While Phil Smith drove his ’02 Trans Am to a remarkable 4.48 and a rewarding third place in NMCA Wiseco Street Outlaw last year, he’s determined to dish out even more in 2016.
He and his team, including car owner and crew chief Billy Adams, got the ball rolling recently by having their 632 cubic-inch engine – which is topped with 14° Dart heads and further motivated by a Speedtech nitrous system – freshened by its builder, Kris Nelson of Nelson Competition, Inc., and making the move from carburetion to fuel injection.
For the latter, they delivered the car to Haltech Engine Management Systems in Lexington, Kentucky, at the end of January, where it was outfitted with the company’s Elite 2500 ECU.
“They had it for a week, and they went out of their way to take care of us,” said Adams. “They did a phenomenal job.”
Smith and Adams then took the car to John Drew and crew at R&D Performance in Carol Stream, Illinois, where additional wiring was run, and where the water system and fuel system were installed.
“John literally closed the shop to work on the car for six days straight,” said Adams. “Then, we picked it up and drove through snow, freezing rain and everything else to get it back to Haltech last Monday morning to finish everything up, and that’s when Eric (Gash) from Haltech said he had arranged for dyno time that afternoon at Dynosty in Louisville, Kentucky. We were working on no sleep whatsoever, but we made pulls until 1 a.m.”
On the phone with them all the while was Patrick Barnhill, who is on board with his PTP Racing business partner Jason Lee, to lay a tune on the new combination. When they were satisfied with the results, they made the long haul to Florida, where they made several shakedown passes at Bradenton Motorsports Park on Feb. 11, accompanied in person by the Haltech team, Barnhill and Nelson, before heading to Orlando Speedworld for more testing. That’s where the magic happened and they laid down a 4.54 at 157 mph in the car that features a Proformance Racing Transmissions-built Turbo 400 and Coan converter and rolls on Mickey Thompson 275 ET Street Radial Pros.
Now, Smith and Adams want to net high 4.30s in the class where the current class records are the 4.43 and 165 mph Eric Gustafson laid down in August last year, and they plan to hit one more test session before loading up for the 14th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem, March 10-13, at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida.
“I’m steadfast in my ways, and because I know carburetors, I didn’t want to move to fuel injection, but I’m happy that we did because we had very successful test sessions,” said Adams. “We have very good guidance with the guys at Haltech, PTP Racing and Nelson Competition, and we also have a very good team, the A team and the B team. They’re very dedicated, and we couldn’t ask for a better bunch of guys to work with.”