After achieving an admirable second-place finish in NMCA Dart NA 10.5 presented by Diamond Pistons points last year, Dwight Ausmus turned his focus to 2020.
He began by reaching out to his friends, Robert and Debbie Murray, to help repair damage that his fan-favorite Firebird received when its front clip and hood flew off during qualifying at the series’ final event last year. They helped him make new brackets and mounting supports for the front of his car, and performed bodywork on it. The factory lower valance and VFN Fiberglass front nose that were on his car before it was outfitted with new parts and repainted in 2015 were pulled out of storage and put back on the car, and the Murrays repainted it.
Meanwhile, Tony Bischoff of BES Racing Engines freshened Ausmus’ 570 cubic-inch Pontiac engine, decked his AllPontiac Tiger heads, and put new valve springs on them before pairing them with Ausmus’ AllPontiac Tiger intake and CFM Performance carburetor. Sean Wiley of Pro-Formance Transmissions freshened Ausmus’ Proflite transmission, which was paired with a new billet converter by Ultimate Converter Concepts.
When all of the work was wrapped, Ausmus, whose crew includes his wife, Becky, Curt Jamison, Tom Andriopoulos and Keith McCormack, and other family and friends, headed to the first NMCA event of this year, the 18th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem, in early March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida. He had no time for a test session, but still managed to showcase his skills by securing an 8.00 to qualify in the fifth spot.
“I didn’t qualify to the car’s potential,” said Ausmus. “The track prep was great and the DA conditions were perfect, but we couldn’t get the car to run down low. We tightened the converter after the last round of qualifying to try to get the car to 60-foot and 330-foot better.”
It worked, as Ausmus picked up to a 7.92 to win the first round of eliminations against Joe Clemente.
“It was not a personal best, but we made a solid A-B pass,” said Ausmus. “The converter changes moved us in the right direction.”
While a red light prevented Ausmus from advancing in the second round of eliminations, his weekend in the Sunshine State was a successful one, and he’s holding down the fourth spot in NMCA Dart NA 10.5 presented by Diamond Pistons points heading into the 12th Annual Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals, this Thursday through Sunday, June 25-28 at Atlanta Dragway.
“Lenny (Croteau) of Ultimate Converter Concepts has spec’d multiple stators for us to try, and the conditions will be a lot different than they were at the race in Florida, so testing is critical on Thursday to optimize my combination,” said Ausmus. “We won in Atlanta in 2016 on a holeshot, and then backed it up with a 330-foot wheelstand in 2017, so it’s definitely an exciting place to race, and we look forward to being back to racing.”
(Photos courtesy of NMCA)