By Mary Lendzion
Tim Knieriem has shown a ton of talent and tenacity in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street since joining the category in 2018.
He earned a second-place finish that year and the following year with a 450 cubic-inch small-block Ford which he built at Knieriem Racing Engines in Louisville, Kentucky, and paired with a Nitrous Express system.
Then, he built a slightly smaller, 440 cubic-engine for 2020 for the Mustang he drives and Daryl Reynolds owns. He started with a Dart Iron Eagle Pro block and added a Callies crank, Ross pistons and GRP rods, as well as Edelbrock Glidden Victor II heads, a CID intake massaged by Mike Stark, BLP carburetor finessed by CFM, Nitrous Express system, NLR Nitrous Controller and a new blend of LAT Racing Oil.
While he missed the NMCA season opener last year, he went on to qualify in the second spot with a 4.72, out of twenty-four drivers, and went three rounds at the 12th Annual Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. Then he earned a runner-up finish against Joel Greathouse with a 4.72 at the Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl presented by HPJ Performance at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois, despite breaking the rear end under his car and borrowing one from fellow racer Scott Libersher before the final round of eliminations.
“In addition to Scott Libersher, Joel Greathouse and his team offered their spare rear end,” said Knieriem. “Scott’s was slightly closer to what we were running, so I decided to use his, but it’s just a testament to the sportsmanship in Xtreme Street that the team we were racing in the final offered their parts so we could race them.”
Knieriem wrapped the year with a visit to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle with a 4.67 at the 19th Annual Nitrous Supply NMCA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana, and personal bests of 4.61 and 152 mph, after making converter and rear gearing changes, at the NMRA All-Ford World Finals featuring the Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky.
“It took us a couple of races to hone everything in with a new engine while also making changes to the converter and rear gearing,” said Knieriem. “Also, at the same time, Paul Klyczek of PKRE Racing was tweaking the tune for me and suggesting different ways of running the car, and everything was really responding. We had rolled the dice by making those changes, but we knew that if we wanted to get our elapsed-time down, we were going to have to try some things and keep at it. Doing that doesn’t always work, but thankfully, it did this time.”
Knieriem, who finished in third-place in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street points after missing a few races last year, is now focused on the first NMCA race of 2021, the Whipple Superchargers NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines, this weekend at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida. He’ll arrive with the same 440 cubic-engine he ran last year, though the engine will have fresh rings and the Edelbrock Glidden Victor II heads will have fresh valve springs.
“Based on our year-end performance, and the fact that everything was in good shape, we didn’t want to change very much,” said Knieriem. “We did manage to get a little weight out of the car.”
Knieriem, who hopes to make all of the races on this year’s NMCA tour, wants to go even quicker and faster than his personal bests of 4.61 and 152, and he’s confident his combination is capable of that.
“It’s going to take more than our personal bests to win more races, so that’s what we’re shooting for,” said Knieriem, who flies banners for Dart, Comp Cams, Nitrous Express, NLR, Mickey Thompson, BLP, AFCO, Cometic Gasket, VP Racing Fuels, LAT Racing Oils, XS Power, Strange, Victory 1, Bam Lifters, PKRE Racing and Knieriem Racing Engines. “There are a number of people who don’t think you can be competitive with a small-block nitrous combination, and I don’t buy that. I believe we can, and I want to prove it.”
In addition to building his own engines, Knieriem also builds engines for NMCA competitors Jeremy Lyons, Steve Dowell, Craig Watson, Richard Deaver, John Warren and nine-time Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle champion Andy Warren. Together, they make up the appropriately-named Never a Doubt race team.