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Thursday Coverage — Inaugural Arrington Performance NMRA/NMCA Power Festival


After attracting a massive race car count last year, the NMRA Holley Ford Nationals Series and NMCA Muscle Car Nationals return to US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan, for the Inaugural Arrington Performance NMRA/NMCA Power Festival Presented by Force Engineering. This year’s united event is wide open for fans to enjoy all the racing action over the next four days, which includes one of three stops for the NMCA’s wild, Factory Appearing Stock Tire class running on skinny bias-ply tires, and the special Motor City Muscle Challenge N/A 9” Class, which is a heads-up, naturally aspirated class limited by tire size, induction, and displacement. As the action winds down today, racers, family, crew, sponsors, media, and vendors gather for the Weldon High Performance Racer Appreciation Party for snacks and beverages. Keep your eyes on this site and our social channels for all the action this weekend.

Here’s a look at how Thursday’s action unfolds at the Inaugural Arrington Performance NMRA/NMCA Power Festival Presented by Force Engineering.

Presenting sponsor of the weekend’s festivities is Force Engineering, owned by Tyler Hassing. While this weekend serves as a gathering for his customers to relax and enjoy, that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to have a good time in his Grabber Blue S197 Mustang. Powered by stock Gen 1 Coyote that only benefits from upgraded oil pump gears, his ride is good for running as quickly as 8.59 a 155 mph thanks, in part, to a custom turbocharger kit with an 80mm snail. He says that’s the fastest one in the world, and it is doing double duty in ARP/MagnaFlow Open Comp and TorqStorm Superchargers/QA1 True Street this weekend. In the latter class he is gunning for the 10-second category.

Haley James is on the property this weekend, but soon her Hellion-turbocharged machined won’t be the only Coyote Mustang racing under the Haley James Racing banner, as the team recently picked up an S197 ride that is getting a similar combination to her War Eagle New Edge ride, and Kieffer Simpson will pilot that one in NMRA Edelbrock Renegade and other similar classes. Crew chief Dwayne James says having two cars will help the team develop new Coyote upgrades more quickly. Her car recently upgraded to the latest Motec powertrain controller, which receives custom software from NCS Designs.

We had to rub our eyes to make sure it wasn’t a mirage. Rather than wheeling his familiar 2020 Shelby GT500 in NMRA competition, Pete Espeut jumped ship to the NMCA ranks to compete in the Dodge // Mopar Hemi Shootout. His Plum Crazy 2018 Dodge Demon is fitted with all the options, but still runs bottom 10s at 4,475 pounds. 

Before we made it over to his pits, Eric Bardekoff already installed a fresh 3.8-liter Whipple supercharger on his Cobra Jet clone. Other than doing regular maintenance, that was the only change to his combination leading into the weekend. He may also experiment with a new gear ratio as the weekend goes on, but for now he is collecting some data before eliminations get underway in Edelbrock Renegade/Xtreme Street.

Tim Donathen is still dialing in the suspension his G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock machine. This Fairmont wagon beach cruiser dares to be different in this high-flying class, which is dominated by Mustangs. Running the same combo as its last outing, the car did gain a hula girl on the dashboard, which might help remind Donathen to remove the surfboard from the roof rack before making a pass.

Terry Ryan made the trip out from Oregon to compete in the VP Racing Madditives/Mickey Thompson Street Outlaw class at the Inaugural Annual Arrington Performance NMRA/NMCA Power Festival Presented by Force Engineering. He says his ride is one of the quickest small-block Fords around running High-Port heads. Built by Bennett Racing, this engine is boosted by an 80mm turbocharger. This weekend Nicky Notch is taking over the driving duties and he will make his maiden voyage down the track in the Fox Mustang.

Piloting a “Rental Car,” courtesy of Andy Johnson, Torrey Browne is focused on two things this weekend — racing in G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock and cooking up a bunch of wings for the big class potluck this weekend. The Coyote Stock crew is a congenial bunch, which is supportive of fellow racers. They really seem to have a good time competing against each other in one of the more hard-fought categories in NMRA action. Having missed the boat on upgrading his own race car to a Gen 3 engine, Torrey was grateful for the opportunity to wheel a competitive car this weekend in Martin, Michigan.

Randy Adler hasn’t raced this year yet, but he is looking to have some fun this weekend behind the wheel of his 1957 Chevy Pro Mod. Thanks to a rule change for 2021, his PSI Superchargers C-rotor screw blower gets a little more overdrive, and the Alan Johnson Performance Engineering 521ci engine has been freshened up and is ready to fire.

Kevin McMullin tested here a couple weeks at US131 Motorsports working on clutch setup. He also changed gearing in the transmission to help take best advantage of the Gen3 Coyote engine. McMullin’s big news is he just picked up a new sponsor in Penguin Chillers, whose engine chiller is capable of taking engine temperature from 150 degrees to 40 degrees in under 10 minutes. Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, Penguin Chillers’ Eric Petty delivered the chiller to McMullin here at the track on Wednesday. The unit uses cam locks and Jiffy Tite 5000 quick disconnects to run cool water through the engine to bring down engine temp after a pass.

It’s been a tough 2021 so far for Dart NA 10.5 racer John Langer, as he suffered a big crash at the season opener in Florida in March. While most of the damage was concentrated on the front of the car, getting repair parts proved rather difficult. Still, he managed to get the new VFN fiberglass Pontiac parts made up in five weeks, and Steve Matukas had the front half of the chassis rebuilt in less time than that. New wheels and tires were a struggle as well, but Langer told us it was head gaskets that took the longest to get, with the Georgia resident ordering sets from 8 different retailers to see who could deliver them the quickest—the first set arrived 10 weeks later.

