In the world of drag-prepped Chevrolet Camaro race cars, the COPO name holds some serious weight. With that in mind, the Chevrolet Camaro eCOPO concept is a pretty major stepping stone, throwing down 700 horsepower, 600 pound-feet of torque, and a nine-second quarter mile – all without burning a drop of gasoline. How did this revolutionary drag machine come to be? To find out, we spoke with the director of Performance Variants, Parts & Motorsports, Russ O’Blenes.
Before we get into the interview, a little background info first. According to General Motors, the Chevrolet Camaro eCOPO was developed in partnership with Hancock and Lane Racing, a successful electric drag racing team. In addition to experience in building electron-powered dragsters, Hancock and Lane Racing is also involved with Patrick McCue, the man behind the “Shock and Awe” electric drag racing car and Seattle-area Bothell High School automotive technology program.
O’Blenes told us that he previously ran into McCue at SEMA several years ago, and saw an opportunity to apply electric vehicle development to the classic Chevy crate engine formula.
“[McCue] had a drag car that he was converting, so basically I talked to my leadership and said, ‘hey look, COPO is a perfect opportunity to start with what a crate package would look like.’ So we basically went to the aftermarket… though we did do our own battery, but everything was ‘aftermarket’… we did the housing and all of the fixtures, but we bought third-party motors, battery cells, etc.”
For reference, the Chevrolet Camaro eCOPO draws motivation from two BorgWarner HVH 250-150 motor assemblies and a race-prepped Turbo 400 automatic transmission, all of which feed the same solid rear axle as the production COPO race cars. As for the battery pack, it consists of four 200-volt modules, each of which is about 175 pounds and is mounted in strategic locations around the vehicle.
Although O’Blenes originally saw possible involvement with the NHRA, that’s now looking less and less likely.
“At that point we also thought NHRA would do a class and we wanted to lead that, but they seem to be throttling back on the class,” O’Blenes said.
However, the desire to do electric conversions and an electric crate package has remained. In fact, the concept saw further application with the Chevrolet E-10 concept that debuted at the 2019 SEMA Show – indication that electrification of the Bow Tie brand isn’t slowing down.