Written By Steve Baur
Photography by Kevin DiOssi
For Shepherdsville, Kentucky’s Tim Knieriem, cars and the engines that power them have been a large part of his life. He grew up in the family’s engine–building business and has been racing with family and friends on track for over 20 years.
“My grandpa started the business as a regular auto parts store back in the 60s, and sold it to my Dad in the mid 70s,” Tim explained. “My dad evolved it into the racing and engine building business it is today, and it has grown from there with him and I both working. He’s still part owner, but moving towards retirement.” Now nearly 60 years since its inception and still at its original location just 10 minutes outside of Louisville, Kentucky, the family business is still going and now includes Tim’s mother, Debbie who handles the paper work and pays the bills, and his wife, Amy who is a CPA and takes care of the accounting.
While the family spends its day job performing machine work and building engines for others, after hours they get to have a bit of fun of their own. Tim’s father often raced his 1968 Mustang fastback, and it wasn’t long before he put his son behind the wheel, setting him on a path of Ford loyalty and high-performance.
“I was racing that [Mustang] before I had my license,” Tim told us. “He was always a Ford guy—he still races a Thunderbird today.”
It’s no surprise that Tim eventually found himself in a Mustang of his own, but rather than stay with the classic body style, he went with an ’85 Fox-Body Mustang, the popular car of his generation.
“I bought that around 1995 from a local friend that we had done an engine for,” Tim said. “It was purely a street car and fun to drive because it had a stick in it. We won an OSCA championship with it in their True Street class.”
Eventually, Tim gravitated towards X275 and his Mustang was modified accordingly. As the years went on, though, Tim was able to keep the powertrain on the cutting edge, but the car itself fell behind.
“It got to the point where the car was outdated and I would need to make some big changes to keep up,” Tim noted of his car’s equipment and performance. “Daryl approached me about getting involved and building a car. That was 8 years ago.”
Daryl is Daryl Reynolds, and someone Tim has known for a long time.
“He’s been a family friend as long as I can remember. I remember going to the track with my dad as a kid and Daryl was always at the track with his brothers. We had done some engine work for them.” Over the next couple of decades, Daryl and his brothers eventually started going to the track with Tim, as he explored the heads-up racing scene.”
The car they chose as the foundation of their new build is the 1995 Mustang GT you see here.
“It was a car a friend of ours had started on, but never finished. It changes hands a couple of times before we got it, and basically me, Daryl, and friends have finished it,” Tim told us.
While Tim’s ’85 Mustang chassis may have been outdated, his drivetrain had steadily been upgraded and he was very familiar with the small-block nitrous combination he had been running. The engine, transmission, fuel system and ignition all came out of the old car and went straight into the new one. Daryl’s brother Doug painted the Mustang in its deep black hue, and John Shelden, helped us do the fabrication on the car.
“We originally built it to run X275 and raced at various races and won a few,” Tim told us. “After those cars started going really fast and the rules changed, we couldn’t get our car light enough to be competitive. John Sears debuted a class called Nitrous X, a small-block, nitrous-only class. The NX class was perfect for cars that didn’t fit either X275 or Ultra Street.The minimum weights were higher, so it fit our car really well.”
And the fit turned out to be perfect, as Tim and Daryl secured the 2015 Nitrous X championship. In 2017, however, the class was shelved and the team had to take a look at what was out there and what they could be competitive in.
Around that time, the NMCA rules committee announced changes for Edelbrock Xtreme Street for 2018, most notable was the race distance changing from a quarter-mile to an eighth-mile.
“Going to eighth-mile was huge and we started looking at the NMCA,” Tim explained. “I always liked going to the races with John [Warren] and Andy [Warren].” And like them he should, as Knieriem Racing engines have been under the hood of Andy’s multi-championship-winning Chevy Caprice, as well as John’s Edelbrock Xtreme Street Nova.
For Tim and Daryl’s first NMCA race, the duo entered their Mustang into the Edelbrock Xtreme Street ranks at the second stop of the season in Atlanta and grabbed the second spot on the qualifying list with a 4.82. The dark horse galloped through eliminations while clocking 4.7-second times, and when they met number-one qualifier Shaun Arnold in the final round, Tim drilled the Falcon driver at the tree and then clicked off a 4.73 to Arnold’s 4.81 elapsed time.
