Check Out This 2,500 Horsepower COPO Camaro

Nelson Racing is at it again. This time they’ve built a monster engine and stuffed it into a 2012 COPO Camaro. In Episode 241 of NRE TV, they show us the beast and its capabilities. Tom Nelson of Nelson Racing Engines tells us, “There is so much to learn. I’m always a student. I eat, sleep, and breathe my profession, and want to provide my customers with the best that I can offer. It’s what gets me up in the morning.”

Tom Nelson stands next to his company's newest creation, a 2500 HP 632 Cubic innch-equipped beast of a 2012 COPO Camaro. Screenshot

Tom Nelson stands next to his company’s newest creation, a 2013 COPO Camaro with a 2,500 hp, 632 cubic-inch beast.

This car’s owner, Mike Keisling, wanted an engine that could help him beat the current record of 226 mph that he currently holds at the Texas Mile. What they ended up with, is a 2,500 horsepower big-block with 632 cubic-inches of displacement, and twin turbos. The project was completed in conjunction with Brinks Racecraft, so although NRE is responsible for the power, they are sharing the credit for the overall build of the car. Speaking of power, the engine has an 8.8:1 compression ratio, and was built with:

  • A custom billet-steel Callies crankshaft
  • Custom Oliver connecting rods
  • Custom pistons from JE Pistons
  • Custom-ground roller camshaft
  • Brodix heads with custom porting and valve job

The desire for symmetry and beauty included the shaping on the underpan of the intercooler. Screenshot.

The 88 mm turbos are from Nelson Racing, and push the air into an Alien Intake with an Anteater Snout. Fuel is delivered by an Electromotive two-injectors-per-cylinder EFI system.

Almost everything in the engine compartment is custom-built by either NRE or Brinks. For example, a special-built intercooler uses two blow-off valves. Nelson says they used two valves to maintain visual symmetry in the engine bay.

Symmetry was the name of the game during creation of this beautiful beast. Screenshot.

Symmetry was the name of the game during creation of this engine bay.

The stock rear suspension under the Camaro would not safely support speeds of over 200 mph, because there is too much air instability and drag being created by the vehicle. The build team created a custom rear suspension consisting of a solid axle from Mark Williams, and a four-link suspension and coilovers.

Downforce keeps the car planted to the ground, so the team built a large wing that helps to reduce drag and instability. They also added a set of roof rails, which if you watch NASCAR, you’ll instantly recognize as helping to provide high-speed lateral stability.

Peeking Inside the Car

The interior is purely race-equipped. Screenshot.

The interior is purely race-equipped.

The inside of the car is instantly recognizable as a race car. There’s a Lenco shifter to control the transmission, and since they’re expecting speeds of well over 240 mph, they also equipped it with a racing seat for driver support and stability, full safety harnesses, and a funny car-style rollcage.

The Performance Plan

The fog lights were removed and replaced by the turbo inlets for better air flow. Screenshot.

The fog lights were removed and replaced by inlets for the the turbo.

The initial goal was to beat the old record of 226 mph with a run of around 240 mph. Nelson tells us they plan to gradually step up the performance, so they can find out what is required to keep the car safely on the track. Unfortunately, the video ends before we have a chance to see the car perform, so we’ll have to come back later for more details on its actual performance. However, Nelson told us that projections are for the car to eventually break 300 mph.

About the author

Mike Aguilar

Mike has been wrenching on cars since the early 1970s when he worked at his dad's auto repair shop. By the age of 14 Mike had built his first performance suspension, and by 16 he had built, and was racing cars in several sanctioned events in the San Francisco bay area.
Read My Articles

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