Michael Johnson Associate Editor
February 5, 2007
Photos By: Paul Rosner

Horse Sense: Although BES Racing Engines may not be a household engine-builder name, several longtime racers have enjoyed the fruits of its labor. Just to name a few, racers who benefit from BES power include Filthy Phil Hines, AJ Powell, Matt and Andy Schmidt, Andy "The G-man" Law, and Rocky Mason. But with Tony Bischoff in the seat of his own Pro 5.0 mount, count on the BES name getting even more recognition within NMRA circles.

For the past couple of years, the NMRA's Atco Raceway stop in New Jersey meant losing a few pounds due to intense heat. Thankfully, after the heat at Reading, Pennsylvania's Maple Grove Raceway, Atco was a breath of fresh air with temperatures comfortably in the low 80s. Some people still didn't like the heat, but when you're used to 90-degree weather, low 80s are a nice change. For once at Atco, the weather was perfect, and many racers were rewarded with record times and personal bests. Find out who won and who didn't right here.

Add Ryan Hecox's Pure Street racer to the list of cars yours truly has worked on that have stayed together. We know it's a feat in and of itself, because the daily driver can barely live under those circumstances. But Ryan had a new Rich Groh Racing- designed Comp Cams grind to go in the car before Atco, and no one to help install it-his fellow JPC Racing stablemates had to take their weekly shower that night. This author had nothing to do, so we got started around 11 p.m. Thursday night at the Hecox household with Mountain Dew, bottled water, and pizza. Our heads hit the pillow at about 3 a.m., so to say we were sleep-deprived the next day would be an understatement. Luckily, there were a few Dews left, and we made full use of their caffeinated properties. With the hard work done, we asked Ryan how much the new cam would be worth. When his answer was 0.08, we about choked. But when you're battling for every hundredth, 0.08 is a nice gain for a Pure Street car. Even so, once at Atco, the newfound power took out the transmission, but that was fixed. In the first round of eliminations, the car stood them up, making Ryan pedal it just enough to let Amy Sherwin get past him.

At each event, we try to shoot feature cars that would otherwise be out of our reach, and we had them lined up at Atco. Unfortunately, we'll remember Tim Babit's photo shoot for some time, as will everyone involved. We shot Tim's Cobra in an elementary school parking lot located down the road from Atco Raceway, and everything was going accordingly until we did a few burnout pictures. That's when two police officers arrived, and one of them was not too happy. The police lieutenant that lives within sight of the school didn't take kindly to the black marks we were leaving and called it in. We can almost laugh about it now, but Tim received several tickets from the officers and had to enlist the services of a lawyer. The case is still under litigation as of this writing.

UPR Products' parts trailer had an extended stay in the northeast, as the Atco NMRA race was one of several stops on the northern tour. Mark Mainiero, Jeremy Martorella, and Big Phil stayed busy selling parts and giving expert advice. At any event, UPR's trailer will have Mustang keychains, upper and lower control arms sets, tubular K-members, and everything in between. Contributing to UPR's success at events such as the NMRA races is that it has a lot of small-ticket items on hand, enabling fans to get something without blowing a hole in their cash stash. At the same time, UPR has big-ticket items for those willing to come off the wallet.

The tallest brothers in the NMRA, Andy and Matt Schmidt, couldn't catch a break at Atco. In a tightly contested Hot Street class, Andy struggled and qualified Seventh out of nine cars. That qualifying spot put him up against Ben Mens for round one of eliminations. Andy was more than game for the match-up, getting a huge holeshot (0.459 to 0.538) in Hot Street terms. Thanks to BES Racing Engines power, the front end kept coming up higher and higher, to the point where Andy had to get out. Matt responded, "If we didn't have bad luck, we wouldn't have any luck at all."

Chip Provenza sold his former LX hatch in favor of this new Drag Radial rocket. The power combo is almost unchanged from his old ride, but with some twists he's learned during the last couple of years. Even so, the learning curve is proving to be somewhat stiff with the new car. Chip has done a lot of testing to dial it in, but he came to Atco to test on a race-prepped track to get an idea of how the car would react on a race weekend. He was able to get the car down to an 8.25 at 171 mph during test and tune, but come race day, the Vortech-huffed machine struggled for traction.

Pro 5.0
Tony Bischoff has turned Pro 5.0 on its wheeltubs with his Cougar, but that shouldn't surprise to any performance enthusiast. Tony Bischoff is the "B" in BES Racing Engines, so you know whatever he builds is going to be fast. He has had a huge following in NMCA racing classes with a variety of engines, but recently BES has made significant inroads into the NMRA, and Tony's Cougar is likely to garner even more business and attention from fans. He runs a 646 ci with Blu Thunder Thor heads, a BES sheetmetal intake, twin Pro-Systems Dominator carburetors, and a Speedtech nitrous system utilizing three stages of the good stuff. The Cougar uses a PTC Powerglide transmission with a Coan stall converter, while the engine's valvetrain consists of components from Manley, Comp Cams, Smith Brothers, and Jesel. Tony's Cougar is a former IHRA Pro Stock car, as are most of the Pro 5.0 cars these days, but it's a 2000 Haas chassis. At Atco, Tony followed up his wins at Michigan and Joliet with another victory over Bert Kelkboom's Escort in the final.

Pro 5.0
Bert Kelkboom and the Aruba crew always bring the islands to the track with their palm tree-lined pit area. At Atco, the Pro 5.0 class had to line up behind Bert when qualifying was finished, thanks to a stellar 6.57 at 213 mph, which is only slightly faster than our street car. Bert rode a first-round bye with Wild Bill Devine unable to make the call, and another bye run in the second round, but Bert ran a 6.75 that pass. Attrition dealt the Aruba team a big blow, however, when Bert was unable to muster a fight in the final against Tony.

Super Street Outlaw
John Urist doesn't usually make it to the Atco race, but this year the Urist camp had a sense of purpose, with eyes on an NMRA Super Street Outlaw championship. Sam Vincent started out the year very strong, but John is closing the gap due to strong qualifying efforts followed up with wins. He has been playing in the 7.50s for most of the year, but it was Billy Laskowsky qualifying number one with a 7.57 in the night air to John's 7.58. The Fireball had it on cruise control in eliminations with mid-7.50s each pass, and he was able to make it past Phil Hines in the final to make it four wins in a row.