By Ainsley Jacobs
Photo Courtesy of Mike Recchia
When the PDRA announced the elimination of its Pro Extreme class, the 2017 season champion, Mike Recchia, knew he needed a new place to race and decided to return to his NMCA roots.
Hailing from Roselle, Illinois, the longtime racer first started with NMCA back in the late ‘90s when he ran in Pro Street trim. “We were bottom feeders back then because everyone was so much faster than us, but hopefully we’ll change that around this time,” laughed Recchia, who also raced his first Pro Mod, a Don Ness-built ’96 Chevy Lumina, and won eight additional championships with the Chicago Wise Guys Midwest outlaw group.
With his son and crew chief, Michael Recchia Jr, Recchia worked hard throughout his 2017 PDRA season to secure the title and scored a new personal best elapsed time of 3.54 at 215 mph in the eight-mile along the way.
When he came back out with his Jerry Bickel-built ’69 Camaro convertible pace car replica, though, things didn’t quite go according to plan. “For the first time in seventeen years, I slapped it off the wall and it pancaked the right side a bit,” lamented Recchia, who was no worse for the wear from the incident which occurred at his first race of 2018.
“We should have the car back by the end of this week, and we’ll spend a few days putting it all back together,” explained Recchia, as he is now focused now on making it to the upcoming 13th Annual NMRA/NMCA Nitto Tire Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois at the end of July to compete in VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod. The weekend thrash session will definitely be a scramble, but he has got a great group of friends and family who volunteer as his crew and expects the work will get finished with time to spare.
Everything needed to get the repaired Camaro ready to run is already waiting in Recchia’s garage – all he needs is the car.
The engine, a supercharged Hemi running on alcohol, is composed of an Alan Johnson bottom end (filled with Fowler Engines connecting rods and Diamond pistons) and Noonan Race Engineering heads. “Everything other than the block machining is handled in-house right here at our place,” Recchia explained of where the work gets done. Additionally, a billet intake manifold, also from Noonan, feeds compressed air from the classic Camaro’s PSI screw blower. Unlike Pro Xtreme, the NMCA category regulates the supercharge overdrive to keep all the power adders on an equal playing field.
Behind the engine will sit a Coan torque converter built by Mick Snyder with a Bruno converter drive and a Liberty four-speed.
Bickel provided the latest and greatest suspension components for the four-link style Camaro, while JRi supplied the shocks. “We’re also running a Bickel-fabbed housing, and a shorter and stronger single wheelie bar that’s our own design and works really well for us,” Recchia detailed of his custom setup.
“We just put this combo in this year to try and figure it out, but only made a few passes before hitting the wall,” shared Recchia, who knows the setup is making plenty of power and will definitely be a contender in VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod. “We’ve got about six laps already, so we have a little bit of data to hopefully out combo is fast enough to run with the big boys and we won’t embarrass ourselves when we come to NMCA – it’s really cool to be back with the organization.”
As much as the wreck was a disappointment, Recchia isn’t letting it get him down and knows that you can’t truly appreciate the highs of racing without also having the lows. “We always have a lot of people in our pits, and it’s a big ol’ party afterward,” he outlined of how things go down in his Agrow Fresh Product Co-sponsored camp. “You learn more from losing than you do from winning, so no matter how it goes, we’re going to have fun.”