Competing in a heads-up drag racing class can get a little out of control, especially in most of the Outlaw-style categories where the rules allow for the wildest combinations imaginable. Given today's economic climate, going heads-up racing is not for everyone, but one category that has remained consistent and realistic for most hard-working folks is NMCA's Vortech Superchargers Xtreme Street. The cars are real, the combinations are stout, and the category is not out of the ordinary. The engine packages allowed are conventional and won't have you calling NHRA Pro Stock racers for hand-me-down parts. Essentially, the cars represent a race-version of the neighborhood street-bully.
Vortech Superchargers has been the proud sponsor of this popular category since the beginning, while Chevy High Performance jumped onboard this year as an associate sponsor. If you recall, we discussed our joint venture in the Aug. '09 issue; however, this time around we're going to take an inside look at what the class is and a few contenders who make the class what it is.
NMCA introduced Xtreme Street back in 2002 as a way to emulate the original days of Super Street racing. In the early '90s the original NMCA group restricted Super Street to true 10.5-inch slicks, cowl hoods, and stock frames, and it brought in a new generation of racers from the streets. Pro Street might have gotten most of the attention during the original days of Fastest Street Car racing, but it was the Super Street class where the average fan related to the cars on the track. Fast-forward to modern times. The Super Street 10.5 category has morphed into back-half cars that run in the high 6s on 10.5-inch-wide tires. The roots of the category might be gone, but racers and fans can look to Xtreme Street to fill the void.
We have watched Xtreme Street go from mid-8 times down to the 7.90 range (in favorable weather and track conditions) at speeds approaching 176 mph. The reason the class is still as successful today as it was in 2002 is because of the rules and the strict enforcement that prevents a metamorphosis away from its original intent. NMCA officials have restricted the engines to traditional cylinder heads as well as fixed weight penalties for various combinations. The only power-adders allowed are nitrous (single fogger or two-stage plate) and a strict list of superchargers-turbos are not included. The engine combinations are general restrictions and are loose enough that you are not building a spec engine, like other categories. It allows for freedom but not to the point where you are on the dyno after every race looking for horsepower. The rear tire sizes and weight help keep the racing tight and fair.
All entries must run 10.5-inch slicks, often measured by the officials to ensure no cheating. Weights range from 2,975 pounds for cars equipped with a 365ci small-block engine on nitrous oxide to a hefty 3,575 pounds for a nitrous-injected 525ci combination. In between are weights for supercharged small-blocks and big-blocks, various-sized nitrous engines, and body styles. The suspension is restricted to stock-style replacement up front and any racing rear suspension-provided the stock framerails remain in place. The bodies are required to be stock with the exception of aftermarket hoods and bumpers. Factory glass is required, and all street-legal accessories are mandatory. Wheelie bars are forbidden, which sort of adds an equalizing factor to the class. The rule package adds up to close and fair racing.
Now that you have the gist of the class itself, let's take a closer look at the type of powertrain it takes to get to be one of the big dogs.
Steve Cagle might be a sophomore in the Xtreme Street class, but he is hardly a newbie to this type of racing. He has been competing on the Street-Legal Drag Racing scene since the early '90s. Cagle has run a variety of categories over the years, and he made a name for himself in the defunct NMCA Real Street class. With the reintroduction of a stable and renewed NMCA series in 2002, Cagle found himself in the Pro Stock ranks. The category is similar to Real Street in that it is designed for naturally aspirated combinations with a laundry list of engine restrictions. Last year he made the decision to step up to Xtreme Street with his freshly built '70 Nova, and he has been moving closer and closer to the top of the class.
"This is our second year running the class," says Cagle. "It's quite a bit different with the leave. Xtreme Street is about getting down the track. Before, in Pro Stock, we worried about power. Now, we can't get greedy."
The Nova carries a 25.5 cage and relies on a four-link rear suspension to hook the true 10.5-inch slicks. The car rolls over the scales at 3,565 pounds and cannot weigh below 3,525 pounds. A car with a maximum engine size of 525 ci must weigh a minimum of 3,575 pounds. Cagle gets to deduct 50 pounds for the nostalgia body.
Last year Cagle finished 10th overall in the points race, a finish that he hopes to improve upon this year. At Maple Grove, Cagle lowered his best e.t. from 8.16 to 8.13. The sharp-looking Nova qualified Second but exited in Round 1 to Fred Bunn.
Fred Bunn competes in Xtreme with a factory-appearing '69 Camaro that wouldn't get a second look at the local test and tune night-until it unraveled a low 8-second run at over 170 mph! From the outside, the Camaro looks like a warmed-over street car that might be a 9-second player, until you notice the details. Upon further inspection, the truth comes out, thanks to the funny car cage, a parachute, and beadlock rear-wheels. Your mind will play tricks on you as you inspect this car. The aforementioned components show there is more to the story, but a peak around the interior reveals a minimum amount of gauges and a factory rear seat. If there is one car to describe Xtreme Street, it is Bunn's ride.
