There were a number of things that contributed to Glenn Pushis’ popularity as a teenager, but cruising his 1970 Oldsmobile 442 on the streets near his Downers Grove, Illinois home was at the top of the list.
After idling around for a bit, he went wide-open throttle at the race track, and eventually, in ’97, he introduced the car to the Outlaw Street Car Association’s True Street ranks, where he laid down 5.70s in the eighth-mile while his friend, Doug Thompson, served as his crew chief.
He parked the car in 2001 to focus on family and work, but in 2014, he took his red 2013 COPO Camaro to an NMCA race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he posted 9.70s in the no longer contested 5th Gen Camaro category.
“We were freezing cold, and we finished late, but we liked the way the NMCA treated everyone, so in 2015, we bought our grey 2013 Camaro as a complete rolling chassis from Rodney Massengale of RPM Transmissions to compete in the NMCA’s and Chevrolet Performance Series’ Chevrolet Performance Stock classes,” said Pushis. “It seemed like a nice, affordable way to get back into racing.”
It took no time for Pushis to get to know the heads-up category designed for 1955 and newer GM-bodied vehicles packing sealed Chevrolet Performance DR525 crate engines, and he drove to the 2015 championship in NMCA’s Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center Chevrolet Performance Stock and to second place in Chevrolet Performance Series’ Chevrolet Performance Stock.
Hungry to tackle even more in 2016, he hopped into his black 2014 COPO Camaro to compete in the new Holley EFI Factory Super Cars category, which showcases powerhouses like COPO Camaros, Challenger Drag Paks and Cobra Jet Mustangs, and doubling-up seems to suit him, as he has so far in 2016 earned two wins in NMCA’s Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center Chevrolet Performance Stock, a win in Chevrolet Performance Series’ Chevrolet Performance Stock, two runners-up in NMCA’s Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center Chevrolet Performance Stock and a runner-up in Holley EFI Factory Super Cars.
He also currently holds the NMCA’s Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center Chevrolet Performance Stock elapsed-time record with a 10.239.
Read on for more about Pushis, who now lives in Leo, Indiana, with his wife, Kathy, and daughters, Sarah and Ashley, and who is the Senior Vice-President for Steel Dynamics, the country’s fourth largest steel company. When he’s not on his way to the track, he’s on his way to wakeboard and waterski on nearby lakes with his family.
Your gray 2013 Camaro certainly has taken care of business since you bought it.
Yes, it has. I’m glad that Rodney Massengale was looking to build a Real Street car out of it, but sold it to me as a complete rolling chassis before he did. It was still a body-in-white when I bought it, and we put the DR525 crate engine in it, as that’s the only engine legal for the Chevrolet Performance Stock class. We also put a Coan Turbo 350 transmission in it. Then, we wired the car with the wiring harness and painted it grey. Because I’m color blind, my wife picked out the color, Aston Martin Quantum Silver Metallic, and Mancini Brothers in Michigan painted it. The car has 28X10.5 Mickey Thompson slicks, which is the spec tire for the class. We got the car to go 10.42 and 128 mph with the crate engine and the crate computer in 2015, and without any tuning at all that year, we had three wins and two runners-up on the way to the championship.
You’ve managed to coax a bit more horsepower out of it this year.
We had it running 10.23 at the NMCA race in Atlanta in April, which is the class record so far for this year. We ran 10.36 at the Chevrolet Performance Series race in May, when it was much hotter outside.
The debut of your other car, the black 2014 COPO Camaro for Holley EFI Factory Super Cars, took some racers and race fans by surprise.
Yes, it did. When I showed up for the first race in Bradenton in March, I had to do licensing passes, and Bruno Massel and Ronnie Hackelton signed off on my license. It was a good weekend, and we had fun. I had bought the car new from Chevy, and it has a 350 cubic inch engine and 2.9L Whipple supercharger. We use a Holley EFI system so that we can change the parameters of the tune and control fuel, timing, boost and starting line rpm. I use Hoosier 30X9 slicks, which is the spec tires for the class, and the car has so far run a best of 8.48 at 161 mph.
What are your thoughts on running the naturally aspirated combination versus running the power-adder combination?
Each has its own set of challenges. The car with the supercharger is making more than 1100 horsepower, and trying to launch a car with that much horsepower on a 9-inch tire is a challenge. The car without the supercharger had a rev limiter on it that only allowed me to spin to 6600 rpm, so when I got to that point, it would shut the fuel off and I would lose the race. The rules just changed so that now we can spin the engines to 7000 rpm, and we had to purchase new computers for that. Hopefully, we’ll have a performance enhancement from that.
Are you content with the class rules, or is there something you would change?
I think the rules committee has thought everything out really well, and there’s good parity among the classes. If you look at how things have gone so far this season, you’ll see that there are four different winners in four different races. That says a lot, and there’s nothing I would change. I did express concern over the 6600 rpm limit for the class, but they listened to us, and gave us the 7000 rpm limit. Also, we used to have to weigh 3300 pounds, but this year, we can weigh 3200 pounds, so to get to the lowest weight possible and to eliminate rolling friction, we went to lightweight rolling components like an aluminum driveshaft, lightweight brakes and ceramic bearings in the wheels and lightweight components in the transmission. I’m extremely happy in the series, and I was happy at the Atlanta race, when weather was coming and NMCA pushed the show up. It wasn’t an ideal situation for NMCA, but they thought about the racers and worked to get the show in. We like racing with the NMCA because they treat us like they want us to be here.
Do you ever entertain the idea of moving to another class?
I like NA 10.5 and Pro Mod, and they’re incredible classes, but my wife takes care of ten acres and our household when I’m out racing, so I’m pretty sure that if I took on a third car and class, I wouldn’t be married anymore. The two classes we’re running are perfect classes for what we do, and we’re pretty happy. I have a good team and a good support system.
Who helps you keep those race-winning, record-setting cars of yours in tip-top shape?
I have a lot of help from my family, as well as from my crew chief, Doug Thompson, who helps me read the track and get from A to B, and the rest of my crew, including Scott Brown and Steve Hilterbrand. Steve is our chef, and he’s very proud of that. He makes steaks and shrimp, and he makes sure that the team is fed well. We have a good time doing what we do.