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Friday Coverage—NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing presented by HPJ Performance

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Racers have begun pulling into the lanes for today’s running of the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing presented by HPJ Performance at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, and it’s just the start of what is sure to be a wild weekend of racing. This is the second year in a row that this event has been held at this facility, and it’s quickly becoming a favorite stop on the series’ tour. The Nitto Tire Diamond Tree Rings will make it even more memorable for racers who win the highly-anticipated NMRA/NMCA runoff on the final day of the event.

NMRA QUALIFYING RESULTS <CLICK HERE>

NMCA QUALIFYING RESULTS <CLICK HERE>

There’s a lot of action on tap for today, and according to the current forecast, temperatures will reach 70 degrees and we’ll be under partly sunny skies.

While Craig Amptmeyer can usually be found racing in X275 and Titans of the 10.5 at various tracks, he’s making his Mickey Thompson Street Outlaw debut this weekend. The Missourian brings to the category a beautiful 1970 Chevelle packing a 400 cubic-inch LS bullet built by Bennett Racing Engines and topped with All Pro heads. It’s enhanced with an 88mm Harts turbo, and an M&M Turbo 400 and converter help put the power down. Nate Bell of Freedom Fabworx helps Amptmeyer with suspension set-up and tuning via FuelTech, and after Amptmeyer spun during his two test passes yesterday, they made some changes and they are ready for qualifying today. “I’ve always wanted to run Street Outlaw, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Amptmeyer, whose car flies banners for  Freedom Fabworx and MCON. “I’ve been 4.43, but I’m hoping to run 4.30s this weekend.”

Craig Hejda has one heck of a Maverick, and it keeps going quicker and faster in Dart NA 10.5. Its major motivation is a small-block Ford built last year by Uratchko Racing Engines and backed by a Liberty’s five-speed transmission and Ram clutch, and the recent addition of a carburetor by Mark Whitener of Lightning Racing Carburetors and different gearing in his car’s rear end, have helped Hejda pick up from a previous best of 171 mph to 177 mph. “It’s amazing how much the new carburetor has affected my combination,” said Hejda, who has support from his wife, Stacy. “My car is working better, and I’m really excited about the gains. I’ve run as quick as 7.94, and I hope to run 7.80s very soon.”


Usually, the offseason is the perfect time to make changes and get busy working, but NMRA Richmond Gear Factory Stock racer Bryan Gardner was pleased with his ’79 Mustang’s performance the previous season and let it sit after the final 2020 race at Bowling Green, Kentucky. He was busy working his day job instead, so he had to “brush a few cobwebs off” before loading his car into the trailer to make it out this weekend. This morning, he took the old fuel out so that he could pass tech, and is now looking forward to seeing if he’ll pick up a few numbers given that he’s been able to enjoy a weight break of 25-pounds for the fact he runs a C4 automatic transmission with his JLT cold air intake-equipped Coyote engine.


Tony Hobson has spent a lot of time testing over the past month with his ProCharged Fox body Mustang, formerly owned by Manny Buginga. The ProCharged powerplant has been performing well, but a new floater rear end from Merillat Racing and new rear shocks from Menscer Motorsports have both been put in place to help the car’s suspension separate more at the hit. Pre-race testing here at World Wide Technology Raceway produced consistent 1.03-second and 1.04-second 60-foot times, meaning the driver is happy and won’t be holding anything back this weekend in NMRA VP Racing Madditives Street Outlaw.


While Tony Meier Sr. of Lansing, Illinois had his cool 1969 Chevelle dialed in for bracket racing at various tracks, he tried NMCA MagnaFuel Open Comp at an event two years ago, and is giving it another go this weekend. Meier Sr. admits that there are some differences between bracket racing and MagnaFuel Open Comp racing, and a bit of a learning curve, but he’s well on his way to winning in his car powered by a 383 cubic-inch Chevrolet engine by Fullbore Racing Engines and a Turbo 400 transmission by TCI. Meier Sr., who has run a best of 10.98, is the father of Tony Meier Jr., a former crew chief for successful NMRA racer John Leslie Jr.


Todd Moyer, who usually competes in the Mid-West Pro Mod Series, traveled all the way from Texas to compete in VP Racing Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod. His 2015 Camaro-bodied car built by Jerry Bickel Race Cars is a force with a 548 cubic-inch Noonan Hemi and ProCharger F-4X. Carl Stevens Sr. and Carl Stevens Jr. keep the engine and chassis in shape, and Chris Crudel, otherwise known as Gumby, helps ready the car between rounds. While Moyer’s car absolutely leaped off the line in the first round of qualifying today, it shook the tires at about 80 feet out, but Moyer is not at all worried, as Stevens Jr. is on top of the tune-up for the second round of qualifying.


Noticeably missing from the first two events on this year’s NMCA tour was Edelbrock Xtreme Street racer Tony Orts, who’s back in action this weekend at the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing presented by HPJ Performance at World Wide Technology Raceway. While his car still sports the unpainted fiberglass front that he installed after he hit the wall last year, he has under it a new Holley EFI system, which replaced his carburetor. “Someone told me that I used to be with the Flintstones and that it was time for me to be with the Jetsons,” said Orts, who continues to rely on a nitrous-enhanced small-block Chevrolet by Precision Engine Rebuilders. While he didn’t get a clean pass in the first round of qualifying today, he’s hoping to replace his personal best of 4.68 with low 4.60s sometime soon.


