Ken Lingenfelter was one happy guy this past weekend. His company, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, launched its first annual Lingenfelter Performance Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. And just in time for the event, he also took delivery of his own COPO Camaro, number 19 in the historic 69-car production run.
The new event—formal name Lingenfelter Performance Engineering Nationals Presented by Royal Purple Synthetic Oil—grew out of the company’s tradition of sponsoring an annual customer appreciation day at the local drag strip. This year Ken decided to kick out all the stops, moving his event to the world-class drag facility at Norwalk and transforming it into a full-service performance extravaganza. The three-day event featured bracket racing, a car show, an eight-car Outlaw Pro Mod shootout, a manufacturers’ midway, and an Optima Challenge Qualifier autocross event presented by RideTech. While open to all makes and models, naturally the event is built around the company’s core business, performance enhancements for GM vehicles equipped with LS V8 engines.
Even with all these attractions, Ken’s shiny new COPO threatened to steal the show. “It’s incredible to see all the interest and excitement the car generated this weekend,” says Ken. “And I understand it completely. I was pretty excited myself when we visited the facility and took delivery. It’s so cool to be able to buy a fully prepped race car like this straight from Chevrolet. The COPO history is magic. Everyone wants to get a look at the car.” Indeed. Chevy performance enthusiasts swarmed around the red Camaro all weekend.
Unfortunately, persistent rains messed with the schedule for much of the weekend, but it failed to dampen the enthusiasm of Ken and his crew, who promise to return next year with an even bigger and better show. Meanwhile, between the rain showers, the new COPO Camaro fell out of the trailer running strong, recording a best of 8.64 seconds at 159 mph.
Now Ken and his engineering crew at LPE will draw up a battle plan for the COPO Camaro. “We haven’t decided where yet, but of course we’re going to race it,” Ken says. “Racing is what we do. You know, we were out first racing the fifth-gen Camaro as soon as we could get hold of one, developing a number of critical parts. And we’re going to race this car. It think that’s key for us as a company, and it’s key for GM, too.”
Not long ago, Mark Carlyle’s 2007 Corvette Z06 was running errands with the family. On Saturday at the LPE Nationals it ran 7.10 at 210mph, resetting its own record as the quickest and fastest IRS Corvette in the country. The LS V8 runs a Kurt Urban-prepped 440ci Dart short block and twin Garrett turbos.
One of several Camaros campaigned by LPE, this fifth-gen features a turbocharged GM LS V8 with a trick single-plane crankshaft that makes it sound like an Indy car. The graphics duplicate the paint scheme on a record-breaking ’69 Camaro raced decades ago by the late John Lingenfelter, company founder.
The BLOCK would like to give a huge thanks to Bill McGuire of Mac's Motor City Garage. If you're not familiar with Mr.McGuire's work-- prepare to get familiar -- as he's going to be opening his treasure trove of experience for the community! Bill is an industry vet with a slew of accolades to his credit, including having graced the readerships of both Autoweek and Hot Rod, in both writer and editorial capacities. We'll be giving him a proper introduction shortly, via the "12 Things You Should Know About" routine, so you can get to know him better!
In the interim, be sure to let us know if you made your way to the Lingenfelter Performance Nationals. Drop on by the LS Forum, give Bill a shout, and let us know!