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Driven to Excel—Bruce Boyle’s Chevrolet Camaro IROC runs hot in NMCA Micro Strategies Stock Eliminator

Posted By: Evan J. Smith
Driven to Excel—Bruce Boyle’s Chevrolet Camaro IROC runs hot in NMCA Micro Strategies Stock Eliminator
Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Photography by the FSC staff
From his lifelong career in the fire service to the joy he finds as he blasts down the dragstrip, Bruce Boyle is driven to excel in every area of his life. With a sharp mind, a keen wit, and a gracious attitude, the young-at-heart, 70-year-old racer is still racking up wins and championships with his 1989 Chevrolet Camaro IROC Z/28 amongst some of the toughest competition in the NMCA.
Boyle caught the drag racing bug from his grandfather, Milton Krapf, as the two spent a lot of time together in Boyle’s youth. Milton loved racing, and would often take Boyle to events all around his home state of Illinois. “What’s now the Joliet Memorial sports stadium was a midget track back then, and we would take me all the time,” recalled Boyle, who also attended the Indy 500 and other open-wheel racing events with his grandfather.
As a teen, Boyle made many mechanically minded friends and would often go street racing with them. “One guy took me the track when I was 15 and we saw Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen with their funny cars,” he reminisced of the inspiring trip. 
In the mid-1970s, when he was in his early 20s, Boyle purchased a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro racecar that ran in Super Stock Eliminator. With a big-block engine and four-speed transmission, he only got to enjoy it for about a year before an accident on the way to the track resulted in the car being totaled. 
“I had kids at the time,” said the proud father, “so I did nothing until about 1995 when I bought a chassis’d Chevy Vega which I raced once or twice a month locally.” In the interim, Boyle furthered his professional career. A fire chief by trade since 1975, he worked relentlessly to protect and care for his Manhattan, Illinois, community. Although he formally retired in 2020, Boyle has remained actively involved in the local fire service and still works part-time in the command center responding to incidents.
By 2005, though, Boyle felt the itch to get back into more regular competition and picked up a 1976 Chevrolet Monza. “I was always a snowmobiler, too, but that didn’t work too well with the family,” laughed Boyle. “So, one year, I got the car done early and decided on a wild hair to go to Florida for the NMCA season opener.”
There, Boyle was introduced to fellow racer Bob Cochran and the two struck up a fast friendship. “The weather in Florida was great and I really enjoyed the people of the NMCA,” noted Boyle, who ran his Monza in in NMCA Open Comp until 2017; he had tremendous success with the small-block-powered Chevy, earning championship titles in his class in both 2013 and 2014.
His tenure in Open Comp taught Boyle a lot about moderating his speed and the importance of testing. After struggling with different devices to control the Monza, he ultimately decided it was time for a change and purchased his current 1989 Chevrolet Camaro IROC Z/28 from a seller in Pennsylvania in late 2016. “It was a torque-arm car, nothing fancy, with some frame ties and a six-point roll bar,” Boyle stated of the car which was designed for a lower horsepower combination and perfect for his needs.
Boyle spent the following season still fielding the Monza, but testing the Camaro to get it dialed in as well. Initially, he planned on running NMCA Nostalgia Muscle Car with the IROC, but when the NMCA announced its new Stock/Super Stock Combo category for 2018, he realized it would be the perfect place for him to race. “Mine was a crate-motor car and fit the rules perfectly. And, it was fast so it qualified well, but I ended up having problems with the car,” shared the man who finished seventh overall for the season.
The engine in question was one of Chevrolet’s Targetmaster bullets and Boyle was having to put a new cam in it every 40 passes or so. “I struggled for two or three years and never could find what was wrong until I read an article online that said those blocks tended to flex real hard at about 400 horsepower,” he explained. “So, the last time I had it freshened up, I went to Florida and made four passes fresh off the dyno, but it dropped a tenth and a half, so I loaded up, came home, took the motor out, and was done with it.”
Tired of the constant repairs (and expenses), Boyle found a different crate engine – one that was only rated to 300 horsepower. With the new powerplant installed, he raced his Camaro without issue until 2022 at which point the Stock/Super Stock category was separated into two sections and Boyle landed in the NMCA Stock Eliminator segment. 
After the season was done, Boyle installed an NHRA-legal, naturally aspirated, 350 cubic inch small block Chevrolet TPI engine from Troy Tomschek at Troy’s High Performance. Built upon a Dart block with Ross pistons atop Callies connecting rods and a Scat crankshaft, the engine featured Chevrolet heads and a Chevrolet valvetrain.
