not satisfied with being "just" a work of art, Fromm regularly hits the drag strip, running the quarter mile in 11.2 seconds at 130 mph, despite the 850-hp brute's rear tires sipping and sliding like Bambi on ice. "It's no trailer queen," Fromm says.
Taking his vision of a tribute car that means something while raising money for veterans in need, Fromm has evolved to developing his own "Rev-It-Up for Wounded Warriors Memorial Tour," furthering his mission to help the ADASDF. The next stop: SEMA, where the car will be on display for all to see. Eventually, Project Freedom Fighter will be auctioned off like Veteran 1.
Fromm's tribute car sends a bold statement, while reminding people of the sacrifice men and women in uniform make every day. More importantly, he's making a tangible difference, helping veterans, the same way he was helped, back in 2009.
Photo: Rev-It-Up for Wounded Warriors Memorial Tour, via Facebook with permission