By Mary Lendzion
Ronnie Hackelton is fresh off a remarkable race season in NMCA Chevrolet Performance Stock presented by Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center competition.
He ran to a runner-up finish at the NMRA/NMCA All-American Nationals presented by Force Engineering in August at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Michigan, set an elapsed-time record with a 10.37 — which still stands — and secured a second-place finish in points.
And after reading the recent rule changes for the category, he’s preparing to put down even more power next year in his 2010 Camaro, which his granddaughter, Haley Burkhammer, also races.
He’s leaving the stock DR525 engine and Turbo 400 transmission as-is, but he recently swapped the slicks under the car with a set of Mickey Thompson 275X60X15 drag radials. While he was at it, he removed the exhaust, as well as 100 pounds of weight, from the car, and replaced its mechanical water pump with a Meziere electric water pump, and headed to a test session at Holly Springs in Mississippi. While it was eighth-mile, rather than quarter-mile, testing, he was able to gather good data.
“The changes really helped the car pick up,” said Hackelton. “The car had previously run a best of 1.35 in the 60-foot, and it picked up to a 1.28, and it has previously run a best of 6.36 in the eighth-mile, and it picked up to a 6.31. The tire is eight pounds heavier than what we had been running, but it’s better going down track and it makes up for it.”
Willing to do extra homework, Hackelton went home and replaced those tires with a set of Hoosier 30X9X15 drag radials, swapped the car’s 4:56 gears with 4:30 gears to complement the change in tire height and traded its Meziere electric water pump for a Davies Craig electric water pump. He also completely rewired the car with a K&R kit, with help from friend Gene Rogers, and took off for a second test session.
“That day, I ran 6.26 in the eighth-mile,” said Hackelton. “The car ran really well with both of the new set-ups, and they were really close on what they would do. That means that next year, I can change set-ups when needed, based on weather and track conditions.”
Hackelton, who lives in Hazen, Arkansas, plans to test again in January, as he believes he will need to make changes to, or replace, his converter. With that, he’ll head to the NMCA season opener, the NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines, March 18-21 at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida, where the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle awaits. His granddaughter, Haley Burkhammer, may also be behind the wheel of the car at some point next year.
“The race in Florida is 1,000 miles away, and it takes sixteen hours to get there, but we’re looking forward to it,” said Hackelton. “Hopefully we can see some 9.80s in the quarter-mile with the changes.”