Manny Buginga’s Secret Sauce: The Recipe For A Record

Some guys just like to push boundaries: boundaries of their own abilities, or boundaries of what most consider achievable. Sometimes, however, one leads to the other. That’s certainly been the case with Manny Buginga and his team during the 2017 season. Upon his return to the scene back in early 2016, Buginga approached Nick and Rich Bruder and set his ProCharger-equipped Fox body and turbocharged 2003 Cobra on a mission to make an impact. That impact wasn’t truly felt until a year later, this past summer, when the team took the title of 2017 NMRA Street Outlaw Champion with the turbo-powered, Skinny Kid-built Cobra.

All the crybabies that whine about blowers, and turbos, whatever the combination you think is better, bolt it on and meet me at the racetrack — we’ll see who the better man standing at the end is.

But they kept pushing — with knowledge of that car and combination in hand, Buginga and the Bruder Bros. targeted the quarter-mile at this past weekend’s 22nd Annual Haltech World Cup Finals. There, they seized the opportunity that the track and atmosphere provided (density altitude reached –570 ft) to set the quarter-mile record for a 275mm-wide tire: 6.480-seconds at 218.19 mph.

For Buginga, that result is simply a validation of long, hard work.

“You know, I’ve had a passion for this for a long time. And we haven’t always been successful. Last year wasn’t the best year we’ve had, but we learned from our mistakes, we turned it around.” In reflection he acknowledges, “It’s been a phenomenal, phenomenal year.” But, when you speak to him, you get the feeling that this season has been more than simply riding momentum, good parts, and some nice air.


Video credit: TheRacingVids

On paper of course, the car is well-equipped: behind the 98mm Turbonetics turbo is a 400 cubic-inch Disomma Racing Engines motor with Atomizer Injectors, driving a Proformance transmission through a Neal Chance Racing converter. Power management is mediated by FuelTech engine management and an AMS 2000 boost controller. But beyond the parts, Buginga insists that its the people — within the team and with those partners — that have made all the difference. He emphasizes, “Without the team, I’m a nobody… It’s a program, and you need everybody to step up and help you.” Truly, Buginga believes his combination, his team, is more than the sum of the parts. He makes it clear: “At the end of the day, it takes heart to win. It doesn’t take money, it takes heart.”

So how does he respond to the skeptics, those who see the parts on paper and don’t think they’re enough to cross the performance boundaries he already has? He responds with confidence, with belief in an asset that can’t be installed on a car — the heart and dedication of a team.

“All the crybabies that whine about blowers, and turbos, whatever the combination you think is better, bolt it on and meet me at the racetrack — we’ll see who the better man standing at the end is. It’s as simple as that. If it’s that easy, everybody would do it.” When the 2018 season dawns, Buginga will be at Bradenton to begin the defense of the 2017 NMRA championship. He’ll have the full strength of his team behind him. Will you have yours?

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