Tom Kempf and his fierce Firehawk have been fixtures of the Summit Racing Equipment Shakedown at the Summit presented by Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels through the years, and he’s readying the race car for this year’s rumble, Sept. 13-16, at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk Ohio.
He recently had freshened his tried, true and time-tested Billy Briggs Racing Engines-built 454 cubic-inch LS engine. It features a Dart billet block packing a Callies billet crank and a new set of GRP aluminum rods and Gibtech pistons.
It’s topped with Mast heads and a billet intake which Kempf designed and then had CNC-machined, and it’s fronted by Precision 91mm turbos.
An RPM Transmissions-built Turbo 400 three-speed and ProTorque Gen II Revolution Series converter are in place to help put power down, and Kempf raced for the first time this year at the 17th Annual Honeywell Garrett NMCA All-American Nationals in late August at Summit Motorsports Park.
There, he hauled to a 4.24 in the striking silver car rolling on Mickey Thompson 10.5X33W slicks to qualify in the fifth spot in Mickey Thompson Radial Wars after knocking the tires off at the hit in the first round of qualifying. Kempf then was fighting a throttle issue in the second round of qualifying, and later, he was forced to lift and lost in the first round of eliminations.
“We entered that class because we were curious to see how we could get our slicks to work in a class where many drivers run drag radials and are used to a certain track prep, and while we were probably on a 4.0 pass before we had to lift, we see that we would need a little more time to dial the slicks in for that class,” said Kempf.
Meanwhile, the Michigan-based driver, who hasn’t run drag radials under his LaFontaine Performance Center-backed car since 2007, will bolt a set of Mickey Thompson 315 drag radials onto his wheels for a chance to win $10,000 in Atomizer Racing Injectors Outlaw 10.5 at the Summit Racing Equipment Shakedown at the Summit presented by Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels at Summit Motorsports Park.
“We reached out to Keith Engling at Skinny Kid Race Cars, and he agreed to help us make the transition from running slicks to running drag radials,” said Kempf, whose crew includes his daughters, Gina and Lauren Kempf, Joe Borschke, Kevin Gluski, Greg Powrie and Billy and Jenny Briggs. “He’s setting up the chassis for drag radials, and he’s installing new Afco suspension on the car, and Joe (Borschke) will work on a new tune-up with the Big Stuff 3.”
Despite what could be a learning curve, Kempf is committed to cruising at the event where record-setting passes in various categories are probable.
“We’re going to throw everything at it,” said Kempf. “We really want to get our combination dialed in with the drag radials, but we also really want to do well, and we’ll have our slicks as back up, just in case.”