The family aspect of drag racing is what makes it one of the greatest motorsports on earth. When something happens to a member of the racing community, racers come together to help in any way they can, and the Section 8 racing team is experiencing this firsthand. Their 1987 Mustang experienced an absolutely brutal crash at the Outlaw Street Car Reunion V last month and members of the racing community have stepped up to assist in the car’s miraculous rebuild.
Curtis Martin and Tim Day own the notorious No Time Mustang known as Section 8 that’s driven by Kevin Connolly at events all over the Midwest. The team was invited to participate in the 16-car No Time shootout at the Outlaw Street Car Reunion V where some of the fastest cars grudge cars in the country were scheduled to appear. Martin and the team had high hopes coming into this event with their car that’s powered by what they describe as a big-block Ford dump truck engine, but disaster struck during testing.
Section 8 had recently switched over to run on a 275 tire so it could get more action in the grudge racing world, and the team was trying to sort things out during some shakedown hits, according to Martin.
“We had the previous owner of the car, Mark Moore, make some test hits for us since Kevin couldn’t make it to Kentucky until the following day. We had been fighting the car trying to move to the left during runs and our tuner, Josh Lindsey, was confident we had it figured out. After the car seemed to be working correctly and Kevin had made it down we decided to turn the car up and see what it would do.”
Everything seemed to be going fine on the pass where Lindsey had loaded a hot tune-up into the car, until the end of the pass. Just beyond the quarter-mile mark, the car made a violent move to the right as it was coming off a 195 mph pass, causing it to shoot across the track and make hard contact with the wall.
The team watched from the starting line as the savage crash unfolded, unable to do anything. Martin’s thoughts immediately turned to the condition of Connolly and if he had even survived the crash.
“It was really scary to see from the starting line. After the crash, the whole way down to the track I was just praying he was okay. When we got down there I tackled him and gave him a big hug when I saw him out walking around. I asked him at least 10 times if he was okay … I couldn’t believe he was fine. The safety team checked all the gear inside the car and they said it was all intact and his helmet didn’t even have a scratch on it, so he didn’t move around at all during that crash and that was a big relief to hear,” said Martin.
Connolly might have been fine, but Section 8 was now a pile of broken and mangled parts that used to be a Mustang. The damage was extensive to say the least, enough to the point where many teams may have written the entire car off. Luckily for Martin and his team, the crew from Tin Soldiers Race Cars was at the track to watch them race along with some of their other customers and they had no intention of letting Section 8 die.
“I have a relationship with the guys at Tin Soldier through another car they’re building for me. As soon as we got the car back to the pits they dug right into it and wanted to see if we could get the car to roll. They got some hammers and other tools and just started tearing the car apart. The quarter panel was pushed into the tire and the rearend was shifted over a good six inches … it didn’t roll because of that. They broke into two teams and started working on both ends of the car and after a few hours they got it rolling,” Martin says.
Martin didn’t want to load the damaged Mustang into the team’s stacker trailer due to the damage it might cause, so another friend stepped up to offer an open trailer to take it home to Wisconsin, but Jason from Tin Soldiers had another idea.
“Jason wanted to get the car to the shop and see if it was salvageable. His initial assessment was the chassis was still intact overall and the body took a lot of the damage. There weren’t any kinks or cracks they could see, so they wanted to tear it apart to see how bad it was,” Martin explains.
Tin Soldiers Race Cars opened their shop up to Martin, Doug Wagner, Kevin Conley and his son to work on the car. They began tearing the car apart Saturday and got the entire driveline out, along with the entire rearend. Jason and Brad from Tin Soldier allowed them to do what needed to be done and instructed them to just lock up when they were finished. After an all-night thrash session the guys had the Mustang stripped and ready for inspection on Monday; their hope was that Section 8 could be brought back to life.
Jason took a look at the car and decided it could be repaired — the phone call that came after that assessment blew Martin’s mind.
“Jason wanted to know when I needed the car back and I told him we have a race May 19th I put on with Brian “Chucky” Davis and he said we should be able to get it done for that. I was blown away … I knew it was possible but didn’t expect that at all. He said they would do everything they could to make it happen.”
Martin started making phone calls to round up parts to help get the car back together again. The racing community once again stepped up to help one of their own in need.
“Christy at Motor City Solutions was a huge help in getting all the carbon fiber parts we needed within a week. Precision Turbo was able to secure the parts to fix the damage one of the turbos received in the crash and refresh the other one for us. Fast Forward Racecars repaired the head that was damaged when the exhaust was ripped off in the crash. Rodney from RPM Transmissions checked out the transmission to make sure it was fine. RaceCraft was able to get us all the parts we needed that were damaged in the front end during the crash. Vince at VRN Racecars got the rearend fixed and had the axles taken care of. It has been overwhelming to receive all this help from people in the racing world,” Martin says.
Tin Soldier has been in full-on thrash mode to get Section 8 ready for May 19 when it will race at the Battle of The Titans at Brian “Chucky” Davis’ Birthday Bash at US 131 Motorsports Park. They’ve repaired all the suspension damage, re-done all the carbon fiber in the rear of the car, repaired the body, and are finishing up the turbo kit.
Getting Section 8 back on track has been a complete team effort and Martin is thankful he’s surrounded by so many amazing people.
“Tim Day co-owns the car with me and he does a lot of the work to keep it going, along with Doug Wagner. Josh Lindsey and Jason Moat do an amazing job tuning and without them, our success wouldn’t be possible. Our crew is really great and they work super-hard to make sure we can race; their assistance is what’s making this repair possible.”
Over the weekend Martin and his team went to the Tin Soldier shop to jump in on the repair efforts of the Mustang. The end result is a car that’s back on all four wheels and rolling around after a devastating accident just a few short weeks ago. When Section 8 hits the water box at US 131 it will be thanks to the combined efforts of many within the racing community.