Despite being successful, setting records, and sailing to the 2014 NMCA Pro Mod championship in his 1970-1/2 Camaro-bodied Pro Mod, Steve Summers shook things up by moving to a Bickel-built 2016 Camaro-bodied car in late 2016.
“My 1970 1/2 Camaro was working well, but there were some things that I wanted to do differently, and building a new car was the most effective way for me to do that,” Summers said.
While the chassis was being built, Summers redesigned his previous powerplant which he had originally built in collaboration with his friend, Jeff Jasiek. It consists of a 522-inch CFE-headed Wedge engine topped with a billet aluminum CFE intake and fronted by Garrett turbos.
He chose to back it with a Liberty’s four-speed transmission, Bruno magnesium case and Coan converter, and then worked closely with Haltech to design a tune that would optimize his Haltech Elite engine management system.
“The way Haltech has designed their system, anyone can control anything in their car,” said Summers, who also works closely with noted tuners and friends Patrick Barnhill and Jason Lee of PTP Racing to use Haltech engine management systems to design tunes for other drivers. “It’s unbelievable.”
With no time to dial in the new combination, Summers headed to a PDRA event in late 2016, ripped off a 3.80 and made it past the first round in Pro Boost. He then introduced his new combination to NMCA VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod at the 15th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida, where he blasted to a 3.87 to qualify in the fifth spot and picked up to a 3.85 to win the first round of eliminations. His race day ended, however, when an airline fitting failed and his transmission wouldn’t shift into high gear in the second round of eliminations.
He followed that by running 3.82 to qualify in the second spot and clocking a 3.85 on his way to a runner-up at the 9th Annual NMCA/NMRA All-Star Nationals in April at Atlanta Dragway.
“By that point, we had started to figure out what the car wanted, but we didn’t have quite enough data yet to run faster,” said Summers.
From there, he led qualifying with a 3.81 and was poised to power to the final at the 16th Annual QuickFuel Technology Bluegrass Nationals in May at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky, but exited competition in the semifinal when a driveshaft sensor failed.
With that behind him, Summers is positioning himself to have the same set-up for eighth-mile and quarter-mile competition, and is swapping his Liberty’s four-speed transmission with a Liberty’s five-speed transmission, and changing rear-end gearing, though the dedicated and determined driver declines to discuss ratios.
“There are definitely benefits to having the car set up differently for eighth-mile racing and quarter mile racing, but I don’t have time between races to switch it back and forth, so I’ll have to make it work,” said Summers, who achieved a 3.81 and 216 mph in hot and humid weather and has his sights set on soaring even higher in favorable weather conditions.
Catch the Illinois-based driver later this month at the 12th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, July 27-30 at Route 66 Raceway in Illinois, which is his home track. With his wife, Jerilynn, children, and many other family members and friends watching, he won in NMCA Pro Mod at the track in 2014 and 2015, and is ready for a repeat.
Also circled on his calendar is the Summit Racing Equipment Shakedown at the Summit presented by Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels, Sept. 14-17 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
“My goal is to be the number one qualifier and win this race and the rest of the NMCA races this year,” said Summers, who’s currently in second place in NMCA VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod points. “If I can do that, I can win the championship.”