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Friday Coverage | NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals

Posted By: Ainsley Jacobs
Today the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals Presented by Sipple’s Speed & Performance action kicks off at Rockingham Dragway in Rockingham, North Carolina. Though yesterday’s test ’n tune session succumbed to the damp conditions, beautiful weather is on tap for the rest of the weekend. 
Today competitors in the Circle D Specialties True Street classes and the Dodge Direct Connection Shootout get some test runs. In contrast, racers will get down to business right away as qualifying runs begin across all the index and heads-up classes. All the drag strip action comes to a crescendo this evening as Dawn Perdue and Larry Aldrich square off in the Jet Car Shootout as both racers attempt to shatter the North Carolina Land Speed Record this weekend. 
Throughout the weekend, the world’s largest BIGFOOT monster truck is also on display for photo opportunities. And, tomorrow the Top of the Rock Thrill Festival adds BMX Xtreme stunt shows; No Prep & YouTube Celebrities; a Fan Experience; a massive car show; a huge manufacturer’s midway; and a special Mustang Day gathering in honor of the 60th birthday of Ford’s pony car.
So, stay tuned to this page and our social channels for updates throughout the weekend for updates on all the action from the first event of the season.


Drag racing is one of those sports encouraging family involvement. As an example, father and son Rick and Tyler Hornback are competing in Dart N/A 10.5 in the elder Hornback’s 1969 Chevelle. The car has been in Hornback’s possession for many years, but when it comes to its racing life, the Chevelle has continuously received performance upgrades to keep it competitive. For motivation, the Chevelle uses a 645ci big block Chevy built by Scott Williams at SKW Motorsports using BES Racing heads and intake. SKW also did the headers on the car, which are new for 2024. Behind the mammoth big block is a Lenco four-speed with a Boninfante Friction clutch. For first round of qualifying, Hornback spun right off the bat, so Rick and Tyler went to work making suspension adjustments in an attempt to remedy that situation. Unfortunately, Friday afternoon rain has delayed seeing the results of any changes until Saturday. One of the things the younger Hornback enjoys is the car’s tuning setup. Using a Holley Dominator EFI, Tyler enjoys the challenge of making tune changes, seeing how those changes impact the car’s performance. The initial goal for the car is to run in the 8.0s in 2024, but the overall goal is to be in the 7s, which will solidly put the Hornbacks in the thick of things in Dart N/A 10.5.    

“Uncle” Robin Lawrence recently signed on with a new sponsor, Strange Engineering, for his 2024 NMCA Micro Strategies Super Stock season, and is excited to represent the brand as he’s been running its products on his 2005 Mustang, his Chevy Nova, and his many other rides. In addition to Strange’s brakes, master cylinder, center section, axles, and rear end housing, Lawrence also runs Strange front struts. Over the winter, he swapped the cams in his engine and didn’t expect to pick up much, but went 9.731 at 138.29 mph during the first qualifying session this morning – significantly quicker than his expected 10.50 elapsed time – and he’s pleasantly surprised with the improvement, especially given the less-than-ideal conditions and headwind he encountered.

There’s a familiar face in VP Racing Fuels Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod this weekend with a revered ride, as Chris Cline has made his long-awaited return to NMCA competition after last racing in Pro Street back in 2009. At the time, the owner of Chris Cline Race Car Technology ran his original 1958 Plymouth Fury “Christine” but this weekend he has the more modern, third iteration of the car on the property at Rockingham Dragway. Power is supplied via a 521 cubic-inch Brad Anderson Hemi prepared by Christine’s co-owner Dave Heitz and the PSI C-rotor screw blower adds a potent punch. The rest of the combination consists of a Lenco transmission, Greg Slack converter, and Ty-Drive converter drive. Cline has outfitted Christine #3 with the latest and greatest technology from front to back, and is using Menscer Motorsports struts on the fronts with JRi shocks in the rear.

The first thing we noticed about Kevin Locklear’s 1971 Duster was the beautiful blue paint, which he used PPG’s Hydro blue from the Jeep line of vehicles so he did stay within the family when he chose that color. We also like Sanford, North Carolina resident’s Duster because it’s a runner thanks to a 340-based combination he uses in NMCA Micro Strategies Super Stock competition, SS/JA specifically. Behind the 340 is a 904 with an ATI converter and a Cheetah SCS shifter, which rely on Calvert leaf springs and Cal-Trac bars to get the traction needed from the car’s RC Comp wheels wrapped in 30x9 Hoosiers to run in the 10.30-range. Locklear races the Duster as often as he can, but the All-Star Nationals is his first NMCA event. 

No stranger to the performance industry, being part of American Racing Headers (ARH), Louis Filippides has owned this 1986 442 since the age of 16. Obviously, the car has gone through a few changes since he has owned the car, and these days it’s home to a built LS combo he put together with guidance from Brian Tooley Racing and heads done by Newcomer Racing. Filippides usually runs 235 tire classes, but he’s here at the NMCA All-Star Nationals testing and running Edelbrock and VP Racing Lubricants Extreme Street. His power adder of choice is a Forced Inductions single turbo combined with hot and cold side tubing he made in-house at ARH. Behind the built LS is an RPM Transmissions 2-speed 400 with a ProTorque converter. The chassis was done by Farks Supercars, using Afco coilovers, a TRZ Motorsports fabricated 9-inch rear and front upper and lower control arms. To handle the combination’s tune, Filippides relied on OAB Racing’s John Balinksy for the initial tune, but he zeroes in on what the car wants at the track, making the necessary changes. If he’s ever up in the air about any tuning changes, Balinsky is on the other end of the phone to lend his expertise. Filippides is a big fan of the Bounty: Drag Racing PC-based online drag racing game. If you have a Steam account, you can get in on the action racing a variety of cars at the track, on the street, and even on the dirt.       

Pete Espeut had the privilege of purchasing a 2018 Dodge Challenger Demon, then snatched an allocation to get a new 2023 Demon as well. Thanks to a program at Dodge, he was able to match the VIN of the new car to that of the old car for a uniquely numbers-matching pair of "VIN twins." This weekend, Espeut is running his Gen III Hemi-powered Demon in the Dodge Direct Connection Shootout and wants to be one of the lucky few to qualifying for the HHP Racing Quick 8 Presented by Scoggin-Dickey.

NMCA VP Racing Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod racer Jim Widener and race team partner Tony Bischoff of BES Racing Engines put together an all-new engine combination during the off-season for their 2017 Chevrolet Corvette. The nitrous-injected 959 cubic inch engine was re-engineered to enhance durability and longevity, and the men devoted their entire winter to the development program. With only a few test passes on the platform so far, Widener is pleased with the initial results and is ready to run it in competition for the first time this weekend at the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals at Rockingham Dragway.

🚨 ATTENTION IN THE PITS! 🚨 We expect to be on track at 10:15am and will be calling cars to the lanes shortly. Our team was up extra early this morning getting the track ready after the intense rain from yesterday and they have done an amazing job in preparing the surface despite the challenging conditions.

Here is today’s drag racing schedule. For Thrill Festival features including Jet Cars, BIGFOOT, BMX Stunts, Mustang Day, and the Car Show schedule click >> LINK HERE

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