COPO camaro to run in season's final drag racing event

Nathan Oster

The final Cloud Peak Drags event of the season on Saturday, Sept. 11 has the potential to be a special one because it will include a 2013 COPO Camaro, which is being brought to town for a Greybull Fire Department fundraiser.

Valued at more than $100,000, the car is one of just 69 produced that year by Chevy and is owned by Randy and Rebecca Blakeman and Chris and Angie Fiester, who have ties to the Gillette/Moorcroft area.  The Blakemans own Blakeman Propane, and Randy is a friend of John Coyne III, who serves on the GFD.

"I mentioned that the fire department was struggling with COVID-19 restrictions and unable to do our walk-around fundraising and he said, 'What if I brought the car over for rides?'" said Coyne, recalling their conversation from earlier this year.

According to Chevrolet's website, the first purpose built Camaro drag-racing specialty car was designed in 1969 to compete in the NHRA Stock Eliminator.  "The COPO nameplate is a nod to the Central Office Production Order system, which cunning Chevrolet dealers used to build one-of-a-kind high-performance models."  A new COPO concept was revealed in 2011.

Coyne said Blakeman and Fiester's car "is effectively a remake of the COPO Camaro design.  In this case, they built it factory ready for drag racing.  There is no VIN associated with these cars because they aren't street legal.  Because this car is so special, Chris and Randy have chosen to only run it in charity rides — and that's why they are bringing it over for us."

While the car is built for speed, capable of going up to 130 miles per hour on the short track, Coyne said the owners don't intend to max it out on Saturday.  It's just for fun — and as part of the fundraiser, four lucky people will get to ride along.

Here's how the fundraiser works:

Members of the GFD will be selling tickets on race day for four opportunities to ride in the car.

To be eligible, a rider must be at least 10 years of age.  For those who qualify but aren't much older than that, Coyne warns that the experience will be both loud and scary and urges parents to carefully consider whether their child is ready.

An unlimited number of $2 tickets will be sold and from that pool, two tickets will be drawn.

Firefighters will also be selling 300 $10 tickets and 100 $25 tickets; the winners will also get to ride in the car.

The car is scheduled to race twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon.

"The hope is that this will replace those funds that we normally raise going door to door, since we chose not to do that this year in light of COVID-19," said Coyne.

Count Mike Howe among those excited to see the COPO Camaro.

His advice to drag racing fans coming out Saturday:

 "Come early.  This will be a big one."

Technical inspections start at 8 a.m. and the racing around 10 a.m.

It'll be the fourth and final event of the 2020 season for Cloud Peak Drags.

Admission will be charged, but all proceeds from the ticket sales will go to the fire department.

"We get nothing out of that — other than seeing the car and watch it race, just like everyone else," he said.