Our good pal J.C. Beattie Jr. of ATI Performance Products recently sent us over an update with the latest goings-on with the company’s in-house Chevrolet COPO Camaro that made its competition debut last summer, and in fact, was the first of the highly anticipated factory-built race cars to enter and compete at an NHRA Lucas Oil Series event.
Beattie Jr.’s COPO, a 327 cubic inch model with the 4.0L supercharger driven by Marty Rinehart Jr., spent the holiday season at Ken Keir Race Cars, where it went under the knife for some offseason upgrades, namely the addition of a Funny Car-style roll cage, dash bar, and other bars to bring the chassis up to certification that would allow it to run 7.50-seconds and over 150 mph. Because the car competes in Super Stock where certain liberties are allowed in terms of suspension modifications, Beattie Jr. and Keir have also made some changes in that department, along with the addition of a new and improved steering column to drop some weight out of the car.
ATI Performance Products was one of the first four customers to take delivery of the much-publicized new breed of race cars from Chevrolet late last summer, and promptly debuted COPO No. 008 two weeks later at the Cecil County Dragway Lucas Oil meet, where it clicked off a best of 8.75 to usher in a new chapter in the factory supercar wars.
Rinehart Jr. later went a best of 8.66 at 159 mph at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, but mechanical woes sidelined the team before they could improve those numbers. Beattie Jr. believes, based on the atmospheric numbers, a mid-8.40 lap may have been on the table later in the weekend.
The work at Keir’s shop is part of a strategic move to put the COPO on a diet, allowing for the option to move to the SS/AAA classification. Playing a role in this weight reduction is removal of the factory wiring harness that weighs 49 pounds by itself, to be replaced with a much lighter AEM Infinity ECU and wire harness. At the new weight of 3,575, Beattie Jr. believes the car will run down into the 8.30’s, and the low 8.20’s if the move is made to SS/AAA.