By Mary Lendzion
The NMCA Dart NA 10.5 presented by Diamond Pistons category is known for its high-revving and high-horsepower engines that help cars haul without a power-adder.
It’s also known for its diehard drivers, and among them is Robbie Blankenship.
The Florida resident prepared for the start of the 2020 race season by installing into his Mustang a fresh 400 cubic-inch engine topped with D3 heads, an HRE intake and two four-barrel Holley carburetors, and by replacing his automatic transmission with a Liberty’s five-speed transmission and a Ram clutch which Cale Aronson of Black Magic Clutches help him set up.
Then, he headed to a test session on March 2 at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida, was pleased with the numbers and was poised to pump out a lot of horsepower a few days later at the 18th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines, which was March 5-8, also at Bradenton Motorsports Park. But, his hopes of earning another event win at the NMCA’s season opener were dashed in the first round of qualifying, when his car contacted the retaining wall when his chutes didn’t deploy.
“I was trying to get the car stopped so that I wouldn’t go into the field at the top end of the track, but it spun and contacted the wall on the left front,” said Blankenship, who was not injured in his 7-second car. “The carbon fiber front bumper got messed up, and two bars, including one that goes across the front of the radiator, got bent up.”
Upon returning home, Blankenship ordered a replacement front bumper from Motor City Solutions, and is taking his car to Profab Performance Plus, where the new front bumper will be installed and the two bent bars will be replaced.
“Luckily, there wasn’t more damage to the car,” said Blankenship, who watched the remainder of the race from the sidelines and supported fellow racers, including John Langer, who led qualifying with a 7.76, and Rich Nye, who defeated David Theisen in the final round of eliminations and dedicated the win to his brother who recently passed away.
Blankenship hopes to have his car back together in the next few weeks. With the Coronavirus pandemic forcing a postponement of the 12th Annual Scoggin Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals, April 2-5 at Atlanta Dragway, he plans to load up for the NMCA Power Festival, May 28-31, World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois.
“The car ran well in testing before this happened, and I’m really looking forward to getting back out and seeing exactly what it will do,” said Blankenship.