Friday Coverage—Inaugural Comp Cams NMCA Memphis Homecoming—Coverage presented by Edelbrock

The NMCA hosted a great day of testing on Thursday and today we kick things off with one more test session and two qualifiers. Going into this weekend, the Ford Performance Cobra Jet Mustangs in Holley EFI Factory Super Cars are still looking very strong.

Last night, LSX racers enjoyed the annual Chevrolet Performance LSX Shootout racer appreciation party held pit side after the test and tune session had completed. The happy hour event was open to all LSX racers and crew, included guest speaker from Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center, offered food and drinks, and over $12,000 in prizes were given away throughout the event.

Troy Pirez Sr. runner’d up in Edelbrock Xtreme Street at the NMCA season opener in Bradenton Florida, and he and car owner Kirt Sanders (pictured) decided not to take the trip from Florida to Atlanta for the next race after looking at the weather forecast. Of course, the NMCA staff handled business like it often does and the race was run to completion. Regretting the decision, Sanders packed up the car and headed to Memphis International Raceway despite another questionable forecast for the NMCA Memphis event. Pirez, however, opted to remain at home and Sanders will take his turn behind the wheel of the nitrous-oxide-assisted Fox-Body Mustang.

If something is going to break on your racecar, its best to happen during a test session and that’s exactly what happened to Edelbrock Xtreme Street racer Scott Grove yesterday. Grove’s Mustang left the starting line and within the first 100 feet, he sensed something was wrong and the diagnosis was a broken axle. Grove told us he had thought about replacing the axles last year, as they have served faithfully for over 10 years, but it would seem they decided to punch their last time card yesterday.

Also taking advantage of the test session was Nostalgia Super Stock racer Joe Ewing. Having hurt a  couple of engines in the very recent past, there was cause for concern when we found him working again on the engine, but it turned out to be a leaky water pump.

Brothers Jeff and Tim Frees made the 11-hour haul from Wisconsin to race here in Memphis this weekend, and they brought a lot of hardware with them, including Jeff’s Challenger Drag Pak and Barracuda and Tim’s Plymouth Savoy. Jeff will compete in Quick Fuel Technology Nostalgia Super Stock and Coan Engineering Stock/Super Stock, while Tim will tackle Quick Fuel Technology Nostalgia Super Stock. Both will be revving for a repeat of their performances at the NMCA/NMRA event last month at Atalanta Dragway, where Jeff drove his Challenger Drag Pak to the win in Coan Engineering Stock/Super Stock and Tim took the win in his Savoy in Quick Fuel Technology Nostalgia Super Stock. If Jeff had earned one more round win in Nostalgia Super Stock at that event, he would have faced Tim in that final. “When I do finally meet my brother in the final, he’ll have his work cut out for him,” Jeff said, as both broke into laughter.

By all accounts, MagnaFuel Open Comp driver Cameron Bowles has had a successful start to the race season, as he drove to a win at the NMCA event at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida in March and a runner-up at the NMCA/NMRA event at Atlanta Dragway in April in the Maverick his grandfather, Don Bowles, famously piloted in FST Carburetors NA 10.5. We caught up with Cameron as he was putting a set of taller front tires on the car with the hope that they, along with a transbrake button adjustment, will help slow his reaction time just a tick as he’s been turning on the red light lately. Cameron, who posted a 9.29 and a pair of 9.24s in testing yesterday, relies on a 358 cubic-inch small-block Ford built by Roush and freshened by Phillip Oakley to power the car known as Little Coal Digger VII.

While Scott Brown purchased Glenn Pushis’ COPO/CRC Camaro a few years back, he hadn’t been able to commit to racing in the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series Chevrolet Performance Stock presented by Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center category at every event, but he hopes to change that this year, and he was off to a good start. He earned a runner-up with a 10.28 at the NMCA event in Florida in March, and had his sights set on another final round appearance at the NMCA/NMRA event in Georgia in April before he blew his Turbo 400. He turned it over to RPM Transmissions to be fixed, and he’s ready to fly at this weekend’s event at Memphis International Raceway with help from his right-hand man, his son, Aaron Brown. 

