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All Aboard—Adam Cox Makes Moves in NMRA Mod Muscle

Posted By: Evan J. Smith
All Aboard—Adam Cox Makes Moves in NMRA Mod Muscle

Written by Ainsley Jacobs
After halting his drag racing program due to debt, Adam Cox promised himself that he would get back to the sport he loved. However, he also made a pact with himself that he wouldn’t make the same mistakes twice. Now, the NMRA Exedy Racing Clutch Mod Muscle competitor is living the drag life he’s always imagined and he’s doing it with the support of his friends and family.
In high school, Cox hung out with a group of guys a few years older than him. “They all went to the track, and I bought my yellow 1998 Ford Mustang around 1991,” noted the now 52-year-old Cox, who decided to get into the thick of things himself with the now-defunct NMRA Pure Street class. “I didn’t have much of a job, didn’t have a truck or a trailer, but somehow managed to make it work for a few years thanks to friends and borrowed equipment and living on credit.”
Eventually, Cox wisely realized that going into debt simply wasn’t worth it and made the decision to sell his entire operation around 2001. He managed to pay off most of his financial liabilities, worked a ton of overtime at his job in the signal department for the freight railroad company, CSX Transportation, accumulated some cash, and focused on rebuilding rather than racing.
By 2008, though, Cox was feeling secure enough to get rolling again and began his search for a silver Mustang. He located one for sale through a lady in Ohio, and he drove three hours from his home in Fisherville, Kentucky, to obtain the six-cylinder 1999 Ford. “I drove it like that for a few years, but had the intention of making it a racecar at some point,” shared Cox.
After reading up on Ford’s 4.6-liter, naturally aspirated V8 modular engine, Cox knew that was the direction he wanted to go with his New Edge SN-95… and he wanted to run a carbureted configuration. “So, I bought a Four-Valve 4.6-liter from a junkyard with 110,000 miles on it, put a carb and an intake on, and had it going 10.90s,” he recalled.
It wasn’t until 2010 that Cox was truly ready to return to racing, though, and by then, NMRA Pure Street was no more. Having always loved stick cars and raced with T-5 transmission, Cox ideally wanted to run in a heads-up class but balked at the idea of the extreme expense and constant maintenance. 
With limited options available that fit both his car and his budget, Cox chose the NMRA Exedy Racing Clutch Mod Muscle index category. Instead of competing against other racers’ bank accounts in heads-up competition and dealing with the constant politics of parity, he’d be competing on a level playing field centered around accuracy and consistency instead, and he liked the concept.
Making his debut at the end of the season, Cox had a blast and got a small taste of success by going a few rounds. “It pulled me in, and I’ve stuck with the class — and the stick, except for a brief span of a few months when my in-laws talked me into putting a Powerglide in the car — ever since,” laughed the three-pedal assassin who was, admittedly, “all thumbs” with the automatic and quickly switched back to his beloved clutch. 
Running only a few events each season as he was trying to balance racing with everyday life, Cox managed to finish sixth overall in NMRA Exedy Racing Clutch Mod Muscle championship points in 2014. It was the following year, though, that contained one of the most memorable moments of his entire life.
While racing at the now-shuttered Atlanta Dragway in Georgia, Cox was out to dinner with friends and fellow racers, John and Andy Warren, along with their parents. At a nearby table, a young boy was dining with his uncle and grandfather; the Warrens invited the boy to stop by their pit area that weekend so that they could seat him in their race car.
Later, Cox found himself in the final round of eliminations up against Donnie Bowles Jr. “My dad was literally on his deathbed at the time, and I wound up winning,” Cox recalled of the incredibly emotional occasion. “I was at the top end of the track by myself with no crew and I got out of the car and started crying… and then Donnie gave me the biggest hug.”
Later, when he and Bowles were picking up their awards, Bowles graciously asked Cox to sign the back of his runner-up plaque. “It caught me off-guard and was so touching,” he added. “And that little boy did come to the track, and Andy also won, and he let him stand in the winner’s circle to hold that big check.”
For Cox, whose father never attended the races with him, having the love of the Warren family around him and for John Warren Sr. to take him in like one of his own, filled a void in his heart. When Warren Sr. passed away in 2022, it was almost as hard on Cox as it was losing his biological father.
