Friday Coverage—12th Annual NMRA/NMCA Nitto Tire Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing

It’s a great morning at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois. The weather forecast for the weekend looks pretty perfect, and we’ve got literally hundreds of cars on site – possibly the largest event ever – ready to battle it out at the 12th Annual NMRA/NMCA Nitto Tire Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing. Will team NMCA defend their title as the Super Bowl champions? Qualifying starts shortly, so we’ll start to have an idea of who’s running what and how things will play out.

Josh Klugger recently swapped his Pro Line Racing-powered and Racecraft-built ’93 Ford Mustang NMCA Mickey Thompson Radial Wars entry over to a set of Garrett turbochargers, and the testing has yielded some interesting data. Klugger and team loaded in a tune based on data from another manufacturer’s turbos that should have produced a 4.13-second elapsed time with a 1.13-second sixty-foot and was pleasantly surprised when he let off at the 330-foot mark and ran 4.14 with a 1.10-second sixty-foot. The proof is in the pudding, and Klugger’s ready to serve up seconds during qualifying.

Daniel Pharris has joined the group of racers who have switched over to Garrett turbochargers lately, and his NMCA VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod ’16 Ford Mustang seems happy with the new units. Pharris cites the reason for the change as him simply looking to find the best product on the market and found inspiration when he saw how well DeWayne Mills did after switching, too. Under Pharris’s Larry Jeffers-built car’s hood is a Pro Line Racing 548 ci Hemi engine with a Mark Micke transmission, and the new GTX5533R 94mm turbos are the shining showpieces of the whole combination.

Bullseye Power Turbochargers operations manager “Wild Bill” Devine’s ’01 Mustang had a little oopsie involving a busted axle, and a whole lot of collateral damage. Everything from the input shaft on back was destroyed, and he had to replace the transmission, third member, axles, brakes, rims, and more to get the car ready for NMCA Mickey Thompson Radial Wars competition again. The “bandaid” replacement quarter panel came courtesy of fellow racer Nick Agostino.

“Super Dave” Adkins had a little fun earlier this week as he made his first foray into the world of no prep racing. Running at the Lane Automotive Triple Crown event at Martin, Michigan, he took the opportunity to gather some last-minute data on his twin Garrett turbocharged ’63 Chevy Impala SS in preparation for NMCA Mickey Thompson Radial Wars race here at Joliet and tested out several different tire options – including a set of slicks. Tuner/engine builder TJ Grimes of Baker Engineering is on hand to manage the Chevy’s LSX-based 400 ci powerplant.

Comp Eliminator and Top Sportsman racer Carey Bales is here in Joliet to continue to refine his 2016 Honda Accord and it’s turbocharged, inline-4-cylinder engine combination. He’ll be competing in VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod this weekend, with the Don Ness chassis putting down some 1,300 horsepower from its F20 engine which originates from a Honda S2000. Nth Moto handled the hot side piping for the Fleece Performance 76mm turbocharger, and an AEM Infinity ECM controls the Inline Pro four-cylinder engine which is backed by a Liberty 5-speed transmission.

Among the drivers introducing themselves and their cars to NMCA and NMRA competition at this weekend’s race is Gary Roeben, who had been racing X275 across the country but is now getting to know the all-star category that is VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw. In his London Chassis Dyno-built 2004 Mustang Cobra motivated by a BES-built small-block Ford, 85mm Precision turbo, M&M Transmission-built TurboGlide and billet Neal Chance converter, he blew the tires off on his first test hit yesterday, but followed it with what he referred to as a decent second test hit after pulling out some power. With today’s  weather conditions being more favorable than yesterday’s, however, Roeben, who declines to share exactly what he laid down in testing, said he’ll likely bring in some power for today’s first round of qualifying.

