The 10th annual F.A.S.T. and Factory Stock Summer Nationals did not disappoint. Despite the high gas prices, dour economy, 50 degree weather and rain being forecasted for Friday, the F.A.S.T. races ran two races simultaneously to help attract more cars to the class.
US 131 Dragway in Martin, Michigan was host to the main event, the 10th annual NPD Summer Nationals, while on the East Coast at Maple Grove Dragway, a contingent of 11 F.A.S.T. Mopars raced for Mopar supremacy.
When the gates opened Friday morning, the muscle cars started rolling into US 131 Motorsports park, filling the pits up in little time. In all, 76 cars showed up to do battle at the Martin, MI venue.
With the rain finally parting and the concrete starting to dry from the early morning sprinkles, you could almost smell the rivalries starting to brew between the makes.
At about 11am, the OK was given to start running the cars in both the F.A.S.T. and F/S classes.
Friday was merely for qualifying, basically leaving the staging lanes wide open for each racer to get to make as many passes as he or she sees fit. At the end of the day, your fastest pass of the entire day is now your qualifying ET.
It doesn’t take long for the pecking order to work itself out. Towards the end of the day, these boys were letting it all hang out to improve their qualifying positions. With seemingly nothing at stake for these racers, everything was at stake.
Brand loyalty means more to some of these guys than any amount of money or trophy you can give them. Plenty of guys come out to have a good time and just enjoy the racing and camaraderie, some of the guys show up to flat out lay it down.
For the more serious guys, the Quick 8 is where they want to be. In the Factory Stock class the fastest eight qualifying cars pair off in a Sportsman’s-type ladder, in F.A.S.T. they pair off using a Pro ladder, everybody left over runs in a mini 2-of-3 shootout with a car that best matches their qualifying ET, this helps keep the racing close and exciting.
This class is growing and growing, and with that comes growing pains. Most of the cars you see at the top have gone through pretty intensive tech already. Bob Karakashian, Julie Pennington, Rick Mahoney, Jimmy Johnson, and COPO Pete to name a few have been P&G’ed for cubic inches, searched with bore O-scopes, compression checked with a K-tech whistler, valve spring pressure checked, converters checked, etc. For the most part, the faster cars are almost always found to be legal.
The rules are pretty strict when it comes to the Factory Stock Class leave little “wiggle room.” Crankshafts must retain stock stroke, stock size bearings (i.e. no Honda rod journals or tricks like that), no knife-edging or lightweight aftermarket cranks. Most of the top cars in the class are running indexed cranks and all that good stuff. The factories just pounded these cars together, here with the crank and every other part of the entire engine, top racers are blueprinting each part to a maxed out factory spec.
Each make had a plus or minus on deck height, CC’s, rod length, etc. The NHRA Stock Class has these numbers in print for each make and model. The factory Stock class has a simple compression rule. You can run 1.5 points over advertised compression or the final NHRA compression number, whichever is greater. Heads too, must be correct for the year, make and model claimed, and no porting of any kind allowed. Must be stock.
The camshaft lift (at valve) must be within 2-percent of factory specifications, while the engine must pull 16-inches of vacuum at idle. Valve spring pressure cannot exceed 130lbs seat pressure. Intake and exhaust manifolds must be unmodified, unported in any way. They must also be correct for the year, make, and model claimed.
Carburetor must be stock, including choke assembly. Stock rocker arms must be use. Transmissions must shift on its own (no manual valve bodies). The torque converter must be within 1-inch from stock diameter and stall speed cannot exceed 2,200rpm. No spools, no aluminum driveshafts, no electric fuel pumps or regulators, no programmable ignitions, no gutting or acid dipping to remove weight from the car…you get the picture. These bad boys have to be pretty close to stock.
Heck, even the tires must maintain a minimum of 1/16 thread at all times.