Written by Mary Lendzion
Photos by Rudy Rouweyha
Every car Gabe Gunion has raced has been a Fairmont, and that includes the 1979 Fairmont he raced at the 22nd Annual Mickey Thompson NMCA All-American Nationals presented by Sick the Mag, August 25-27, 2023 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
The cool green car belongs to his father, Chip, and features a 308 cub-inch small-block Ford with Trick Flow Specialties heads and an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, which they just put in the car the day before the event. The engine is backed by a Tremec 3550 five-speed transmission, and the car rolls on drag radial tires.
Gunion started his weekend in TorqStorm Superchargers True Street competition, where he went on a 30-mile cruise on the roads around Summit Motorsports Park and got a lot of thumbs-up along the way. Upon returning to the track, he clocked a 14.52 in the quarter-mile after the transmission popped out of gear when he launched, followed by a clean 12.59 and 12.84 for a 13.32 average.
Then, he turned his focus to Bracket Open, and he made it all the way to the final round of eliminations, where he lined up against Rod Lenhart. Gunion earned the trip to the NMCA Winner’s Circle with a good reaction time and a lifting 8.15 in the eighth-mile on an 8.06 over Lenhart, who broke out with a 6.98 on a 7.02 in his classic Mustang.
At his side to help him celebrate this achievement were his father, Chip, grandfather, Cliff, and brothers, Jordan and Noah.
“I don’t even have the words to describe how it felt to win in Bracket Open,” said Gunion, a third generation racer who made the trip from Garrett, Indiana. “It has been a dream of mine to win a race, so this win was a dream come true, and I’m now the first one in my family to have won a race. We are also proud to say that our car was the only radial car in the top eight and the only stick-shift car in the top four in True Street. I would not have been able to do this if it wasn’t for my dad. He is the biggest reason I am racing and able to race. I just want him to know how important he is in this.”