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David Theisen Successful with New Set-Up in Dart NA 10.5

Posted By: Mary Lendzion
Written by Mary Lendzion
Photos by NMCA Staff
David Theisen drives the wheels off of his 1969 Firebird in NMCA Dart NA 10.5.
In addition to being ambitious off the track, he is aggressive on the track, and that has translated to a tremendous amount of success over the years.
The racer from Michigan earned a championship in the high-revving category in 2018, and has his sights set on another one, and with his mindset and his car’s muscle, it is within his reach.
Over the winter of 2023-2024, Theisen took his hardworking 615 cubic-inch big-block Chevrolet engine to his engine builder, Chris Uratchko of Uratchko Racing Engines, to be freshened for the new race season.
John Marcella of Marcella Manifolds, who made Theisen’s race-proven heads and intake, made spacers for the throttle bodies on his intake.
Additionally, Theisen decided to move from his carburetor set-up to a Holley EFI set-up for his combination which also includes a Turbo 400 by Proformance Racing Transmissions.
“We wanted to try something new, and see if we could get the car to be a little more consistent, so we moved to Holley EFI and rewired most of the car to get rid of the old ignition,” said Theisen. “It was a major job, and I had help from Jim Filipowski and Travis Gates.”
Theisen then looked to Mike Thompson of TNT Performance for a baseline tune before heading to his first race with the new set-up, the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by Sipple’s Speed & Performance and Top of the Rock Thrill Festival presented by Innovation Performance Technologies in April of 2024 at Rockingham Dragway in North Carolina.

“We had an engine dyno tune on the car before the race, but I hadn’t driven the car before the race, so when we got there, we were basically tuning on the fly and the drivability of the car was totally different with the Holley EFI than it was with the carburetors,” said Theisen. “Honestly, I was just happy to be able to do a burnout at that first race and start to get a tune on the new set-up.”
Less than a month later, Theisen was looking up at the Holley NMRA/Red Line Oil NMCA Race for the Rings & Saturday Thrill Festival in early May at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois. He qualified in the fourth spot with a 7.83 and went on to win the race with a 7.82 and a very tight margin of victory over multi-time champion Leonard Long, who lapped a 7.83.
“We were still tuning, but we were able to be consistent, and that helped us win the race,” said Theisen. “I had a lot of help from Mike Thompson, my crew of Steve Mastalier, Ben Mastelier, Kevin Wright, and of course, my wife, Anna. It felt so good to be back in the winner’s circle because I hadn’t been there since 2022, and we were happy that our new teammate, ARP Nitrous Pro Street racer Leonard Grawburg, whom Chris Uratchko also builds engines for, also won in his category.”
Theisen, who is thankful for support from Marcus Montague and LaFontaine Performance, is now holding down second place in points heading into the next Red Line Oil NMCA Muscle Car Nationals race, the 22nd Annual Scoggin Dickey NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem, May 30-June 2, 2024 at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky.
“At the beginning of the year, one of our goals was to get my car and Leonard Grawburg’s car to the winner’s circle, and we are happy that happened,” said Theisen. “Now we are focused on other goals of getting the car to go quicker and faster, and keeping the automatic transmission alive in the class where many of my fellow racers are running clutches.”


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