The Whipple Superchargers NMRA World Finals + Holley Intergalactic Ford fest has grown into the ultimate Ford lovers extravaganza, with a combination of drag racing, autocross, speed-stop competition, a drift exhibition, off-road, massive car show, swap meet and so much more. Participants and fans annually make the pilgrimage to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and it doesn’t really matter if you’re a season pro or a novice with your first Ford.
For street-legal drag racers, one of the most fun portions of the NMRA World Finals is TorqStorm True Street. For this event, as well as Bradenton and Norwalk earlier in the year, the drag racing action includes the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout for enthusiasts who prefer to row the gears manually. The TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout offers stick racers a chance to show who’s the quickest gear-jammer in the land. The reward is fantastic prizes and bragging rights.
With 127 True Street racers in Bowling Green, it was going to take quick elapsed times just to make the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout top eight. TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout competitors must first complete the 30-mile drive along with the three ¼-mile passes to be eligible. Then, the quickest eight stick racers make up the shootout, which is contested on Sunday.
Former Stick Shift Shootout winner Mike Niehaus captured the pole with a 9.33 average e.t., and he was followed by Jeff Smith (9.75), Jason Ronitaville (9.96) and Tim Casto (10.36) to make up the top half of the field. The second half of the field included Trevor Thome (10.54), Jeff McCool (10.65), Jeffery Johnson (10.70) and Skyler Hardy who slipped into the eighth spot with a 10.75 average. The competition ladder is based on a random “chip draw” and while there’s a handicapped start based on a racer’s True Street average, there is no breakout so the first one to the finish line is the winner.
Each of the top eight Stick Shift Shootout racers received custom TREMEC awards just for making the show, but the winner walked away with a McLeod Racing RXT Twin-Disc clutch with flywheel (approx. $1,300 value) and a $500 McLeod Racing gift certificate, while the runner-up received a $500 McLeod Racing product certificate.
The first round of the race saw former Stick Shift Shootout winner Jeff Smith in his 2004 SVT Cobra take out the clean Coyote-powered 1981 Mustang LX of Jeff McCool. Jason Robitville in a 1997 Mustang defeated Jeffery Johnson’s 2014 GT. Mike Niehaus’ turbo 1986 GT bested Trevor Thome who was driving an 1087 Fox Body Mustang. And for the first time in four attempts, Skyler Hardy in his 1992 LX got past first round when he beat Tim Casto.
Round two got going with top qualifier Niehaus blasting to a 9.28 e.t. at 154 mph to beat Robitville, who ran 10.40 e.t at 137 mph. Moments later, Hardy used a better light and a 10.92 e.t. to slip past Jeff Smith. This set the stage for an all Fox Body final round with Niehaus and Hardy.
Hardy saved the best for last, grabbing the holeshot and delivering a 10.48 e.t.at 132 mph on his 10.75 index (remember, no breakout), and Niehaus put up a fight running 9.07 e.t. at 162 mph on a 9.33 index. The difference was enough to secure the win for Hardy.
“This is my 4th event here at the NMRA World Finals at Bowling Green and I always get taken out first round,” said Hardy. “But I finally got my revenge and it feels great,” he said jokingly. “I tried to do a good burnout each pass and get a good launch. The nitrous worked like it should and I kept the skinny pedal down and my win lights came on. My Mustang uses a Novelo Racing Engines 321 Coyote, and it’s got a Nitrous Outlet hardline kit for extra power. It’s a pretty basic combo, but man it works great. I also run a TREMEC TKX 5-speed transmission and a McLeod RXT1200 clutch and the car still has an 8.8-inch rear.”
“In the final I slowed the ramp on the nitrous; I just didn’t want the car to spin,” said Hardy. “I knew it was getting hot, but once I put it on the two-step, I just let it eat and thankfully it worked out. There’s nothing better than beating a good friend and Mike Niehaus is a great friend.”
Hardy continued, “I can’t thank Mike Kidd and TREMEC enough for putting on the Stick Shift Shootout. It’s always a load of fun. It’s great to have a street car that can do all this. We made 10 passes on the car this weekend. The TKX is so street friendly. I have more coming up in the future and I wanted a transmission that could handle more power. It bolts right in and is about the size of a TREMEC T-5, but it shifts like butter at 8,000 rpm behind the Coyote.”