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Friday Coverage—17th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem

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Today it gets real at the 17th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem. After yesterday’s test sessions, racers are gearing up for the first round of qualifying, which will pave the way for one victor in each class to make a trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle. However, we still have a lot of action before Sunday’s eliminations go down. Today is particularly significant for the competitors in the Holley EFI Factory Super Cars class. Several competitors ran in the 7-second zone during testing, but entry into the elite Holley EFI 7-second Club, which will award $1,000 to each of the remaining members, must be earned during qualifying.

Here’s at look at how the 17th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem will go down today at Bradenton Motorsports Park.

Among the pack of Holley EFI Factory Super Cars contestants gunning for the 7-second zone is Leah Pritchett in her Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, which clicked off a lifting low-8-second rip in testing, so it will definitely be in the mix for the Holley EFI 7-second Club when the first round of qualifying goes down this evening. Depending on which Holley EFI Factory Super Cars racer ends up in the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle at the end of the weekend, Chevrolet Performance, Dodge // Mopar, or Ford Performance, will pay out another $1,000 if the winning driver is piloting one of its cars.

You don’t see many real vintage Cobra Jets competing on the quarter-mile, but Don Fotti makes the trip down from Winnipeg, Canada, to compete in the Detroit True Trac Nostalgia Muscle Car class. During testing, he twisted the input shaft on the C4 auto trans that corrals the power from his Jason Line-built Ford FE big-block, so his team was busy yesterday swapping in the repaired trans in preparation for today’s qualifying action.

We should see over 80 cars competing in the Dodge // Mopar HEMI Shootout this weekend, where the first 75 competitors get to run for free courtesy of Mopar, which definitely inspired these two cars to return for this year’s event. If things go their way, they may also be eligible to compete in the Arrington Performance HEMI Quick 8 Presented by Red Line Oil, which will call up the quickest HEMIs to run each other on Sunday. Buzz Schaberg (left) is running 10.90s in his stock, 707-horsepower 2016 Dodge Challenger Hellcat, which finished second overall in the class last year. John Giljum (right) runs mid-10s in his 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye.

John Cislak says his 1956 Chevy truck, which wears a ’58 nose, is ugly, but we think the MagnaFuel Open Comp competitor looks cool. Powered by a 377-cube small-block backed by a clutchless five-speed, this pickup hauls the mail to the tune of 9.90s on motor and 8.90s on the spray, but he was fighting the tune as the truck was slowing during testing.

Steel Dragon is not just a fictional rock band, but a 1941 Ford Special Deluxe powered by a 427ci Windsor. Driver Dana Keyes competed at the NMRA’s 25th Annual Nitto Tire Spring Break Shootout race last weekend, and traditionally makes the trip down from Massachusetts to run his green machine in the Bracket 2 class. It runs low 10s in the quarter, and he clicked off some 6.40 eighth-mile runs in testing to get ready for today’s qualifying round.

Naturally, VP Racing Fuels is on hand this weekend to make sure all the race cars have the proper fuel to perform at a high level during competition.

You might wonder why Tripp Carter’s brand-new, 2019 Cobra Jet clone is emblazoned with ‘Chicken Man’? Well, Carter is the co-owner of Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. His company has a reputation for serving tasty yardbird, and in Bradenton he was making his first laps with the latest Cobra Jet setup. On Thursday he ran 8.30s while lifting at the 1,000-foot mark in the car he describes as a beast compared with this prior 2016 CJ. The car is a looker, and we have no doubt he will have it cooking in Holley EFI Factory Super Cars competition in the near future, as he clicked off a 7.99 in this morning’s test session.

After a quick, 20-minute drive over to the track, Michael Bowie swapped his 1965 Pontiac GTO’s street tires out in favor of slicks. He wanted to get some test hits prior to the first round of Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle Car qualifying. Tomorrow he will put it into the car show and continue running  the class. Bowie expects his GTO — which used to belong to his dad and make laps at National Speedway in Long Island, New York — to run low 14s in competition.

