By Mary Lendzion
The NMCA Dart NA 10.5 category is incredibly intense.
It’s filled with die-hard racers who come from all over the country for NMCA events and are known for their talent and tenacity, and among them is Robbie Blankenship.
Fans — and fellow racers — can count on the Floridian to continuously look for ways to go faster and faster in his Mustang, and last year, he turned to Ben Strader of EFI University to help him do that. Strader freshened his small-block Ford and replaced his two Holley carburetors with a Holley Terminator Stealth Throttle Body Fuel Injection System before dialing in his new combination and measuring its horsepower on the dyno.
Pleased with the numbers, and the promise of having more tuning options with his new set-up, Blankenship, who backed the engine with a Liberty’s five-speed transmission rather than the automatic transmission he had been running, blasted to a 7.87 to arrive at the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle at the Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing presented by HPJ Performance last August at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois, and a personal best of 7.761 to win again a few weeks later at the NMRA/NMCA All-American Nationals presented by Force Engineering at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Michigan. Had that 7.761 occurred before the final round of eliminations and had Blankenship been able to back it up, it would have been a Dart NA 10.5 record.
“We made more power with the fuel injection, and it gave us more tuning options,” said Blankenship, whose car crushes the track with Mickey Thompson tires wrapped around Weld wheels. “The fuel injection was a nice change, especially with the new manual transmission. We could change the fuel input to the engine anywhere on the track, and we were able to get the tune-up right based on weather and track conditions. I was very fortunate to have Ben Strader’s help. He’s a master when it comes to all of that.”
While Blankenship was poised to put down even more power in the crisp fall air at the final event of the year, the 19th Annual Nitrous Supply NMCA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance in September at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana, he ran into electrical issues.
“As soon as we got home from that race, my crew member Lee Cowles took the car to Modern Race Cars in North Carolina, where Justin Elkes rewired it, made some electrical changes, built a custom harness for the fuel injection and went over the car from top to bottom. When he was done last week, Lee picked the car up and brought it home, and it looks great.”
Meanwhile, Strader is wrapping up a fresh 400 cubic-inch small-block Ford for Blankenship. It’s on a Dart block and is topped with Ford Racing D3 heads. It will be complemented with the Holley Terminator Stealth Throttle Body Fuel Injection System, and Strader will soon dial it in on a dyno. Down the road a bit, he’ll inspect the 400 cubic-inch small-block Ford that Blankenship was running last year, and make a few upgrades to it.
“We’re going to run the Liberty’s five-speed again this year, and we’re looking forward to getting back out there,” said Blankenship, who plans to take part in a test session soon at Bradenton Motorsports Park, which he considers to be his home track.
Then, he’ll focus on the first NMCA event of 2021, the Whipple Superchargers NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines, March 18-21 at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida.
“We’re still leaning what the new combination wants and we haven’t seen its full potential yet, so the car should pick up some more,” said Blankenship.