14th Annual NMCA Ross Racing Pistons Muscle Car Mayhem—Friday Coverage

There’s a great day of on-track action ahead us here at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Bradenton, Florida, and the racing surface will be going hot at 11am. Yesterday, Street Outlaw competitor Jarod Wenrick was making some hits to see how the changes in the off season have worked out. Despite going to the final round at the NMCA finals last year in Norwalk, Ohio, Wenrick said that the converter had a lot of slippage and they were looking to tighten that up to get the car to go even faster.


While MagnaFuel Open Comp driver Frankie Radake often reaches for the sky in his ’68 Camaro, he did so a little more than usual in two test hits yesterday. So, he called up his chassis expert, Mike Larabell, who advised him to set the spring tension under his car so that the suspension won’t unload as quickly as it had been. “I should be all set for my next pass,” said Radake, who relies on a Pups Racing Engines-built big-block Chevy for power.


The School of Automotive Machinists and technology (samtech.edu) hauled two cars to Bradenton Motorsports Park to compete in the Holley EFI Factory Super Cars class. This is the School’s COPO Camaro, which currently features a 435i, DR-headed LSX engine. The naturally aspirated power plant, while making great power, will be a bit outgunned as it is some 300 lbs overweight for the combination. SAM will be building a supercharged combination for another COPO entry later this year that should be far more competitive.


Detroit TrueTrac Nostalgia Muscle Car driver Mike Clifford used a bit of winter downtime to replace the factory front suspension on his ’66 ‘Cuda with QA1 components and his drum brakes with Wilwood brakes. As a bonus, his car is a hundred pounds lighter, and while he was running 1.42 to the 60-foot and 11.50s through the quarter-mile last year, he has already posted a 1.33 60-foot and 10.58 at 123 mph this year. His car features a 416 cubic-inch Mopar engine which he built.


Mark Wells of Biloxi, Mississippi, is competing in Mickey Thompson Radial Wars this weekend. His Mustang, formerly owned by David Hance, is packing a 526i Hemi with twin 94mm turbochargers. Wells’ Mustang went 4.18 yesterday on its first pass on drag radials, and with Patrick Barnhill of PTP Racing tuning the car, they are hopeful it will drop into the 3-second range in the eighth-mile.


Phil “Corndog” Smith and his crew chief Billy Adams converted Smith’s Pontiac Firebird to Haltech EFI over the winter, but they have had little time to test with it. A loose ground wire was wreaking havoc in the ignition system over the past few days, but the team found it last night and they should be able to make some strong progress today.


After a rookie year in MagnaFuel Open Comp in 2015, Donnie Edmonds is ready to put what he has learned about the highly competitive class to use in 2016. The retired Cincinnati firefighter who now lives in Franklin, Ohio and is always ready when the tree drops, has been as fast as 9.77 and 136 mph, and has run 9.88 at 135 mph in testing so far this weekend, in his 3700-pound ’69 Chevelle. It features a big-block Chevy built by Robinson Racing Engines, has a full exhaust and rolls on drag radials. It’s also licensed and insured, and sees as much street time as it does strip time. “After time-trials, I’ll put the EZ Plate on to restrict the air and fuel to the engine to slow it down a tenth for Open Comp qualifying,” said Edmonds. “Then, I’ll put it out for eliminations and let her eat.”


Carmel, New York, resident Chris Rini is planning on running the NMCA circuit this year in VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod, and the Ross Racing Pistons Muscle Car Mayhem will be his brand new Bickel-chassis Camaro’s competition debut. With its Charlie Buck Racing Engines 903i, nitrous-injected bullet, the Camaro went 3.85 first time out yesterday, and later ran 3.81. Rini has previously run in the NMCA, taking two championships in what was then Pro Street (now Pro Mod). “I really liked the change to eighth-mile for the class,” Rini told us.


Lil Bull

Orlando, Florida resident Lil Bull and his black and orange ’68 Camaro are already getting a fair amount of attention this weekend, as the car, which he’s had for 42 years and went to prom in, is a convertible powered by an injected big-block Chevy which he built and a big ‘ol BDS 10-71 blower. It runs mid-eights at the strip, but still sees plenty of street time and sports windshield wipers and a license plate. While Bull is a regular contender in NHRA Super Comp and IHRA Quick Rod, he’s prepping for MagnaFuel Open Comp competition this weekend.

