Prev Article Next Article

Bench Racer With Steve Turner—Past Forward

Posted By: Steve Turner
Bench Racer With Steve Turner—Past Forward
Photography by the FSC staff
Deadlines wait for no one, so I sit at my keyboard the week after Christmas, and a column is on the schedule. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is like a time warp. Many people are off. You aren’t sure what time or day it is, and it is a chance to come up for air after a busy year.
It is also a time of reflection and hope. Many of us are caught between looking back on the year we had and looking forward to the year ahead with hope. This spot in the year is also between two seasons. Both series put a cap on their seasons with the annual awards ceremonies during the PRI Show, and the first races of the season are still months away.  
Looking back on the 2023 racing season, there were so many close races, records set, and impressive team efforts. However, what stands out from the prior year’s campaign is the number of racers who doubled up on championships. Running a national racing series is a serious commitment, that requires the time, funds, and fortitude to make it to enough races to be in the mix. Pushing that farther toward winning enough rounds to score a championship takes that to a new level.
Not one, not two, but three drivers won championships in both the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals and the Red Line Oil NMCA Muscle Car Nationals series in 2023. Not only does this require a great deal of skill, talent, and good fortune, but the dedication to run two national event series. Of course, the class rules in their categories crossed over, but it also requires racing a Ford to be eligible for NMRA competition, so that narrows the number of cars that could do the deed in both series.
Martin Connelly scored the NMRA VP Racing Madditives Renegade and NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street titles. Susan Roush McClenaghan took the crown in both NMRA Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle and NMCA MagnaFuel Open Comp. And, last but not least, Danny Towe scored his second double-double in a row, by becoming the first driver to win back-to-back championships in both series by earning top honors in NMRA Fastest Street Car Ford Muscle and NMCA Erson Cams Nostalgia Muscle presented by World Products for the second year in a row. 
While all the champions deserve honors, these three went above and beyond, and Towe dropped the mic by retiring from competition after accomplishing his feat. That leaves the door open for Susan Roush McClenaghan to become the second racer to do so in 2024, but there is a long season ahead of us.
Fittingly, the week I am writing this is also a time to look ahead, so I am looking forward to NMRA and NMCA making some new stops on the tour this year. NMRA kicks off its season with the storied Spring Break Shootout at Gainesville Raceway for the first time in late February with a slate of features designed to send up the 60th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang. Meanwhile, NMCA returns to a familiar spot in late May as the NMCA Power Festival rolls into Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
It will be fun to see what racers can achieve at the familiar and fresh venues throughout the 2024 season. With new venues, new classes, and different tracks on the schedule, we are set for another exciting year of high-performance fun, and before you know it, it will be time to reflect on another season, so savor every pass, record, and gathering of friends, because time flies almost as quickly as those race cars.
It was an amazing season filled with record-setting runs and thrilling performances but three racers — Martin Connelly, Susan Roush McClenaghan, and Danny Towe (pictured) — stood out from the crowd by earning championships in both the NMRA and NMCA series. Can anyone repeat that feat in 2024? It will be fun to find out.

join our

email list

You’ll be first to know about NMCA events, race results and so much more!