Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Photography by Kevin DiOssi
If there’s one thing that Chad Scholten loves more than racing, it’s family. For him, there’s nothing better than enjoying a week at the track with the people he loves. And, if he can happen to make some new friends and go a few rounds in the process with his NMRA ARP Open Comp ’91 Mustang known as “FarmStang,” then it’s even better.
It was family that first got Scholten started in racing, too. Growing up, his old brother, Brent, had a Mustang and it piqued Scholten’s interest in automotive performance.
“Down the road from our house, they were building a private airport and had freshly asphalted it…” said Scholten mischievously. The small airstrip wasn’t even open to the public yet, but he and his brother snuck in for some fun in the middle of the night with only a flashlight and adrenaline. “I made a hit and knew right then I had to be involved.”
Fortunately, the brothers didn’t get caught during their shenanigans and decided to take things to the drag strip the following weekend. Their home track, US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan, enabled them to make more runs—legally—and also dashed their bravado with a 14.5-second time slip. “We thought we were going a million miles an hour,” laughed Scholten. “Until you get that little slip, you think you’re unstoppable!”
From that fateful night at the airport when he was about 18 years old, Scholten knew it was only a matter of time before he bought his own Mustang. In 1997, he married his longtime love, Michelle, when the couple was in their mid-20s. Around 2005, his new wife proved to be the perfect partner when she spotted a ’90 Mustang GT convertible parked down the road from their house and suggested he buy it.
Like any good husband, Scholten said “yes, dear” and went ahead with the purchase. “One thing led to another, and I had to make it faster! I put a supercharger on it, then a stroker motor went in,” noted Scholten, who knew a convertible might not be the safest choice, especially given that his Fox Mustang was running low-11-second quarter-mile passes without a roll cage. Once again, it was Michelle’s brilliance that prompted Scholten to focus on building an actual racecar instead.
Continuing her trend of being the best wife in the history of the world, Michelle was searching on Craigslist in 2013 and found a salvage-title, manual-transmission ’91 Mustang posted for sale. She quickly showed her husband the listing, and the two drove about an hour from their home in Michigan to claim their new car.
“It was the biggest pile of rust and was really rough. The windows were out, the floors were bad, and it was in primer,” remember Scholten of the barn find that he picked up for $1,000. “The guy asked if I wanted to start it up but I knew it wouldn’t even have a motor by the next day.”
Scholten planned for the Fox as a project that he and his young son, Hunter, would work on together. Along with the help of some friends, their first task was to strip it down to a shell and pull out every piece of wire. “At that point, I had no idea what I was going to do with the car,” said Scholten, who wanted an every day street car that he could make a few hits with, safely. “But, like every other fool who gets a taste of the track, things got out of control.”
Before long, Scholten had cut out the car’s wheel wells, mini-tubbed the Mustang, and installed a basic roll cage.
Next, he stroked a Ford Performance Boss 351 engine—fed an ample supply of VP Racing Fuels’ finest—to a displacement of 427 cubic inches and stuffed it with an Eagle crank, Eagle rods, and D.S.S. Racing GSX pistons. Trick Flow heads topped off the naturally aspirated Ford powerplant, then Scholten matched the long-block to a transbrake-equipped Powerglide automatic transmission built by Jon Capizzi, the “transmission magician” at Capizzi Automotive.
Scholten added a Moser spool and axles to his slick setup, and the Fox’s suspension received some more attention by way of UPR Products’ camber/caster plates, K-member, and upper and lower control arms.
Front and rear cross-drilled and slotted disc brakes from Wilwood handle the stopping. They are framed by a set of RC Components’ Hammer beadlock wheels wrapped in Hoosier 10.5 slick tire rubber.
He decided to christen the uncomplicated car the “FarmStang” as a nod to Discovery’s Street Outlaws stars’ Farmtruck and AZN’s “FarmTruck” because there is a pretty sweet setup hiding under the rough exterior.
Both Scholten and his wife love being at the track, and they had started their son, Hunter, in a junior dragster program so that they could participate as a family. “My wife saw an ad for the NMRA toward the end of the year, and we decided to go to the 2016 NMRA All-Ford World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky,” Scholten explained of how he first encountered the organization and decided to give it a shot.
He called up the main office and got guidance as to what class would fit his build the best. Ultimately, Scholten he decided on NMRA ARP Open Comp.
“Angie [Nine] said the class ran on a Pro .500 Tree, and I laughed and said I wasn’t a pro. I had to Google it and watch videos to learn how to hit a Pro Tree,” confessed Scholten, who was as green as his car’s color at the time.
Rolling in to Beech Bend Raceway Park for his first NMRA event, Scholten wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but quickly got a handle on things. In qualifying, he cut a quick 0.062-second light and settled into 25th in the 40-plus-car field. Incredibly, he kept close to his index and got three round wins in a row in eliminations before going out to Dennis Corn in the quarterfinals.
