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Martin Connelley Races to NMRA Renegade Championship

Written by Mary Lendzion
Photos by NMRA Staff
While the Mustang Martin Connelley drives in NMRA VP Racing Madditives Renegade is beautiful, he points out that it has some dents and dings.
He views it as a race car that gets raced, does not have an easy life and needs to be freshened up every now and then.
But the car that he owns with his wife, Michelle Connelley, is in fine working order with its big-block Ford owned by Terry Wilson and built by BES Racing Engines, Nitrous Express Fogger System by Fast Lane Nitrous, TH400 by RPM Transmission, ProTorque converter and Haltech Nexus R5 VCU that Barely Able Racing uses for tuning.
Connelley, of Salyersvlle, Kentucky, certainly proved that in 2023.
At the Ryno Classifieds NMRA Spring Break Shootout presented by Nitto in March at Orlando Speed World Dragway in Florida, he qualified in the third spot with a 4.59, and won the first round with a better reaction time than his opponent and a 4.64. He had an issue and was forced to lift in second round.
After shaking that off, Connelley pulled into the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by MAHLE Motorsport in April at Rockingham Dragway in North Carolina. He qualified in the second spot with a 4.58, and won the first round with a lifting 6.71 when his opponent had trouble. He won the second through fourth rounds with a 4.71, 4.61 and 4.56, and he finished as the runner-up with a 4.89 against Jeff Kinsler, who turned in a 4.64.

The following month, Connelley aimed for the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Muscle Car Drag Racing in May at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois. He qualified in the fourth spot with a 4.56, won the first round with a 4.55 and exited eliminations in the second round when he was forced to get out of the throttle, however, he won the event’s Testo Super Bowl Shootout against Terry Wilson.

Ready to take things up a notch at the 3rd Annual Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming in June at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio, Connelley led qualifying with a 4.612, with Terry Wilson right behind him with a 4.616. He recorded a 4.64 on a solo pass in the first round, and won the second round with a 4.65 and the third round with a 4.61. That sent him to the final round, where he pulled off a holeshot win against Terry Wilson with a 4.61 to Wilson’s 4.59.
After making the trip from the Bluegrass State, Connelley arrived at 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 third spot with a 4.54 before winning the first through fourth rounds with a 4.60, 4.59, 4.59 and 4.55. He went to the NMCA/NMRA Winner’s Circle with a holeshot and a 4.54 against Terry Wilson’s slightly quicker 4.53.

He knew he was going to have his work cut out for him to capture the 2023 NMRA VP Racing Madditives Renegade championship Whipple Superchargers NMRA World Finals presented by Competition Clutch featuring the Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival in late September, early October at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky, but the cool-headed competitor was ready. He qualified in the second spot with a 4.58, and won the first round with a 4.62 when Terry Smith had issues. He put up a 4.60 on a solo pass in the second round, followed by a .002 reaction and 4.77 to win the third round. With that, he faced Keith Ciborowski in the final round, and paired an .011 reaction time and a 4.64 to take the win, and more importantly, the 2023 NMRA VP Racing Madditives Renegade championship.
“We didn’t win that championship until the final round of the race,” said Connelley. “We were 40 points behind in the final round, and we had to win it to earn the championship. I’m grateful that I have my team to strategize with, because a lot of variables come into play on race day, from weather conditions to track conditions, and we have to be ready for what comes our way. I want to thank my wife, Michelle, my son, John Martin, and my daughter, Izzy, as well as Eric Mitchell, Dalton Winfield, Ron Winfield, Cory Brooks, Jason Waterman, Brent Daniel, Terry Wilson, Eric Gash of Barely Able Racing, Tony Bischoff of BES Racing, Robert Lane of Fast Lane Nitrous, Rodney Massengale of RPM Transmission and Jason Martin. I would also like to thank Pro Torque, Haltech, Trick Flow Specialties, Tin Soldier Racecars, Menscer Motorsports, T&D Machine, Hyperaktive Performance Solutions, TRZ Motorsports, Red Horse Performance, Paint By Krusty, VP Racing Fuels and UPR. This is an incredible team, and I needed them in order to accomplish this.”
In addition to earning the 2023 NMRA VP Racing Madditives Renegade championship, Connelley also worked hard to achieve the 2023 NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street championship. A story about that championship can be found on the NMCA and Race Pages Digital websites.
Connelley’s NMRA family will celebrate him 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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