The track is just about ready to go hot here at Rt. 66 Raceway for the 13th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street legal Drag Racing presented by Fuel Systems Technology. We go straight into qualifying session number one this morning and we’ve got over 400 race cars all looking to get down the finely honed 1320.
After a wicked wreck wiped out her 1985 Mustang in 2016, Georgina Buckley returned to competition this year in a 2005 Mustang formerly owned by Donald Long. Georgina’s husband, Dave Buckley, as well as Jeff Butler, made adjustments to the car’s chassis and interior to make it an ideal fit for Georgina, and the team chose to power the car with a Jimmy Lopez-built 582 cubic-inch big-block Chevy amped up by a SpeedTech nitrous system tuned by Robert Lane. The car is rolling on Mickey Thompson Pro Bracket Radials, and Georgina, who’s been competing in the River Redemption Small Tire Series’ 4.70 category at Cordova International Raceway in Illinois as of late, will give ARP Nitrous Pro Street a go this weekend. “This car is wider and longer than my other car, and it handles very well,” said Georgina. “I really like it.”
Dennis Equitz of Blitzkrieg Motorsports is introducing himself — and Still Bill’s 1968 Plymouth Road Runner — to Edelbrock Xtreme Street this weekend. Blitzkrieg Motorsports transformed the former street car to a race car in short order, and gave it a 574 cubic-inch Mopar engine, SpeedTech nitrous system and a Proformance Racing Transmissions-built Turbo 400. The blue beauty rolls on Mickey Thompson drag radials, and Equitz, who was wrapping up work on the car and wasn’t able to test before this weekend, blipped the throttle once or twice on the street, liked what he heard and felt and loaded the car into the trailer. After this weekend, Equitz and Still Bill plan to head to the 17th Annual Honeywell Garrett NMCA All-American Nationals, Aug. 23-26 at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio and the NMCA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance, Sept. 20-23 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana to pick up where they left off.
Randy Merick of Bismarck, Missouri, is making his NMCA debut in his new C3 Corvette Pro Mod this weekend and so far the unique body style has been a hit. The Larry Jeffers Race Cars chassis is packing a Tutterow-built 521ci Brad Anderson-based Hemi with a C screw blower. Merick, who used to pilot a nitro-burning coupe back in the early Super Chevy days, has Ed Briggs and Todd Tutterow handling the tuneup, which so far has propelled the Vette to a 3.75 at 203mph run yesterday during testing.
Scotty Guiler is back behind the wheel of his Oldsmobile in Edelbrock Xtreme Street competition this weekend. Guiler fell ill during the season opener and put Jamie Stanton in the driver’s seat, who proceeded to drive the Cutlass into the final round and collect a runner up prize. After attending to some family matters that kept him away from the next two races, Guiler has his BES Racing Engines-powered machine fired up and ready to do battle this weekend.
After completing his licensing passes, former NMRA Pure Street standout Mike “Goose” Gucciardo plans to make his NMRA Steeda Limited Street debut at this weekend’s event at Route 66 Raceway, and up to the task is his super-fit and super-fine Fox body Mustang. It’s equipped with the same Kaley Motor Service-built 311 cubic-inch small-block Ford which Gucciardo had been running, but he has replaced his previous manual transmission with a G-Force Transmissions’ G101A transmission. “We didn’t have the right gear ratios in our previous transmission, but now we do, with help from Paul Long at G-Force Transmissions, so that, and the weight we got out of the car with a cutting wheel, should help us go faster,” said Gucciardo, who’s assisted this weekend by crew chief and wife, Amanda Gucciardo. “We’re hoping to go in the 9.80s.”
After getting his start in the Magnafuel Open Comp class, Rick Hornback is looking to make strides in the Fuel Systems Technology NA 10.5 class. “We made a bunch of changes over the winter,” said Hornback. His all steel ’69 Chevelle visited Spall Chassis and Performance for a new front suspension as well as roll cage and wheelie bar upgrades. The engine got some upgrades as well, swelling to 585 cubic inches with a pair of 20 degree cylinder heads and intake from M & M. “We know we have a way to go in the class,” said Hornback. “But we’re sneaking up on it and having fun with the car.”