While Brenda Blair used to drive her 1977 Caprice to the strip, she now pulls it in a trailer. It’s powered by a 385 cubic-inch small-block Chevy, and Brenda, along with her husband and crew chief, Kevin, are dialing it into Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle Car’s 11.75 index this weekend. Brenda, who joined the category in 2012 and says the classic cars and competitiveness keep her there, has earned sixth, fourth and seventh place finishes in points respectively the past three years, and while she has also earned a runner-up finish, she’s working toward a trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle in the car which she has owned for 30 years.

Back in 2007, a college-going Shawn Calabrese (at right) hopped in his Pontiac Firehawk and drove from his home near Orlando, Florida, all the way to Memphis, Tennessee, where he met up with his father, Tom Calabrese (at left) who had driven his 2010 Camaro from New York. Shawn entered the Rumble class with his six-speed Firehawk. “I wanted to run an 11-second pass so bad and in eliminations, the guy in the other lane spun, so i had him, but it was on a run and i didn’t let up,”Shawn told us. While he broke out of his index and handed the other guy the win, Shawn got his 11-second timeslip and drove home a happy winner. Calabrese recently picked up another Fourth-Gen Firebird and has been competing in Chevrolet Performance Stock with it, but it’s out of commission while awaiting new parts, so the Firehawk was called back into action once more, but this time running LME Street King.

The Hemis are coming. The Hemis are coming! That’s right, the Dodge //Mopar HEMI Shootout has been growing by leaps and bounds as of late, starting off the season with over 80 cars at the season opener, and they’re already filing into the pits here in Memphis.

Harvey Owen of Beebe, Arkansas is no stranger to the NMCA, having participated in races here and there since 1992. For the last four years, he’s been competing in the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series, which is run in conjunction with NMCA events such as this weekend’s Comp Cams Inaugural Memphis Homecoming. His 2015 Gran Sport Corvette has been modified by GPI with a number of bolt-ons that enable it to run as quick as 10.7, but he normally runs around 11.0-11.20 with the Corvette.

You never know who you’ll run into in the pits, and we happened to catch BES Racing’s own Tony Bischoff having a quick discussion with High Horse Performance’s Bruce Maicle. Maicle looks to be racing his own Firebird this weekend in the Mickey Thompson Street Outlaw category, and he tunes on Rob Goss’s BES-built, Gen III Hemi engine that powers his Street Outlaw Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.

Having dabbled with racing in the NMCA as little as two years ago, Brian Green normally finds himself helping out John Urist with his NMRA Street Outlaw machine. This weekend, Green brought out his mind boggling-bright ’89 Fox Mustang that he drives in various no-time/no-prep races and given it’s twin-turbocharged, big-block engine, he can only squeeze into VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod here with the NMCA. Still, the bright Mustang’s performance has been “fully uncorked” and he’s hoping to get lucky against the much lighter and quicker Pro Mod competition.

Geoff Turk’s X-15 Mustang Cobra Jet is making its NMCA debut this weekend and it looks even more beautiful than his Black Bird Dodge Challenger Drag Pak that he won the 2018 Holley EFI Factory Super Cars championship with last year. Turk joined forces with Carl Tasca and Randy Eakins this year and hope to use the collective data from the three cars to make them all go quicker. “The Mustang is a lot easier to drive than the Challenger,” Turk explained to us. “The Challenger picks up the front and and charges down the track, whereas the Mustang leaves the same, but pushes the front end down towards the top end.

 When it became more humid just before the first round of eliminations at the NMCA/NMRA event last month at Atlanta Dragway, Steven Griswold and his crew chief, Richard Brannen, made some changes to the tune-up of their combination consisting of an LS engine paired with a ProCharger, including to the timing, but, as Griswold put it, “The supercharger didn’t like it.” The result was an 8.62 on an 8.50 index and an early loss in eliminations in his Clairco Racing Corvette in the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series’ LME Street King category, but they’re giving it another go this weekend, and Griswold has so far posted an 8.67 while working toward dialing into the 8.75 index.

Click HERE for qualifying results.

Due to predicted weather conditions, two rounds of qualifying were completed on Friday. The third round is scheduled for Saturday, and should the weather prove favorable, the NMCA staff may opt to add a fourth qualifier later on Saturday.