Also in 2015, Cox stepped up to spearhead a fundraising campaign in honor of Joseph Cameron Ponder, a fallen Kentucky State Police Trooper and U.S. Navy veteran. In September of that year, Ponder was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Although the two men never met, the story hit close to home for Cox and he decided to do something about it. He initiated an effort to support the grieving family that was left behind and set up a fund so people could contribute and 100 percent of the donations were given to Ponder’s family; Cox also paid tribute to the victim by placing a special decal on the roof of his car, and it has remained on his ride ever since.
Cox continued racing sporadically over the next few years, still with only partial seasons. He earned a runner-up finish in Martin, Michigan, in 2020 and finished his Mod Motor year ninth in points. It was around this time, though, that he began working with NMRA Fastest Street Car Coyote Stock standout Jacob Lamb, and his program picked up significantly as a result.
“Jacob has been a huge help in my success the past three years, more than anyone else. The Coyote Stock guys, all they do is test and figure out what works, especially for the clutch, and both Jacob and I have learned a lot along the way,” Cox said gratefully.
Cox maintained his combination fairly consistently over the years, which has certainly helped as he’s amassed an arsenal of data. His longstanding relationship with electronics powerhouse manufacturer, AEM, too, which began courtesy of Lawson Mollica, has been “an absolute game-changer” in the way he gathers and interprets all his data. 
The original junkyard engine is long gone but was replaced with a similar 4.6-liter, dual-overhead-cam bullet from Competition Automotive Machine. The aluminum Teksid stock block was fortified with upgraded aftermarket Ross pistons, stock-length Scat connecting rods, and a factory steel crankshaft.
Inside the stock Ford Mustang Cobra heads is a complete Ford GT valvetrain long with custom-spec’d COMP Cams by Todd Warren of Apocalypse Performance.
Similarly, Cox also kept his carbureted setup over the years but has since upgraded from his original 650-cfm Quick Fuel Technology unit to a larger 950-cfm unit. When he finds something that works, Cox sticks with it, and the same holds for the XS Power batteries he has been running for more than half a decade.
Cox has a habit of sticking with manufacturers he trusts and running parts he’s confident will provide the desired results. As such, he’s outfitted his Mustang’s front suspension with goodies from UPR Products’ catalog and added Strange Engineering brakes at all four corners.
Working with Lamb, it was no surprise that Cox went with Coyote Stock’s most popular gearbox, the G-Force Racing G101-A manual. “It has somewhat of a Frankenstein clutch in it right now,” clarified Cox, who runs a diaphragm clutch from Kentucky Clutch with an ACT disc. “Kentucky Clutch has been a huge help. They set it up so I can change the pads out on the disc and build the pressure plates for me.”
Thanks to Lamb’s guidance and the various upgrades, and with the stars aligned for Cox to compete in his first-ever full season of NMRA Exedy Racing Clutch Mod Muscle, 2021 was his best year to date.
With an event win in St. Louis, Missouri, followed by runner-up finishes in both Michigan and Kentucky, Cox concluded the season second overall in points with the championship just narrowly slipping through his fingers. “I was only 50 points behind Jason Henson but won Driver of the Year,” shared Cox, who thoroughly enjoyed the confidence booster of doing so well in a group of successful, veteran racers.
Coming off a year of great momentum in Mod Muscle, though, Cox decided to press pause. “I’ve got two young children, Ashland and Aiden, and my vacation time from work is limited, so doing a whole season is very demanding,” he explained. His wife, Amy, is also a drag racer, but Cox promised he would park his car for the year and spend time with his family instead. “Although, I did race locally a few times at Ohio Valley and made it to the NMRA season finale in Bowling Green, Kentucky.”
As any true racer would do, Cox made the most of the downtime by having Fast Chassis upgrade the six-point roll cage they had originally fabricated for him to an 8.50-certified one instead, and weld and brace his 8.8-inch rearend. Cox also had Fast Chassis install Team Z upper and lower torque boxes, which certainly help the Menscer Motorsports-tuned AFCO shocks work more effectively when the SN-95 leaves the starting line.
