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Spotlight Interview: Kevin McMullin

Posted By: Steve Baur
Interview by Mary Lendzion
Photography by the FSC staff

 

Soon after graduating from Harry Truman High School in Pennsylvania, Kevin McMullin settled in at Penn State University to study Mechanical Engineering and Plastics Engineering Technology. After earning degrees in each field of study in 1995, he went to work for Johnson & Johnson in Pennsylvania, where he remained for two years before being inspired to move to the Detroit, Michigan area. He was quickly hired by Injectronics, followed by Visteon Corporation and ultimately Webasto, where he has worked since 2004.
 
All along, McMullin, who grew up watching his father, Jerry, race, was interested in cars. He owned a 1969 Mustang that he drove on the street and at the strip, followed by a 1994 Mustang that he campaigned in Fun Ford Weekend Street Renegade and the now-defunct NMRA EFI Renegade before settling into NMRA G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock.
 
In that ultra-competitive category since 2017, McMullin already achieved top-five and top-10 finishes, and after an on-track incident that resulted in a rebuild in 2020, he earned his first win in 2021. Now, he’s aiming even higher for 2022.
 
Read on for more about McMullin, who lives in Lake Orion, Michigan, with his wife, Pamela, and their son, Paxton, who has a Power Wheels Mustang that is painted the same color as McMullin’s G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stocker and wears the same competition number and contingency stickers.
 
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT WATCHING YOUR FATHER RACE BACK IN THE DAY?
 
I spent a lot of time watching him race at Atco Dragway and Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, or Englishtown as we call it, in New Jersey, and I loved it. He had a Buick Gran Sport, and he raced in bracket categories. I used to hold his flashlight while he worked on his car. I think his interest in cars influenced my interest in cars.
 

SPEAKING OF MEMORIES, DID YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE FIRST CAR?

 
I did. It was a 1969 Mustang coupe that I got when I was 15. I spent the better part of a year and a half working on it and fixing it up. I did the engine work and bodywork with help from my father and friends, and I was on my way to the body shop to get it painted when I got hit from behind and the car was destroyed. Talk about bad luck. I was heartbroken, but I found another 1969 Mustang coupe for sale in the newspaper a few days later and bought it. I swapped the engine and transmission from the totaled car into the replacement car.
 
DID THAT 1969 MUSTANG COUPE MAKE IT TO THE RACE TRACK?
 
Yes, it did. The car had a 302 cubic-inch engine and a C4 automatic in it, and I went to Atco Dragway and ran 12s and 13s. I immediately liked racing, and I had a heck of a time. That car was also my daily driver, and I drove it to high school and my early college years before it got parked. 
 
WHAT DID YOU CLIMB INTO AFTER THAT?
 
I had a couple of Jeeps and a 1994 Lightning before I bought the 1994 Mustang that I have now in 1996. I was still living in Pennsylvania at the time, and I saw it on a dealership lot. It was yellow at the time, and it had a 5.0 engine, T-5 manual transmission, and full interior, and it was completely stock. I drove by it every day for a while, and when the price came down enough, I bought it. I was 24 years old and just out of college, and I was working at Johnson & Johnson at the time.
 
WHEN YOU BOUGHT THE 1994 MUSTANG, DID YOU DRIVE IT AS IT WAS FOR A WHILE, OR DID YOU IMMEDIATELY BEGIN MODIFYING IT?
 
I immediately started playing with it and gave it ram air, new gears, underdrive pulleys, and other entry level modifications, and I advanced the timing. It progressed from there. Because I had moved after college graduation, I was taking the car to Keystone Raceway Park in Pennsylvania rather than Atco Dragway because it was closer to me. I was bracket racing and running 13s. The new Mustang was a lot heavier than the old Mustang because it had a lot more steel and a full interior.
 
A little while later, I threw a Vortech S-Trim supercharger on the stock 5.0L engine and ran a little faster,and I then started playing with Fun Ford Weekend Street Renegade, and then I moved to a Paxton Novi 2000, followed by heads and a cam when the rules opened up and were running 9s. The car still had the interior at the time, and by then, I was living in Michigan and had a roll cage installed by Performance Innovations. In addition to Fun Ford Weekend Street Renegade, I took part in a few NMRA EFI Renegade races when the series came to a track near my house. I ran the Mustang like that for a few years and then I parked it to focus on work.
 
HOW MUCH TIME PASSED BEFORE YOU WERE INSPIRED TO PREPARE THE CAR FOR A RETURN TO RACING?
 
It was several years. I had the car put away until 2016, when my wife, Pamela, suggested that I return to racing. It was funny because we were in the middle of watching Street Outlaws on TV when she said ‘You really like this show. You have a race car, and I haven’t seen the car leave the garage, so, why don’t you get it ready to go back to racing?’ We didn’t have our son at that point, and we both had good jobs, so I decided that it was indeed a good time.
 

WE’RE GLAD YOUR WIFE MADE THAT SUGGESTION. HOW DID YOU COME TO CHOOSE G-FORCE RACING TRANSMISSIONS COYOTE STOCK?

 
I had a pretty good idea that was the category I wanted to join. I had some friends who were racing in the category or building cars for the category. I watched the racers and talked with them about Coyote Stock and their cars and combinations. I spent time with Jacob Lamb, who is a great guy, who didn’t know me, but still talked with me and helped me go in the right direction. Clair Stewart also introduced me to a few people.
 