Normally a fierce competitor in Ultra Street, Michael Roemer made the short drive to Route 66 to compete in Xtreme Street this weekend. “The Flying Pickle” S-10 pops thanks to its Synergy Green paint job, and the BES-built small block and Induction Solutions fogger makes for impressive on-track performance as well. “My combination works well for both Ultra and Xtreme Street,” said Roemer. “I don’t have to change anything on set-up or weight, and I hope for a good showing here.”
Longtime Ford racer Joe Bucaro has switched things up in ARP Nitrous Pro Street, jumping into a 2010 Cobalt owned by his uncle Frank DePhillips. Built by Jerry Bickel, the Pro Stock-spec chassis sports a small 420 cubic inch big block backed by a Liberty 5-speed. “I’m just getting some seat time this weekend,” said Bucaro. “I’m planning to change to a naturally-aspirated 632 cubic inch combination soon.” ET Racing Engines is currently building that bullet, and the former class champion plans to make a statement at the upcoming World Finals.
Appearing in every final round of VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw this year, Andy Manson leads the points chase entering the fifth race of the season. Manson owns the class speed record at 171 mph, thanks in part to a 470 cubic inch Anthony DiSomma bullet wearing a Procharger F-1X, but he’s struggling to find his groove in Joliet. “After starting the season well, we decided to test some stuff,” said Manson. “We need to get back into race mode.”
While Matt Williams has been around the NMRA block a time or two and competed in G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock last year, he’s focusing on Steeda Limited Street this year, and when asked what prompted him to make the move, he simply said “I wanted to go faster.” Helping him achieve that in his 1985 Mustang is the Coyote engine he relied on last year, but he swapped cams, went to a Cobra Jet intake ported by Cesar Tellez and had it tuned up by DeCordre Automotive. “I like that there are a lot of combinations in Limited Street and that it’s a place where misfits can go, including former Pure Street racers, and now I want to see how fast I can get this engine to go,” said Williams, who’s hoping to run 9.40s this weekend with help from Chris Beningo and Ed Curtis. Meanwhile, Rich Groh is building a new Coyote engine for Williams, who said he’s not sure if he’ll debut it at the 20th Annual Nitto NMRA All-Ford World Finals, Sept. 27-30 at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky or next year.
When Jason Coomer’s 1984 Monte Carlo SS was featured across four pages in Fastest Street Car way back in 2012, it was red, but these days, it’s sporting a new beautiful black paintjob. Under the hood of the car, which is commanding attention in the pit area this weekend, is a 572 cubic-inch big-block Chevy, which helps deliver Coomer to high 8s without the help of a power-adder. Coomer, who earned a runner-up finish in MagnaFuel Open Comp at this event two years ago, is set on making it to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle this weekend. “In addition to trying to win this weekend, I really want to get my hands on a Top Ten jacket by the end of the season,” said Coomer, with a lot of conviction.
Despite entering Joliet just two rounds out of the lead in the Coan Engineering Stock / Super Stock class, Doug Duell found himself without his ’69 Cuda ready to go. “We damaged the engine two weeks ago at a NHRA division race,” Duell admitted, and the search was on for a back-up ride. He didn’t have to go far, finding an 18,000 mile 2002 Camaro SS on his used car lot. “It didn’t feel fast,” Duell said of his first test pass on Thursday. But a 12.23 timeslip was the result, and Duell is qualified as a B/Pure Stock entry for eliminations.
A past champion in the Chevrolet Performance Challenge series index classes, Shawn Calabrese has jumped into the heads-up game with a 2000 Firebird purchased from Daren Poole-Adams. Already equipped with the DR525 engine, Calabrese completed the Chevrolet Performance Stock entry with a G-Force manual transmission, but found no luck at the most recent event in Bowling Green, Kentucky. “We broke two transmissions in two runs,” said Calabrese, and after much debate, he switched to an RPM Turbo 400 automatic for Joliet.
Making the move from NMRA’s G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock class to the NMCA Chevrolet Performance Stock class might seem out of character for Shane Stymiest. But when Kevin Lumsden made the switch from an automatic to a stick shift in his ’99 Camaro, Stymiest got the call to wheel it. “I had recently sold my Gen 1 Coyote engine,” said Stymiest. “I’ve been telling Kevin to switch to a stick, and once he did, he asked me to drive it.”
Larry Jeffers Race Cars is on the huge manufacturer’s midway here at Rt. 66 Raceway and has everything from engines to chassis to a full ready-to-run blown shoebox Pro Mod.
