Whether it’s at the track or on various social media channels, Skyler Hardy is at the forefront of street-legal stick shift drag racing. While it’s not quite underground. there’s really is a unification of drag racers who live to dump the clutch and bang gears. There are Facebook pages like Stick Shift Nation and Fastest True Stick Shift Drag Cars, and the posts are usually educational and entertaining.
There are in fact a few stick shift events, but for Ford drivers, the grandaddy is the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout, which took place three times in 2022 at NMRA events in Bradenton, Florida; Norwalk, Ohio; and at the World Finals and Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The Tremec Stick Shift Shootout draws competitors from the very popular TorqStorm True Street NMRA class. To compete in True Street, racers must complete 30-mile cruise immediately followed by a trio of qualifying passes. The quickest eight drivers rowing an H-pattern manual transmission are selected as the entrants into the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout. Each qualifier receives a custom TREMEC jacket, but more importantly, they have a chance to win a McLeod Racing RXT Twin-Disc clutch with flywheel (approx. $1,300 value) and a $500 McLeod Racing gift certificate, while the runner-up will receive a $500 McLeod Racing product certificate. And let’s not forget about bragging rights!
Skyler Hardy, who drives a beautiful Coyote-swapped and nitrous-injected 1992 Ford Mustang LX, had qualified four times for the shootout, each time in Bowling Green and each time he was exhausted first round. Most of those losses came at the hands of his good friend, former TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout champion, Mike Niehaus.
As it turned out, the 2022 Bowling Green shootout was looking like it might go to low-qualifier Niehaus. But not without a fight from Skyler Hardy. He told us before the first round that it was his sole mission to at least turn on one win light and move to the semi-finals. Hardy accomplished his mission, knocking out another former winner, Tim Casto, in the opening round after running a 10.55 e.t. on his 10.75 index (no breakout is in effect as this is a handicapped start based on index and flat-out finish).
In the semi-finals, Hardy faced yet another Stick Shift Shootout champ, Jeff Smith in his 9-second Ford Mustang SVT Cobra. Hardy grabbed a holeshot, and despite slowing to a 10.92, he was able to hold off the charging Snake of Smith, who ran 9.80 e.t. on his 9.75 index.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ladder, Mike Niehaus was clocking wins. He made his way to another final, where he looked to remain undefeated against his friend. But Hardy was not to be denied. He had the better light and powershifted his TREMEC TKX 5-speed to his first-ever TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout win.
Hardy’s LX is hardly stock. It’s motivated by a Novelo Racing Engines 5.0 Coyote with added punch of a Nitrous Outlet Hardline kit that delivers a 150-horsepower.
“In the final I slowed the ramp on the nitrous. I just didn’t want the car to spin. 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 added.