While Tony Orts had been a formidable fixture in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street for many years, he took a seven-year break from the category before returning in 2018.
The multi-time champion and his 1968 Firebird were warmly welcomed back at the first race on the series’ tour last year, the 16th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida, and when we asked him what he had been up to in his time away from the NMCA, he told us he had been focused on family, work, and a little bit of 8.60 index racing, but that he was ready to get back to heads-up racing. He proved that by picking up where he left off and pushing to an admirable sixth-place finish in points in the category where drivers are known for having very competitive cars and combinations.
“The competition was tough, and it was not easy, but that’s good, and that’s the way it should be,” said Orts, a Matco Tools dealer who lives in Illinois. “I was really glad I came back to racing in Xtreme Street. Everyone in the category has something in common, and there’s a lot of camaraderie.”
When the race season wrapped last year, Orts took his 440 cubic-inch Chevy engine to his engine-builder, Precision Engine, to have it freshened, with no major changes, as he was happy with how it was performing while paired with a single-stage fogger nitrous system and backed by a Proformance Racing Transmissions-built Turbo 400.
Ready to rumble again in 2019, Orts drove to a 4.78 to qualify in the sixth spot and a semifinal finish at the 17th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida, a 4.71 to qualify in the fourth spot and another semifinal finish at the 11th Annual Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by Mahle in April at Atlanta Dragway, and a 4.79 to qualify in the seventh spot and the second round at the Inaugural Comp Cams NMCA Memphis Homecoming in May at Memphis International Raceway.
“I told everyone early in the year that I was going to give it everything I had and everything the car had, and when I burned up a piston at the race in Florida, that was okay, because I had to push it to try to win, and that’s just part of doing what it takes,” said Orts, whose car rolls on Mickey Thompson 275 drag radials and whose crew chief is “Rocket” Ron Bochenek.
As a result of his efforts, Orts, who’s also a contender at Ultra Street races, is currently leading points in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street heading into the highly anticipated 14th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, this weekend, July 25-28 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois.
“My goal is to win the Super Bowl race in Joliet, especially since that’s my home track,” said Orts, who has earned a win at the event before.
(Photos courtesy of NMCA)