Photography By Steve Turner and Rudy Rouweyha
Fans of the NMRA G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock class know all too well how high the sealed-engine competitors fly round after round. The quickest machines do it in a controlled fashion, but when good air and tenacious track prep combine, a bumper-dragging wild ride might be in store. Most times this drama ends as the driver shifts. For Kevin McMullin, things got a bit crazier at the 22nd Annual NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival…
It began like any other run. McMullin hadn’t changed much. He wasn’t looking to make a statement. He heated up the tires with a light burnout and launched off the two-step like he always does. Banging second gear a second into the run usually calms the car, but this time it just kept climbing the ladder. The car was up on the bumper, and Kevin tried to hit third. By then it was too late.
“…We got up on the push bar and unloaded the rear suspension,” McMullin told us. “And that’s when things got bad…” As a result this incident, the whole Team Tiddie crew — which also includes Frank Paultanis, John Leslie Jr., Sondra Leslie, Drew Lyon, Clair Stewart II, and Frank Soper — agreed to stop running push bars that protrude through the bumper. Instead they will develop a less prominent way of pushing the cars to line. That didn’t help Kevin as the tires left the pavement in Bowling Green, however.
The car flipped, rolled, swapped lanes, and headed toward fellow racer Torrey Browne. It was a bit close for comfort, but Browne’s better reaction time put him far enough ahead to avoid a collision.
“I didn’t know. I didn’t see his car. I know I didn’t hit him — because I was on my side at that point. I basically the car had fallen onto the passenger-side door/fender/quarter panel, that whole right side,” McMullin recalled. “I wasn’t on the side long. It was a split second. And then we jumped somehow back up onto the wall and then we rail-slided the wall for a couple hundred feet.”
As you can see, the car rolled, hopped up on the wall, almost rolled again, and then rode down the wall like a runaway freight train until it finally coasted to a stop and the NMRA safety crew swept in.
“I knew I was on my side. I didn’t know I had gotten essentially close to being on the roof. If I would have been on the roof, then it would’ve just continued to get worse from there,” McMullin said. “I was actually quite shocked when it jumped back, essentially up on the four tires and then jumped onto the wall.”
Before the safety team even arrived, McMullin’s racer instincts took over. His thoughts turned to making sure to avoid a potential fire if the fuel lines had been damaged by the wall.
“It was like a damn monorail,” McMullin said of the wall slide. “So that’s kinda when I knew I was in the clear, because I could feel the car decelerating in a somewhat controlled manner. And once I realized that, ‘OK, we’re actually pretty good’ — and it was probably only happened halfway through the slide — I was already out of my two belts because I knew that as soon as that thing stopped, I would get out.”
He had already hit the power switches inside, but when the car finally came to a halt, he jumped out, hit the battery kill switch out back. For a moment, he collapsed on the ground and just caught his breath. Then the adrenaline kicked in, and jumped up to take a selfie with the car. That adrenaline kept him going for hours before a little soreness developed, but fortunately McMullin was OK, and he even had the wherewithal to suggest that the safety crew borrow Bigfoot 5’s wheel straps to hold the car on the lift that raised it onto the tow truck.
The car had taken the brunt of the damage, but McMullin hopes to have it fixed and race ready for next season. By the time we chatted with him after the race, he had already acquired body panels from junkyards. His wrap guy is on standby to make it pretty again, and Team Z will look over the suspension and chassis to correct any issues.
McMullin had planned to move up to the sealed Gen 3 Coyote engine in the offseason anyway, so even if the car didn’t need repairs the combination would need some dialing in for 2021.
“We’ll probably bring a couple sets of ring and pinion gears, and probably at least two transmissions…” he explained. “So I’m sure we’ll mix and match a couple setups and figure out which one works…”
We certainly can’t wait to see his gorgeous, gray SN-95 back in action next season.