Reporting Rather Than Racing

When it was announced that the Tenth Annual McLeod NMRA Ford Nationals and the Seventh Annual NMCA Muscle Car Nationals would be held at Summit Motorsports Park last summer, I was charged-up because it meant I would be able to write about the bracket, index and heads-up drivers who would be racing, but at the same time, I was crestfallen because it meant I wouldn’t be able to race.

I shared that with one of my editors in the track’s media center on the first day of the NMRA event in June, and he nodded in understanding — for about two and a half seconds — before handing me my notebook and pencil and saying “Now go get me some news, kid.”

I chuckled as I headed out the door and toward the pit area, and it was at that moment that I decided that I was going to relish talking to drivers of all levels about how they got their best 60-foot or elapsed-time or went rounds as much as I relish experiencing those things in my car, and conversely, I was going to feel their frustration if they kicked a rod or ran over or under their dial-in.

One of the first drivers I got to chat with was Glenn Steiner, who was running in a bracket class with his chockfull-of-character ’66 Fairlane, a former Super Stock car that he had wrecked mid-track a few months prior and repaired. He was calm, cool, collected and completely where he wanted to be, and just a few pit spots from him was Roseann Powell, a regular with the United Manual Transmission Racers who had won two NMRA True Street races in the past in her ’70 Mustang and said it’s frustrating when she misses a shift but fantastic when she doesn’t. Later that weekend, I was happy to see them make clean passes.

In the weeks after the NMRA event, while anxiously awaiting the NMCA event, I made several trips to IPS Motorsports in Columbus, Ohio, to take notes and photos for a story I was writing on the rebuild of Mark Carlyle’s ’07 Corvette Z06, which had caught fire as he went through the traps at 7.24 at 207 mph during a test session at Summit Motorsports Park on May 26. After working around-the-clock, he and his crew finished the rebuild just hours before the NMCA event in August, and whether it was because I had witnessed the fire or because I had followed the rebuild, I desperately wanted things to go their way, and was thrilled when the car ran 7.19 for the fifth qualified spot in Super Street 10.5.

Later, NA 10.5 driver Andy Schmidt clocked an 8.07 in his naturally-aspirated Mustang, a jump from the 8.40s he had been running, and when I asked him about it afterward, he shared that he and his brother, Matt Schmidt, had recently removed weight from the car and that the track was working and his car was finding it quite agreeable. It was around that time that Bill Bader, Jr. announced over the public address system that conditions were right for class elapsed-time and mph records to be re-set, and he was right, as new mph records were earned by Pro Street driver Steve Summers (254.23 mph), Street Outlaw driver Dwayne Barbaree (196.22 mph) and Xtreme Street driver Bob Curran (179.18 mph), and elapsed-time records were earned by Pro Street driver Jeff Lutz (5.93), Street Outlaw driver Phil Hines  (7.19), Nostalgia Pro Street driver Skip Baskin (7.23) and his dad, Mean Street driver Don Baskin (9.74).

Both events at Summit Motorsports Park were deemed a success by organizers, drivers and fans, and met with great enthusiasm is the news that they are on the track's 2014 schedule as the McLeod Racing NMCA Ford Nationals (June 12-15) and the Eighth Annual NMCA Muscle Car Nationals (Aug. 21-24).

Please watch for announcements with detailed information as the events draw closer, but more importantly, please plan to join us.

Mary Lendzion

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