Heading into qualifying, Adam Flamholc will have some adjustments to make during qualifying. His VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod machine just received a freshened engine and had yet to fire this morning. Still, he expects the plan to come together with 3.60- to 3.70-second runs once the fire is lit.

In a good mood on a beautiful Florida day, Scott Brown was feeling good about his Chevrolet Performance Stock 2013 Camaro. In testing, he had run his quickest elapsed time yet, a 10.17, and backed it up with two 10.18s. More impressive yet, he hadn’t changed a thing about the car since last year’s final race. In fact, he was still running fuel that he purchase at the NMCA World Finals in Indy last year. As we chatted, he was setting the car’s fuel pressure and bemoaned the absence of his 12-year-old son, Aaron Brown, who is the crew chief for the team. Sadly, the younger Brown is home sick with the flu, so a successful weekend for the team might just cheer him up.

Running 10.20s in his bolt-on 2016 Corvette Z06, Frank Beal snapped a halfshaft while testing for the Gear Vendors True Street class. That axle-breaking power is courtesy of a Fasterproms tune and E85 conversion, long-tube headers, and a cold-air intake. To prevent further breakage, Beal plans to put a 9-inch rear under his Vette, then crank up the power with heads, cam, and methanol injection upgrades.

Scott Grove is sneaking up on the tune in his Edelbrock Xtreme Street 1984 Mustang. Running a new 440-cube combo behind that Outlaw-style 1985 Mustang bumper cover, the Fox had already run a 5.33 on a small jet, so Grove plans to clean up the tune and keep pushing it harder as the weekend moves forward.

After testing last weekend in Orlando and hurting a rod, Robert Abbot rolled into the 17th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem with a fresh bullet and blower in his VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod machine. Today will mark the car’s first hit with the new combo, but he is feeling confident in his team and about the prospects for this weekend.

Terry Munroe and his 2017 COPO Camaro are back in Holley EFI Factory Super Cars action this weekend, though he has updated the car to look like a 2019 COPO Camaro with new taillights, headlights and bumper covers. It’s also packing a new supercharged Pattterson Elite-built 350 cubic-inch Chevy engine, and Munroe shared that it has a bit more horsepower than his previous engine. To back it, he went with a new RPM Transmissions-built Turbo 400, and everything appears to be working, as Munroe, who had last year run 8.30s, trapped a 7.84 in a test pass this week.

Longtime Edelbrock Xtreme Street driver and multi-time champion Tony Orts, who returned to competition last year after an eight-year break, continues to dial in the nitrous-sipping Precision Engine-built small-block Chevy he put under the hood of his Firebird last year. He also continues to collect data for that combination paired with drag radials, as prior to last year, he had run slicks. “It’s a lot more challenging with radials, I’ll tell you that,” said Orts. “With the new type of tires and the new engine, we weren’t putting a hurting on the combination, but this year, I do plan to put a hurting on it.”

While PJ Kirkhorn’s Belvedere was a street car four years ago, he said he has made it a dedicated strip car with slicks that he keeps on. The Floridian said he’s happy driving it a quarter-mile at a time rather than long distances since it doesn’t have power steering, power windows and no air-conditioning, and he’s hoping to settle into the 10.50 index in Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle Car this weekend with the help of his 496 cubic-inch Wedge engine sipping fuel from a Quick Fuel 900 CFM carburetor.

After a recent timing issue, the Nelson Competition-built 427 cubic-inch LSX engine under the hood of Mike Wabuda’s Trans Am was hurt, and he and his son and crew chief, Michael Wabuda, rebuilt it in short order last week, reunited it with its ProCharger F-1A-94 supercharger, and made it to this weekend’s race with no time to spare. Now, Wabuda, who has been as quick and fast as 4.80 and 149 mph in the eighth- mile with this combination, is looking for 4.70s sooner rather than later in Edelbrock Xtreme Street. “We’re shooting for the stars,” said Wabuda, who also competes in Ultra Street at various events.

