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Chris Little's NMRA Drag Radial Race Car
Chris Little tested and tuned his way into two consecutive NMRA Drag Radial crowns
Every dragstrip in America has test-and-tune nights. On these nights you can run any vehicle you want--from your mom's minivan to a six-second Pro 5.0 car and everything in between. These days, however, it seems most cars in the staging lanes are Mustangs. At a recent test-and-tune night at one of our local tracks, Mustangs made up the bulk of cars in attendance. And somewhere amongst those Mustangs is the next Chris Little, because that's exactly how the NMRA Drag Radial superstar got his start. "My car started out as a Friday night test-and-tune car," Chris says. "Then I found a heads-up class that my car, with some minor changes, could fit in. That's when I was hooked."
Although Chris had run the car on slicks up to that point, the class he chose to race in was Drag Radial, which requires the use of radial tires instead of the customary racing slicks. He thought Drag Radial would be a fun class to try. Unfortunately for Chris, Dwayne "Big Daddy" Gutridge--who started the drag radial craze--still raced in the class, so the first few races Chris entered didn't really go in his favor. "I couldn't find enough power to beat Big Daddy," he says.
That was in 2000, and Chris vowed that 2001 would be different. "That's when I teamed up with my friend Chris Carloss," he says. "He and I contacted Bennett Racing and told them we wanted a Hot Street engine with Trick Flow heads and a nitrous cam." The two received the Bennett-built bullet right after the first race of 2001. "Good thing," Chris says, "'cause we lost a rod in the old engine at the first race." The rest is Drag Radial history.
With the Bennett Racing bullet between the framerails, it was unusual to not see Chris in the finals or winning a race. He has gone on to dominate not only the NMRA Drag Radial class, but also countless other radial-tire-style classes at tracks up and down the East Coast, including his home state of Maryland. In NMRA competition, Chris won the BFGoodrich Drag Radial championship in 2001 and 2002.
He was the first NMRA Drag Radial racer to run in the eights and the first to run 160 mph. And he was the first Maryland Street Racing Association Real Street racer in the eights. The MSRA Real Street class is a 28x10-inch slick-tired class that requires a stock suspension with only a single-stage hit of the saucy stuff.
We can't chronicle every win Chris has under his drag radials, but check every major radial-tire race and you're sure to find him at or near the top. And that's exactly where he hopes to stay. However, with Big Daddy back in the hunt and other drag radial racers looking to put their cars at the forefront, Chris has to do his homework and once again find the power to put a gap between himself and the competition. He plans on trying fuel injection, using a Wilson Manifolds 90mm throttle body, a Nitrous Pro-Flow dry nitrous kit, and an ACCEL Gen 7 engine-management system. He says he might spend much of the year R&D'ing that setup to get ready for 2004. Until then, he'll be sticking with his tried-and-true Nitrous Pro-Flow plate and fogger systems to keep the gap in his favor.
Since the NMRA is saddling Chris with another 100 pounds (up to 3,200 pounds), he says he'll be running Fun Ford's new Drag Radial class in 2003, along with the World Ford Challenge Drag Radial, and a $5,000-to-win radial-tire race in Ohio. He also plans to make all 23 MSRA Real Street races, which are run at 75-80 Dragway, Mason Dixon Dragway, and Maryland International Raceway. And he will return to Orlando to defend his '02 Radial Tire victory at the Real World Street nationals. He also says he may enter Super Street Outlaw at a couple NMRA races this year.
Whatever direction he goes, Chris plans to stick with racing on radials, so this little Kawasaki Green coupe will still be a force to reckon with in 2003. If you think you can make the jump from test-and-tune night to the big leagues, Chris says, "See you at the track!"
Horse Sense: Ford Racing Performance Parts' W351 block, such as the one Chris uses, features four-bolt nodular-iron main caps, siamesed cylinder bores, and strengthened structural sections. With a 9.5-inch deck height, the W351 has the capacity to yield 454 ci.