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Jeff Smith Shoots for Fifth Win of the Season with Pumpkin Mustang at NMRA KY

Posted By: Ainsley Jacobs
When it comes to serious stick shift street cars, Jeff Smith certainly knows a thing or two about what it takes to win with one. Having picked up three separate victories in NMRA and NMCA True Street and a win in the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout in 2023 alone, Smith is shooting for his fifth win of the season this weekend at the NMRA World Finals Featuring the Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Smith has been campaigning his “Pumpkin” 2004 Ford Mustang Cobra with success for years but recently strung together a strong series of wins. Starting at the 2023 NMRA Spring Break Shootout Presented by Nitto Tire season opener near his home in Orlando, Smith clicked off three back-to-back passes in NMRA Circle D Specialties True Street to come out on top of the 10-second category with a 10.072-second average.
Capturing the category win meant Smith earned a spot in the bracket-style TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout on Sunday of the event, and he showed improvement there through each and every round. When Smith found himself in the finals, his 9.273-second at 157.93 mph trip marked not only a new personal best for his combination, but it illuminated the final win light in his lane as well.
“It was great not having the expenses of having to pay for a hotel,” joked the 47-year-old Florida native who was quite familiar with Orlando Speed World’s racing surface and who had also won the Stick Shift Shootout back in 2013 and 2016 when it was still contested on a heads-up format. “I’d like to give a big thank you to Mike Kidd at TREMEC for his support of my program and for sponsoring the Stick Shift Shootouts!”
Even though the Scoggin Dickey Parts Center NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem Presented by Holbrook Racing Engines season opener just two weeks later didn’t include a TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout, Smith couldn’t resist the convenience factor of racing so close to home.

“So, I decided to see how fast I could run my car on all three passes,” he shared. Ultimately, Smith earned a 9.389-second average across his three runs and took the overall win for NMCA TorqStorm Superchargers True Street. “Usually, there’s a 7- or 8-second car there… I never thought I’d win it!”
With a special TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout added to the schedule of events for the historic NMRA Ford Homecoming in June, Smith headed up to Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, so he could participate and show his support of Maximum Motorsports. There, his Cobra was exactly where he needed it to be to average 10.001 seconds over its three runs, and Smith picked up the 10-second win in NMRA Circle D Specialties True Street – his third triumph of the year in the class.
During Sunday’s specialty race, Smith got the win in rounds one and two before going out to Scott Triolo in the finals. “He ran his Coyote-swapped Fox body on the motor during True Street but turned the nitrous on when he staged against me in the finals,” laughed Smith. “These guys are savage!”
There’s been a bit of controversy about sandbagging in the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout over the years, so that hopeful competitors can earn a solid advantage going into eliminations with plenty of buffer room to turn up the wick – and Smith has no qualms about admitting he knows how to play the game to work in his favor, too.
Having kept his New Edge Mustang’s combination relatively consistent over the years, Smith has gathered plenty of data to know how to adjust his tune up via the Holley EFI system to keep everything cooperating exactly as expected.

Under the hood, a 4.6-liter, aluminum Teksid block-based bullet built by Advanced Cylinder Heads features ported heads and Comp cams. “I’m also running a ported Whipple Gen 5 3.0-liter supercharger,” added Smith. “It makes about 1,000-horsepower now.”
Smith has been a diehard stick shift guy since day one, so there’s no surprise he has also stuck with his TREMEC T56 Magnum transmission and McLeod RXT1200HD clutch over the years.
Smith’s “Pumpkin” still utilizes an independent rear suspension with componentry from Maximum Motorsports, while the shop also supplied the car’s front K-member and A-arms; Cobra Engineering has also provided many parts and pieces for the Pumpkin’s performance benefit.
With his Tig Vision-fabricated roll cage certifying the Pumpkin can safely run as quick as 8.50 seconds in the quarter-mile, Smith’s got two goals for the upcoming NMRA World Finals Featuring the Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival at Beech Bend Raceway Park: win his fourth True Street title of the year and see how quick he can get the car to go.
“We have a group on Facebook where we all agreed that nobody is going to sandbag this weekend. We’re going to stick together and all run the best we can,” affirmed Smith of the plans he’s hoping the rest of the racers stay true to.
Ultimately, the track’s timing system will determine the winner of the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout from the group of the elite eight quickest NMRA Circle D Specialties True Street manually-shifted competitors, but Smith has got his fingers crossed that he and the Pumpkin wrap up the weekend on yet another high note.

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