Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was not the first to build a casino in Las Vegas, but he played a major part in the construction of the first luxury hotel/casino—the Flamingo, which opened its doors to a less-than-stellar reception on December 26, 1946. Bleeding money from the beginning, the Flamingo closed its doors in January 1947 only to reopen in March 1947 and lucky for Bugsy, it actually began turning a profit soon after. Not lucky for Bugsy, he was shot dead approximately three months later on June 20th. The story is well documented in the 1991 movie Bugsy.
In 1977, SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) moved its hugely successful aftermarket parts industry show from smaller venues in California to Las Vegas due to the demand for more space and to take advantage of its world-famous location—a move we can thank good old Bugsy for today.
As I headed blindly into the 2018 SEMA Show, my expectations of seeing plenty of new products was the first box I checked off. Second was seeing all the truly amazing car builds from just about every “sheetmetal master” from across the country. And as I made my way to the Chevrolet display I couldn’t help but notice two 2019 COPO Camaros on the carpet. Generally not a big deal, as they’ve been bringing out the latest drag-only Camaro since its re-introduction back at the 2011 SEMA Show, but showing off one COPO typically gets the job done. So why two this year?
As I hovered over the engine compartment of the first COPO I instantly noticed the lack of a blower, big-ass Holley intake, fuel injection, or anything else that resembled a high-octane fuel burning engine. What I saw looked pretty cool, but it was something I’d never seen before: Two BorgWarner motors hooked up to a conventional TH400 transmission. It also featured four 200-volt battery packs strategically placed in the rear seat and trunk for proper weight distribution. That’s 800 volts of power in which I have no idea what that translates to, but it sounds like a lot.
What I learned is that the eCOPO concept, with its Electric Dual Motor Stack, puts out 750 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque at 9,000 rpm and is capable of running quarter-mile times in the 9-second range. As of this writing, the car is still in the testing phase and has yet to run that number, but the gurus behind the build are close to making that a reality.
So does the eCOPO mark the end of noisy, sweet-smelling, fuel-burning V-8 engines roaring down the dragstrip? Not hardly. Most of drag racing’s fan appeal is experiencing the smell and feeling the noise of the gnarliest engines on the planet. To me, there’s nothing in the world that sounds angrier than a Top Fuel engine running on 90 percent nitromethane, even at idle. And on a smaller scale, a badass Chevy rumbling through a kick-ass exhaust system sounds pretty damn cool, too.
I suppose the sound, or lack thereof, as two eCOPO Camaros launch off the line with wheels up will take quite a bit of getting used to, but if it means another competitive class in NHRA drag racing, then I’m all for it.
With the continuing advances in battery technology, could we see an experimental Electric Super Stock Camaro class going down the dragstrip sometime in 2019? I hope so, but the folks at Chevrolet Performance are very tight-lipped about the car’s future at this point. With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an NHRA electric car class with Chevy, Ford, and Dodge going at it by 2021.
Today’s consumer electric cars are proven to be practical, powerful, and with the amount of available torque, they are actually fun to drive, and the fact that the Tesla Model S has “Ludicrous Mode” totally piques my interest.
But for now my roots are firmly planted in the old-school muscle car world, so I’m gonna hang back and enjoy the sound and feel of a pissed-off V-8 running through a set of wide-open headers.
Photography by Nick Licata