“This was the first year out, ever, with the car and it didn’t even have paint on it,” admitted Scholten, who was soon informed by another competitor that paint, not primer, was required to run in the class. Despite the misstep, Scholten’s Mustang was still featured in the event coverage in Race Pages magazine, an honor which thrilled the rookie racer.
“Everyone was so cool and accommodating, though, and I was in love with NMRA! Bowling Green is still my favorite place to run, hands down, because it’s an old school, low-pressure track in great shape with an awesome atmosphere.”
In early 2017, Scholten opted for a glowing green hue, which he selected in honor of his favorite beverage, Mountain Dew. He raced a few more times that season.
In July of 2018, Scholten took his Fox to the 13th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois. He showed tremendous improvement on the tree, cutting a 0.009-second light during qualifying to secure the number-eight spot before starting eliminations. There, a win in the first round paired him with Corn again in the second. History repeated with Corn moving on once again, and a small rivalry began brewing.
The following month, while racing at the US 131 Northern Nationals, Scholten suffered a setback that could have been much more serious than it wound up being.
“After I had gone through the stripe, a hood pin broke and, like a bomb, the hood came up and shattered my windshield and took out the whole top of the car,” he explained of the dramatic, 140-mph surprise.
He believes it was his mother, Mary Jean Hall, who had passed away from cancer, that kept him safe during the incident.
“She was a huge supporter both of my racing and of Hunter’s, and she always cheered for him as loud as she could,” Scholten remembered fondly of his mother’s memory. A purple ribbon and her initials have been on the car since she crossed, and he jokes that she’s the angel on his car. “It’s a good day when you break and it almost puts your windshield in your lap and you get to walk away from it,” he said.
A hard worker to his core, Scholten quickly regrouped. With a new hood and a new windshield both firmly in place, he was able return to Bowling Keen, Kentucky, in September for the 20th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA All-Ford World Finals after receiving a blessing from an NMRA tech official. There, he qualified 12th in NMRA ARP Open Comp with a 0.024-second reaction time and finished out his season by adding two more round wins to his roster.
Over the winter off-season, Scholten’s friend, Dan Lawrence of The Paint Shop, was able to get the FarmStang officially all fixed up. He cut the whole top off along with the hood and the front end to make the necessary repairs, then resprayed the Fox body in its eye-catching Synergy Green—yes, that is a GM Camaro color, but it looks good, right?. Scholten, who had been picking glass out of his eyes for weeks after his adventure, made the easy decision to install an Optic Armor front windshield as well.
Scholten also tasked Jim Sebright of Sebright Motorsports with rebuilding the FarmStang’s 427-cube heart, adding a new BLP Racing Products 1,115-cfm carburetor, and reworking the suspension system.
“It’s equipped with QA1 suspension components, and we had a lot of trouble setting it up the first year and a half, but Jim is a bracket racer and first class at what he did,” added Scholten. “We made some changes, tweaked the springs, adjusted the tire pressure, and now the car flat out hooks up—he got it all dialed in.”
Scholten learned a lot from his near-miss accident, and took the opportunity as a motivating moment to make his car even safer to protect against future failures.
“Two weeks prior, my engine builder [Jim Sebright had rolled his car at US 131 and hit both walls, but he got out OK and I decided to make my cage stronger as a result,” asserted Scholten, who believes the hood pin failure happened for a reason: so that he could have Sebright add the extra bars his 12-point, 8.50-second certified cage had been lacking.
Scholten was only able to attend two races in 2019 with his freshened setup, but he made sure they were good ones, especially since he wants to make his employer, Mike Boes, proud and to show how grateful he is to have the generous support of MB Fluid Services.
Feeling much more confident in his own abilities, Scholten first attended the Inaugural NMRA Gateway Rumble presented by HPJ Performance in May at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Although he started eliminations from the twenty-first qualifier position, Scholten’s weekend was short-lived after another unsuccessful match up against Corn.
“I didn’t realize that I had to have an NHRA license to run nines, so I’ve never claimed it on every tech card I’ve filled out,” elaborated Scholten of the oversight that was pointed out to him by one of Corn’s crew men when the pairings were announced. “I was so far off my game by then because of that, that the tree dropped and I just let him go.”
He was back on point, and with a license, in July for the 14th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing presented by FST Carburetors at Route 66 Raceway, ranking 13th of 30 entries in NMRA ARP Open Comp. Scholten cruised through rounds one, two, and three of eliminations, but pushed a little too hard in the semi-finals and left the line just 0.006-seconds too soon.
“Those guys are good, and you gotta either send it or go home,” said the man who did both, but still managed to put down an incredibly impressive 9.771-second pass at 138.93 mph.