WHAT DID YOU DO TO PREPARE YOUR CAR FOR YOUR RETURN TO RACING?
 
Over the winter of 2016, I stripped my car down to its shell and sold everything. I redid the interior and got new suspension components from Team Z Motorsports and a carbon fiber hood from Motor City Solutions. I ordered a Gen II Coyote engine and a G-Force G101A transmission, and I finished the build toward the end of the 2017 race season. I had dyno time at Walsh Motorsports and Livernois Motorsports. I made some test passes at Milan Dragway in Michigan, and despite the big learning curve, I packed up and headed for the final NMRA event of 2017, which was at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky, and made my Coyote Stock debut. The class was running 10.30s at the time, and I was running 10.60 at that race, and that was a good start.
 
WHAT WERE YOUR EARLY THOUGHTS ON G-FORCE RACING TRANSMISSIONS COYOTE STOCK?
 
I loved it, and I learned quickly that the category is filled with good people, and that if you break something, everyone in the category starts walking over to your pit area with parts and offers to help.
 
2019 WAS YOUR FIRST FULL SEASON IN THE CATEGORY. WHAT ARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS?
 
We had the car dialed in with some help from Tim Donathen of Donathen Racing, and we were going some rounds. Honestly, it takes at least a year to start being competitive in that category. Tim was helping mostly with the suspension and the chassis work, and we started keeping a list of things to change or make different.
 
2020 STARTED OUT WONDERFULLY, BUT ENDED WOEFULLY. WHAT WILL YOU SHARE ABOUT THAT YEAR?
 
I earned a runner-up finish at the first race of 2020, and the car picked up to 10.00. We then had some semifinal finishes and we were doing well, but things took a turn at the last race of the year at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky. In the second round of eliminations, I launched off the two-step, and the car came straight up, got on the push bar that we use to push the car to the lanes, and unloaded a tire. It made a hard left, and then went onto its side and roof, and back onto its wheels before jumping onto the retaining wall and sliding down the wall for quite a ways.
 

EVERYONE WAS HOLDING THEIR BREATH AS THAT WAS HAPPENING. WHAT THOUGHTS WERE GOING THROUGH YOUR HEAD?

 
As I was sliding down the wall, I knew that the battery cable and fuel lines could be a problem. As soon as the car stopped on top of the wall, I got out as quickly as I could and killed the battery. Kurt Johnson was the first person to get to me, and everyone got there right after he did. Luckily, the Big Foot Monster Truck was there that weekend, and the NMRA track crew borrowed a forklift from the Big Foot crew to get my car off the wall. It was the forklift that Big Foot’s crew uses to put their tires on their trailer. NMRA track crew members were like surgeons and did it without causing any additional damage to my car.
 
WE WERE SO GLAD THAT YOU WERE NOT INJURED. WHAT WORK DID YOU HAVE TO PERFORM ON YOUR CAR AFTER THAT?
 
I got a new fender, doors, and trim panels from local junkyards, and I bought a new front bumper. I had to replace sheetmetal. Sheri Zimmerman from Team Z Motorsports called me on Christmas Eve of 2020 to say that she and Dave Zimmerman wanted to help me replace my torn-up suspension components, which meant a lot. I did all of the bodywork, installed the panels and the Team Z Motorsports suspension. The Gen II Coyote engine and my G-Force G101A were not hurt, but I took the opportunity to upgrade to the Gen III engine, and then took my car to Tim Donathen to dial it in and make it square.
 
WHEN WERE YOU AND THE CAR READY TO RETURN TO ACTION?
 
Without testing, I headed to the second NMRA race of 2021, which was at Atlanta Dragway, and dove in. I was able to win the first round of eliminations, and it felt good to be able to come out and do that at the first race back after the incident. The car was making a ton more power with the Gen 3 Coyote engine. We had an extra 35 horsepower, and we were almost four-tenths faster, and we saw that immediately. The car felt absolutely great. I made it to five out of six races, ran a best of 9.75 and 136.73 mph, and won the race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois. It was great to get a Super Bowl ring. I was also able to make it to the semifinal at the race at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio, and then I finished seventh in points, so it was definitely a decent year with a fairy tale ending. I can’t ask for more than that.
 
ARE YOU PERFORMING ANY WORK ON YOUR CAR FOR THE 2022 RACE SEASON?

I’ll say that I have duct tape and bubble gum holding a few things together, and without going into specifics, we’re going to take care of those things. We’ll also work on the rearend gearing. The competition in Coyote Stock is really tight, so a few hundredths can make a big difference. If we don’t get that just right, we’ll go back to the setup we had for 2021. I dropped my car off at Tim Donathen’s shop the weekend of PRI in December, and he’s getting started on it.
 
WHO HELPS YOU ALONG THE WAY?

It’s mostly my wife, Pamela, and Tim Donathen. We also travel with fellow racers Chad Stephens and Randy Soper, and we share a lot of data and information on what might work and what might not work with our programs.
 
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH IN 2022?
 
I picked up a new sponsor mid-season in 2021, Penguin Chillers. They debuted a new line of engine chillers and chose me to be one of their test cars. I’m looking forward to running a full season with Penguin Chillers as a sponsor, starting with the season opener in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida. I would love to be able to earn a championship, but Coyote Stock is an incredibly tough category, and we’re going to have five or six more cars in it in 2022. I’m glad we’ve got the car back together and running well, and I can’t wait to get back out there. 
 


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