Photos by NMCA
Soon after securing a runner-up finish at the 9th Annual NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals in April at Atlanta Dragway, NMCA Boninfante Racing NA 10.5 driver and G-Force Transmissions owner Leonard Long decided to make some changes.
Those changes involved replacing his G-Force Transmissions GF-2000 clutchless five-speed transmission with a G-Force Transmissions clutchless three-speed transmission and pairing it with a Bruno’s converter drive and Neal Chance converter in early July.
Pleased with the promising results of a test session, he then tried a G-Force Transmissions GF-2400 clutchless four-speed transmission paired with the Bruno’s converter drive in time for the 12th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing at Route 66 Raceway in July in Illinois.
There, in his Mustang featuring a 408ci small-block Ford on a Dart block, Ford D3 heads, a cast aluminum intake by Visner Engine Development and Hoosier tires, he laid down a 7.93 to qualify in the second spot, picked up to a 7.90 to win the first round of eliminations and later landed in the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle.
“I’m used to launching with a stick, and all of a sudden, I had a button,” said a laughing Long, who uses Holley EFI to tune with input from David Barton. “I had to remember that rather than my foot flying off a clutch pedal on the floor, I was going to be letting go of a button, and let me tell you, you have to get your finger off that button while you’re going down track, because if you hit it while you’re going down track, the car will stop in a very unpleasant way.”
Content with what he had, Long, who said he’s “still shifting the old-fashioned way with a handle and a shift light,” headed to the 16th Annual Honeywell Garrett NMCA All- American Nationals in August at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio, where he didn’t improve upon the 7.90, but earned a runner-up finish.
Then, after hurting his engine during qualifying at the 16th Annual SDPC Raceshop NMCA World Street Finals at Lucas Oil Raceway in September in Indiana, he worked through the night to replace it with a backup engine of the same specs, and despite losing in the second round of eliminations, he secured enough points to earn the highly-coveted 2017 category championship with a mere 205 points more than Dwight Ausmus.
Now, Long, who holds the Boninfante Racing NA 10.5 top speed record with a 174.62 mph, is preparing for the 2018 race season, and will continue to use a Bruno’s converter drive, though he may go back to his G-Force Transmissions GF-2000 clutchless five-speed transmission, despite the additional rotating weight.
“On these little-tire cars, you have to control the tire speed so much, and with clutches, you either either slip or grip, and as a result, no two runs are the same, whereas with a converter, you’re more likely to have multiple runs that are the same,” said Long. “I think things will pan out pretty good with the Bruno. I can keep the engine rpm up higher, I gained consistency, I have less maintenance and I think I’ll gain a little more in the 60-foot and at the top end.”