A self-described “technology guy,” Boyle loves learning about the latest and greatest and especially enjoys applying those electronics to his racing program. “With the carbureted Monza, I felt like I was racing a Model A,” he joked. Although the Monza featured a Racepak and other modern touches, Boyle wanted more. “So, the new engine has the stock Chevrolet fuel injection on it. The Tuned Port is atrocious, but NHRA allows the use of a Holley Dominator, and I wanted to learn.”
Owner of Straightline Performance and avid NMCA Xtreme Street competitor, Nick McGrath, stepped up to show Boyle the ropes as the two had been longtime friends. “All those years, I had been thinking in terms of carbs, and now the Holley EFI is totally different, but Nick helped me, taught me to tune, and encouraged me,” said Boyle.
During the winter off-season from 2022-2023, the group spent time on the engine dyno and the chassis dyno, and spent lots of hours in the garage fine-tuning the new combination with parts sourced from Winner’s Circle Speed and Custom, the shop which Boyle has patronized since 1973.
Also included in the Third-Gen Camaro’s setup is a Coan torque converter with a 5,700-rpm stall speed, a lightened Turbo 350 automatic transmission from Turbo Terry with a Coan torque converter, Strange Engineering/Chevrolet hybrid 12-bolt rearend, and Mickey Thompson tires. 
The remainder of the build is practically showroom stock, save for the Afco shocks and struts that supplement the stock suspension and the upgraded Strange disc brakes at all four corners, along with minor interior touches that were made to enhance race-day functionality and driver safety.
Ready to return to sunny Florida and to begin his 2023 Red Line Oil NMCA Muscle Car Nationals season, Boyle headed to Orlando Speed World Dragway for the NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem but got started a few days early with some pre-race testing.
“I was pretty confused and the EFI wasn’t providing data,” he admitted, “but made some phone calls and got a lot of help and worked through it.” Still, Boyle felt overwhelmed and defeated — he had gone from knowing his combination intimately to being stumped — but he persevered nonetheless. He ultimately decided to just race the car without worrying about anything else… and his strategy paid off.
Running on an I/SA (injected, stock automatic) designation, Boyle qualified 15th of the 17 cars in NMCA Micro Strategies Stock Eliminator. A bye run in round one gave him a freebie on to the next, where his 11.709 at 100.38 mph pass on his 11.63 index secured the win over Pete Ricart and his 2019 Cobra Jet in the opposing lane.
Boyle repeated the performance in rounds three and four, with a final performance of 11.509 at 115.01 mph in the last match-up of the weekend, and lit the win light in his lane for a surprising victory, given how his weekend had started.
“I spend a significant amount of time on the practice tree to keep me sharp and focused, and my reaction times were really good all weekend. I had been worried about nothing, apparently,” proclaimed Boyle, having cut multiple 0.02X-second lights. “It taught me that the fuel injection is much more consistent than the carburetor, and the car was deadly accurate.”
Next, at the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals at North Carolina’s Rockingham Dragway, Boyle ran a string of 11.5-second passes starting with his 11.538-second blast in qualifying to an 11.513, 11.555, and 11.530 in round one, two, and three of eliminations, respectively. He and his IROC Camaro had earned a spot in the semi-finals, but it was a double-breakout scenario and the win just didn’t swing in Boyle’s favor as he had gone 11.493 at 114.93 mph on his 11.53 dial-in.
Boyle carried high hopes into the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Muscle Car Drag Racing at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis, but Lady Luck was perhaps otherwise occupied. “While I was there, Daren Poole-Adams came up and said, ‘man, you’re doing awesome! Did you know you can win the championship?’ but I had no idea, because I just go with the flow,” confessed Boyle. “I hadn’t even thought about it, but when I started looking at the numbers I realized, holy smokes, he’s right!”
Boyle decided to go for it, to have fun, and just let the cards play out as they were destined to. He began eliminations having qualified 15th of 19 entries, and, although he took two round wins in a row, Randy Eakins had his number in round three and Boyle had to pack up and head home. Despite not having stayed in the game longer, Boyle was pleased that his Camaro was humming right along and printing consistent 11.6-second time slips.
Moving on to Michigan for the NMRA/NMCA Power Festival at US 131 Motorsports Park in late July, Boyle was back in the swing of things. His Camaro, too, was right where he needed it to be — from qualifying 15th of 28 with an 11.637 at 113.44 mph pass to running 11.640 at 113.12 mph, 11.627 at 113.01 mph, and 11.639 at 113.53 mph in the first three rounds of eliminations, he was getting a solid handle on the EFI tune-ups. Unfortunately, although Boyle had worked his way into the semifinals, a rare red light ended his run just 0.004 seconds before it ever got started.