“Needless to say I was hooked after that,” Tim said of the team’s trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle. “To get the win at our first race with NMCA was pretty neat.” Later that year, Tim collected a runner-up finish in Norwalk, and was top qualifier at the finals in Indy to finish second in points for the season.
Going into the 2019, Tim and Daryl knew they were in for some tough competition.
“Every time we run up against the turbo cars, something bad happens,” Tim said of the challenge the boosted cars present. “We had to pedal the wheelie against [Joel] Greathouse in the final at Memphis and that cost us the race. We had to run Joel again at the Prize Fight later on. We were determined to run fast and keep the front end down and we did. It was the closest race I’ve ever been in. Hopefully, we can do that in Chicago in a couple of weeks.”
Tim has racked up two runners-up so far in 2019, but both Greathouse and the defending Xtreme Street champion, Jessie Coulter have claimed wins in the class. Needless to say, the competition is tough.
“I’ve never been treated better by any organization than I have with the NMCA,” Tim said. “They really go out of their way to make you feel like you’re wanted there. And I’ve raced a lot of places and a lot of organizations that were the opposite of that.”
Just as it takes a great team to earn kind praise like that, it also takes a team effort to compete at a race-winning level, and Tim and Daryl have a shared plan that keeps the team firing on all cylinders.
“We get a lot of help from friends and family. My son’s friend, my cousin Ryan, you never know who you’re going to get to help, but it’s always appreciated,” Tim explained. “And without the help from our sponsors, we couldn’t race at this level.”
As Tim continues his quest for victory, the friends and family plan that supports him is expanding.
“The old car is sitting and I think we’re going to get it running next year. My kids, Shelby (17) and Cole (14), are going to get into racing it. They’re both very good at Jr. Dragster racing and Cole won the local championship as a 12-year-old. I’m hoping to get it ready for them sometime next season.”
We already know it’ll have a competitive engine between the frame rails, and it sounds like they will have a winning team supporting them, too.
Owner: Daryl Reynolds
Driver: Tim Knieriem
Hometown: Shepherdsville, Kentucky
Occupation: Engine Builder, Knieriem Racing Engines
Class: Edelbrock Xtreme Street/Ultra Street
Crew: Daryl Reynolds, Wayne Reynolds, John Warren, Amy Knieriem (wife), Shelby and Cole Knieriem (Daughter and son), and whoever else is available to help out on Race Day
Engine: Small-Block Ford
Engine builder: Knieriem Racing Engines
Displacement: 450 ci
Block: Dart Iron Eagle
Crank: Callies Magnum
Connecting Rods: GRP
Cylinder heads: Edelbrock GV2
Valvetrain: Jesel Rockers/Manton Pushrods/BAM Lifters
Camshaft: Comp Cams Type: Roller
Intake manifold: CID cast aluminum intake manifold
Carburetor or EFI system: BLP Extreme 4150 Carburetor
Power-adder: Nitrous Express Fogger
Fuel brand and type: VP C23
Spark plug brand: NGK
Headers and exhaust: Custom
Transmission: Bilbrey Powerglide
Transmission Builder: Bilbrey
Clutch/shifter/torque converter: PTC Torque Convertor Rearend: Racecraft Fab 9 inch
Differential: Strange Ultra Case
Body: 1995 Ford Mustang GT
Chassis builder: Fast Chassis
Suspension (Front): AFCO/Racecraft Suspension (Rear): AFCO/Racecraft
Brakes (Front): Strange Engineering, disc
Brakes (Rear): Strange Engineering, disc
Wheels (front): Weld Alumastar 2.0 Size: 15×3.5
Wheels (Rear): Weld Alumastar Size: 15×12 Size: N/A, MacFab double beadlocks
Tires (Front): Mickey Thompson ET Fronts
Tires (Rear): Mickey Thompson Size: 275 Street Radial Body modifications: None
Fiberglass/Carbon body components: Custom carbon fiber hood by Motor City Solutions, Schoneck Composites bumper cover
Safety equipment: Firebottle Fire System, Stroud Parachute
Vehicle weight: 2,900
Quickest et: 4.65
Best 60-foot: 1.06
Fastest mph: 151
Sponsors: Knieriem Racing Engines, VP Fuels, Nitrous Express, Dart, Comp Cams, Bilbrey Transmissions, LAT, BLP, BAM, Ross, GRP, AFCO, NLR, Cometic, XS Power, Mickey Thompson, Victory 1, Callies, CID, Total Seal