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Casey Shotwell First to Capture SunCoast Performance 8.60 Street Race Championship

Posted By: Mary Lendzion
Written by Mary Lendzion
Photos by NMRA Staff
Casey Shotwell has an affinity for fast Fords.
His late father, Cary Shotwell Sr., had a 1967 Mustang GT fastback that Casey now owns. His brothers, Cary Shotwell Jr. and Kelly Shotwell, race their Mustangs, and Casey raced his 2016 Mustang GT in NMRA Circle D Specialties True Street before chasing a championship in NMRA SunCoast Performance 8.60 Street Race in 2023.
While NMRA SunCoast Performance 8.60 Street Race debuted in 2022, it became a championship category in 2023, and that spoke to Casey, who prepared his 2016 Mustang GT with a Gen II Coyote by BES Racing Engines, CNC-ported heads, Comp cams, VMP Performance Gen 3R supercharger ported by Jokerz Performance, Turbo 400 by Trans Specialties and a bolt-together converter by ProTorque.
“I spent most of the 2022 race season and the 2022-2023 winter preparing the car for the 2023 race season,” said Casey. “My plan from the beginning was to take it one race at a time and stay focused. I knew if I did that, I would have a good shot at the championship.”
Casey started the 2023 race season at the Ryno Classifieds NMRA Spring Break Shootout presented by Nitto in March at Orlando Speed World Dragway in Florida. He qualified in the second spot out of 20 racers with an impressive 8.62. The Ohioan then won the first round with an 8.66 and the second round with an 8.72. He made a solo pass down track in the third round, before winning the fourth round with an 8.72 and later going to the NMRA Winner’s Circle with an 8.61 against tough racer Leticia Hughes.
“The competition is amazing, and I can’t believe how well so many people have their cars dialed in for this 8.60 class,” said Casey.

From there, he headed to the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by MAHLE Motorsport in April at Rockingham Dragway in North Carolina, where he qualified in the fourth spot out of 12 racers with an 8.68 and exited eliminations in the first round after turning on the red light. He shook that off and took aim at the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Muscle Car Drag Racing in May at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois, where he qualified in the fourth with an 8.61 out of 14 cars. He won the first round with an 8.79, and the second round when his opponent turned on the red light. Casey broke the beams on a solo outing in the third round and earned his second win of the season, this time with a dead-on 8.60, after Paul Sienkiewicz ran into trouble.
At the Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming in June at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio, Casey qualified in the second spot with a very close to the index 8.609, won first round when Leticia Hughes was forced to lift and lost second round when he also was forced to lift.
“At the Ohio race, I unfortunately pushed a head gasket and went out in the second round,” said Casey. “Luckily, my good buddy, Bo Webb, and I were able to pull the engine apart to do a wellness check and have fresh head gaskets on it for the Michigan race.”
As the points chase heated up, Casey kept his confidence and headed to the TorqStorm NMRA/NMCA Power Festival presented by Paul’s High Performance in July at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Michigan. He qualified in the seventh spot with an 8.73 out of 17 racers before winning the first the round with an 8.65. He lost in the second round with an 8.66.

By the time he arrived at the final event of the season, the Whipple Superchargers NMRA World Finals presented by Competition Clutch featuring the Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival in late September, early October at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky, Casey had high hopes for being hailed as a champion. He qualified in the eighth spot out of 22 racers with an 8.62, and won the first round with a 9.24 when his opponent ran under the index. He won the second round with a better reaction time than his opponent and a dead-on 8.60, and he exited eliminations in the third round when he was forced to get out of the throttle in his high-horsepower car.
“In this kind of heads-up racing, there is definitely some luck involved, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t get lucky a few times,” said Casey. “But for the most part, the car was very consistent throughout the season, and I felt like I did my job behind the wheel to the best of my ability.”
Casey’s effort through the months paid off, as he was crowned the 2023 NMRA SunCoast Performance 8.60 Street Race champion.
“Being able to actually win a championship and compete with my brother,  Kelly Shotwell, who runs in NMRA VP Racing Madditves Renegade, and my brother, Cary Shotwell, who runs in NMRA Exedy Racing Modular Muscle and the new Street Bandit class, is an absolute blessing,” said Casey. “The only thing that would have made it better is if our dad, Cary Shotwell Sr., would have been here to watch us race. He passed away from cancer in 2004, but he is the reason why we are all into Mustangs and racing. I want to thank Justin Starkey from VMP Performance, who has been a huge help, as well as Ken Bjonnes from Palm Beach Dyno, who does all of my tuning, and Kelly Aiken from KellTrac, who makes sure I get down the track. I would also like to thank my employer, Liberty Collision Center, for all the help this year, and my good friend and crew chief, Bo Webb, for always helping me wrench on the car whenever needed. My girlfriend, Brittney Ramirez, was a huge help all season. She helped get the car ready between rounds, fed us, and even helped me drive to and from some of the tracks that are hours away. My mom, Sandi Shotwell, took care of my dog on my long weekends at the track. To all of my friends and family members who supported me or helped me in any way this year, I truly appreciate it.”
The NMRA family looks forward to celebrating Casey and his fellow racers at the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals Awards, held during the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, Dec. 8, 2023, at the Indiana Convention Center, and in the upcoming Champions Issue of Fastest Street Car.

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