Martin Connelley’s successful race season started as soon as he climbed into Jason Martin’s ’93 Mustang motivated by a BES-built big-block Ford on nitrous and drove to a 7.77 and a runner-up finish in Edelbrock Xtreme Street at the 14th Annual Ross Racing Pistons NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem in Florida in March.
While he went on to earn a third place finish in points in the category when the series wrapped in August, he wasn’t ready to hang up his helmet.
He proved that by powering Eddie McCarty’s ’86 Mustang to a 5.04 to qualify third in Team Z Motorsports Ultra Street at the Summit Racing Equipment Shakedown at the Summit presented by Mickey Thompson Performance Tires and Wheels, Sept. 16-18, 2016 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. Then, he trapped an incredible 4.99 in the second round of eliminations to become the first driver with an 8.2 deck nitrous-fed engine to dip into the 4s in the ultra-competitive Ultra Street.
“I could hear my crew celebrating on my radio when I went through the traps, and while we knew we had just set the record, I’m sure people were wondering why we were celebrating considering we had just lost,” said Connelley, of Salyersville, Kentucky. “But, several guys had been trying to go 4.99 with an 8.2 deck nitrous engine this year, and we were really happy to be the first to do it.”
The BES-built 8.2 deck small-block Ford engine under the hood of the largely stock-appearing car — which Connelley drove to the OSCA Nostalgia True Street championship in 2015 after winning every race he entered — is 363 cubic-inches and wears Trick Flow High Port heads. Added kick comes from a Fast Lane single-fogger nitrous setup, and an RPM Transmissions Powerglide helps put the power in the proper places.
The chassis, which was built by Mike Adams and which Tin Soldier Race Cars consults on, sits atop an 8.8 rear-end with TRZ suspension components, and during Shakedown at the Summit, Connelley’s tuner, Eric Mitchell collaborated with fellow Ultra Street driver Shawn Pevlor’s tuner, Jason Waterman, to tie it all in and work wonders.
“They got us to swap rear-end gears and change transmission fluid and nitrous jets between rounds, and they got us to make adjustments to the Menscer Motorsports shock setup,” said Connelley. “I also called Kevin Neal during qualifying for advice, and everyone was making good decisions, because the car picked up every round.”
Connelley, who refers to the chariot as a “really fast street car with stock wheel wells, stock gas tank, factory interior and factory wing,” was also supported throughout the weekend by his wife, Michelle, and six-year-old son, John Martin.
“To be able to run 4.99 and become the first driver to run 4s with an 8.2 deck nitrous engine was a big deal to me,” said Connelley. “It was a phenomenal weekend for me, my family and my crew.”