After running a few races and finishing fourth in points in 2014, NMCA VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod driver Michael Biehle, II announced his intentions to run every race in 2015 and go after a championship in the highly competitive and captivating category.
It is with that dedication and determination that he fired up his Grabber Blue 2013 Mustang and flew to three wins, a runner-up and ultimately the 2015 championship. He set the class elapsed-time and top-speed records with a 5.85 and 256 mph, which still stand, along the way.
“It’s always interesting when I race Michael, because I know that I better run the best I can because he’s fast everywhere he goes,” said Steve Summers, 2014 NMCA VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod champion who finished second in points in 2015. “Michael is one of those guys who will help anyone at anytime and has a very low-key personality, but he’s very serious about winning. I have a lot of respect for him and have had the best side-by-side races with him over anybody. He will be one to look out for in 2016 because he will do whatever it takes to run up front.”
Not ready to put the race car away after wrapping up the 2015 championship, Biehle decided to take part in the late-season Shakedown at the Summit at Summit Motorsports Park, but got into trouble when the chutes on his car failed to deploy. He went into the sand and rolled four times, and while he was not injured, his car was. It’s currently being repaired at Jerry Bickel Race Cars, but rather than climbing back into that one, Biehle will climb into a ’67 Mustang-bodied Pro Mod car for the 2016 season.
Read on for more about the well-known and well-liked driver who lives in North Vernon, Indiana, and is supported in his race efforts by Jamie Miller, who tunes the combination, his parents, Mike and Linda Biehle, II, his sisters, Joni and Allie Biehle, and Parker Green. He works for Biehle Electric and is the co-owner of Accuracy Unlimited, an indoor archery and gun range.
With multiple wins, a championship and elapsed-time and top-speed records, all was going well with your 2013 Mustang powered by a ProLine 481X and twin 88mm Precision turbos. What prompted you to have another car built?
As strange as it may sound, we started kicking around the idea of building a new car while we were at the NMCA race in Georgia last April. It wasn’t because we felt like we didn’t already have a good car, because we had a great, strong-running car. It was because my little sister, Allie, wanted to start racing, and we thought we could build a new car for me and put her into my old car. Right after the NMCA race in Georgia last April, we asked Jerry Bickel Race Cars to build us a chassis. It has a Tom’s billet aluminum third-member in it, and it’s super-light. Because my dream car has always been a ’67 Mustang Shelby GT500 and I wanted to stick with a Ford body, I bought a ’67 Mustang body for the chassis from Tim McAmis.
How did you go about choosing the powerplant for the new car?
I have a very good relationship with the guys at ProLine, and I talk with them multiple times during the week. After discussing it with my crew chief and tuner, Jamie Miller, as well as Eric Dillard of ProLine, about which engine to go with, we decided on the new ProLine Hemi, which is a combination that came out last year and has already proven to be very successful.
What all does the combination consist of?
We’ll run it with twin Precision 88mm turbos, an Extreme Pro Mod three-speed Turbo 400 by Mark Micke’s company, M&M Transmission and a ProTorque converter. The heads are done by MBE and the intake is by Hogan’s, and we’ll run a FuelTech fuel system. I’m very excited to run this engine. I have so much faith in ProLine as a company. They have never let me down. In addition to building the chassis, Jerry Bickel mounted the engine and the turbos, and installed all of the body parts, windows, interior carbon tubs and front suspension. The header work and cold-side piping work was done by Ryan Rakestraw of RK Racecraft in Georgia. He shares a shop with John Homier of Homier Fabrications, who did the wiring. When all of that was done, I did all of the plumbing, and Jamie Miller flew into town so that we could fire-up the car and scale it. The paint was done by Jeff Hoskins, who did a beautiful job.
The ProLine 481X in your 2013 Mustang has been a stout piece. Why the departure from the tried-and-true?
We won a lot of races with the 481X, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. We just liked the way the Hemi is designed, and we wanted to try it and see if there are any more advantages to running it. We think there will be. There’s so much involved with building a new car, but believe it or not, it has gone smoothly. Pro Line and Eric Dillard have been overseeing the whole project, and when there were things that needed to be worked out in order to get the car and combination where we needed to them to be, Eric Dillard, Jerry Bickel and I had three-way phone calls.
Do you want to share what elapsed-times the car is poised to run?
Well, I don’t really want to say, but we’re hoping to run even better than we did with last year’s car and combination. Those are big shoes to fill, though, because the old car worked very well and had a lot of heart and soul. It’s a family member to me. I had raced it for two years. When I wrecked, it was very upsetting.
Indeed it was heartbreaking to see your car roll at Shakedown at the Summit, and then to see it covered with a tarp as you and your crew loaded it into the trailer afterward. Seemingly, you didn’t want race fans to see your car, which has been a great source of pride and joy for you, in a wrecked state.
That car has been good to me, and it has saved my ass more than once. People were trying to take photos, and at that point, I didn’t know if it was totaled or if it was repairable, and if it was totaled, I didn’t want the last images of it to be images of it in shambles. I just wanted to cover it up, get it home and determine what was going to happen next. I went to the doctor the next morning because I was sore from the wreck, and as soon as I got home from the doctor, I took the car to Jerry Bickel.
What repairs will be required before your sister, Allie Biehle, can be introduced to the car?
Jerry Bickel sandblasted the chassis to bare metal so they could thoroughly check everything out, and he went through everything, and fixed brackets that were broken from the rollover. He also had to repair some bars on the front of the chassis. The car needs a completely new body. The only good thing is that in the course of doing this, we were able to make some modifications to help lighten the car up and to make it a better car.
What memories from the 2015 season will you take with you as move into the 2016 season?
After Jamie Miller and I sat down and discussed focusing on the class in 2015 and what we would need to do to be competitive, we ended up learning so much about the car as a whole team, and we ended up having a great year and a great time. Highlights would definitely be winning the championship, doing well at the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indy, where we qualified fifth and won first round against Danny Rowe, making it to the final at the PDRA race in St. Louis and running against Steve Summers in the final round at the NMCA race at Summit Motorsports Park in August. I ran 5.83 at 257 and Steve ran 5.80 at 257, and that was the quickest side-by-side pass I had ever been in. Steve and I push each other to go faster. We had so many highlights in 2015 that it’s going to be hard to follow that in 2016, but we’re going to try.
Interview from the April 2016 issue of Fastest Street Car.