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Factory Super Cars Driver Jim Betz to Field Cadillac ATS in NMCA Xtreme Street

Posted By: Steve Baur
Jim Betz has been competing in the NMCA’s Holley EFI Factory Super Cars class for several years and recently added a second car, driven by Chuck Watson II, to his Hard Drive race team. Now, he’s planning on entering the 1/8-mile, heads-up Edelbrock Xtreme Street ranks with a new build that breaks from the Ford Performance Cobra Jets he’s been racing.
“I’m a heads-up kind of driver and have watched Becki Cram and a few others race and got excited about the class,” Betz told Race Pages. “It’s very fast and I wanted something different and I’m going to give it a try.”
To accomplish his new goal, Betz contracted the build with Watson Racing, who built both of his Cobra Jets.
“I’m a Ford guy, and both of my brothers-in-law are retired Ford employees, but I wanted something different,” Betz explained. “Craig Spuhler, my crew chief, and I were talking about having something different, too. Craig is a GM guy. He and his wife both have Cadillacs and an Avalanche pickup. He owns a Cadillac ATS and I told him that it was a nice car and might make a good race car. I started looking for one, and I’m kind of a red person, so had to look long and hard to find the right car in the right color.” 

Betz found the basis for his new project in Florida last fall, but Watson Racing wasn’t able to begin working on it until the start of 2022.
“I think you can tell by the Cobra Jets they build that Watson is top of the class when it comes to race cars. Chuck [Watson] and Kim Mapes said they could build an Xtreme Street car. I think with the engine combination that Kim is building, we’ll be a good competitor,” Betz told us.
While Watson Racing’s Kim Mapes has more recently been known for his Ford Coyote powerplants that have taken Betz’s Cobra Jets to the top of the Factory Super Cars field, he has a long history in engine building of all sorts, and had a combination in mind when Betz told him of his new plan.
The 412 cubic-inch engine is based around Gen I small-block Chevy design using a Brodix aluminum block and Shaut Racing RS 3 sprint car cylinder heads, with a 55mm cam from Bullet Racing actuating a Jesel valvetrain. The intake manifold started life as an 18-degree Edelbrock piece, but has been reworked and adorned with a direct-port nitrous oxide system. A Wilson Manifolds four-barrel-style throttle body will control induction and Mapes will manage the engine using the same Gen IV Big Stuff 3 EFI he currently uses on the Cobra Jets.
Like many racers at this point in time, Mapes is waiting on pistons to complete the engine build, but has the two-speed Powerglide transmission and the chassis ready and waiting of the powerplant.
“It looks like I can do something with it the way the rules are,” Mapes said of his engine choice for the Cadillac project. “We’re building it specifically for the class and for the rules. They’ve been opening up the rules for nitrous cars a little.”

While the ATS chassis offers an independent suspension at all four corners, Watson Racing will be converting the rear suspension to a four-link design.
“It’ll take a minute to figure it out, but we’ll get it,” said Mapes, who began working with the Cobra Jets at Watson, but also has experience with plenty of small-tire, Outlaw and Top Sportsman combinations.
Under the chassis, you’ll find a new set of Weld Racing wheels wrapped with Mickey Thompson rubber, as well as a full complement of Lamb struts, shocks, and carbon brakes.
While Betz is hoping to debut the car at the upcoming NMRA/NMCA Power Festival at Martin, Michigan in July, the project is still waiting on the aforementioned parts and he wants to get some testing in before the race.
“We need to be able to do a little testing. My best eight mile is a 4.93, so this will be a little quicker. I’m anxious to see the car run—I like speed,” Betz said.

To showcase the car, Betz’ Hard Drive Racing team has something special planned for crew attire that is fitting of the Cadillac brand, and will be pulling double duty, driving both this new ride as well as his Ford Performance Cobra Jet.
“I’m planning on doing both. The classes are far enough apart that I can run Factory Super Cars and Xtreme street, which usually runs several classes behind.
Betz seems to like the Cadillac so much, that he might even build a second one.
“The ATS, CTS, and Gen-6 Camaro all have the same chassis. When we were putting this together, Craig got to talking and we might do an ATS with an LT engine combination—650hp for a streetable ATS, and maybe let Craig have a little fun in True Street.” 

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