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Published on 09/13/2018

First Down the Track: Jim Boburka's COPO Camaro Has Been on the Strip for Half a Decade

WORDS:

DAN HODGDON

PHOTOS:

MATT BEST and ANDREW LARSON

Racers pride themselves on being first in any scenario. In August 2012, Jim Boburka proved that credo when he became the first driver to take the renewed COPO Camaro -- No. 007 -- down the drag strip shortly after taking delivery in Wixom, Michigan.

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Published on 09/13/2018
racing, vehicles, events
WORDS:

DAN HODGDON

PHOTOS:

MATT BEST and ANDREW LARSON

First Down the Track: Jim Boburka's COPO Camaro Has Been on the Strip for Half a Decade

Racers pride themselves on being first in any scenario. In August 2012, Jim Boburka proved that credo when he became the first driver to take the renewed COPO Camaro -- No. 007 -- down the drag strip shortly after taking delivery in Wixom, Michigan.

On his way home from picking up his car (the first out of the COPO Build Center in Oxford, Michigan, and one of the first four delivered), the Pittsburgh-area native stopped at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, on a Wednesday and raced. A few weeks later he entered the vehicle in the U.S. Nationals. Today it is the only COPO to have competed in every one of those prestigious events at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

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Boburka is a two-two NHRA world champion, having claimed the Super Stock title driving a Camaro in 1987 and 1989. He also won the 1980 U.S. Nationals behind the wheel of a Camaro.

“It was just a natural progression to stay up with the most current model of the car,” says the lifelong Chevrolet fan of his choice to campaign a COPO.

Boburka’s COPO Camaro is an original 2012 model which has been updated to compete as a 2015 edition.

“It’s unbelievable how that car drives, it’s like you’re driving your street car down the interstate at 65 miles an hour,” he says. “It’s just a wonderful car. The program that Chevrolet Performance had to put that thing together was second to none.”

Boburka, 72, has been around motorsports all his life and believes the COPO has breathed some new life into the sport of drag racing.

“It has brought new blood into the sport for people that maybe don’t have the wherewithal to be able to build a car,” Boburka says. “I used to build all my own cars back in the day, but this car was the first car that I ever bought that was completely turn-key, ready to go.”

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Boburka’s COPO features a naturally aspirated 427c.i. engine and he competes in the Stock Eliminator category, specifically the FS/C class. He hits four or five NHRA national events every year and another half dozen or so divisional races. The car’s best pass on the quarter-mile is an 8.99-second run at 147 mph at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pennsylvania, in 2016.

Not only does Boburka enjoy the speed and power of the car, however, he’s also a fan of the visual details.

“Being a Chevrolet, a Camaro-type guy, I just love the looks of the car,” Boburka says. “I think it just lends itself to being a race car.”

Boburka is part owner of a Chevrolet dealership and served as its long-time service director. Today he’s semi-retired and says he takes more time for racing, although his schedule is lighter than when he was chasing national points across the nation.

He drives a team car to Jeff Myers, who won the FSS/E class at Indy this year and also advanced to the semifinals of Super Stock.

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Boburka has many fond memories of the U.S. Nationals in addition to his victory, having competed there for the first time in 1970. He tells stories of what he calls an “endurance test” in which drivers were required to stay in the lanes all day to make qualifying runs regardless of category, having to search for a new pit spot each day, and of teams working on engines in hotel rooms.

“At that time we were young, we didn’t know any better,” he says. We just enjoyed it and thought it was all part of the lore of Indy.”

Boburka himself has also become part of drag racing and Chevrolet Performance lore with his historic trip down the track in his COPO.

There is a first time for everything.

 

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