You may recall the feature we ran last fall on the NHRA Competition Eliminator machine campaigned by Pennsylvania racers Bob and Tony Niemczyk that, with a turbocharged four-cylinder Mitsubishi powerplant producing over 1,000 horsepower between the pipes, is anything but your ordinary race car. We ran into Bob and Tony a year ago at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, where family patriarch and then-driver Bob was checking off a “bucket list” item by competing at the ‘Big Go’ in the unique I/Dragster developed by he and son, Tony.
Bob had already driven the Ken’s Kustom Chassis-built dragster, powered by a 2.0L, 125 cubic inch Mitsubishi powerplant that produced an estimated 100 horsepower on its own and 1,000 with the assistance of a 76mm turbo, into the six-second zone, but relayed to us that weekend that their endeavor was definitely a work in progress. Because after all, if you compete in Competition Eliminator and your program isn’t a continual work in progress, you’ll get left in the dust.
We recently caught up with Tony Niemczyk, who took over the reigns of the family dragster this year, and he shared with us some of the changes that have been made to their engine program that resulted in a new career best pass for himself and the dragster just a few weeks ago in Englishtown.
“We made a few engine changes that have really paid off big for us,” said Tony. “We brought on Manley Performance and we’re now running their pistons and valves. They not only made large performance gains, they’re also surviving longer now. We also worked with Extreme PSI to get some new custom camshafts made by one of their vendors that delivered a large improvement. Besides that, we’ve been doing a lot of tweaking of the tuneup thanks to the AEM Series 2 EMS, AEM AQ-1 datalogger and AEM 4-channel Wideband. It’s coming down to getting runs on the car and getting it sorted out.”
In-Car Footage Of The Fiery Engine Meltdown At New England Dragway
At the Maple Grove Division 1 Lucas Oil Series race, Tony set a new quarter-mile I/D record at 6.85 seconds at 195 mph, and at the following event in Englishtown, carded the team’s first 200 mph run — a 200.55 shot — despite a subpar 7.30 elapsed time. The season wasn’t without its lumps though, as during the New England Dragway Lucas Oil race, a dropped valve seat hung a valve open, destroying the piston and turning the aluminum rod into a 10,000 RPM saw blade in what Tony described as a “freak catastrophic engine failure.”
Bob and Tony worked tirelessly to replace everything related to the Mitsubishi motor in two weeks time and had the car back together at Atco Raceway, where they had a “less than stellar” outing but gained some confidence in the combination once again. Two weeks later at Cecil County, Tony carded a stout 6.80 at 196 mph in qualifying to become the quickest Mitsubishi-powered car in the world. He improved to an even quicker 6.77 in eliminations later that same weekend.
Career-Best 6.66 Lap At Englishtown
As great as that weekend at Cecil County was, it all came together in dream fashion earlier this month at the Englishtown Lucas Oil meet, where Tony clocked a 6.76 at 197 mph in the opening qualifying session, good for third in the qualifying order out of 38 cars on the property at -0.534 under the I/D class index of 7.30. In the second round of eliminations, Tony ran down Joe Carnasciale’s I/SM entry and climbed on the brakes at the stripe to save the index, but still recorded a career best pass by a good margin: a 6.66 at “just” 196 mph. That -.637 under run earned the Niemczyk’s a .03 index “hit” that was certainly unwanted, but if you can run six-tenths under in this cut-throat category, you know you’re definitely doing something right. And based on the numbers, the Niemczyk’s are doing things right and hitting on all cylinders. All four of ’em.