A V6 Started Rebecca Starkey’s Path To Drag Racing

Her need for speed truly blossomed when she was 17, but, in all reality, it started well before then. Rebecca Starkey was born into the car culture, and it’s never left her. Her father, a longtime road racer, competed for many years until it was time to raise a family.

Rebecca’s family then moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, the birthplace of speed, and the racing itch grew. Her father would volunteer with the local Boy Scout troop, just so they could get into the infield for the 24 Hour of Daytona race. Her family didn’t have much money, but attended any automotive event that was free. Rebecca gained her competitive nature in the interim by playing sports such as, soccer, surfing and even venturing into motocross but ultimately knew that one day she would be racing cars.

I knew the only way I was going to get a car was to work, earn money, and buy it. — Rebecca Starkey, VMP Performance

As her 16th birthday approached her brain was filled with cars — and money.

“I knew the only way I was going to get a car was to work, earn money, and buy it,” she said.

Rebecca searched relentlessly for jobs; settling on babysitting all while saving up for a “cool” car. Her idea of a cool car was a fourth-generation Camaro with a manual transmission. Rebecca made her racing intentions known to her father. A racer himself, he supported her and suggested she try bracket racing, where she could be competitive with any vehicle.

With her father’s approval, she continued to work and save money, but had yet to find the Camaro. Her father had other ideas, routinely pointing out ragged-out Fox Mustangs to Rebecca as if to suggest them for her.

“I abhorred those cars! It got to the point that my mom forbid him from even using the word Mustang around me,” she confessed.

Setting The Hook

Then, one day, Rebecca’s father came home and proclaimed that she come see a Mustang he found. At first, she said no, but he quickly told her that it was 1995 model and not a Fox. She decided to go check it out, and she loved what she saw. The ’95 was a black V6 model with a manual transmission and gray interior. The price was right, and she loved everything about it. She bought it.

Almost immediately, Rebecca added a dual exhaust with Magnaflow mufflers, a MAC cold air intake, and a Steeda short-throw shifter. With the itch to go racing, she convinced her father to take her to Orlando Speedworld Dragway on Friday nights. On one of those Friday nights, around August 2002, Rebecca noticed a young man in a Bright Atlantic Blue 2000 Mustang. She decided to investigate and noticed some underdrive pulleys and realized this car had a V6 like hers.

We didn’t talk that evening, but I soon came to know the owner of that car, Justin Starkey.  He owned Velocity Mustang Performance. — Rebecca Starkey, VMP Performance

Eventually, Justin and Rebecca got married and had their first child. Rebecca earned a Bachelor’s degree from University of Central Florida in Molecular and Microbiology. Justin grew his company, adding tuning to his offerings and changing the name of the company to VMP Tuning. Along came baby number two all while Rebecca worked toward a Master’s in Public Health at Nova Southeastern University.

VMP was growing rapidly, and Justin started developing a supercharger brand. Deciding they needed a shop car, they bought a 2011 5.0 Mustang in July of 2010 from Gary Yeomans Ford with big plans to develop a supercharger for it. The car was a black base Mustang GT with a 6R80 automatic transmission, a first for Rebecca. Two hundred miles later, it was at the track and Rebecca loved the automatic.

VMP partnered with Roush Performance and obtained a supercharger for this car in September of 2010. They took it back to Orlando and eventually tuned the car to some consistent 10 second passes. During this time, Rebecca knew she loved cars, but she always wanted to deliver babies. Rebecca went to nursing school, all with 9-second quarter mile times in the back of her mind.

In March 2011, Justin and Rebecca took the car to Maryland International Raceway for the 5.0 shootout. The air was amazing, and Rebecca ran a 9.85 right off the trailer. Rebecca was elated, and wouldn’t believe what her time slip was showing. She got quicker and faster with each pass and made it to the final round against Chris Cruz. She ran a career best 9.79 elapsed time at 143 miles per hour, but ultimately lost the race on a holeshot.

“At that point, I was hooked on heads-up racing,” Rebecca said of her experience at MIR.

Family And Racing

The car went down for the season with plans to get freshened up with a new Aluminator engine. By this time, Justin and Rebecca and their third child and Rebecca earned a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. VMP continued to grow in the Shelby GT 500 and Coyote platform markets. The race car stayed down longer than expected so VMP continued to develop superchargers for Shelby GT500s, Terminator Cobras, and the Coyote-powered Fords.

