After collecting championships in NMCA VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw and NMCA West ProCharger Street Outlaw, Eric Gustafson of Manhattan Beach, California has officially made the move to NMCA VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod.
His Gary Naughton Race Cars-built chassis is topped with a carbon fiber 1969 Camaro body made by Cynergy Composites and painted and airbrushed by Larry Jeffers Race Cars, and a 526ci Brad Anderson Enterprises Hemi and ProCharger F-3R-136 sit under the one-piece front end. The car is equipped with a Liberty’s transmission and rolls on a Mark Williams Enterprises rear-end, Strange Engineering suspension components, struts and shocks by Precision Racing Suspension and Hoosier tires, and 2017 NMCA VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod champion Steve Summers handled the wiring and finishing touches.
With support from his crew chief Cameron Hensley, tuners Jason Lee and Patrick Barnhill of PTP Racing, father Ron Gustafson, John Urgo and colleagues at Coast Packing Company, where he is CEO, Gustafson debuted the untested car at the 16th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem in early March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida.
He ran to a 3.91 to qualify in the thirteenth spot, and despite turning on the red light and losing to Don Walsh Jr. in the first round, he stayed in the throttle in the impromptu test pass to post a 3.93.
“Until you put the car together and run it, you don’t know exactly what it will be like, and when things weren’t going the way we thought they would go, we realized we had a case of the new car blues,” said Gustafson. “After the race, we sent the engine back to Brad Anderson just because we wanted to see how it looked, we sent the shocks and struts back to Precision Racing Suspension for a little work and we looked at some other things.”
With the car buttoned up at Lyons Custom Motorsports, where it will be maintained between races, Gustafson turned his focus to the 10th Annual NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by Mahle Motorsport, April 5-8 at Atlanta Dragway.
That’s where he flew to a 3.81 and 195 mph to qualify in the fifth spot in the fierce all 3-second field, followed by a 3.79 at 195 mph to defeat Marcus Bird in the first round, a 3.78 at 198 mph to defeat Mark Luton in the second round, a 3.755 at 200.41 mph to defeat Jason Hamstra in the semifinal and ultimately a 3.77 at 199 mph to defeat Craig Sullivan — and take a trip to the Aeromotive Components Winner’s Circle — in just his second race in a Pro Mod.
“Nobody had ever run 3.70s or 200 mph with a centrifugal supercharged door-slammer Pro Mod car, so we were the first to do that,” said Gustafson. “I still can’t believe it’s true. Things were working properly and the car was responding to changes we were making by going quicker and faster.”
Rather than resting on their laurels, Gustafson, Hensley and the rest of their hardworking team are already plotting how to put down even more power at the next race on this year’s NMCA tour, the 17th Annual NMCA Quick Fuel Technology Bluegrass Nationals, May 17-20 at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky.
“The car is already apart because we want to see what we can do to it to make it run even better,” said Gustafson. “We want 3.60s, and we want to earn a championship. We figure we should be the damn best at this or go do something else.”