By Mary Lendzion
Photos by NMCA and courtesy of Jeremy Lyons
Confident and content racing his Malibu in bracket categories near his home in Bradenburg, Kentucky, Jeremy Lyons had no idea that change was coming.
He had been helping friends Andy Warren, who competes in NMCA Detroit TrueTrac Nostalgia Muscle Car, and his brother, John Warren, who had been competing in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street and is putting together a different combination for a different category, when he was influenced and inspired to go in a different direction.
So, he purchased John Warren’s 565 cubic-inch Chevrolet shortblock built on a Dart block by NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street racer Tim Knieriem of Knieriem Racing Engines, and Andy Warren helped him secure a new set of AFR Magnum 385 heads to pair with the Profiler Sniper II intake, Quick Fuel carburetor and Applied Nitrous Technology nitrous system that were on John Warren’s engine. Then, Lyons purchased Mitch Mika’s Camaro in February of 2017.
By early 2018, Craig Watson was helping him install an AEM AQ1 datalogger in his car, and Dean Lee of Compression, Fabrication and Machine was helping him with his four-link suspension and with his tune-up using an MSD 7531. Then by spring, he was signed up for NMCA ARP Nitrous Pro Street, and went on to put down power at four of the series’ six events and pulled off a seventh-place finish in points that year, despite the large learning curves that come with moving from a car with 295 drag radials to a car with 10.5 slicks, and from bracket-racing to heads-up racing.
“That year, I went 4.87 in the eighth-mile, which was quicker than I had ever been before,” said a proud Lyons, who had been running 6.50s in the eighth-mile while bracket-racing. “It felt great to be welcomed to the class by the NMCA and by fellow racers, and at every race, they were offering to help.”
In the winter of 2018-2019, Lee helped Lyons replace his old four-link brackets with new four-link brackets, and install a set of Afco shocks under car. Lyons also replaced his previous nitrous system with a PKRE nitrous system, while Chris Gootee of Gootee’s Transmission freshened his BTE Powerglide.
“The old shocks had been in front of the rear-end housing, and we put the new shocks in the back of the rear-end housing,” said Lyons, who also added an AEM digital dash to his car around the same time.
Lyons missed the first half of the 2019 NMCA season, but then secured a semifinal finish at the event at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio, picked up a personal best of 4.59 at the event at Lucas Oil Dragway in Indiana and finished ninth in NMCA ARP Nitrous Pro Street points at the end of the season.
“The highlights of 2019 were going to the semifinal and earning my second top-ten finish in points,” said Lyons, who relies on Knieriem to maintain his engine. “I was really happy with that.”
Ready to ramp up his efforts even more for the 2020 race season, Lyons reached out to Eric Saffell of Afco for help in choosing new struts as well as a smaller radiator for the front of his car, and Lyons decided to swap his previous front brakes with TBM brakes.
Lee is fabricating a new core support to replace the factory core support on Lyons’ car, and his steel front fenders are being replaced with a new one-piece fiberglass front-end by VFN.
“My car weighed 2910 pounds last year, but it can weigh 2650 pounds in the category, so another thing we want to do is get some weight out of the back of the car after we figure out what the front-to-back ratio will be,” said Lyons, whose crew includes his daughter, Abbee Lyons, in addition to the Warrens, Lee, Watson and Knieriem. “One small thing to help us do that will be switching from an XS Power D1600 battery to an XS Power lithium battery, and we’re trying to decide if I should keep both of my parachutes or remove one of them from the back of my car.”
Lyons, Director of Operations for Vogt Ice, hopes to have the work on his car wrapped up in time to take part in the 15th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing presented by NicKey Performance, July 30-Aug. 2, Route 66 Raceway, in Joliet, Illinois.
“I’m ready to get back to racing,” said Lyons. “Sneaking into the 4.40s with an old back-half car would be sporty.”