In what was one of the most anticipated Sportsman racing developments of the entire 2012 season, Chevrolet’s all-new COPO Camaros have made their competition debut.
A total of five machines were unveiled and participated at the fabled NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend, running in both Stock and Super Stock eliminators.
The lineup included two truly impressive cars, one fielded by GM Pro Stock proponent Victor Cagnazzi and the other by Bob Tyler, with skilled drivers Dave Connolly and Todd Patterson at the controls, respectively. Both ran in CC/SA trim using 425hp 427ci fuel injected engine programs. Connolly, a native of North Carolina and a past winner of the U.S. Nationals in Pro Stock, scored the CC/SA title driving his Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins tribute machine. He beat Patterson in that historic and exciting class title runoff. However, Patterson, from Kansas, was the quicker of the two. During time trials, he hit a 9.534 e.t., which is 1.066 under his class index, to qualify 12th overall for Stock Eliminator.
Another very impressive entry was the Jimmy Vasser Chevrolet King Kong Camaro driven by Eric Reyes (Petaluma, California). That BB/SA classed car (500hp supercharged 327) is in fact a new venture into drag racing for car owners Jim Vasser Sr. and Jimmy Vasser Jr., 1996 IndyCar World Series champion and co-owner of the KV Racing Technology team in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Two other COPO Camaros were entered at Indy and configured for Super Stock Eliminator at the event. Marty Rinehart Jr. (Thomasville, Pennsylvania) drove the Beattie/Rinehart ATI Performance Products-sponsored car in SSA/A trim. Rinehart qualified the very potent machine 13th overall with an 8.667 e.t. run.
The second SSA/A Camaro was debuted by Buffalo, New York’s, Paul Cambria. Paul’s very stealth looking car also showed great potential running a best e.t., of 8.718 seconds during qualifying.
The introduction of the COPO Camaros into competition does complete a sort of NHRA “trifecta” for Stock and Super Stock racing. Fans can now look forward to with high expectations seeing ferocious head-to-head competition between Dodge Drag Pak cars, Ford Cobra Jets, and COPO Camaros. It is helping to take Sportsman drag racing right back to where it needs to be: with modern-era muscle cars back squarely in the equation. It will allow each factory to showcase and race a much truer form of what they sell in their showrooms, and that for sure has a lot of appeal to both fans and racers alike.