By Mary Lendzion
Mike Winters remembers the very day that he took delivery of his new 1982 Mustang.
It was March 12, 1982, and it was quite wintry in his home state of Michigan. After driving it on the street for a while, he started taking it to the strip. He competed in NMCA Mean Street, NMRA ARP Open Comp and NMCA MagnaFuel Open Comp.
He wasn’t able to run a full season as he was clocking a lot of hours at his job at Ford Motor Company’s Sterling Plant and had a lot of other commitments, but that changed when he retired from the company after forty years.
Winters got behind the wheel more and more, and as it turned out, circling all six events on the 2021 NMCA tour was wildly worthwhile.
He started the season by qualifying in the fifth spot with a .004 reaction time and exited eliminations in the semifinal after turning on the red light at the Whipple Superchargers NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida.
“Getting down to the final three cars in Bradenton and leaving the event in third-place in points was a good confidence builder,” said Winters, whose Mustang features chassis work by Ultimate Team Performance Race Cars and Street Rods and is powered by a naturally aspirated small-block Ford built by Uratchko Racing Engines and backed by a C4 built by Joel’s on Joy and an Ultimate Converter Concepts converter.
He then qualified in the sixteenth spot with an .036 reaction time and exited eliminations in the second round despite running on his 9.98 dial at the Scoggin Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by MAHLE Motorsport in April at Atlanta Dragway. He followed that with a .004 reaction time to qualify in the fifth spot and exited eliminations in the semifinal with a 10.09 on a 10.01 dial at the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing presented by HPJ Performance in May at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois.
Diving deeper into the season, Winters qualified in the ninth spot with a .009 reaction time and exited eliminations in the second round after a red light at the Inaugural Arrington Performance NMRA/NMCA Power Festival presented by Force Engineering in July at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Michigan, and qualified in the thirtieth spot with an .027 reaction time and exited eliminations in the fourth round with a 10.13 on a 10.05 dial at NMCA All-American Nationals in August at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio.
“I was very fortunate and lucky to go rounds throughout the season, which kept me close to the top in points and gave me a golden opportunity at Indy,” said Winters, who qualified in the twenty-eighth spot with an .032 reaction time, and went to the NMCA Winner’s Circle with a 10.09 on a 10.07 dial at the final race of the season, the 20th Annual NMCA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance in September at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana. Making that more momentous, he wrapped up the 2021 NMCA MagnaFuel Open Comp championship.
“It was amazing and exciting to win the championship,” said Winters. “It has been wonderful to receive so many congrats from friends and racers. I’d like to give all my best to so many great sportsman competitors in this category. For years, I watched them win with razor-sharp margins, and I’m still stunned that I ended the season better than so many NMCA household names in the category.”
Winters will be honored at the NMCA Muscle Car Nationals Champions Ceremony, held during the PRI Show on Dec. 10 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, and in the upcoming Champions Issue of Fastest Street Car Magazine.
“I’d like to thank Randy Ferrell of Crossroads Ministries for giving opportunity to all racers with spiritual edge and balance, and my extended family members, for the endless encouragement and support, including my brother, Doug, who also runs MagnaFuel Open Comp; my brother, Greg, my nephew, Noah, who runs Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle, my nephew, Jake, who runs MagnaFuel Open Comp, my sisters-in-law, Wendy and Terri, and my niece, Melissa. Lastly and most importantly, I’d like to thank my wife and life partner of forty-eight years, Ersella, for giving so much support to my success and well-being.”