One month later in Norwalk, Ohio, for the NMCA All-American Nationals held at Summit Motorsports Park, the summer heat was taking its toll on the Chevrolet’s performance. Although the car was running one tenth of a second slower than usual, Boyle had a handle on things and kept it consistent at the new 11.7-second number. After skating by in the first round, another red light stopped Boyle in round two. “You can’t win unless you try for it!” declared the good sportsman, undeterred that his plan to push hard for an advantage had backfired.
With one race left to go in his bid for the championship, the stakes were high for Boyle as he pulled into Indianapolis Raceway Park in late September for the NMCA World Street Finals. There, Boyle qualified solidly with an 11.601-second pass but didn’t even make it past Randy Eakins in the first round of eliminations.
Despite the upset for the weekend and having a whole new combination for the year, Boyle still managed to accumulate enough points to earn him the overall NMCA Micro Strategies Stock Eliminator championship title for the 2023 season. “We had some shifter problems but worked through them, and the car ran great all year long. My investment in the practice tree helped me go rounds, I trusted the car and focused on my driving, and well, here I am!” proclaimed Boyle.
Boyle has shown a tremendous ability to adapt to a variety of vastly different scenarios. From his Monza which was one of the quickest entries in Open Comp to his Camaro on the slower side of Stock Eliminator, he’s been undeniably successful with both. “I don’t get mad if I lose. I look at the data, see what mistake I made, learn from it, and move on,” he said humbly. 
One of the biggest challenges he has had to overcome with the IROC, surprisingly, isn’t driving it… it’s that the car is very susceptible to wind. “It’s sleek but slow, it really only goes about 114 mph, max, and it drives nose-up so it’s like running into a wall,” noted Boyle.  “I keep an eye on the flags to watch what the wind is doing because it really does effect it a lot. I don’t qualify great, but I race well.”
Similarly, Boyle also pays close attention to proper preparation of his entire program, from his reaction times to the car’s tune up, and utilizes prediction software to configure the fuel injection so that the Camaro produces repeatable, consistent results as intended.
No matter what, Boyle’s favorite part of racing isn’t winning (although that’s great, too) but rather it’s the people he gets to share the sport with. From his wife, Mary, who supports his hobby, his friends, including Don Higgins at Crew Chief Pro and the members of the This is Bracket Racing Elite group, and especially to his family of friends at the NMCA, Boyle appreciates each person who has helped him along the way. Rick and Ricky Pennington, too, have been instrumental in acting as his “Senior Stock Eliminator Consultants” to bring Boyle up to speed.
For 2024, Boyle is committed to racing all six of the NMCA events with his championship-winning 1989 Chevrolet Camaro and looks forward to the downtime of being on the road as opposed to the nonstop action of his busy daily life. In addition to seeing some more win lights illuminated, will also “keep life’s satisfaction light lit” as every time he gets behind the wheel, a smile appears on his face and in his heart.
The Driver
Owner: Bruce Boyle
Driver: Bruce Boyle
Hometown: Manhattan, Illinois
Occupation: Fire Chief
Class: Stock Eliminator
Crew: Mary Boyle
Car Year/Make/Model: 1989 Chevrolet Camaro IROC Z/28
Engine: 350 Chevrolet
Engine builder: THP
Displacement: 350 cubic inches
Block: Dart
Bore: 4.0 inches
Stroke: 3.48 inches
Crank: Scat
Rods: Callies
Pistons: Ross
Heads: Chevrolet
Valvetrain: Chevrolet
Cam type: Hydraulic-roller
Carburetor or EFI system: Holley Dominator EFI
Power-adder: None
Fuel brand and type: VP Racing Fuels C-12
Headers and exhaust: 
Transmission: Chevrolet Turbo 350
Transmission Builder: Turbo Terry
Clutch/shifter/torque converter: Coan Converter
Rearend: Strange/Chevy 12-bolt
Body and/or chassis builder: Chevrolet
Suspension (Front): Stock with Afco struts
Suspension (Rear):  Stock with Afco shocks
Brakes (Front): Strange Disc Brakes
Brakes (Rear): Strange Disc Brakes
Wheels (front): Weld switching this year to RC Comp
Wheels (Rear): Weld switching this year to RC Comp
Tires (Front): Mickey Thompson
Tires (Rear): Mickey Thompson
Aftermarket body modifications: None
Safety equipment: Impact
Vehicle weight: 3,340 pounds
Quickest ET: 11.47 seconds
Best 60-foot: 1.506 seconds
Fastest mph: 115.05
Sponsors: Straightline Performance and THP Engines

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