Rebecca and Justin Starkey are a power couple wrangling five kids all while running their company VMP Performance. They get it done on and off the track.

After several years of fulfilling each other’s dreams and raising three small children. It was back to school for Rebecca once again, completing her Master’s degree in Midwifery, all while their fourth child were conceived.

At last, her Mustang was complete and had returned for its supercharger upgrade under the newly branded VMP Performance banner. Rebecca decided to try her hand in the True Street class for several NMRA events. The car was running consistent low-9-second runs, but Rebecca was itching for some 8-second passes. At that point she decided she wanted to race heads-up classes exclusively. She entered the highly competitive Coyote Modified class in the 2015 NMRA season with an all-out street car.

An inside look at Rebecca’s stock appearing but wicked S197. It even comes complete with the original back seat!

She drove it to her first race in Bradenton, Florida, still sporting a full interior, air conditioning and all the remaining factory options. After a new supercharger and hours of suspension work, she finally found her 8-second pass. In her first season of Coyote Modified, Rebecca placed fourth in the points standings, she was incredibly proud of this knowing where she started.

In early 2016 Rebecca was working in her dream job, a nurse-midwife at a busy practice but also pregnant with child number five. She didn’t waste any time, back on the track just four weeks after her child was born. She ran only a select few races in 2016 also campaigning their 2016 F-150 and 2015 Mustang.

The heart and soul of Rebecca’s hot rod is her self-built Coyote that pushes in excess of 900 blown horsepower. Thats right. Rebecca can build her own engines too!

In January of 2017, Rebecca ran her first half-mile event with the car. She struggled with it, proclaiming that it was against all her intuition in the car to drive the way that was necessary. Once again, she was determined to get it right and her persistence paid off. She ended the day with a 180-mph half mile speed! The following weekend, Florida got a rare cold-snap. Orlando Speed World was running a Sunday Funday and it the cool weather brought tons of cars out.

“After a late start, I knew I was only going to get one pass so I knew I had to make it count. I cut a beautiful .005 reaction time, a 1.19 60-foot and an 8.58 e.t. at 157,” she said. “At that moment, my car once again, became the quickest Coyote with a TVS supercharger — no nitrous necessary.”

VMP 2011 Mustang Mods

Engine: 302ci Coyote

Compression Ratio: 11:1

Block: L&M Sleeved Block

Pistons: Manley forged

Rods: Mahle forged

Cams: Comp Cams

Fuel Injectors: 1D1700

Supercharger: VMP Gen2R 2.3-liter TVS

Headers: Dynatech long-tubes

Transmission: Proformance TH400 w/ Pro Torque Converter and Precision Shifter

Roll Cage: TRZ/VMP 8.50

Driveshaft: PST Aluminum

Suspension: Menscer

Rearend: 8.8-inch w/ Moser Axles, Strange Brakes

Parachute: Stroud

Wheels: Weld Racing

Tires: Phoenix front and Mickey Thompson rear

Hood: Tiger Racing carbon fiber

After that race, ready to go even faster, they ordered a L&M sleeved block.

“I assembled the engine myself, and got it ready for Lights Out at South Georgia Motorsports Park (SGMP), in February 2017,” Rebecca shared.

By then the VMP crew removed the full interior as well as the A/C prior to the event. Unfortunately, with the big weight change and added power, she was set up for a huge wheelie. With all the new adjustments, they did not make a clean pass in Georgia but had a blast with the giant wheel stands.

Her final event of the 2017 season took place at the second-annual Mod Nationals, once again at SGMP. She qualified number one in the Small Blower category but eventually went out in round two due some unexpected issues with the car. To date her run with the car is an 8.37 at 157 MPH and a 1.18-second 60-foot time.

“The 2017 season was low-key for me, choosing select races to run,” she added. “I am looking forward to further developing my racing career, and have focused on that. I have also focused on my role as part owner of VMP and further developing our presence in competition. Furthermore, my role is integral to the development of new parts within the company.”

And one of those new parts is the recently revealed VMP Gen3 TVS supercharger, which looks to push Rebecca’s racing program to much lower e.t.’s. Who could have believed that this story started with a V6 Mustang saving her from a life of Camaros? We’ll definitely stay tuned to see how the story unfolds.

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About the author

Eddie Maloney

A resident of Las Vegas, Eddie has been involved in drag racing most of his life. Currently an NHRA tech and photographer, he has served 17 years in the military.
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