The weekend is off to a very good start for Pete Ricart. In running an 8.25 and 170 mph in the first round of Coan Stock/Super Stock Combo qualifying today, he replaced his previous personal best speed of 168 mph with a 170 mph in his Mustang Cobra Jet powered by a 5.2L Coyote engine and a Whipple Supercharger, and serving as a rolling showcase for Rabid Customs, Buddy’s RPM, Joe Dirt and John Holt Race Cars. When asked what he attributes those numbers to, the Ohioan laughed and said “My driving ability,” before getting serious and saying he has been trying to achieve that for a while, and hopes to back it up in the other lane in the next round of qualifying.


Chad Wendel was the quickest NMRA JDM Engineering Limited Street entry during Thursday’s testing when he ran 8.30 at 162 mph, just a split-second of his run of 8.29 from the season opener in Florida back in March. His ProCharger supercharged and HPJ Performance-backed ’07 Mustang is enjoying the good air we’re having in St. Louis so far, and he’s happy to be back where he wants to be. No major changes have been made for the man recently, other than slapping on a fresh new set of radial rubber and letting tuner Todd Dennis work his magic on the Holley EFI system.


It’s been a busy week for Becki and Joe Cram, and the race has barely even started yet. Holbrook Racing Engines finished up the new bullet for Becki’s NMRA Edelbrock Renegade ride on Tuesday, so the couple cruised up to the shop to start thrashing on the install that same day. A quick test session was due to take place at US 131 Motorsports Park, but when Becki couldn’t get off of work, Joe hopped back in “to learn to make some runs again.” All went well, and Becki resumed driving duties here at World Wide Technology Raceway, although something with the 3.0L Whipple blower wasn’t making the car happy so they busted out “the big jewelry” and put the 3.8L on instead to give that a go instead.


While Carl Stevens Jr. has competed in Jim Bell’s Camaro-bodied car in VP Racing Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod and other series, he had never competed in Bell’s beautiful black Mustang-bodied car until this weekend. He’s officially entered in VP Racing Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod in the car built by Jerry Bickel Race Cars and powered by a Hemi by Xtreme Racing Engines and a ProCharger F-3X-140, and he’s currently designing a tune via FuelTech for the car. “We’re working on figuring out what the chassis wants and where we need to be,” said Stevens Jr., who also has help from his father, Carl Stevens Sr., who takes care of the chassis set-up and engine maintenance for the car, and Steve Cooks, who handles maintenance between rounds. After one round of qualifying so far, the standout driver sits in the fifth spot with a 3.97.


Jacob Lamb of NMRA G-Force Transmissions Coyote Stock fame is rocking a new set of 26×8.5 Hoosier tires from Florida Performance. Initial testing has shown a lot of promise, including a 9.81-second hit with one of his friends behind the wheel. That run came with a 1.43-second 60-foot time which sounds slow until it’s clarified that it was clocked with the back tire instead of the front. Lamb estimates it would’ve been in a 1.33 or 1.34-second one had the front tire triggered the beam instead, and with a best of 1.26-seconds already in the books, it looks like he’s still got plenty of room for improvement.


The 2019 Mid-West Pro Mod Series X275 champion Randy Matlock (left) decided to come try out NMCA Mickey Thompson Street Outlaw for this event instead of his usual series. Running a ’92 Mustang built by Beilman Fabrication and powered by an LS engine from Design Performance, Randy’s son, Cory (right), manages the tune up on the ComSYNC EFI system. The men love the father-son dynamic, and claimed the top spot in qualifying so far with a 4.454 at 162.67 mph hit during Friday’s first session.


Still in the recovery process from his massive skateboard-esque wall-slide wreck at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, at the end of last season, NMRA G-Force Transmissions Coyote Stock competitor Kevin McMullin has slowly worked his way back to where he was before the wild ride as he not only lost a lot of sheet metal in the accident but also the entire front suspension. Team Z stepped in to help with replacements, but McMullin has been working his way towards getting everything dialed in again. With all new struts, control arms, brakes, and more – including a new Gen 3 Coyote engine and a 100-pound weight addition – it’s like a whole new car. He’s got four different gearsets with him this weekend alone trying to figure out what works best in what weather now, and the change he made yesterday helped him pick up a full tenth. In round one of qualifying, he clocked a new personal best of 9.779 at 136.98 mph so it looks as though he’s making steady progress.


Adam Cox (left) had a little “oops” moment when he put his ’99 Mustang’s shifter linkage on backward and it went into fourth gear instead of third during testing on Thursday. He wound up blowing the center hub out of his clutch, but thankfully he’s got good friends by his side – namely Tim Matherly (center), Charlie McCulloch (right), and Darin Hendricks (not pictured). Matherly and McCulloch helped get everything removed, while Hendricks donated a clutch so that Cox could continue.

Adrian Vanden Acker of Wisconsin earned a win the very first time he took part in the Dodge // Mopar Hemi Shootout last year, and he’s focused on earning another one this weekend. Up to the task is his 2009 Challenger, which packs a 5.7L Hemi, has just 18,000 miles on its odometer and has so far helped him achieve a best of 13.66. While Vanden Acker is competitive, he’s also quick to say that he and his wife and crew chief, Jean, enjoy the various makes and models of cars in the NMCA, and the fact the racers are very friendly with each other, regardless of whether they’re passionate about Mopars, Fords, Chevrolets or other car companies.


Mary Lendzion
Formerly a writer at the Detroit Free Press, Mary Lendzion has written for NMCA and NMRA for more than ten years. She's also the director of media and public relations for Summit Motorsports Park, and spends as much time as possible racing her Mustang.
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