"The car looks sedate, but don't count him out. Bunn is capable of unleashing a fast run at any time," commented class sponsor Ricky Best, the motorsports and media relations manager at Vortech Superchargers. Bunn's best time to date has been an 8.18 at 171 mph, but there is more lurking under the hood. Bunn relies on a 522ci big-block Chevy with a Speedtech fogger system. The engine has the potential to run in the 7s, but Bunn is easing into the combination, thanks to the true 10.5-inch tire rule.
The team has been working on getting the car to leave without spinning the tires or standing the Camaro on the rear bumper. The best 60-foot time thus far has been a 1.29 seconds, which is getting it done for a car that tips the scales as much as Bunn's ride does.
From performance to appearance, Bunn's '69 Camaro is the quintessential Xtreme Street entry.
Like Steve Cagle, brothers Jamie and Jake Stanton moved from the highly competitive naturally aspirated eliminator, NMCA Pro Stock, to the nitrous-gulping and supercharged world of Xtreme Street. This year, the Stanton brothers unveiled an amazing '02 Camaro that was built by Jake at his side-business, Pentagon Race Fab. The Camaro replaces the Stanton team's previous two rides, another '02 Camaro and a '70 Chevelle, the latter of which had become a cult-classic in the NMCA racing circles. The family owns a body shop, and the detail of the current Camaro shows the dedication and effort of Jake and Jamie.
But it takes more than a good-looking ride to get noticed. Speed rules in the fast-paced world of NMCA racing. They turned to Bischoff Engine Service (BES) for a potent big-block engine, and they squirt it with a shot of nitrous, courtesy of Nitrous Pro Flow. "Since we're restricted to a 0.044 nitrous jet, rather than waste time and step up each time out, we just threw in the biggest nitrous jet we were allowed and started tuning from there," commented Jamie, the driver. Their theory isn't half-bad, considering that in just seven runs on the new car their best time is a 7.97 at 176 mph.
Jamie estimates that the engine produces over 1,500 hp with the nitrous flowing. That kind of power is sure to keep his brother Jake, the crew chief, busy as he adjusts the four-link and custom/adjustable suspension components. The power isn't the problem in the equation. "People expect us to go fast right away. But the truth is we ran well within a few runs, but we are still learning the car and learning the nitrous," added the former Pro Stock champion.
The brothers know they have to do more testing before becoming a threat in the competitive world of Xtreme Street, but it is a challenge they are looking forward to tackling.
Maple Grove 2009 Recap
This time out, the other guys won. Two Mustangs made it to the finals, but all is not lost. The Chevy combatants are ready to make a 7-second assault at the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl race, the next stop on the tour.
This year NMCA went back to Maple Grove for its stop in the Northeast. Forecasted rain and competing events in the area kept the car count lower than normal. Only eight entries showed up to compete. To put that in perspective, the NMCA at Bowling Green saw 27 entries pass through tech inspection. What the Maple Grove field lacked in size it made up for in competition, as there was no sure bet and any of the eight could emerge as the winner.
NMCA races are contested in quarter-mile format, but thanks to the torrential rain on Friday, water was still seeping through the cracks of the track on Saturday. That forced NMCA officials to move qualifying to just an eighth-mile format. The shorter track brought the crazy eight even closer in qualifying. Bill Trovato drove his fan-favorite Oldsmobile Starfire to the top spot with a 5.11 at 138 mph. A small-block Oldsmobile engine powers the Starfire too, adding more flavor to its uniqueness. Jamie Stanton held down the backside of the ladder with a 5.44, as the team fought some bugs in the new ride.
By Sunday the quarter-mile track had dried and was declared safe and clear by Maple Grove Raceway officials. The elimination rounds were run on the full quarter-mile. The Mustang racers picked apart the Chevy and Mopar entries. Cagle and Jamie Stanton went out first, while Bunn managed to escape the opening round unscathed. Bunn was paired with Chris Singleton in Round 2, and he knew he had to get some sort of advantage. Singleton had just unleashed an 8.22 in the first round, while Bunn's best time of the weekend was an 8.30. The blue Camaro driver was too quick on the tree and lit the red-light with a minus 0.01 reaction time. That handed the win over to Singleton, who cruised to the final round. Chuck Bartholme also found himself in the final round after beating number-one qualifier Bill Trovato in Round 1. In Round 2, Bartholme dispatched fellow Mustang racer Jason Lee with a quick 8.25.
The final round matchup was a tight one, with Singleton taking the victory by way of an 8.15 to Bartholme's 8.16. Singleton would walk away with the class win and the quickest run of the weekend.