By then, Scholten’s rivalry with Corn had grown, but the two were able to let bygones be bygones and eventually made amends in the spirit of good sportsmanship.
“We clashed at the beginning, but I’m all about the camaraderie and Dennis is a serious racer,” noted Scholten. “It’s all good; now we’re buddies.”
When 2020 rolled around, Scholten, now 47, was ready to get started racing and ready to take a break from the frigid Michigan winter weather. He headed down to Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida for the NMRA season opener and enjoyed a weekend in the Sunshine State. Quick on tree as always, Scholten’s 0.010-second reaction time qualified him ninth, but he was too quick in round two of eliminations and a red light put a stop to his weekend.
Although he’s only competed in a handful of NMRA events to date, Scholten absolutely loves the family vibe the series is famous for and is grateful for both the friends he’s made as well as the memories. He’s learned quite a bit about his car, too, and understanding how to make it run the number of his choosing.
“I’ll get burned if I say I have it down to a science, but I do have a good understanding of it now. The biggest challenge is just that I don’t run often,” stated Scholten. “For me, the most important thing is to just make memories and have fun.”
While he stays busy working as a sales manager for an oil company, Merle Boes, Inc., much of Scholten’s life revolves around his three children. Daughters Trista and Kyleigh both compete in equestrian sports with their horses, and Scholten has honored the girls by including medals from their competitions on his car. His son, Hunter, though, has really stolen the show with his own junior dragster program and won the US 131 Motorsports Park 8.90 track championship in 2019.
While Scholten’s wife, Michelle, is responsible for first discovering the junior program, Hunter was the one who made things happen.
“We went to a Ford versus Mopar event a few years ago and saw them for the first time. The next weekend, we were at another event and my son disappeared for about twenty minutes,” said the proud father. Turns out, Hunter took the initiative to seek out a man selling a junior dragster and got all the information. “About Christmas time, a guy called and said ‘hey, your son gave me your number.’ He negotiated the deal at nine years old! So, of course we drove down and bought it.”
Hunter has proven his own skills as a driver in just a few short years, even beating out famed NHRA Top Fuel pilot Antron Brown’s own son. As a reward for all his hard work, Hunter’s parents have picked up a four-cylinder notchback ’90 Mustang that the young man will drive in the NMRA when he comes of age.
“It’ll be a big tire, tubed front end, Ford-powered car and we’ll run every event the minute we get him in the seat!” proclaimed Scholten, who lets his progeny make practice hits in his car in the driveway. “I’m living my dream through my kid and I can’t wait to compete side by side with him in the NMRA.”
What was started simply as a way to stay safe has transformed into a family’s pure passion for racing and for togetherness. Although Scholten’s 9-second NMRA ARP Open Comp ’91 Mustang has gone from rags to richers, er, races and is still street legal, his preferred seat isn’t always behind the wheel as he slings it down the track—it’s sitting in the stands, watching his son following in his own footsteps.
Owner/Driver: Chad Scholten
Hometown: West Olive, Michigan
Occupation: Sales Manager, Merle Boes, Inc. / MB Fluid Services
Class: NMRA ARP Open Comp
Crew: Wife: Michelle Scholten
Car Make/Model/Year: 1991 Ford Mustang
Engine: Ford Racing Boss
Engine builder: Jim Sebright, Sebright Machining
Displacement: 427 cubic inches
Block: FRPP Boss
Bore: 4.12 inches
Stroke: 4 inches
Pistons: D.S.S. Racing GSX
Heads: Trick Flow 205 11R
Valvetrain: D.S.S. Racing 1.6 rocker arms
Cam type: Ford Performance
Carburetor: BLP 1,115 cfm
Fuel brand and type: VP Racing Fuels C85
Headers and exhaust: Dynatech
Transmission Builder: Jon (Transmission Magician) Capizzi, Capizzi Automotive
Clutch/shifter/torque converter: Hurst Qtr Stick / Performance Automatic
Rearend: Moser Spool / Axles
Body and/or chassis builder: Jim Sebright/Sebright Machine. 12-point, 8.50-certified
Suspension (Front): Strange Engineering
Suspension (Rear): QA1
Brakes (Front): Wilwood
Brakes (Rear): Wilwood
Wheels (front): RC Comp Hammer
Wheels (Rear): RC Comp Hammer Beadlock
Tires (Front): Mickey Thompson
Tires (Rear): Hoosier 29X10.5X15
Aftermarket body modifications: UPR caster / camber, UPR K-member, UPR upper & lower control arms
Safety equipment: Kirkey racing seat, 5PT RJS Harness, Hans, 8.5-certified, 12-point cage, window net, Optic Armor Window
Vehicle weight: 2,700 pounds
Quickest ET: 9.49 seconds
Best 60-foot: 1.34 seconds
Fastest mph: 143
Sponsors: MB Fluid Services, VP Racing Fuels