Picking back up in 2023, Cox started the new year off with a strong showing with his blue and silver 1999 Mustang in Orlando, Florida, at the NMRA Spring Break Shootout Presented by Nitto Tire season opener. There, he qualified second in the competitive class with a quick 0.003-second reaction time and went on to earn four round wins in a row while running consistently near his 9.96-second dial-in before making an appearance in the finals where he scored a respectable runner-up finish. 
“I had a ton of friends with me that weekend — including John Pryor, Keith Stevens, and Tim Brown — and their support played a big part in my success,” proclaimed Cox.
From the highs of fun in Florida, Cox found himself having a low weekend in Rockingham, North Carolina, at the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals Presented by MAHLE Motorsport. He was off his game when it came to reaction times and qualified eight as a result, then struggled in eliminations. “Nothing to blame but the guy releasing the clutch pedal,” lamented the driver who has been working hard toward more consistency with his staging and launching procedures.
Putting the past behind him, Cox continued to St. Louis, Missouri, for the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Muscle Car Drag Racing and was relieved to see his accuracy on the tree had returned. Cutting a 0.005-second light during qualifying placed him third in the order, but a -0.005-second light in round two of eliminations halted his progress.
“I think I put the car in too deep on that round and had too much brake pressure, and that was that,” he said succinctly. It wasn’t all bad news, though, as at least Cox was still able to gather valuable data and ran good 9.9-second passes on the 9.92 dial-in he had chosen for the weekend.
Still riding the rollercoaster of a season, Cox’s good fortune was back for the NMRA Ford Homecoming event in Norwalk, Ohio, and his whole family was able to attend as well. His mother, Nevada, has become a beloved fixture in his pit area as she began traveling with Cox after his father, her husband, passed away and is always happy to fix food for and share smiles with, Cox’s entire camp. 
Qualified eighth with a decent 0.015-second reaction time, he added three more elimination round wins to his count before lining up against Chris Graff in the finals. It was Graff who turned the win light on in his lane, but Cox had no quarrels with the outcome as he still enjoyed celebrating a solid outing with his favorite people.
“The car has been running great with no issues. Other than having Ned Couch redo all the interior carpet after I moved the shifter back four inches, I haven’t touched it all season… knock on wood,” he laughed.
Over the years, Cox built friendships that have become so much more… his racing family has become an important part of his real family, and he’s now passing down the drive and determination to do well in drag racing to his son with a Junior Dragster. 
Whether Cox continues chasing championships with his New Edge 1999 Ford Mustang in the NMRA or devotes his time to being a “track dad,” he knows he’s found solid ground with his wife, Amy, his mother, Nevada, and friends like Jacob Lamb all aboard and always there to help keep him heading in the right direction.
The Details
Owner: Adam Cox (3 Pedal Assassin)     
Driver: Adam Cox
Hometown: Fisherville, Kentucky                         
Occupation: CSX Signals
Class: Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle
Crew: Nevada Cox (Mom) Keith Stevens
Car Year/Make/Model: 1999 Ford Mustang
Engine: Ford DOHC 4.6-liter 
Engine builder: Competition Automotive Machine (Brandenburg, Kentucky)
Displacement: 281 cubic inches
Block: Teksid
Bore: 3.5 inches
Stroke: 3.5 inches
Crank: Stock steel
Rods: SCAT Engineering
Pistons: Ross
Heads: Stock Cobra
Valvetrain: Ford GT
Cam type: COMP Cams (Spec’d by Todd Warren (Apocalypse Performance)
Carburetor or EFI system: Quick Fuel 950 cfm
Power-adder: “not today”
Fuel brand and type: VP Racing Fuels 113
Headers and exhaust: Kooks Custom Headers
Transmission: G-Force G101A manual
Transmission Builder: G-Force Racing Transmissions
Clutch/shifter/torque converter: Kentucky Clutch
Rearend: 8.8-inch
Body and/or chassis builder: Fast Chassis (Mount Washington Kentucky)
Suspension (Front): UPR
Suspension (Rear): Team Z with adjustable U/L torque boxes and control arms w/anti roll
Brakes (Front): Strange Engineering
Brakes (Rear):  Strange Engineering
Wheels (front): American Racing
Wheels (Rear): American Racing
Tires (Front): Mickey Thompson
Tires (Rear): Mickey Thompson

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