I've put major hp thru a chain drive many times but never at the rpm or shock loads that i would anticipate from an automobile. ..
A typical example, 460V 3phase 20 hp (1750 rpm) electric motors thru a (typically) 4/1 chain reduction then a 20/1 gear reduction then an additional (anywhere from 4/1 to 12/1) chain reduction to the drive pulley on BIG conveyor systems such as you would find at a FedEx or UPS distribution center.
Like I said big stuff but they also use a VFD to reduce the start up speed (and fine tune the running speed) which lowers the shock load on the system. Those motors put out 80%+ of rated torque at zero rpm. ......
You're talking some awfully big chain drives, I'd sure hate to have one snap and send it's pieces every which way.
Have you considered a belt drive? Those are used in some pretty high hp race cars and if it has a catastrophic failure it basically turns itself into spaghetti and crumbly bits instead of shrapnel.
Try here for starters http://www.gates.com/brochure.cfm?brochure=7468&location_id=11347
edit>>> Actually I remember reading in some British car mag about a character that put a Merlin engine
in his chain drive prewar sports car so yep it's been done.
I disremember what all he had to do to keep it from exploding though.