NCMA Kook's Custom Headers Nationals - Atco Enigma
The New Jersey Track Most Known For Its Driver-Friendly Surface Was In No Mood To Play Nice At The NMCA Kook's Custom Headers Nationals.
From the November, 2008 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
By Johnny Hunkins
Photography by Johnny Hunkins
Joey Winick was one of the...
Joey Winick was one of the few racers to figure out Atco's horrendous traction problem early on. Winick went on to the finals in Hamburgers Nostalgia Super Stock with a 9.807/130.29 win over Douglas Poskevich's '66 Fairlane.
The southern pine barrens of New Jersey are hardly what you envision when you think of that state. You won't find Tony Soprano popping a cap into anybody's skull near Atco-you'd swear you were somewhere in rural Pennsylvania if you were dumped off there blindfolded. As someone who's raced at Atco Raceway many times before, I can say that Atco is "da bomb." A combination of sea-level air, a tailwind, a downhill run, and being nestled amongst thousands of oxygen-producing pines, Atco Raceway is the stuff e.t. dreams are made of.
As NMCA class racers prepared for the 1st Annual Kook's Custom Headers Nationals on June 6, they were surely rubbing their hands in anticipation. A new concrete surface had been laid down the previous fall, and had been sufficiently broken in to produce earth-moving launches. But Mother Nature had other plans in store.
A cruel heat wave swept over the East Coast, producing record temperatures and excruciating humidity. No living thing remained unscathed from nature's ravages. As racers made their way to the staging lanes, hopes for low e.t.'s were dashed. Crews worked overtime to dial down the power in hopes of gaining purchase on the hot, oily starting line. With clutches softened, nitrous pills dropped down, and turbo wastegates cranked wide open, there was at least one positive benefit: Engine and powertrain breakage was remarkably absent from the NMCA's Atco event.
The oppressive conditions, however, took an equal toll on all racers, which provided a small measure of comfort for those chasing points. The real race would not be on the track, but in the pits. First on the agenda: kill the power. Second: find some traction, and fast. The guys who do that first and best will come out winners.
If you haven't attended a National Muscle Car Association event in a while, we think you'd be pleasantly surprised. This marks the NMCA's 20th anniversary, and its dedication to preserving the rich history and tradition of muscle car drag racing. Even the Atco heat couldn't keep thousands of fans and racers from enjoying the variety that epitomizes an NMCA event. Besides the NMCA's regular 10 head's-up and index drag racing classes, the Atco race also featured a late-model EFI index eliminator (Eaton Posi Late-Model EFI), LSX Shootout, Ford Modular Madness Shootout, and the first-ever NMCA Late-Model Hemi Shootout. Of course, there was plenty of action in the Tremec True Street Shootout, which incorporates a 30-mile street cruise, then three back-to-back passes.
Spectators could watch the intense racing on track, or cool off in the manufacturers' midway looking at speed goodies. And now at all NMCA races-including Atco-is a laid-back car show for those who want to get involved in the NMCA without risking breakage on the track. Who knows, maybe the NMCA car show is the first baby step toward getting that classic down the track!
Beauty And The Beast
You don't see many 8-second '70 AMXs, and you see even fewer of them driven and worked on by attractive females, but that's exactly the story line behind Ann and Steve Erb's Gold Lime Metallic AMX. Ann drives the AMC in COMP Cams Pro Stock, and has blasted off a best e.t. of 8.88/152. A Barry Allen-built 435-inch AMC mill with Indy block, heads, and intake feeds a JW Powerglide and a Dana 60 loaded with 4.88 cogs. After seeing the AMX hoist the wheels, we made a beeline for the pits to check it out. We made the same mistake a lot of guys do, and went straight up to Steve Erb to ask our questions. He just pointed at Ann and said, "Why don't you just ask her? She's the one driving it."
John Langer For President!
COMP Cams Pro Stock is full of nice guys, and on the weekend of the Atco race, no one was nicer than John Langer, an engineer from Philadelphia. John's '69 Trans Am clone has a Bischoff-built 525-inch Pontiac based on an AllPontiac block and heads. (We're guessing Bischoff made at least one phone call to Jon Kaase to get some details!) John's Poncho did find grip- as our photo shows-but was unable to make the finals. And the nice guy part: On Saturday evening, John threw a big party in his pit area. He catered a cheese steak stand from Philly to come out and serve all comers- even his competitors. The grub was great, too. Thanks, John.
The Queen Of True Street
We leave you this month with 29-year-old Melissa Elswick, of Chesterfield, VA. She's a full-time mom of two boys (Trevor, 7; Dylan, 11), and she also happens to be the registrar of Tremec True Street. If you run True Street this year, chances are you'll get to meet this wacky, fun young lady. Melissa is also a racer. She's currently building an Outlaw 5.0 car for NMRA competition.
