By Mary Lendzion
For years, John Langer has proudly put Pontiac power on display in NMCA Dart NA 10.5.
He contines to go faster and get to the final round, and last year, he gunned to a 7.765 and 177.14 mph to set the elapsed time and top speed records in the challenging category.
He’s passionate about showcasing the potency and potential of his Firebird built by Matukas Motorsports and his 577 cubic-inch Pontiac engine built by BES Racing Engines with a Bryant crank, GRP rods, Ross pistons, fabricated billet intake by BES Racing, All Pontiac Tiger heads and a Book Racing Dominator carburetor.
He’s well-aware that it can — and does — take its toll on his parts, but he pushes on, with people like Steve Matukas of Matukas Motorsports and Tony Bishoff of BES Racing Engines, among others, by his side.
Langer has spent the past several months preparing to put down even more power this year. For starters, he sent his engine to Bischoff for a bit of repair and refreshening, as one of his cylinder heads had cracked at the last NMCA race of 2020, causing it to leak water into the numbers four and six cylinders.
“All during eliminations, water was leaking into my combustion chambers, and my engine wanted to hydrolock,” said Langer. “We filled it with Ceramic Engine Seal and refilled the water after every pass. Somehow, we made it to the semifinal. The head had cracked from bolt hole to bolt hole in the center of the head, and Tony had to excavate a lot of aluminum from it, rebuild the combustion chambers and weld it back up. For years, I have been trying to do what you’re not really supposed to be able to do with a Pontiac engine, and I have pushed its limits, so I understand that I’ll have some failures, and I’ll take care of them and get back to racing because I want to go fast with a Pontiac engine.”
Langer also worked with Matukas to make carbon fiber wheelie bars to replace the wheelie bars that were broken, also at the last NMCA race of 2020, when the deployed chute on the back of his car got hung up on barrels of sand on the top end of the track, and the deployed chute on the back of a fellow competitor’s car got hung up on the wheelie bars on the back of Langer’s car.
Langer, who also hurt his ProFlite late last year and subsequently had it repaired by Sean Wiley at Pro-Formance Transmissions, has since tested several times at a few different tracks, with Matukas’ help, and they have gathered data on various stators in Langer’s PTC bolt-together converter and gear ratios in his transmission. They also have made adjustments to the four-link and rear springs under his car.
“Wanting to continue running toward the front of the pack is a never-ending cycle,” said Langer. “We’re learning what to do and what not to do, and in testing this year, we have run significantly faster than our record-setting 7.765 and 177.14 mph, although I don’t want to share the numbers.”
Langer’s latest test session was last weekend at Carolina Dragway in South Carolina, where he damaged his carbon fiber driveshaft.
“I’ve never had that happen, so I’ll send it to the company I got it from to be analyzed, and since I won’t be able to get a new one right away, I’ll start the race season with my spare aluminum driveshaft,” said Langer.
Langer’s car is now in his trailer, and is ready for the Whipple Superchargers NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines, March 18-21 at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida.
“Our plan is to run all six NMCA events this year, and to go faster every time we go,” said Langer.