By Mary Lendzion
Ted Hughes had been racing various cars in various series when he decided to purchase a 2016 COPO Camaro and dive into NMCA Holley EFI Factory Super Cars in 2017.
He found the competition compelling, and nailed a ninth-place finish in points that year, followed by thirteenth and twelfth place finishes in 2018 and 2019 respectively in the car flying Omaha Track and Patterson Elite Performance banners.
He also gave Chevrolet Performance Super Stock presented by Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center a go in 2018 in a different car, a 2017 COPO Camaro, and gunned to a third-place finish in points.
But after deciding to focus on one car and one category, he sold his 2016 COPO Camaro, which had carried him to a best of 7.96, as well as his 2017 COPO Camaro, which had carried him to a best of 10.16, and purchased a 2019 COPO Camaro last year.
“Right after the NMCA race at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, I went to Turn Key Automotive in Michigan to pick up the 2019 COPO Camaro, and then I took it to David Janes Race Cars in Missouri for a few modifications and to have it fitted for me,” said Hughes, who happens to be 6 feet and 7 inches tall.
Janes added more bars to take the chassis from an 8.50 certification to a 7.50 certification, and to add a Funny Car-style cage, and he moved the halo bar that follows the windshield line up a bit so that Hughes’ vision was not obstructed.
“We also moved the bars behind the seat back further, closer to the rear tire, and that gave me more room,” said Hughes. “We have it mounted right on the floor. Then, we had a seat poured around me for better fit and for additional safety.”
Janes also outfitted Hughes’ car with his choice of shocks and springs.
“While the work was going on, I made the trip from my home in Nebraska to David’s shop a couple times,” said Hughes. “It’s about 300 miles each way, but it was worth it to make sure I fit perfectly in the car. That will help me be more relaxed when I’m racing.”
Hughes had his car back by the end of November, and with a 350 cubic-inch Chevy engine massaged by Joe Hornick Enterprises, a Magnuson supercharger and a Proformance Racing Transmissions Turbo 400 for power, he headed to a test session at Orlando Speed World Dragway in Florida in January.
“We only got to make a few break-in passes before the rain came, so we went to Bradenton Motorsports Park for a couple more passes,” said Hughes, whose car pounds pavement with Mickey Thompson slicks. “We were running to the eighth-mile, and then we returned in February to run to the quarter-mile.
With a tune designed by Don Bailey with Big Stuff 3, Hughes, who also has help from Dennis Hagedorn and brothers Sid and Curt Baldwin, was ready for the first NMCA event of the year, the 18th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines in early March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida. There, he sailed to a 7.86 — the quickest pass he has ever made — to qualify in the eleventh spot, and while he turned on the red light in the first round of eliminations, he left the event confident that he had a very competitive car.
“As drag racers, we’re always looking for ways to do something better or ways to go even faster,” said Hughes, who will be loading up for the Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA Power Festival presented by HPJ Performance, May 28-31, at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. “We didn’t have the right converter, so we want to try a couple different converters, make a few adjustments to the suspension and do some more testing, but the car still felt really good and will feel even better when we give it everything it wants.”