Rick Baum’s Mustang sees street-time and strip-time in both NMCA Gear Vendors True Street and NMRA QA1 True Street, and the supercharged 2007 5.4 Shelby GT500 engine under the hood helps him average 10s. Baum, who has finished as runner-up in the crowd-pleasing category a couple times, said he enjoys the challenge of taking the car for the category’s required 30-mile cruise and then taking it down track for the category’s required three laps. Baum, who this weekend hopes to repeat his runner-up finishes, or even better, make it to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle, is supported by his wife, Donna Baum.

When Dwayne Roberts of nearby Lakeland, Florida rolled his Chevy II out of the trailer this morning, heads turned, and for good reason. The character-filled car has under the hood a new small-block Chevy by Sunset in Texas, and Roberts is hoping to dial it in to 5.80s in the eighth-mile in Fastest Street Car Bracket 1 this weekend. Roberts, who raced his dragster at this event last year, said in addition to enjoying racing at this event, he enjoys seeing the many other race cars and show cars.

Holley EFI Super Cars racer Leah Pritchett (signing a fan’s trunklid) attends a lot of races, having won last season’s NHRA Factory Stock Showdown championship, but the NMCA season opener holds a special place in her heart. “I grew up grassroots racing, and going to an NHRA national event was such a treat twice a year in Southern California. Now that it is beyond the majority of the things that I do, it just makes me cherish racing, working on the cars, being with the fans, and hearing their stories. Honestly it is just being able to have more time to just really enjoy the racing and fundamentals of competition, and it feels like home,” she said. “Plus, I feel like NMCA goes out of its way to deliver an incredible experience for the fans and the racers too.”

We caught Dwight Ausmus transferring the used break-in oil from his fresh 570ci Pontiac, and the team transferred the dirty oil back its bottles with ease. He hopes that his FST Carburetors NA 10.5 Firebird will work that well this weekend. In testing he made an eighth-mile hit resulting in a 5.80-second run. He is striving for consistency and expecting 7.90-second runs when it counts.

Fresh off a final-round appearance in Orlando, Troy Pirez Sr. didn’t tweak his Edelbrock Xtreme Street Mustang’s setup at all, save for filling its nitrous bottles. He says that worrying about his car’s appearance is one thing that he doesn’t concern himself with at the races, preferring to focus on the racing. “We are old so we need a combo that takes the least amount of effort,” he says of the car’s big-block Chevrolet engine. So far the car has run a 4.72 in testing, but he is hoping for 4.60s in competition.

In his Fairmont flying Palmetto Police banners, honorary officer Bill Lee Jr. won in the NMRA Race Star Wheels Ford Muscle category at the 25th Annual Nitto NMRA Spring Break Shootout held at Bradenton Motorsports Park last weekend, and is trying to back that win up with a win in Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle Carat the 17th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem this weekend. Up to the task is the small-block Ford under the hood, which has helped Lee Jr. lay down 11s in the car, which he also takes to schools, parades and various community functions for outreach purposes. Pulling double duty this weekend, he’ll also pilot Steve Best’s Demon in the Dodge // Mopar HEMI Shootout, and the car, he said, runs low 10s.

Watson Racing’s Chuck Watson Sr. has been a consistent threat in Holley EFI Factory Super Cars from day one, and with second place finishes in points in 2016, 2017 and 2018, he has come oh-so-close to collecting the championship. This weekend, however, he has his sights set on earning a coveted spot in the Holley EFI 7-Second Club. His chances are good, as he has put a 7.89, 7.87, 7.83 and 7.81 on the board in testing this weekend in his 2016 Mustang Cobra Jet packing a Coyote engine with a few more cubic-inches than last year and a new 3 liter Whipple supercharger, as well as some new carbon fiber components, including a hood and front and rear facia. “My previous best was an 8.05, and I’d really like to get into the Holley EFI 7-Second Club,” said Watson Sr., who’s preparing for today’s first round of qualifying. “The car is performing great, so we’ll see what happens.” For a recent interview with Watson Sr. in Fastest Street Car magazine, click HERE

For results of tonight’s first round of qualifying as they come in, click HERE


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