This past fall, NMCA racers and some of the wildest LSX-powered machines assaulted Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis in one of the track’s final racing moments in its storied history. The backstory to the NMCA-Edelbrock World Finals was how it was the last national event hosted by the famous facility. The track closed its doors permanently at the conclusion of the 2010 racing schedule and the NMCA World Finals sent it off with a big one.
The World Finals plays host to the LSX Shootout, presented by GM Performance Parts, making it a larger than normal season finale. A packed house included over 10,000 fans and 572 vehicles entered in race and show categories. We can’t forget the 60 or so vendors displaying the latest go-fast goodies and show-only sales. Here are the highlights from the combo event.
The Fastest Fifth-Gen Camaros Hit the ’Strip
Rob Valden drove the Late Model Engineering ’10 Camaro in competition. This was the first 9-second fifth-gen Camaro thanks to a 427ci engine, a ProCharger centrifugal blower, and a shot of juice, and it still carries its full street credentials.
It’s safe to declare the Camaro an overwhelming success at this point as Chevy rolled out its ’11 models and sales are still very strong. It didn’t take long for these cars to hit the dragstrip last year and start knocking off quick times. The LSX Shootout brought out the quickest cars for the Fifth-Gen Camaro Shootout and the boys at Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (LPE) had the quickest and fastest ride. The shootout entries were determined by picking the quickest four cars from the index-based Gen 5 Camaro Challenge. Topping the list was John Ebert, the pilot of the LPE entry, and the team squared off against Owen Priest, Paul Murphy, and Rob Valden. Three of the cars ran in the 9s, with the Valden being the exception, but the late-model Racecraft-built ride has been in the 9.80s in testing.
The LPE Camaro seems simple from the outside; stuff an LS9 engine (ZR1 bullet) into a Camaro, add LPE and Pedders suspension parts, big ’n’ little tires, and a little shot of juice to make it more fun. The part that people haven’t seen is the R&D that went into the car to make it run mid 9s at the shootout. The car also has been upgraded with a RPS triple-disc clutch, prototype LPE clutch pedal kit, full exhaust system, loads of dyno time to tune it to perfection (1,243 rwhp), and dozens of runs down the track to get it all working properly. The end result was a Shootout best of 9.46 at 151 mph in the final round as he took out Paul Murphy who ran 9.84 at 143 mph. Shortly after the LSX Shootout the Lingenfelter team continued to chisel away at the combination and the fifth-gen’s new best run is a stout 8.99 at 158 mphmaking it the first 8-second late-model Camaro. It’s even more impressive that it was done on the IRS rear suspension and with a six-speed Tremec TR6060 manual box still in the trans tunnel.
IRS Corvette Supremacy
Mark Carlyle drives his C6 Corvette Z06 on the street and even drops his daughter off at school with it when the weather cooperates in his Hilliard, Ohio, hometown. Be sure to watch the videos of the car on YouTube if you don’t believe us.
Most of the attention of the LSX Shootout and NMCA World Finals was placed on the individual classes that make up both events. But we noticed a rivalry brewing between two competitors who were entered in two different categories. Keith Berry never lined up against Mark Carlyle since both were entered in different categories but they watched each other’s runs very closely; Berry competed in LSX Real Street while Carlyle had his street-driven Vette entered in Drag Radial. The reason for the interest in each other’s results was that a record hung in the balance between the two Corvettes. On the outside, not many people realized what was at stake as both competitors pulled to the starting line. But for the diehard Vette and LSX fan they knew that both cars were competing to claim the title for the Quickest IRS-suspended Corvette.
You might not think it’s a big deal but running low 8s with an independent rear suspension is quite an accomplishment. The adjustability just isn’t there for drag racing applications like a live rear axle combination offers. For these two racers and the LSX community, there was something on the line every time these guys pulled into the water box. Berry held the record going into the race with his nitrous-gulping Vette having gone 8.32 at 165 mph. In qualifying, Berry would run a quicker 8.22 and a best speed of 172 mph. But Carlyle unleashed a best of 8.15 at 172 mph from his turbocharged Vette to finish qualifying. Both racers finished runner-up in their classes but neither bettered the qualifying efforts and the record still stands at 8.15. Carlyle has hinted at taking a stab at the 7-second zone while Berry has cut up his car to go all-out Drag Radial racing with a live-axle setup.
NMCA Class Battles
The NMCA points race features a similar playoff system to NHRA’s Countdown as well as NASCAR’s Chase. That meant the World Finals was the battleground for titles in most categories. And in between the championship fever were several cars simply there to grab the cash and glory.