Scotty Quesenberry — otherwise known as Quizzy — is making his VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod debut is his big, bad and beautiful 1955 Bel Air. Under its removable hood lurks a Scott Braskett-built 526ci Hemi and Kobelco 14-71 blower. Quizzy, who flies to 4.0s at the various outlaw races he frequents and said he’s “ready to get at it,” is looking for 3.90s  sooner rather than later, and helping him along the way is his crew chief, Michael Harris, and son, Bryce Quesenberry.

While Wayne Roberts’ focus is serving as crew chief for his daughter and junior-dragster driver Monica Roberts, he sometimes makes laps in the All Motor category at Milan Dragway in Michigan and is giving Boninfante Racing NA 10.5 a go for the first time this weekend. His eye-catching 1972 Buick GSX, which was painted by Scott Mueller, gets from A to B via a 499ci Buick topped with TA Performance heads and paired with a Rossler three-speed transmission, and so far, it has delivered the Michigan-based driver to a best of 8.07 and 163 mph. “I’m pretty sure we have at least 100 more horsepower than any other naturally aspirated Buick in the world,” said Roberts, who owns several Buicks and whose grandfather worked on the assembly line for Buick and whose father was a pipe-fitter for Buick.

Things are pretty lively in Scott Libersher’s pit area this weekend, as in addition to racing his just-finished but 8.40s-proven 2017 COPO Camaro in Factory Super Cars and his 2017 COPO Camaro in Stock/Super Stock, his son, Lenny Libersher will run the family’s 2015 COPO Camaro in Stock/Super Stock. They’ll be joined by Scott’s son-in-law, Dan Condon, who will pilot the family’s black 2015 COPO Camaro in Stock/Super Stock, and their engine-builder, David Barton of Ray Barton Racing Engines, who will wheel Scott’s 2015 COPO Camaro in Factory Super Cars. While they realize there’s a chance they’ll face each other at some point in eliminations, the plan is to give it everything they have,  go as far as they can and have fun while they’re at it.

Boninfante Racing NA 10.5 driver Rich Nye recently replaced the sheet metal intake on top of his Gary Hammaker-built 400ci small-block Ford with a CID cast intake, and per the class rules, he was subsequently able to pull 40 pounds of weight from his Fox body Mustang. He’s hoping he sees a performance gain, but admits he’s not sure what to expect because he didn’t get to test. “We didn’t bring the other intake, so it is what it is this weekend,” said Nye, with a laugh. Helping him along the way are his son, Jaden, as well as Frank Edwards and Jim Whitsel.

Eric Kenward’s made some big changes to his epic ’79 Malibu “wheelie wagon” since the last race. Because of a recent rule change, Kenward (pictured, middle) decided to ditch his ProCharger in favor of a nitrous fogger setup from Nitrous Express that he feels is his best bet for success in NMCA Edelbrock Extreme Street. Other than changing the cam timing and taking out five-hundred pounds thanks to the nitrous weight break, no other major changes were made. In testing with the “baby jets” in, Kenward ran 4.96 at 142.

Why is Andrew DeMarco’s ’86 Mustang silver? What’s that massive Vortech supercharger doing up front? Why is there a bandage on Andrew’s knee? Why has he disappeared over the past few months? WE HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS. Fortunately, DeMarco has answers. Feeling the need for a change, the Boston bad boy went into stealth-mode. He overhauled the Mustang that he’s had since high school and transformed it from black to silver. Under the hood, the ProCharger is gone and a NMRA VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw-legal Vortech V28-112 supercharger sits in its place. The massive new unit is plumbed to an SC1-headed 430 ci engine built by ABT Machine, while a new carbon fiber Schoneck Composites front end was installed by Dennis MacPherson at DMC Racing. The weight reduction resulted in a seventy-two pound loss and the new Menscer shocks will help DeMarco make the most of all that horsepower.

