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Xtreme Street Class - Take It To The Extreme

Giant wheelstands, 1,400hp nitrous engines, and 10.6-inch-tire cars running 8.30s.

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There always seems to be a drag race class that clicks. All the stars align, the fans love the racing, and the class just keeps getting bigger. That is the honeymoon that NMCA's Vortech-sponsored Xtreme Street (X/S) class is currently enjoying, with more entries than any of the six other NMCA classes. So we hitched a fast 8-second ride with a few of the personalities and their cars to get a handle on the magic.

The rules play a big part in this successful venture since the class disallows pure tube-chassis cars. Both small-block and big-block cars run. One power adder is available, and although turbos can't play, centrifugal superchargers are acceptable, which is good since Vortech is the class sponsor. Nitrous is the power-adder of choice and a single stage is legal for the Foggers, but if you choose to run a plate, it's legal to use two stages of the fast gas. Maximum displacement is 525 ci and you have to run an automatic trans while the largest rear tire you can run must be no larger than 10.6 inches of tread width and 30.5 inches tall.

These rules give Xtreme Street an honest street-car flavor. We also found more than the usual Chevys and Fords, with a smattering of Pontiac and Mopar efforts as well. Xtreme Street is shaping up to be a classic small-block versus big-block battle. The rules give weight breaks to the small-block cars, but it appears that the popularity for the big-block cars may give them an edge. But even the X/S record book is evenly split. Big-block maven Cameron Coble set the speed record at a blazing 170.10 mph, but it was small-block Corvette racer and '04 points champ Bob Curran who clicked off an equally amazing 8.181 at the same April race. This tells much of the story, since the small-block cars tend to e.t. better while the big-block freight trains charge hard at the top end. According to Coble, "If I could make my big-block car leave like those small-block cars, this car would really be fast."

This alludes to another critical rule for X/S-the cars are limited to a real 10.6-inch-wide slick and no wheelie bars allowed. This can make for impressive wheelstands that make those NHRA Super A Hemi 'Cudas look weak. Both Phil Hines and Coble put on a show during the last round of qualifying at Cordova, an effort that put Coble's Nova on the trailer when the car came down hard and pretzeled the front suspension. Hines managed to set his orange Mustang down more gently and survived the sky-scraping escapade.

This is part of the allure of this class, since thrashing is almost guaranteed with 16 cars all running in the 8s on loads of nitrous. At the two-day Cordova event we attended, Coble swapped a trans, Bob Curran pulled the motor twice, Andy Mayes also performed a trans swap in his orange 3,520-pound Challenger, and there was a laundry list of other minor pit skirmishes.

As with any class, you have the heavy hitters. Tony Orts is a perennial powerhouse with his small-block-Chevy-powered purple '68 Firebird and at Cordova, Illinois, Orts again showed his strength by winning against newcomer Jimmy Bryne in his 434ci small-block Ford Mustang. Phil Hines is another small-block Ford racer who believes the smaller-inch FoMoCo's have a slight advantage over the small-block Chevys. Lance and Gina Munden are also in with the little-block Ford crowd, although they have fallen on difficult times lately. There is no lack of Mouse-motor Chevrolet power participation in this class with Bob Curran among the front-runners as well as Victor Spires, runner-up at Bowling Green and Marc Zolnierowicz, who runs an identical 406ci small-block Chevy to Orts' powerplant except it rests in a Fox-bodied Mustang.

For those who like to root for the underdogs, the pack runs deep with alternatives to the Chevy and Ford idea, including Andy Mayes' impressive 474ci-powered '70 Challenger, Dave Meister's monstrous '70 Torino with its 524ci big-block Ford, and Ray Cox's purebred '77 Firebird powered by a 477ci Pontiac. Most of these cars are running in the 8.60s to low 8.70s, while the quicker end of the field is down in the 8.30s depending upon the weather and track conditions. This may sound like trailing by a train length, but reaction time plays a key role in tightening up the field and quick cars are sometimes victims of the Tree.

Managing traction is the big key in this class. Almost all the racers we interviewed claimed to either be using or have purchased a programmable digital MSD-7 box. While some may start crying about "traction control," the box is legal because it merely executes what the tuner dials into the machine. The box is designed so that the tuner can pull timing back at the launch and then gradually dial the timing back in to make the power the track can hold without standing the car on it's rear bumper or spinning the tires. The difference between this and traction control is that there is no direct feedback between the car and this computer that would make this an "active" traction-control system.

The racers admit that the guy who can dial in as much power with nitrous as the track can hold without spinning the tires or standing his car on its rear bumper will be the one who will win races. So far, the class has been evenly split through the first five races (the Ohio race was rained out). Coble is the current points leader based on his two victories with Curran in Second followed by Orts, Mayes, and Hines with both Orts and Coble claiming two victories, which also evenly splits the wins between big- and small-blocks. Look for the small-block cars to be strong with good performances by Ford racers Jimmy Bryne and Phil Hines to make this a tough fight in the second half of the season.

SOURCES
NMCA
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