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Johnny Lightning Lands Third Truck and Lightning Championship

Posted By: Mary Lendzion
Written by Mary Lendzion
Photos by NMRA Staff
Johnny Lightning has been part of the NMRA family for more than twenty years.
He is respected as a racer, but more importantly to him, he is cherished as a compassionate person who cares about those around him.
As the owner of the famous Johnny Lightning Performance in New Providence, Pennsylvania, he can often be found helping, handshaking or hugging his fellow racers and race fans at NMRA events across the country. Energized by those engagements, he went into the 2023 NMRA race season with enthusiasm, and he had many people hoping he could capture his third championship in CJ Pony Parts Truck and Lightning.
With his faith as his guide, and his supportive wife, Susie, by his side, Lightning headed to the first race of the year, the Ryno Classifieds NMRA Spring Break Shootout presented by Nitto in March at Orlando Speed World Dragway in Florida. He was armed with his proven and powerful Lightning with a 6.4L engine on a Shawn Hyland aluminum block, Ford GT 4V heads, CNC-ported Johnny Lightning Performance custom ground bullet cams, custom prototype Kenne Bell supercharger, Rossler Turbo 400 transmission, Neal Chance converter and a Big Stuff 3 system. He qualified in the second spot with an .010 reaction time, and won the first round with an 8.82 on his chosen dial of 8.84 in his truck rolling on Mickey Thompson tires. He won the second round with a break out time of 8.79 after his opponent broke out by more, and he coasted down track on a solo pass in the third round. He then finished as the runner-up with a break out time of 8.79 against Mike Roup, who broke out by less.
Lightning then wheeled into 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 with an .054 reaction time and put an 8.64 on his windows. He won the first round with a better reaction time than his opponent and an 8.75, and the second round with an 8.66. He then lined up alongside his friend, Robert Chuhran, for the final round, and he went to the NMRA Winner’s Circle after he broke out by less than Chuhran with an 8.63.

From there, he happily hit the road for the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Muscle Car Drag Racing in May at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois, where he qualified in the third spot with a .009 reaction time. After choosing an 8.66 dial, he won the first round with an 8.72, and the second  round when the racer in the other lane turned on the red light. He broke the beams on a solo pass in the third round, and wrapped up his second win of the year with a better reaction time than his opponent and an 8.70.
The trip from Pennsylvania to Ohio wasn’t too long for the 3rd Annual Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming in June at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio, where Lightning qualified in the second spot with a .006 reaction time out of 14 racers. He chose an 8.67 dial for the weekend, and won the first round with a good reaction time and room to lift to an 8.81. He got by the second round with an 8.72 before exiting eliminations in the semifinal round with a break out time of 8.64.
Getting close to the goal, Lightning took on 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 ninth spot, and won the first round with an 8.76 on the 8.75 that he chose for the weekend. He went on to win the second round, a double break out, with an 8.73, and had a solo pass in the third round. He finished as the runner-up with a break out time of 8.73 against Randy Conway, who also broke out.
When the highly anticipated Whipple Superchargers NMRA World Finals presented by Competition Clutch featuring the Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival rolled around in late September, early October at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky, Lighting led qualifying with an .013 reaction time. He decided on an 8.76 dial, and won the first round with a 8.85. He stopped the timer at 8.85 on a solo pass in the second round and lost in the third round with 8.83.

Good reaction times and elapsed times, paired with his expertise, propelled Lightning to the 2023 NMRA CJ Pony Parts Truck and Lightning championship.
“Every year, it gets tougher and tougher, to be honest, but the truck ran flawlessly and it all came together,” said Lightning. “It feels awesome to win another championship. I want to especially thank my wife, Susie Wiker, who is also known as Susie Thunder. I also want to thank SCT Custom Tuning, VP Racing Fuels, Kenne Bell Superchargers, Mickey Thompson Tires, Big Stuff 3, Bullet Cams, Rossler Transmissions, Neil Chance Torque Converters, Weldon Fuel Pumps, Race Star Wheels, Crower, CP Pistons and Rods, Denso Spark Plugs, Ford Performance, Ourisman Ford of Rising Sun, Maryland, QA1 Shocks, Strange Engineering and of course, all of those who are part of the JLP Race Team, including Tony Ganno, Rich and Denice Parker, Robert Churan and Tim Jacobson. I want to give a huge thank you to the NMRA for treating my wife, Susie, and me, as family all these years. We are forever grateful for all of the memories, and for the series making John Wiker Jr. into Johnny Lightning. Thank you also to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for his kindness to my wife and me. This has truly been a great ride.”
Lightning’s NMRA family looks forward to celebrating his accomplishments 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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