While Nick Bacalis crashed at an NMRA event back in 2005, he returned to racing at the 12th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing at Route 66 Raceway in July in Illinois.
But instead of his 1987 Mustang which was heavily damaged, he was in the driver’s seat of a 1996 Mustang built by Gary Rowe and DSC.
The blue beauty, a “shop car” for BES Racing Engines, where Bacalis works as an engine-builder with Tony Bischoff, features a naturally aspirated 700ci BES-built Ford engine topped with a BES-built intake and throttle body, plus a carbon fiber hood scoop formerly on an A/Fuel dragster.
Bacalis relies on Holley EFI to tune the combination, and an RPM Transmissions-built lightweight Powerglide and Ultimate Converter Concepts bolt-together converter help plant the power in the car which wears Mickey Thompson 275 drag radials.
At the highly-touted event in the Prairie State, he entered VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw, where cars wearing small tires can cruise with turbo, supercharger, nitrous or naturally aspirated combinations, and where the current records are the 4.33 and 169.74 achieved by Manny Buginga.
While wheelstands forced him to lift in qualifying, he and his crew chief, Preston Mosher, were working to wrangle up a tune that would allow the combination and chassis to work in unison, but a broken starter prevented Bacalis from seeing where they stood in the first round of eliminations.
About a month later, at the 16th Annual Honeywell Garrett NMCA All-American Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio, he achieved a personal best of 4.69 at 152 mph in a test pass, but the wheelies were still wild, and at one point during qualifying, the Mustang went onto the wheelie bars and headed for the wall. Bacalis was able to save it, but turned on the red light later in the first round of eliminations.
“I’m confident the car had 4.60s in it that weekend if I hadn’t been going into wheelies and if I hadn’t turned on the red light in eliminations,” said Bacalis.
Bacalis, who, rather than racing himself, supported BES customer and VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod driver Jim Widener in his racing efforts at the final NMCA event of the season, the 16th Annual NMCA SDPC Raceshop World Street Finals at Lucas Oil Raceway in September in Indiana, has not put the car away for the winter, and is heading for the Bilbrey Automotive Turkey Bash 2K17, Oct. 27-29 at US 60 Dragway in Hardinsburg, Kentucky.
“We’re still working on the chassis and the power management, but we’re making progress and we’re pleased,” said Bacalis.
Given Bacalis’ knowledge and know-how, he’ll be one to watch during next year’s NMCA series, which fires up with the 16th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem, March 8-11 at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida.