After bracket-racing his red nine-second 2013 COPO Camaro at tracks near his home in Leo, Indiana, Glenn Pushis introduced himself and his car to NMCA, the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series and the 5th Gen class in the fall of 2014.
It was cold, it was wet, it lasted until the wee hours of the morning and he lost in the early rounds of the event at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana, but it didn’t matter, as he had found the series in which he wanted to race.
While he could have stayed in the driver’s seat of the car with a 427 cubic-inch engine, four-speed G-Force transmission and Hoosier slicks, he turned to the body-in-white 2013 CRC Camaro he had purchased in the fall of 2014 from Rodney Massengale of RPM Transmissions. It would, after all, be ideal for the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center Chevrolet Performance Stock class that was being introduced for 2015.
“We had just seen the Fastest Street Car magazine that had the crate engine on the cover, and we had just heard that the class was going to be introduced in 2015,” said Pushis. “We were immediately attracted to it, especially because it was going to be run in a heads-up format and we wanted to start running heads-up.”
The car was outfitted with a chrome moly 8.50-certified cage, Strange rear end and brakes and an Aeromotive fuel system. American Racing Headers handled the design and building of the exhaust system, and with a plan in place, Pushis purchased a sealed 525 horsepower Chevrolet Performance DR525 crate engine and a controller from Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center to complement an RPM Transmissions-built Turbo 400. Then, he began planning ways to optimize the combination.
“What’s interesting about CPS is that you can’t tune your engine combination, but you can try to make the car itself more efficient,” said Pushis. “That includes getting it as close as possible to the minimum weight for the class, finding the perfect gear ratio, minimizing friction with low-resistance bearings, lightweight brakes and wheels and using all of the horsepower to your advantage to accelerate the car.”
He had the car painted Aston Martin Quantum Silver Metallic by Mancini Brothers in Michigan, after asking his wife, Kathy, to choose the color because he’s color-blind, and when every nut and bolt was in place, he put it on a chassis dyno at CJ Racing Engines in Auburn, Indiana.
“We wanted to run the car through the paces on the dyno to be sure nothing was going to happen when we took it to the NMCA season opener at Bradenton Motorsports Park in March of 2015 to run CPS,” said Pushis. “It was helpful, but we still had hiccups all over the place when we got to the track, and while we went 10.73 in the first round of eliminations, we lost because I had a horrible reaction time, the car spun and anything else that could go wrong went wrong.”
The “hiccups” which Pushis spoke of were remedied right away, as he picked up to 10.30s in the car rolling on 28X10.5 Mickey Thompson slicks, competed in all of the NMCA and Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center Chevrolet Performance Stock races, earned the championship in the former and finished in second place in points in the latter.
“After the Bradenton race in 2015, while I may have lost a race on a holeshot, my car was never outrun the rest of the season, and we felt good about that,” said Pushis.
It was during the 2015 season that he purchased a black 2014 COPO Camaro packing a 350 cubic-inch LS engine, 2.9 Whipple supercharger, Strange rear end, an Aeromotive fuel system, Strange brakes and Hoosier 30X9 radial slicks. The stunner secured a series of 8.70 passes in testing soon after he purchased it.
“I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with the car, but when we heard that NMCA was offering the Holley EFI Factory Super Cars category in 2016, we thought we’d try it,” said Pushis. “We knew we would have to change the gearing and torque converter, and that we would be running against heavy-hitters like Chuck Watson, Kevin Skinner, Bruno Massel and others, and that we would probably not win, but we really liked what we were hearing about the new class and wanted to support it.”
At that point, Pushis said he “asked” his wife, Kathy, if he could buy a stacker trailer to tow two cars to each race so that he could continue to run Holley EFI Factory Super Cars in addition to NMCA and Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center Chevrolet Performance Stock.
“She rolled her eyes at me at first, but then she agreed that it would be a good investment,” said Pushis. “We debuted the car at the 2016 NMCA season opener at Bradenton Motorsports Park in March, and to be honest, I didn’t even have my NHRA license at the time, so I made my licensing passes before qualifying, and Ronnie Hackelton and Bruno Massel signed my licensing paperwork for me. Then we entered Factory Super Cars, and I made it to the final, where Bruno kicked my butt.”
Pushis proved to be a powerful force through 2016, and even dipped into the 8.40s in the black 2014 COPO Camaro by the time the 15th Annual NMCA World Street Finals rolled into Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio in August, which is why he recently delivered the car to MPR Race Cars in Almont, Michigan to have its cage updated to 25.3 specs. He earned championships in the NMCA and Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center Chevrolet Performance Stock classes in his 2013 CRC Camaro, and a third place finish in points in Holley EFI Factory Super Cars in his 2014 COPO Camaro. He also ran to an incredible 10.239 in NMCA Chevrolet Performance Stock for an elapsed-time record and a 10.233 and 129.05 mph in Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series Chevrolet Performance Stock for elapsed-time and top-speed records.
Additionally, while many fans and fellow racers associate him with COPO and CRC Camaros, Pushis pulled his 2009 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak out of his garage for the 15th Annual NMCA World Street Finals at Summit Motorsports Park, where he entered a special Mopar Drag Pak Showdown and won in the car motivated by a 640 horsepower 6.1L Hemi and Chrysler 727 transmission.
“I bought it as a body-in-white at an auction in 2013,” said Pushis. “It had an engine, interior and steering wheel, and that was it. It wasn’t running, which I assume was so that Dodge would be removed from liability.”
In addition to running the naturally aspirated low ten-second car in the NMCA’s inaugural Mopar Drag Pak Showdown at Summit Motorsports Park, Pushis has bracket-raced it at tracks near his home.
“I don’t have any plans for that car right now, other than continuing to bracket-race it,” said Pushis. “I just want to have fun with it.”
The hardworking and humble Pushis will soon be behind the wheel of a red and black 2016 COPO Camaro he recently purchased. The car, which is currently at MPR Race Cars to receive a 25.3 cage, boasts a 350 cubic-inch LS engine, 2.9L Whipple supercharger and Aeromotive fuel system. RPM Transmissions is building a Turbo 400 to help plant the power in the car which will get from A to B on 30X9 Hoosier drag radial slicks.
While Pushis will run the car with the unmodified engine in Holley EFI Factory Super Cars at this year’s NMCA season opener, the 15th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem at Bradenton Motorsports Park, March 9-12, 2017, he’ll turn the engine over to the School of Automotive Machinists and Technology (SAM) to be enhanced, within the rules in place for the class, in time for the 9th Annual NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals, April 6-9, 2017 at Atlanta Dragway.
“The car is not as tall, long or wide as my black 2014 COPO Camaro, and it should be more aerodynamic and hopefully give me an advantage,” said Pushis, who plans to lay down 8.20s at the beginning of the season and break into 8.teens eventually. “It’s also 200 pounds lighter, which means I’ll be able to put weight where I need to put it. It’s these reasons that I’ll race this one instead of the black 2014 COPO Camaro in 2017. Besides, I’m pretty sure if I asked my wife if I could buy a stacker to haul three cars, she would divorce me.”
Alongside Pushis every step of the way, in addition to his wife, Kathy, are his daughters, Sarah and Ashley, crew chief, Doug Thompson, and crew members Scott Brown and Steve Hilterbrand.
“Without them, I couldn’t have earned championships in two classes, finished in third place and have the highest-placed COPO Camaro in the Factory Super Cars class in 2016,” said Pushis, the Senior Vice-President for Steel Dynamics, the country’s fourth largest steel company. “I’m very blessed, and very humbled.”
Story by Mary Lendzion and photography by Kevin DiOssi (from the March 2017 issue of Fastest Street Car)