When you’ve been there, done that, there’s always the question of… what next? For driver Mark Micke and car owner Jason Carter, the two Missouri-based men have decided to make moves in 2020 and are jumping from Radial vs the World to Pro 275 instead.
The car they currently campaign – an iconic ’78 Chevy Malibu that was built back in ’98 and is rather unassuming in its looks at first glance – has quite a bit more history than just its most recent successes.
Other than winning the inaugural Sweet 16 race at South Georgia Motorsports Park in 2018 for a cool $101,000… where they also reset the world record, twice, with a quickest run of 3.623 at 214.79 mph, and in addition to a top speed world record of 221 mph (which still holds), the Malibu won Orlando back in ’00 with Job Spetter driving. “That’s what started the OG Outlaw 10.5 stuff there,” shared Micke, who won both the NMCA Super Street and ADRL Pro Drag Radial championships in 2013. “We’ve won a bunch, we’ve been fortunate.”
In the summer of ’19, they sent the twin Garrett turbocharged Chevy to FuelTech for an overhaul of the EFI system with the latest and greatest FT600 technology and a complete rewire of the car by Michael Bunton.
“We ran good afterwards and the car made good power on the dyno, and we had some decent luck with it, but by the end of the year we got lost in left field and were horrible,” laughed Micke, owner of the renowned M&M Transmission shop, as he accepted the blame for the blunders. “We were trying to change things so we could keep up as RVW moves towards running low 3.50s and we just weren’t able to put it all together.”
Now, as the Radial vs the World class has quickly transitioned more so into Radial vs the Wallet, Micke and Carter have found themselves somewhat scrambling to stay ahead.
“They made some rule changes in Pro 275 that were pretty favorable for a heavier, old-style car like ours and made the class more attractive for guys like us,” Micke stated of what inspired the switch. The guys, knowing that they could keep their 2,800-pound Malibu in RVW trim and just bolt on a set of smaller 275 drag radials instead, knew the choice was a no-brainer. “In RVW, they kept lowering and lowering the weights, and that’s fine, but with a car like Jason’s, we couldn’t meet the minimums anymore and were consistently a hundred pounds over… that’s three or four hundredths of a second that you just can’t give up over there anymore.”
In recent years, RVW has also consistently favored lightweight, Pro Mod-style cars – the opposite of Micke and Carter’s – but there’s no hard feelings there. “I’m all for it – it’s actually good for business,” Micke joked of how the budget-busting class with no limitations has enabled racing technology to evolve at a rapid pace. “I love watching those guys haul ass. Maybe we’ll sit out for a year and build a car specifically for RVW but that’s not something we could tackle this year.”
Unsurprisingly, an M&M Transmission was on board when Marcus Birt drove his Steve Jackson-tuned and nitrous-huffing Corvette to a pair of absolutely incredibly 3.57-second passes back in September of 2019 at the Shakedown Nationals at the Virginia Motorsports Park and not only set the record for the world’s quickest-ever radial tire pass at 3.575-seconds, but also set the number for the quickest nitrous run of all time.
As the 2020 racing season is about to kick off in Bradenton, Florida at Bradenton Motorsports Park with the US Street Nationals on January 24-27, Micke and Carter are curious to see what the next chapter holds for their collaboration.
“We want to win, yeah, but we really want to end up with the 275-tire record,” asserted Micke, who will certainly gun for the eighth-mile elapsed time honors and possibly the quarter-mile ones as well. “If the rules stay the same, I think we can see a high 3.60 out of that tire. We’re gonna give it a shot and see.”
After the US Street Nationals, which the men are planning to attend, they’ve got a few other Pro 275 events on their calendar including Donald Long’s Lights Out 11 in February, followed by the Sweet 16 race again. “We’re also going to switch back to the big  tire to run the NMCA Radial vs the World race at St. Louis, since that’s our home track and we love running with NMCA,” he added.
With a proven combination, their tried-and-true M&M Transmission Turbo 400 gearbox going strong, support from companies like FuelTech and Garrett, and a top-notch team including tuner Jamie Miller standing behind them, Micke and Carter are set to dominate Pro 275 just like they did in Radial vs the World.