By Mary Lendzion
Photos by NMCA and courtesy of John Langer and Rich Nye
The Dart NA 10.5 class sees some of the most extraordinary drivers in the country, and among them are John Langer and Rich Nye.
While both were ready to go rounds at the Whipple Superchargers NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines in mid-March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida, they ran into trouble on track.
For Langer, it was during qualifying in his Firebird finely built by Matukas Motorsports, with Cameron Bowles in the other lane.
“At 6.45 seconds into my run, my water pressure spiked and water leaked into my cylinders and got onto my tires, and the back of my car swung around,” said Langer. “I went through the finish line sideways at 167 mph. The nose on the passenger’s side hit the wall first, and then my car slid down the wall on the passenger’s side, pancaking it in. Steve Matukas built a great car, and it did its job and protected me.”
Fortunately, Langer was not seriously injured, but every body panel on his car, except the driver’s side door and the rear valance, needs to be repaired or replaced.
He wasted no time taking his car to 2 Keys Custom Paint and Body in Augusta, Georgia to have the damage fully assessed and to begin repairs to it.
“We had to get the quarter panels back on location and square, and we had to fix the pillar to get the passenger’s side door on the car,” said Langer. “The carbon rear tubs were saved. Now I’ll drop the car off at Steve Matukas’ shop early next week so that he can front-half it.”
Langer has already ordered and received new TRZ control arms, new front Weld wheels, Mickey Thompson tires, and all of the stock parts, including the grill and headlight buckets, that will go on the new fiberglass nose that VFN is making.
Tony Bischoff, who built Langer’s 577 cubic-inch Pontiac engine and fabricated his billet intake, is inspecting his All Pontiac Tiger heads, and Langer will send him his complete engine to go through after Matukas uses it to install frame rails in his car. Meanwhile, Sean Wiley at Pro-Formance Transmissions is looking at Langer’s ProFlite.
Langer hopes to have his fiberglass nose in time to make the Scoggin Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by MAHLE Motorsport, April 8-11 at Atlanta Dragway.
Nye’s trouble occurred just as he went through the traps at 7.73 to defeat Joe Clemente in the second round of eliminations in his Mustang built by PMS Race Cars Corp.
“I was in the right lane, and as soon as I crossed the finish line, my car was all over the place because of the wind, and when my chute opened, my car made a hard right turn and went into the wall and spun,” said Nye. “When the front hit the wall, my car went up in the air, came back down, rolled over and landed hard on the passenger’s side rear quarter panel. Joe Clemente got his car stopped and came right over to make sure I was okay, and then they took me to the EMS team.”
Fortunately, Nye, who was upside down when he unfastened his harness and was pulled out of his car by the safety team, was not seriously injured, but his Mustang needs a new body from the windshield back.
“My chassis, which was certified to 6.0, was not compromised, but it needs a whole new body now, since there’s not one straight piece left on it,” said Nye.
Gaby Labiosa of EIC Motorsports, who built Nye’s 410 cubic-inch small-block Ford engine which is backed by a G-Force Racing Transmissions-built GF2000, advised Nye to pull the intake from the engine and make sure no sand, dirt or debris made its way in.
“The engine, which was fresh last year, looked good,” said Nye. “A fuel bowl on the carburetor got broken, and I sent that back to Dale Cubic at CFM to be taken care of.”
Nye is searching for a replacement body, but because it will take some time for Schoneck Composites to build carbon fiber components, including the front of the car, doors and hatch, and because additional body work is required, Nye isn’t sure that he will be able to have his car rebuilt this year.
“When I do get a body for the car, it will have to go to James Smith at JSC Racing Fabrication to be mounted, and to have some chassis work around the radiator area of the car,” said Nye.
Meanwhile, fellow racer Leonard Long offered to let Nye pilot one of his Mustangs, and while Nye appreciates it and is considering it, he admits that he would be more comfortable in the cockpit of his own car.
“I’m just disappointed,” said Nye. “We were really looking forward to the race season, but I’m okay, and I want to thank the safety team and everybody who called or checked on me.”