There are two types of racers: those who consider Gary Rohe a friend and those who think he's cheating. There may even be some gray area in between. Considering the guy's record, it's tough to believe that he's on the up-and-up. Gary's been the NMCA EZ Street champion three years in a row. He won every race he entered in 1997, and he's won more NMCA races than anyone. The Harlem Globetrotters lose more often than this guy. Not only that, but his scrappy little '80 Mustang was the first EZ Street car in the 8s and the first to 150 mph. Heck, he even beat out big NMCA names like Outlaw Street racers Rod Saboury and Bruce Kimmen to take home the first-ever Car Craft All-Star trophy for an NMCA class racer. So the guy's a huge hero, right? Not really. The NMCA still makes him pit in the south 40-not on the pavement with the Pro Street and Super Street egos. He doesn't sign many autographs or sell lots of T-shirts. Gary's pretty much a regular dude-a 24-year-old machine-shop grunt from Indiana who races a beater Mustang that was his very first car. He's lucky to work at Bischoff Engine Service (BES), which is also his engine builder, but his salary is about the same as a chump Car Craft staffer, so he ain't getting rich any time soon. If he doesn't win races then he doesn't get contingency money and he can't afford to race. So he guesses he'd better win. We guessed that he was pretty likely to win at the big-momma street-car race: Memphis. The '98 event was a continuation of seven years of hype surrounding what has become the country's biggest street-car shootout. It's where Hot Rod started this whole thing and where Flowmaster names its Top 10 Fastest Street Cars in America. At Memphis you find the fastest cars, the biggest whiners, and the most media. But behind all the Pro blah-blah ballyhoo is the backbone of little-guy racers like Gary Rohe. That's why we lived with Gary and his crew for three solid days to see what Memphis is really like from a participant's point of view. Memphis is the NMCA's only three-day race, with qualifying Friday and Saturday and eliminations Sunday. Like many racers, Gary worked all day Wednesday, then drove all night to get to the track Thursday morning. We caught up with him Friday morning just before tech inspection, where NMCA Tech Director Willie Benner OK'd the car. The Mustang weighed in at 3,010 with Gary on board-35 pounds heavier than required. Memphis is the NMCA's only three-day race, with qualifying Friday and Saturday and elimina The previous weekend Gary had tried one of the new lockup Powerglides, but it had a wiring glitch and caught fire. Hence, the car was put back into the same trim as when it ran the 8.92 record run at the Pennsylvania race. All that was needed before making a pass was to throw a charge into the battery, swap the rear tires side to side, and change the DynoMax mufflers to Flowmasters for contingency reasons. The previous weekend Gary had tried one of the new lockup Powerglides, but it had a wiring Word in the pits was that Bob D'Andrea was bringing a new EZ Street Mustang that would set the class on its ear. While crew guys Dave Rudisell and Danny Bischoff were wrenching, Gary tooled over to tech to have a look-see at D'Andrea's car. The super-clean Ford is powered by an Australian-headed Chevy and pushes every rule to the limit. Bob intends to win big next year, but claimed the car had never been down the track prior to Memphis. Gary seemed curious, but not concerned. Word in the pits was that Bob D'Andrea was bringing a new EZ Street Mustang that would set As soon as Gary got back to the pits, buddy Billy Glidden rolled by in his new and unbeatable Super Street car. Glidden's vacuum pump had seized (not uncommon for the converted-smog-pump type) and Gary helped him pull off the belt. Next, Gary's new power generator for the trailer failed and took about 20 minutes to fix. As soon as Gary got back to the pits, buddy Billy Glidden rolled by in his new and unbeata Hours of boredom ensued, since qualifying wasn't until evening. There was lots of hanging out, way too much bench racing, and plenty of other racers dropping by to hear the latest lies. Eventually, Gary and the guys raided the Hot Rod trailer for loads of free T-shirts and hats, then heisted a golf cart for some pit racing. Hours of boredom ensued, since qualifying wasn't until evening. There was lots of hanging The car didn't seem hurt after the run, so the rest of Friday evening was filled by derbying racer Ernie Parison's new golf cart-much to the chagrin of NMCA Director Alan Scrimager. The car didn't seem hurt after the run, so the rest of Friday evening was filled by derbyi The guys hurt themselves with wine, women, and song on Friday night, so Saturday morning came at about noon. No problem-qualifying wasn't until the afternoon. There was lots more waiting while spectators and other racers came by to give the low-qualifier a good look. The guys hurt themselves with wine, women, and song on Friday night, so Saturday morning c The first pass out of the trailer was a 9.04 at 148.95 mph, which turned out to be his quickest run of the very hot and muggy weekend. It also made him number-one qualifier, covering the rest of the field by a solid two tenths. The first pass out of the trailer was a 9.04 at 148.95 mph, which turned out to be his qui Finally it was race time. Once most of the other EZ Street cars made their runs, Gary threw on the hood and got in line, making sure to get his run card checked by the NMCA official at the lanes. Finally it was race time. Once most of the other EZ Street cars made their runs, Gary thre 1 | 2 | » | View Full Article By David Freiburger Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!