An Ontario-based drag racer successfully navigated some motorsports politics to secure a tough acquistion…..

Within the “big three” world of Factory-built super cars — being a potential customer — can for sure be a challenge.  

While each of the major North American brands Mopar, Ford and Chevrolet have been now for a number of years offering up limited availability versions of Drag Paks, Cobra Jets and Camaros respectively, actually getting one of those models successfully can be quite a process.   The given vast $$$ investment  aside, depending on the brand and the demand, there can be bidding, politics and a lot of patience involved, and that is especially true if you are not a resident of the USA.

A successful exception to the rule is however Al Procter, from St. George, Ontario.   While the Chevrolet corporation does apparently still have a policy that limits the direct sale of it’s COPO Camaro orders to residents of the USA only* — Procter was able to circumvent that and is the owner of one the very few modern era COPO cars now residing from Canada.

*(Editors Note (1):  We can only speculate on the GM logic — especially considering that the current 5th generation Camaros were actually manufactured in Canada — at Oshawa plant until 2015.) 

Procter struck his deal using both some fate and a direct line established with Rich Rinke (owner of Turn Key Automotive), the overall director of the COPO Camaro drag racing program.

Al Procter

“I was aware going into this that Chevrolet had closed it to US citizens only,” Procter explained.  “But I was at a NHRA race at Pomona in early 2016 and met Rich by chance during that event.  We got to discussing the Canadian situation and he indicated he wanted to help — and got my name on the list for the 2017 model build (only 69 produced that year).  I then got the call (including Curt Collins, Manager, Chevrolet Performance) the following March and that was exciting.   I went down to the build centre (Oxford MI) in June and observed the construction and got the full tour for all that fantastic process.  I then took delivery in July — it was chassis #2017-30.”

Al Procter elected for the 350 CID supercharged engine program option for his Camaro which while NHRA factored at just 580 HP for index purposes, does in fact produce 1000+ HP.   

This COPO first hit the drag strip towards the later part of 2017 for some initial shakedown hits and then spent most of the just past 2018 season in test mode. 

“Unfortunately last year I had a medical issue (appendix) — and that set me back three months,” Al revealed.  “I also did have some issues with getting the baseline for the car.  It was a bit tricky at first — when you are dealing with an 1100 HP car with 11:1 compression and 18 pounds of boost — and applying all that to smaller tires, it does take time to get things right.”

It was during that process that Procter called upon one of the very best available minds — strategically adding legendary Canadian race car builder FJ (Fred) Smith to his equation.

“After I reached out to Fred in May of 2018 — it was night and day,” he beamed.  “After he took the car on the car was quickly set right.  We rented the track and he took the time to go and test with me.  Literally within 1.5 days — the car was sorted completely and we eventually got it into the 8.7 secs zone.”

Al Procter did spend the majority of his just past season making appearances within Eastern Canada’s thriving and highly thought of Can-Am Stock/SS circuit.

The Al Procter Camaro is legally configured for the NHRA Lucas Oil Series drag racing — specifically for it’s FSS/AA class, but his future objectives do include potentially something barrier breaking for a Canadian drag racer.   He does have aspirations to become the first car from Canada to enter into NHRA’s Sam-Tech Factory Stock Showdown circuit (FS/XX)— which is featured at some select NHRA national event level races only.

“Running FS/XX is for sure something I would like to try at some point,” he added.  “To be the first Canadian car in that — would be pretty cool.  But right now I’m a ways away from that.  This driver needs to get used to the car and get more seat time.   We also have been leaving the power conservative — but have plans to turn the wick up on that.”

Al Procter’s stunning COPO project is also a personal reward for him — following a very successful career as a petrochemical industry contractor.  He founded Pro-Mar Electrical Services 25 years ago — but has since sold off that company. 

(Editor’s Note (2):  We should also clarify that while Al Procter is the first named Canadian with a direct order COPO to hit the drag strip — it is not the very first COPO Camaro owned by a Canadian.   Out west during 2017 Chris Krozser (Leduc AB) acquired and debuted a 2016 model (427 CID) FS/B car after getting that from a New York state dealer.  And Montreal car dealership magnate John Scotti, has within his very vast car collection a COPO Camaro from each and every year of production (!) although it is our understanding that none of those cars has seen any actual drag strip action at this point.)

Post and photos by Bruce Biegler