Cool COPO Clone
When Portland, Oregon-based drag racer Dan Cyr brings his ’69 Camaro to the starting line, drag racing fans are being afforded a nice historical flashback. Dan has owned his meticulously maintained car since 2000. After acquiring it as a roller without an engine, what was originally a daily driver for a high schooler was converted for drag racing. Dan has moved forward with a 427ci engine (prepped by Darrell Wikle) and can run in A or B/Stock Eliminator. A terrific aspect to Dan’s Camaro is its pure appearance, which is not by accident. Dan tried to recapture the “showroom stock” look—the essence that was available from Chevrolet by special order only. This car is not a real COPO but instead a tribute made to look exactly like one. Dan runs a TH350 transmission with all lightweight components along with an A-1 converter. He is a frequent runner within the Pacific Division NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series as well as at his home track: Woodburn Dragstrip.
Keeping a Corvette Killer
“Flyin Ryan” Bell, a former professional MX/SX motorcycle rider, is now an avid participant within the NMCA fast street car racing scene. A resident of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, this dedicated circuit racer campaigns a very impressive ’76 Corvette that he has owned since 1988, which is configured for the NMCA’s N/A (naturally aspirated) 10.5 class. This super-quick Corvette, which has run in the 8.0-second zone, spends much of the year based south of the border in Arizona, where it is overseen by Ryan’s primary crewman Al Alguire and influenced by Gary Hansen (of Hansen Race Cars). Over many seasons, Ryan’s car has been the recipient of constant upgrades and improvements. It is now powered by a 417ci small-block that uses a single carburetor and a Proflite three-speed transmission. Ryan is coming off a rewarding 2017 season in which he captured his first-ever event win during an NMCA West race held at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California. That gratifying moment came after four previous career event runner-up efforts. Ryan funds his team via his business (Dispensing Systems Inc.) and is also an expert engine builder who does all of his own engine programs.
California Classic Gassers
California’s broadband and creative drag racing scene is well known for its regional strength for A/Gas race cars. And within that subgenre, there are two nicely configured Chevrolets that are perfect representatives. Both Steve Keefer (Discovery Bay) and John Hansen (Concord) are active participants in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series and West Coast Pro Gas Association circuits.
Steve Keefer runs a very versatile ’67 Nova that was built by East Bay Muscle Cars. Steve uses a 632ci Reher-Morrison engine when running the 7.60-indexed A/Gas class, but he also dips into “fast bracket” mode from time to time where he employs a Chevrolet LSX 454R crate engine with help from FH Dailey Chevrolet. Steve’s car has runs in the 7.5-second zone at 183 mph to its credit. The truly great-looking, matte silver-wrapped Nova uses a two-speed Powerglide with either an ATI 8-inch or a Coan 9-inch converter, depending on the engine being employed. This is a full chromoly tube chassis car that features 50/50 weight distribution. Steve takes his inspiration for the race car build from his former partner, the late Dick Maas with whom he raced Novas for many years. Team support comes from East Bay Muscle Cars, Floyd Amerino, Delta Lending Group, Mayeda Motorsports, DJ Safety, his crew chief Jim Poindexter, and from his supportive wife and great group of friends.
John Hansen debuted his remarkable Yenko-themed ’69 Chevelle in 2014 as a B/Gas car. It was originally purchased as an unfinished roller with construction following over the winter of 2013-’14. After racing two years in that configuration John stepped it up in 2016 to A/Gas. It is a double-framerail car that has 6-second chassis certification. Currently, John’s team runs an all-aluminum 665ci, 1,390hp engine that features 12-degree Pro-Filer heads and an HRE sheetmetal intake with two Pro System 1,250-cfm carbs. The transmission is a Mike’s two-speed Reid Case with a Coan converter. Unchecked, the car has run 7.38 e.t. at 187 mph. During the 2017 drag racing campaign, John prevailed to win a very hard-fought overall series title for the 10-event West Coast Pro Gas Association. Sponsorship comes from engine builder Roy’s Racing Engines, and his crew is comprised of Deane Hudson (crew chief) and his drag racing mentor Roy Castagnetto.
Photos by Bruce Biegler