Winder, Georgia’s Bart Tobener is switch-hitting this weekend for team NMCA in Edelbrock Xtreme Street instead of his usual NMRA Renegade. Along with Derek Craft and Wade Mcgowan (pictured) of Race Part Solutions, the S550’s intercooler was moved from front to back which had a considerable effect on the weight distribution. To compensate, the suspension was reworked and a set of Menscer struts with Racecraft spindles were added.

As we reported earlier this week, reigning Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series Drag Radial champion Anthony Manna made some changes to the combination in his 1998 Camaro to cruise in VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw this weekend. He replaced the twin 88mm Precision turbos that had been in front of his AES-built 427ci LSX engine with a single 98mm Precision turbo, and he swapped his 315 Mickey Thompson drag radials to 275 Mickey Thompson drag radials. He also went from 4:10 gearing to 3:90 gearing in his car’s rear-end and is trying a different converter to complement his Proformance Racing Transmissions-built two-speed Turbo 400, though he declines to give converter specs. He’s had two test passes and is preparing for today’s first round of qualifying. 
“My two test passes this weekend were slow, but that’s okay, because it’s a new combination and you have to start somewhere,” said Manna. “We’re figuring it out and getting closer, and we’re gathering useful data along the way.”

Ryan Wurst has been running his 1964 Chevelle in various races near his Cartersville, Illinois, home, and as he was once inspired by the Nostalgia Pro Street class of years past, the car received a ladder bar rear suspension and big tires. This weekend, he’s changed the rearend and put some small tires on to run in VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw. The car, which has been 7.90 through the quarter mile with the big rubber, has gone 5.20s with the small tire thanks to its Jimmy Lopez-built 582ci engine and Induction Solutions direct-port nitrous system. “It’s the first time out with the nitrous system and small tires, we’re just taking baby steps,” Wurst told us. “It’s mostly all steel and 800 lbs overweight for the class. If we run 4.90s, we’ll be happy.”

Mickey Thompson Radial Wars driver Isaac Preston told his brother Adam that he noticed a vibration on their test pass yesterday. Adam went under the car but didn’t notice anything loose, but during their next pass, they changed lanes at the last minute, which required a hard turn. Some loud noises ensued and the team quickly realized that the car’s front wheel was massively cracked. Back in the pits, more cracks were found in the other front wheel, and the consensus is that the damage is the result of the massive wheelies that the Camaro has been doing as the brothers try to get a handle on their tuneup. Mark Woodruff came to the rescue and was able to loan the Prestons a pair of front wheels to get them back in action.

Ashley, Ohio’s Kevin Knece had his pit crew cleaning the bugs off of his ’53 Corvette Pro Mod entry in the pits after the first round of qualifying. Hopefully it makes the blown Vette a little more slippery as the team is sitting just outside of the field after the first round of qualifying.

Speaking of racers helping fellow racers out, Puerto Rico’s Raymond Matos went for a hell of a ride today during Q1. His 2013 Jerry Bickel-built Camaro shook the tires and then got into it’s own oil which was leaking between the tires. The Camaro subsequently spun out about 200 feet out and tagged the retaining wall with the wheelie bars. Fellow Pro Mod competitor Mike Bankston had a brand new spare set in his trailer and gave them to Matos, while Matos went ahead and put in a new order for a set to replace Bankston’s.

VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod driver Scott Braskett, who drove his 1963 Corvette to a 4.22 to take the ninth spot in this afternoon’s first round of qualifying, had help suiting up for tonight’s second round of qualifying from his wife, Marsha Braskett. Braskett, who has built race cars for many powerhouse drivers at his shop, Braskett Race Cars in Galena, Ohio, will be one to keep an eye on among the 22 tough-as-nails competitors trying to make the field.

The Dart Pro Stock final round from the previous NMCA event in Bowling Green was carried over to this event and featured Kevin Lawrence and Rob Pearce. Pearce grabbed a slight reaction time advantage, and stayed ahead of Lawrence for the win.

As we finish up the second round of Super Bowl qualifying here at Rt. 66 Raceway, here is tomorrow’s schedule: