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Mark Anderson Hurries to Repair Hurt Engine Before NMRA World Finals

Posted By: Ainsley Jacobs
After having run the first-ever 9-second pass in NMRA Richmond Gear Factory Stock trim at the end of 2022, Mark “Mayhem” Anderson kept the momentum going strong early in his 2023 but was met with a major upset midway through what he hoped would be a championship run. Now, Anderson is hurriedly rebuilding as he hopes to finish out the year with a miracle.
Anderson, who fields the Team Dirty Bird lime green Securix-backed 1986 Ford Mustang owned by the Canadian-based Stephens family, kicked things off at the NMRA season opener in Florida with a number one qualifying performance. From there, he scored a runner-up finish in Rockingham, North Carolina, and an overall event win in NMRA Richmond Gear Factory Stock at the following race in St. Louis, Missouri, where he also reset the class elapsed time record (for the second time in the season) to 10.049 seconds, but his forward momentum was abruptly and unexpectedly halted from that point forward.
A professional Real Estate Agent by day, the Illinois native headed to Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, for what should have been another great outing with a new clutch and pressure plate freshly installed into his Fox body. “When I pulled into the water box for the first round of eliminations, I felt a bad vibration and I could tell something was wrong but figured it is what it is and I needed to make the run,” explained Anderson, who had qualified second for the weekend.
Unfortunately, the steel straps that secured the inner portion of the pressure plate to the outer portion failed, and chaos broke loose inside Anderson’s transmission when he was halfway through second gear on his run. Instead of being balanced to the engine’s crankshaft, the heavy chunk of steel was free to cause plenty of destruction…
“It cracked the engine block where the bellhousing bolts on, and it cracked the cylinder heads in a few places from the sheer nasty vibration. That lead to it breaking the camshafts, since the 2-valve engine I run uses an overhead cam configuration, and the vibration was so bad it even cracked the dash in the car,” Anderson elaborated. Fortunately, his Quick Time bellhousing did its job of keeping everything contained and keeping the driver safe from any serious shrapnel.
Running a fairly rare engine, and the only 4.6-liter 2-valve Ford powerplant in the NMRA Richmond Gear Factory Stock category, meant the parts Anderson needed weren’t easily available but his circle stepped in to make sure he was taken care of.
Ironically, it was Anderson’s main opponent in the class and the current championship points leader, Mike Bowen, who was able to come to the rescue by supplying a set of stock casting 2-valve cylinder heads that he had on hand.

Anderson sourced a new engine block from a local junkyard and had Jon Carls of JDC Engineering work his machining magic to get it back to its former glory and ready to race, while Rich Groh of RGR Engines took point on fitting the new Comp camshafts to the heads. “My father, Ron, and our friend, Todd Warren, put their brains together to come up with a completely new cam design for us to try,” shared Anderson, who is eager to see if the decision results in delight or disaster. “Chris Potter and Shane Ponchon at Comp got them done in an amazingly short amount of time.”
While disassembling the Fox body to prepare for the necessary powerplant repairs, Anderson noticed that his K-member had sustained some stress cracks from all his wild wheelstands earlier in the year. “I really appreciate Mark Mainiero, Sharad Raldiris, and Brian Koestner helping me out to get a replacement so quickly,” he added.
Now, Anderon is working hard in his home-based 2-car garage to get his Fox body ready to run at the 25th Annual Whipple Superchargers NMRA World Finals Presented by Scott's Trailer Sales Featuring the Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival at Kentucky’s Beech Bend Raceway Park at the end of September.
Once everything is buttoned up and his new 2-valve engine is in place, Anderson will head to Matt Bell’s Redline Motorsports for some time on the dyno before heading out for the NMRA’s grand finale of 2023.
“This is my first year in 19 seasons of racing that I’ve been able to run the full schedule, and I really wanted to win the championship this year, but the debacle in Ohio put us behind,” lamented Anderson as he currently sits in second behind Bowen. “All Mike [Bowen] needs to do is win the first round, and if he does, I’ll be the first to congratulate him – he deserves it.”
Good sportsmanship aside, Anderson isn’t planning on taking things lightly in Kentucky and has zero intentions of sandbagging or playing ladder games. He’s going to give it his best shot in hopes of winning and the championship miraculously swinging in his favor, but even if it doesn’t happen and he doesn’t find redemption from the mechanical malfunctions, he knows there’s still a silver lining to be found.
“Usually, you rebuild during the winter off-season. So, if – knock on wood – everything stays together after Bowling Green, we can take it easy… we just got our off-season out of the way early,” he laughed.

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