When Portland, Oregon-based drag racer Dan Cyr brings his 1969 Chevy Camaro to the starting line, drag racing fans are being afforded a nice historical flashback.
Dan has owned his meticulously maintained car since 2000, acquiring it as a roller from its previous owner Sante Grosse (from the Los Angeles area). He then undertook and moved the project forward with clear goals in mind and, needless to say, he achieved all of those objectives.
“This was originally a high school car that was converted for drag racing,” Dan explained. “It was a legal Stocker that had a 396. When I acquired it, I had clear intentions for it right away. I’d always really liked the 427 engine and I wanted to run something in A or B Stock Eliminator. I had an engine done originally by Eastco Machine in Oregon but I’ve since had that freshened up and rebuilt by Darrell Wikle from Kansas.”
Dan reports that since evolving his engine program his Camaro (presently classified as a B/SA) is making a lot more steam. To date, the car has dipped as low as 10.23 in the quarter-mile compared to the NHRA class index of 11.25.
A second aspect of Dan’s Camaro is its pure appearance, which is not by accident. Dan tried to capture some essence that was available from Chevrolet dealerships by special order during that time.
“I finished this look for the car just last winter,” he continued. “Originally, this car was Hugger Orange with some Z/28-type white stripes and trim, but I wanted what I called a ‘showroom stock’ look. When you ordered a COPO from Chevrolet back in the late ’60s the car was very basic looking. You had only a few options: a 427 with either an automatic or a four-speed and a 12-bolt rearend. That really was the extent of it. Special order COPOs had a very plain look. There were no extra badges or anything special, paint or trim wise. This car was not a COPO, but I went ahead with converting it to look exactly like one.”
Dan runs a Turbo 350 automatic transmission with all lightweight components in his Camaro along with an A-1 converter assembled by Gary Ericksen, who also helps Dan as a crewman with his tune-up and race-day support. Dan’s Camaro also features disc brakes, a Chevy 12-bolt rearend with 4.88 gears, and double-adjustable shocks.
“We do have all the best available stuff to go modern-day ‘vintage’ Stock Eliminator racing,” he added.
Dan’s immaculate machine is a frequent runner within NHRA’s Pacific Northwest Divisional Lucas Oil circuit, and he is also a regular participant at his home track of Woodburn Raceway within the Stock/Super Stock combo eliminator series.
Dan’s passion for motorsports and custom cars is also apparent from his personal history. For 15 years (before he retired in 2005), he was the producer of the four largest hot rod and custom car shows on the West Coast: the Grand National Roadster Show (Pomona), the Sacramento Autorama, the Portland Rod & Custom Show, and the Seattle Roadster Show.
Photography by Bruce Biegler