While perusing the midway we ran came across legendary Pro Mod racer and tuner Shannon Jenkins, who we caught mid conversation with ProMedia’s Scott Sparrow as they discussed some of the differences between his customers from decades ago to now. Jenkins has a new car being built for himself and we’ll be sure to bring you all of the details once it’s ready to run.
Race Star Wheels is proudly showing off some of its new competition wheels, including it’s Pro Mod liner wheel and Pro Stock beadlock wheel. Production starts soon and they should be on the shelves some time in November.
Fuel Systems Technology NA 10.5 driver Robbie Blankenship currently sits at the top of the qualifying sheets with a 7.92 from his Mustang. The team was busy changing out the rear gear to see if they could improve on the car’s performance for the next round, which will go down later this evening in what could be some spectacular atmospheric conditions.
Speaking of Fuel Systems Technology, the company, who is the Super Bowl’s presenting sponsor this weekend, is displaying some of its new carburetors and fuel system components on the midway. From what we saw, the carbs are super impressive looking, and offer a number of innovative features.
Proform Rumble competitor Keith Vaughn suffered a halfshaft failure while qualifying in his 2004 Pontiac GTO. With an estimated 5,000 passes on the Goat, some of which in the 10-second range, Vaughn isn’t complaining. He’s just calling O’Reilly’s Auto Parts who said they could get him a replacement this afternoon.
JC Cascio is the defending runner up in Race Star Wheels Ford Muscle here at this event, and he’s hoping to improve upon last year’s result this weekend. His son, Nick Cascio, is competing in QA1 True Street competition with his Modular-powered droptop Mustang as well.
Steeda Limited Street racer Kent Nine had a final-round appearance at the season opener in Bradenton with a borrowed Roush Mustang from Brenspeed, but he’s been hard at work wrapping up his own Limited Street build, which is his S197 Mustang convertible. It’s packing a Roush-blown Cobra Jet Coyote engine that’s managed by a Haltech EFI system and tend by Patrick Barnhill of PTP Racing. The chassis has been worked by Straight-line Performance and Nine expects to have it running shortly, tested and ready for the NMRA finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky just a couple of months from now.
Sondra Leslie is making waves in Steeda Limited Street, and for good reason. She stopped the clocks at 8.73 to set the pace in today’s first round of qualifying, and she wants to go even quicker and faster in her wicked white 1985 Mustang. It packs a Coyote engine finessed by Tim Eichhorn of MPR Racing Engines and a Vortech V-2-H/D Ti supercharger, and a JPC-massaged Turbo 400 transmission and Ultimate Converter Concepts converter help the car rolling on a Strange Engineering fabricated 9-inch rear-end, UPR suspension and Mickey Thompson Pro Drag Radials plant the power. Ken Bjonnes and Rob Shoemaker of Palm Beach Dyno are handling the tune-up. “My parents, John and Barb Leslie, have helped me so much, and I really want to be able to give them a Super Bowl ring,” said Leslie. “So, that’s what I’m focused on, and I’ve come prepared with two of just about everything because I don’t want breakage to stop me.”
While a friend had a wreck in Rob Goss’ Challenger during a test session four weeks ago, Goss had some help getting it put back together in time to take on Vortech Superchargers Street Outlaw this weekend. BES went through his Gen 3 Hemi engine to be sure it wasn’t damaged, and then freshened it, and ProCharger repaired his supercharger. Bruce Maichle of High Horse Performance handled the fuel system and wiring, and Michael Carbone fabricated a frame and mounted a new GlassTek front-end. Goss spun in a test hit yesterday, and then had an injector hang up in the first round of qualifying today, but is ready for tonight’s second round of qualifying. “We’ll see what the second round of qualifying brings,” said Goss, whose family made the 19-hour trip from Wyoming to support his racing efforts this weekend.
Fuel Systems Technology driver Leonard Long went for a bit of a wild ride when his Mustang went into the pea gravel at the top end of the track in tonight’s second round of qualifying. He was not injured, but his car has some front bumper damage, and fellow NMCA competitors Scott Libersher and David Barton were making arrangements to have the front bumper delivered to a nearby shop to have it repaired overnight. Meanwhile, Long and his crew are working to get the pea gravel and dust out of the engine bay and off the car.
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