Clair Stewart is pretty happy with his G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock program. Stewart got his car where he wanted it at Norwalk, so it’s a matter of fine-tuning that setup to make sure it translates to US131 Motorsports Park.

The 2018 Holley EFI Factory Super Cars champion, Geoff Turk, has his Blackbird Drag Pak ready for action this weekend at US 131 Motorsports Park. The BES Racing-built HEMI powerplant made big power on the dyno and Turk will be working to put all of it to the ground and prove he once again has the quickest HEMI car, if not the quickest car period, in the class.

John Leslie, Jr has been too busy working to test anything on his Richmond Gear Factory Stock ride since Norwalk. Leslie has been fighting issues all year, changing everything under the sun along the way. He made a couple test passes on Wednesday here at US131, and so far, he’s happy with the car’s performance. He’s a battling a cold, though, but if he’s able to make it through that, he has high hopes for the weekend.

Trying out their first NMCA experience here at US 131 Motorsports Park, Ed and Ryan Robertson of Monroe, Michigan, are entered in Mickey Thompson Street Outlaw. Robertson has owned the car for over 10 years, mostly running no-time events, but has since decided to try class racing for a bit with his son Ryan behind the wheel. Under the hood of the Mustang is a Holbrook Racing Engines-built, 582ci big-block Chevy engine with Speedtech nitrous oxide providing an additional boost of power and an M&M Transmission two-speed Turbo 400 backing it up. This is a new setup for the father/son duo, and it has delivered 4.80s in just 7 passes on a small jet.

Edelbrock Renegade racer Travis Burkett was playing our kind of music when we checked on him during test and tune. He was checking over the car and stumbled onto a potential oil leak, which could’ve been truly dangerous. He tightened up the fitting and was ready to make a pass. Burkett came to US131 a little early to get his wife Angie accustomed to helping with starting line duties, but with son Landon also here at the track serving pit duty, it’s a family affair for the Burketts. The couple recently found out their family will be growing by one, as well, since Angie is recently pregnant so hopefully all goes well with that. For the race, though, Burkett is hoping to go rounds with his ProCharger F-1A-94 motivated 347 with a Brian Friedentag tune in the Holley Dominator. He’s been 4.90s, and hopes to improve on those numbers this weekend.

The Holley EFI Super Cars duo of Dustin and Lindsay Wheelock are on the property this weekend and ready to mix it up. Down a car due to an on-track incident Lindsay suffered recently, the couple will be competing this weekend with their red Mike Alsop Chevrolet COPO Camaro with Dustin behind the wheel.

Steve Summers jumped back into VP Racing Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod at the 2021 St. Louis NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl in June, and recently made some changes to his 2017 Camaro to improve performance. A pair of new G57 Garrett turbochargers now sit aside the billet big-block Chevy, and there is a pair of 36-inch Hoosier tires out back now, too.

In JDM Engineering Limited Street, after winning the Norwalk event, Limited Street racer Bill Putnam sent the car to TigVision for a new rear wing, which also required a new ‘chute with an air launcher, as well. Putnam uses a VMP Gen3 supercharger on top of an MPR Racing Engines Gen 2 Coyote.

After his first NMCA race in St. Louis, Holley EFI Factory Super Cars driver Dennis Chaisson and Watson Racing worked over his 2021 Dodge // Mopar Challenger Drag Pak from front to back, rebuilding the engine, revamping the suspension and more. Chaisson, who got his feet wet with a 2018 Dodge Demon (which he still owns), and took the next step with the Drag Pak. The HVAC company owner originally hails from Canada, but more recently calls Dallas, Texas, his home. Chaisson is hoping to see improved performance with the recent changes.

PJ McMillan runs with the D&D Performance/Walsh Motorsports camp in QA1 True Street with his 1993 LX coupe. His car has a Walsh-built 363 with a Garrett 88mm single turbo, a Hutch’s Transmissions-built Turbo 400 and a Fueltech FT550 engine management system. D&D handles the car’s tuning on E85, and even though the tune-up was a little too spicy on his first test pass today, the event is the car’s first outing in this trim. On Wednesday the car ran 8.60, and that was even lifting at the 1,000ft mark.

How long does it take to get from Bonney Lake, Washington to US131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan? New G-Force Transmissions Coyote Stock racer Kenny Sampson can vouch that it takes 40 hours. That’s how long it took for him and his buddy Tommy Choate to make the haul from way out west. Sampson’s 1988 LX coupe is a former 4-cylinder car, but now it has a Gen3 Coyote with an ACT clutch, and a G-Force G101A in the tunnel. Sampson has been around plenty of fast cars, but as he puts it, “I like twin-cam, high-revving V8s.” That is what drew him to Coyote Stock. For exhaust, Sampson chose Kooks headers paired with Borla mufflers, while Ross Performance added the roll cage. For their hard work to make it to US131 Motorsports Park, the duo had to sacrifice a good bit of sleep to get here. “I have had about 5 hours of sleep since Monday,” Sampson says.

Here’s a preview of tomorrow’s schedule at the Inaugural Arrington Performance NMRA/NMCA Power Festival Presented by Force Engineering.