- Sunday 01 December, 2013
As a child growing up with three older brothers and a dad who were into cars, I could often be found in the garage or in the backyard with them as they worked on their Mustangs and Chevelles, and while the only thing they would “let” me do in the beginning was spread Oil Dri to cover their spills, I eventually graduated to handing them tools and helping them wash their cars.
Eventually, I learned how to drive in my brother’s ’69 Mustang, and still under their influence some years later, I decided that I, too, had to have some old-school cool to roll in, so dad and I drove down south to buy a rust-free ’75 Camaro with a 350 cubic-inch engine and four-speed transmission. I drove the wheels off of it — and burned clutches up in it — for a few years, and to this day, dad says those burned-up clutches were the result of my riding the clutch pedal, and also to this day, I deny it. Sadly, the car was stolen, but the memories of our father-daughter trip remain.
I followed that with a ’98 Mustang with a six-cylinder engine and five-speed transmission, but within months, we had pulled that engine and replaced it with a 302 cubic-inch engine, and after accelerating a little too heavily on the streets every now and then, I found my way to the track, where I ran twelves. Wanting to go faster — and stop missing third gear while going down-track — we replaced the 302 cubic-inch engine with a 408 cubic-inch engine and the five-speed transmission with a C4, and I picked up to tens, where I stayed for a while and ran in bracket classes at various tracks, including Summit Motorsports Park, before switching to a 427 cubic-inch engine and running low nines.
A spun rod bearing just as I went through the traps made mincemeat of that engine, and two years ago, I had a 434 cubic-inch engine built by former NMRA Hot Street driver Mike Curcio and Joe Shober of MCRP and topped it with my Trick Flow High Port heads, Edelbrock Victor Glidden intake and a ProSystems SV1 carburetor. When I drove to their shop in Pennsylvania to pick it up, I got to watch them dyno it — which goes down as one of my favorite race-related moments ever — and they suggested that I run my naturally-aspirated combination in Ultra Street. I tried it, and was thrilled to run fives in the eighth-mile in the all five-second field and qualify, and as the other drivers in the class step up, I will work toward doing the same.
In addition to racing, I write for the Detroit Free Press and I have for the past several years been writing car and driver features for Fastest Street Car, the magazine for the NMCA, and Race Pages, the magazine for the NMRA, and traveling to races at various tracks in various states to help write race coverage for them, including last summer’s Tenth Annual McLeod NMRA Ford Nationals and Seventh Annual NMCA Muscle Car Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park. I also helped cover the inaugural Shakedown at the Summit in October for Dragzine, and it was after that event that I was offered the opportunity to join the Summit Motorsports Park family as a writer.
I accepted proudly and without reservation, and I look forward to working with Bill Bader, Jr., Jayme Bader, Bobbie Bader, Kurt Johnson, Nettie Damron, Stephanie Ames, Cathy Durbin, Melissa Hillman, Kelly Predmore and John Weinert, as well as hundreds of other staff members.
I also look forward to writing about and being part of the track’s signature events — including the High School Nationals, Cavalcade of Stars, NMRA Ford Nationals, No Box Bonanza, Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Blue Suede Cruise, Night Under Fire, Pontiac Nationals, NMCA Muscle Car Nationals, Ten Grand Nationals, Shakedown at the Summit and Halloween Classic — and talking with drivers and crew members about what they have going on with their cars and with their combinations, and writing about it.
- Mary Lendzion