Ausmus 1Ausmus 2

We’re not used to seeing Quick Lane at Downs Ford NA 10.5 hotshoe Dwight Ausmus knock the tires off at the hit in his ’72 Firebird, so when he did today, we headed over to his pit area to find out why. As it turns out, he had been trying to get a few more passes out of last year’s slicks, but they weren’t having it, so he and his crew member Curt Jamison are in the process of replacing them with a new set of Mickey Thompson meats. “The car didn’t even want to get out of its own way,” said the ever-witty Ausmus. While we were conversing, he also shared that he replaced his glass windshield with a Lexan windshield, swapped his larger plastic fuel cell with a smaller aluminum fuel cell and installed one new Performance Products fuel pump to replace two old fuel pumps. “I was 30 pounds overweight before, but with these changes, the car is a little lighter, and I’ll be able to add weight and move it around so that it’s where I need it to be,” said Ausmus, who hopes to lay down 7.80s this weekend in his car powered by a 568 cubic-inch BES-built Pontiac, ProFlite transmission and PTC converter.


Bandit, you got your ears on, son? No, we didn’t find a CB radio in Jesse Morse’s ’78 Trans Am, and it’s not a real Special Edition TA, but it’s a pretty cool driver that Morse has owned for 16 years. He rescued it out of a field and bought it for $450. Many years later, it’s turning 12.0s with a naturally aspirated, cast-iron-headed 400 stuffed with 455 internals, and will be running in Gear Vendors True Street this weekend. Morse’s son is also racing this weekend in an early 70s Pontiac Ventura.


Former Fun Ford Weekend True Street Champion Nick Yarber is on the property with a Mickey Thompson Radial Wars ride that the Virginia native picked up last year. It’s packing a ProLine Racing 481-X with twin Precision 98mm turbochargers, and Yarber has run a 4.08 at 198 recently.


We came across an impromptu meeting of sealed stock racers, as Coyote Stock driver Mike Washington (center) is working with  NMCA Staff this weekend and Chevrolet Performance Stock racer Kevin Lumsden (Left) was waiting to take another test pass in his Hugger Orange Camaro. As Washington is playing gatekeeper at the staging lanes today, it could have gotten ugly, but we suspect Magnafuel Open Comp racer Shawn Calabrese (right) kept things civil. A number of drivers from each of the crate engine classes will get to square off against each other in a brand-versus-brand shootout at the next race in Atlanta.


Cicero, New York’s Jim Bersani normally runs the Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod circuit and is using this event to get some testing in while the weather up north is still a bit frosty. Vanishing Point Race Cars built the Chevelle’s chassis, and Bersani handles the rest of the car and engine assembly, with a bit of help from crew chief Paul Francia. Bersani recently made a converter change and they are working on the tuneup to extract the most from the 526i Hemi.

For anyone that might want to race Factory Super Cars this weekend, we found a 2014 supercharged COPO for sale in the pits.


ATI Performance Products Nostalgia Super Stock racer T.D. Holland picked up a Mod Man dual four-barrel setup from Indy Cylinder Heads for his AMX recently. In the cool air up north, the red, white, and blue machine clocked a 9.86—an improvement of four tenths of a second over his previous setup—but the much warmer weather here in the Sunshine State has slowed him down a few tenths and he’s making some changes to slow the car down further to be able to run the 10.50 index.


This super clean and nicely built ’71 Nova belongs to Robert Jackson of New Port Richey, Florida. Under the hood is a 434i small-block with an Induction Solutions fogger system, and the car normally runs 5.50s-5.60s in the eighth-mile. Since his car is set up to run the shorter distance, Jackson will be competing in Bracket 2 this weekend.


ATI Nostalgia Super Stock driver Mike Davis has made a few changes to his ’66 GTO since buying it back when he was in high school, but most recently, he freshened its 421 cubic-inch engine and ran new Hedman Hedders headers below it. He also installed new Energy Suspension components up front, as well as new Energy Suspension body mounts, and fabricated a new 8-point mild steel cage for the super-clean car, which only has 29,000 original miles on its odometer. It commands attention while he collects timeslips in the category’s 10.50 index.


Quincy Dean of Mobile, Alabama is a new face in the NMCA VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod crowd, and his chariot of choice is a Bickel-built SN95 Mustang which belongs to Kenny Rome, also known as Mr. Nasty. It’s powered by a Nelson Competition-built 800 cubic-inch big-block Chevy and more than a bit of nitrous. The engine is fresh for this weekend, and Dean and Rome, as well as Johnny Cunningham and Kylan Herring, are working to lay a tune on it while also making chassis adjustments on the car’s four-link chassis. Nelson is on-site to offer his expertise, and while Dean hasn’t had a clean hit yet, he’s well on his way.


First Round of Qualifying—<<<<HERE>>>