If you managed to catch our coverage from the Yellowbullet.com Nationals last Friday, then you learned how Blake Copson earned his first-ever win over stiff competition from the best Outlaw 10.5 racers the world has to offer. Copson, who just started racing this year and was competing in his third event ever, was deadly-consistent behind the wheel of the family’s C7 Corvette and offered a glimpse into the future of heads-up drag racing. The car—called the Rootbeer Rocket by some, for obvious reasons—was built by Gary Naughton Race Cars in Maryland and features the latest and greatest parts and pieces onboard. With the help of newly-enlisted tuner Josh Ledford, they landed in the winner’s circle at the prestigious race.
Blake’s father, Joe, is the man behind this machine, and is a longtime racer from the Philadelphia area. When he decided to build this car, the decision was made to use only the best of the best parts available, and as a result, he went straight to the team at Pro Line Racing to hook up with one of the company’s Hemi engines based around the Alan Johnson Performance Engineering billet engine block and heads.
The stout 521 cubic-inch powerplant is fronted by a pair of 88mm Garrett turbochargers and runs the power through a Pro Torque converter and one of M&M Transmissions‘ two-speed Turbo 400 transmissions. A Mark Williams Enterprises rearend turns the power into forward motion, while the car rolls on a set of Weld Racing V-series wheels.
When I stopped in the pits to shoot these photos, the race hadn’t even begun yet, so I had no idea that the Copson team would find its way into the winner’s circle on Sunday night. It was the first time I had seen the car in person, and once I started really looking at the fine details of Naughton’s craftsmanship, I realized that the rest of you might be interested in seeing it also.
The first thing I noticed wasn’t the billet engine block, or the super-clean wheels… but the engine mounting system. Instead of taking the traditional route of a machined engine plate, Naughton took the extra time to craft a mounting system out of contoured-and-bent tubing, which is far more difficult and labor-intensive, but shows the insane amount of thought and care that went into the creation of this car. These are the types of details which catch my attention—after so many years shooting these cars on a regular basis, it’s those which go above-and-beyond with the details that stand out most to me.
When it comes to event winners and class champions, you always say “it’s in the details”, and in the case of the Copson family’s amazing Corvette, that’s exactly the case. Enjoy the gallery!