Every summer we make a pilgrimage to Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, for the annual Nitto Tires Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing that pits the NMCA-Flowmaster series against its rival, the NMRA-Keystone Ford Drag Racing sanctioning body. Both are owned by ProMedia Events and the idea is to bring both racing leagues together for a bonus runoff where the winners get additional prize money and the winning team walks away with Nitto Tire Diamond Tree championship rings (which look like a Super Bowl ring to go with the event's theme).
The concept is simple, both sanctioning bodies begin qualifying on Friday and run through a normal event process. That process is qualifying followed by eliminations of each and every racing category. By Sunday night the class champions are crowned in the NMCA and NMRA Index/Open Comp ` Heads-Up categories. The winners of each class in NMCA are paired with a corresponding winner on the NMRA side. For example, the NMCA Open Comp winner lines up against the NMRA Open Comp class winner. The Index and Open Comp categories are run under normal staggered start conditions using the competitor's index and all breakout rules apply.
On the Heads-Up side of the coin, the classes are paired off as closely as possible, and the racers are run off a staggered start using their quickest time from the weekend. There is a no breakout rule in effect so the competitors run flat-out to the finish line. Nitto Tire and NMCA/NMRA post bonus money to the winner of each pairing, and the team with the most wins is declared the Super Bowl Champion of Street Legal Drag Racing. Nitto awards each winning team member with a Nitto Tire Diamond Tree championship ring that is made of gold and has jewels that represent the Christmas Tree starting lights. Sadly the Fords beat Team NMCA this year but it wasn't without drama-the final pairing between NMCA Pro Street and NMRA Pro Outlaw 10.5 was the deciding pair.
The NMCA is open to all makes and models and several Mustangs and Mopars were actually a part of Team NMCA, so it isn't a Chevy versus Ford thing but sanctioning body versus sanctioning body. The Shootout makes for some fun racing and allows the competitors one more chance to put a little extra money in their pocket and garner some bragging rights-that is until next year's Nitto Tire Shootout. Sit back and enjoy the Chevy highlights of one of the largest street legal races of the year.
Dave Hutnik gets up on the bumper with his ’02 Camaro SS, which is entered in Xtreme Street. The class restricts cars to true 10.5-inch tires, conventional engine combinations, and, as you see here, no wheelie bars. A Bill Trovoto Racing (BTR) 523ci big-block Chevy engine utilizes a single stage of nitrous to run this Camaro into the low 8s at over 170 mph.
It is safe to say John Sullivan's Pro Street car is not a numbers-matching ’69 Camaro RS/SS. The only numbers that matter with this ride are e.t. and mph results! The reality is that this Camaro is a carbon-fiber replica built strictly to go really, really fast. The roots-blown big-block was our pick to win Pro Street thanks to the 6.09 run in qualifying and a 6.06 at 236 mph in round one of eliminations. Tire shake in round two slowed the Camaro to a 6.51 and Sullivan was eliminated. The full field of 16 cars was one of the quickest fields in class history.
Nostalgia Pro Street is where real cars live with steel bodies, chrome trim, and big engines that run on a single stage of nitrous oxide. Hard work and dedication by the NPS racers has taken the class to mid-to-low 7s with speeds hovering around 190 mph. That is cruising for 3,200-pound muscle cars!
Kevin Parent and his feared Nova were once again in the middle of the Nostalgia Pro Street fight. The Dart-powered 528ci engine has a single NOS fogger system with a single Pro Systems SV1 carburetor. The big-tire Nova was largely homebuilt and goes 7.20s-7.30s in NPS legal trim.
Chris Rini was pulling double-duty at Joliet with his ’69 Camaro entered in the Pro Street ranks. The Buck Racing 855ci engine helps motivate Rini to 5.90 runs and currently leads the points. His other job is to handle the driving chores of his crew chief’s Top Sportsman and Grudge runner—Bounty Hunter. Here, Rini is testing Bounty Hunter in No Time trim for a match race that was setup by NMCA officials with another ’55 Chevy Pro Mod on the property. The race didn’t happen but the two ’55s got it on at another NMCA race with Rini taking the win.
The fans were given a real treat as three famous Hot Rod magazine Drag Week cars were on hand putting ’em through their paces. Larry Larson, Joe Barry, and Doug Kline were in town for testing and a big street cruise the following weekend. Here, Joe Barry sits on the starting line with his ’56 Chevy that packs a twin-turbocharged engine built by legendary racer Chuck Samuel. He ran low 7s at almost 200 mph with the 3,600-pound street cruiser.
Dave Roemer puts a little color in the Xtreme Street field with his ’01 Camaro SS. It sports a 364ci engine with a ProCharger F1R supercharger onboard. The Camaro runs in the low 8s at over 170 mph with 29x10.5 slicks and a race weight of 3,200 pounds.
Rob White gets his '67 Camaro moving off the starting line thanks to the 632ci engine. The chassis builder from LRT Race Cars has been a staple in the NPS class and his car is a typical entry—clean, real, and fast.
Tony Nesbitt and his Team Midnight Racing C5 Corvette get it done with a Nelson Competition 737ci big-block with four stages of nitrous. The team was testing a new nitrous controller and ran a career best of 6.65 at 210 mph. Nesbitt and company were deadly consistent in the Super Street 10.5 ranks, but the car failed to start in round of eliminations, ending their weekend prematurely.
Steve Summers brings a new look to Super Street 10.5 with his ’81 Camaro Z28. It packs 530 ci of ProCharger-blown horsepower. Summers has run 6.80s at 210 mph consistently on the 10.5W tires while under the tutelage of Patrick Barnhill of PTP Racing.
The Baskin family brings an assortment of cars to NMCA drag racing and the one we like the most is their ’67 Nova in Pro Stock. The class cars are naturally aspirated just like the category’s namesake in the NHRA ranks. This one features a 420ci small-block engine and Don Baskin qualified on top with an 8.49 at 156 mph. He lost in the semifinals on a holeshot against the class winner, Charlie Booze Jr. Baskin ran 8.50 at 157 mph while Booze Jr. knocked off an 8.51 at 153, but had a quicker reaction time and got to the stripe first.
Another Baskin entry is the family’s ’10 Camaro that was built by B&B Race Cars. Skip Baskin drives this machine in Nostalgia Pro Street. He would make it to the quarterfinals with 7.30 performances but lost to Jeff Colletta, 7.40 at 186 mph to Colletta’s 7.35 at 183 mph.
Nostalgia Muscle Car is an Index-based category where racers select an e.t. from 10.00 to 14.50; the indexes are in half-second steps. There are minimal rules to keep race cars out and real muscle cars in. Here are two great examples of clean street machines that make up the Nostalgia Muscle Car ranks. In the near lane is Jim Wickus; he runs on a 10.50 index and finished runner-up. In the other lane are Rob Rogers and his superclean ’65 Malibu that runs off an 11.00 index. This was the semifinal pairing of which Wickus took the win over Rogers, 10.55 on a 10.50 index and Rogers red-lit, throwing away his 11.01 on 11.00 Index.
Les Bigelow survived six rounds of Open Comp fury with his '73 Camaro, which performed beautiful wheelstands like this one on every single run down the track. He took out Chuck Hockenberry and his '82 Mustang in the final round of eliminations. Both racers broke out with Bigelow being closer to his index and declared the winner.
It was a good weekend for Mario Orsini and his ’57 Chevy Pro Street car. The local racer ran a career best of 6.27 at 231 mph, thanks to a pair of Precision 88mm turbochargers pumping up his 526ci engine.