By Ainsley Jacobs
If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Gary “Hollywood” Parker has decided to chase another NMRA championship title for 2019, so he’s stepped up with a new combination and has brought several new sponsors on board for the NMRA Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle season.
Back in 2015, Parker was running in NMRA Factory Stock with his ’02 Mustang. “We had a C4 transmission and a low gear and I was having a hard time getting the car to hook,” remembered the racer who has been campaigning his car since 2004. A quick call to Team Z Motorsport’s head honcho, Dave Zimmerman, got Parker set up with new upper control arm relocating brackets for the rear, as well as a set of springs and shocks that had been custom valved for Team Z by Strange Engineering. “Immediately, the car started hooking like crazy and I’ve been a huge fan of their products ever since.”
This year, Parker and Zimmerman had a chat and it was decided that Team Z would expand the existing relationship to step up as Parker’s partner for 2019. “I’m really excited about it, and am honored to represent Team Z. They are innovators and always developing new components and parts to make our cars perform better,” Parker added gratefully.
Ultimate Converter Concepts has also come on board to support Parker’s program. “Lenny and Dawn Croteau are super people and got me set up with a new converter since I’ve switched to a Powerglide this year,” he explained of the relationship.
In addition to Parker’s new-for-2019 Powerglide from the “Powerglide gurus” at Sid Neal Racing Transmissions, he’s also got a new Coyote engine from Tim Matherly at MV Performance already situated in his Mustang.
“It’s a Gen 2 block using Gen 1 heads, and we’re running 13:1 compression with a new set of Diamond pistons,” shared Parker, who hopes to run in the low- or mid-10-second zone instead of his typical 11-second range with the new MV-built engine. A GT350 intake manifold also helps the Coyote to make a little more steam, but the rest of Parker’s naturally aspirated combination is more or less unchanged. “I also installed a FAST standalone EFI system, got rid of the drive-by-wire and have a FAST Big Mouth throttle body now, too.”
To compliment the new sponsors, Parker’s pre-existing relationships with Mickey Thompson, FuelLab, and Exedy have also been renewed.
“There has been one other change to the car…” laughed Parker, as he explained an incident a week ago while testing at Montgomery Motorsports Park in Alabama. Parker made his first hit and everything was fine, or so he thought. As he turned off onto the return road, he heard a strange noise, stopped, unbelted, and looked outside to find his front bumper cover lodged in the wheel well under his left rear tire. “I did my forensics and it seems the attachment points up front and on the fenders had been ripped away. It hadn’t seen 130+ mph yet, plus we head a headwind, so I think that’s what did me in – it was quite exciting! I made a second hit with no bumper cover and it looked like something the Clampetts would drive, but loaded up and came home after that.”
Fortunately, Parker was able to get a new bumper cover painted and installed so he can keep his “Hollywood” moniker instead of being known as a “Beverly Hillbilly.”
After taking things easy in 2018, Parker and his lovely wife, Carole, are making plans to attend each and every one of the six NMRA Drag Racing events during 2019. “We’re going after the NMRA Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle championship. I can’t say we’ll win it, but I sure am going to try,” added Parker, who won the title in 2010.