NMCA's Atco, NJ, race marked...
NMCA's Atco, NJ, race marked the first running of its new Late-Model Hemi class. Like the LSX Shootout and Ford Modular Madness classes, Late-Model Hemi is an index class. Drivers select the e.t. break they want to run on, and can run as fast as they want without going faster. Here's Christopher Dufresne in his '05 300C running on a 12.50 index. He went on to win the Late-Model Hemi eliminator with a 12.61/110.7.
Tremec True Street was dominated...
Tremec True Street was dominated by a couple of giants in the field of head's-up street car racing: Paul Ferrucci (near lane) and Marc Schankweiler. Ferrucci was able to overcome a seemingly insurmountable first-round deficit to eke out the win with an 8.692 three-run average. Not too shabby, considering they first made a 30-mile street drive in 110-degree heat!
The NMCA race at Atco was...
The NMCA race at Atco was sponsored by Kooks Custom Headers, and the gang was out in style with all the latest offerings. We checked out Kooks' new LS1 Camaro 2-inch primary headers, which retail for $1,016 (foreground, top), as well as their 1 7/8-inch headers with a stamped merge collector ($966.57, foreground, bottom). To find out more, call them at 866-586-5665, or log onto www.kookscustomheaders.com.
Yikes! It was 100 degrees...
Yikes! It was 100 degrees in the shade at Atco. Don't let the camera's pop flash fool you-this infrared reading was taken inside a shady, cool trailer with a fan running.
Carl and Donna Moore (Wilmington,...
Carl and Donna Moore (Wilmington, DE) chose to enjoy the NMCA's car show, and entered their '68 Camaro RS/SS. They've had it nine years, and it hasn't always looked this nice. Originally intended to be a race car, the Moores endowed it with a 30-over 427, ATI 'Glide, 9-inch rear, and 4.88 gears. "When it came out of the shop," exclaims Donna, "it looked so good, I said, 'We're not racing this car!'" When you get tired of polishing it, give us a call. We'll be glad to hoof it down the quarter for you!
All street-legal cars shouldn't...
All street-legal cars shouldn't have a parachute, but they should need them! Here's Craig Cusamano's immaculate '70 Chevelle pounding Atco's quarter en route to picking up the 10-second class win in Tremec True Street.
Bob Smith of Fort Montgomery,...
Bob Smith of Fort Montgomery, NY, told us he's a powerplant supervisor. Yeah, we guess so! Supervise this: Bob's '70 Chevelle is surprisingly simple with a 10:1 396 big-block. It runs an Edelbrock Torker intake with a Holley 750 and a .540-inch lift hydraulic flat-tappet cam and iron heads. A Turbo 400 and 12-bolt rear with 4.56 gears have pushed it to a best e.t. of 11.75/113. Bob runs the OPG Nostalgia Muscle Car class in the 12.00 index.
Bill Lewis of Wilmington,...
Bill Lewis of Wilmington, DE, had his hands full in Superchips Open Comp. Well off his best e.t. of 9.54/139, Bill made the mistake of leaving hard-4,000 rpm-on the trans brake his first run. "Big mistake! I'm going to leave on the foot brake at 1,400. I've done it before on hot days like this, and it works." For big-power street cars like his, Bill also recommends a small burnout, just enough to clean the tires. "A big greasy burnout gets the tires too hot."
Tremec True Street winner...
Tremec True Street winner Paul Ferrucci shows his brand allegiance! True Street racers take note: It's good luck to grab the PHR banner before making your runs in True Street!
As if seeing Ann Erb's '70...
As if seeing Ann Erb's '70 AMX wasn't enough, we also got a chance to jawbone with Steve Sachs (Pittgrove, NJ), who owns this '71 Matador. Steve runs the 11-second index of OPG Nostalgia Muscle Car, and has a pretty straightforward 401 AMC plant to thank for e.t.'s that bottom out in the low 10.60s. It's got ported stock 291C iron heads, an Edelbrock intake, an Isky flat-tappet cam, a Holley 850, and a built Turbo 400.
Bill Trovato of Rochester,...
Bill Trovato of Rochester, NY, is arguably one of the fastest and most knowledgeable Oldsmobile engine builders in the country, and he's quick to prove that point with his '78 Olds Starfire. The baby Olds packs a 403 with Batten heads, Edelbrock Victor intake, 1150 Dale Cubic-tweaked Dominator, and a COMP .800-lift solid roller cam. Of course, Bill built it himself, and in its current form, has belted out a best of 8.14/170 in Vortech Xtreme Street. You're going to see more of Bill in PHR after the 2008 Jegs Engine Masters Challenge. Bill's bringing a special surprise for us, and we'll be telling you all about it soon.