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These Camaros want to make drag racing easy

Chevrolet uses the SEMA show to reveal some Camaros eager for the strip

Britain has a unique talent for turning out a good stripped-out sports car, with our burgeoning trackday season no doubt at the root of it. America, meanwhile, sells out-the-box drag racers…

See Chevrolet, and the small gaggle of Camaros it’s showing off at this year’s SEMA show, and ready to rival the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.

The blue and black car is the headliner, the ‘2017 COPO Camaro show car’ an amalgamation of drag-racing know-how, condensed into a run of 69 brutish cars just gagging to be taken to your nearest strip, the only place they’ll be legal. And if you’re wondering “why 69?”, halt your imagination. It’s because 1969 was the year the original COPO Camaro launched, obviously.

The car you see here uses a supercharged ‘350’ 5.7-litre engine, sending its power through custom Weld racing wheels, adjustable coilover suspension front and rear, some drag-spec unassisted brakes and a three-speed automatic gearbox.

Each of the 69 COPOs that make production will be built by hand with your choice of Chevy LS and LT engines, though, so the choice of supercharging or natural aspiration is yours, while over 600bhp will be a doddle. As should ten-second quarter miles.

If that’s a bit too mad for you, then Chevrolet is developing a slightly saner looking Camaro with a less catchy name. The Camaro SS Drag Race Development Program is a prototype for now (hence the camouflage), and it’s a look at how to offer drag components for buyers to plonk on their current-gen Camaro.

The idea is to give road-spec Camaros ten-second ability on the strip (Chevy’s best time so far is a 10.685sec, at 125.73mph), which sounds like a painful YouTube video in waiting. Major tweaks include an uprated rear differential and, with some inevitability, more horsepower for the stock 6.2-litre V8 engine.

“We worked this car just as hard as any serious racer would,” says Chevy performance vehicle engineer Mark Dickens. “We made pass after pass, pushing it harder, and were amazed at the capability and durability that came straight off the assembly line.”

Such durability led to the test car getting the nickname ‘Gravedigger’, on account of its inability to break, while the standard eight-speed paddleshift gearbox was deemed particularly worthy or praise for its consistency when recording times.

It’s a work in progress, but it doesn’t seem long before some serious drag-racing kit will lie innocently on the Camaro options list. If your eye has been caught by the COPO car, though, the show car is up for auction by Barrett-Jackson in January, all in aid of charity. Who said drag racing needs to be badass?

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