Michael Johnson
Technical Editor
May 23, 2014

Before you run, you have to learn to walk, right? That's what they say, at least. That phrase also applies to many things in life. We use training wheels on our bicycle before getting turned loose. No one steps on a basketball court for the first time and hits a three-pointer. We start with layups, then a mid-range jumper, and then the three-point line. You don't jump on a big dirt bike and gun it without starting on your friend's moped and building your way up.

When you go through a succession, you know what to expect. You've been there before, and you know how to handle it.

One NMRA racer who won't know how to handle his first NMRA victory is Renegade racer Adam Arndt. He's done a lot of walking in the class, but he's ready to run to that first win.

Adam has owned the '88 GT you see here since spring 2007. After a hood mishap on the street, he met Joey Finan, who does paint and body work. Joey said they could re-skin the roof, so the GT went to Joey's house. At the time of the incident, the car was silver, but it left Joey's in Atomic Orange. That wasn't the only change, though. The GT already had an 8.50 cage with swing-out door bars, and it also gained new mini-tubs while at Joey's.

Back then, Adam didn't have any ideas on doing any organized drag racing. That all changed while riding with NMRA Renegade racer and multi-time champion Brian Mitchell to the 2012 Bradenton opener. On the road south, talking like racers always do, Adam discovered the Renegade rules allowed mini-tubs, and talked to Brian about racing his car in the class.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery
Adam has owned the ’88 GT you see here since spring 2007. The color is Atomic Orange, and it covers a stock-body Fox GT, except for a Cervini’s Stalker front bumper and a cowl hood with a custom bump for a blower inlet tube. Joey Finan, Adam’s crew person, did the paint, helped with the car’s mini-tub, and built custom carbon-fiber foglight covers, as well.

On the way back from Florida, the two were on the phone searching for parts to make it happen. Once back in his home state of Pennsylvania, Adam gathered the parts necessary to convert the car to NMRA Renegade specs. Two weeks before the 2012 NMRA Michigan race, Adam was able to earn his NHRA license at Cecil County Dragway. Unfortunately, even though he made the Michigan race, he was unaware he had hurt the transmission during the licensing process. Second gear was broken, but he was able to qualify and nurse it through to eliminations. Though he didn't make it out of the first round, he was on his feet.

Upon returning from the Michigan race, Adam sent the C4 to Frank Lupo's Pro- Formance Transmissions for repairs, and he used the rest of the 2012 season to start walking, learning how things go while racing a heads-up class.

For the 2013 NMRA season, Adam had moments when it looked like he was ready to sprint ahead of the pack, but ultimately those thoughts were premature. He missed the 2013 NMRA Bradenton opener because the car was receiving a new Wolfe Race Craft 25.5 cage, and HD Performance Parts' David Powell was re-doing the car's cylinder heads. However, the rest of year Adam was able to get a few number-one qualifiers.

Round 1 at Norwalk, his finger slipped off the trans-brake button and he redlit against Tim Matherly. At Joliet, he qualified first again, but with an intercooler as part of his program, the car was making more power. He didn't yet have a handle on the tune for the power, which cost him a round win against Brian Mitchell. Before the NMRA World Finals at Bowling Green, he took the car to Matt Wirt to check out the suspension to figure out the wheel spin. He qualified at the top of the list at Bowling Green as well, but the pesky combo of wheel spin and Brian Mitchell ended his weekend again.

It’s been a team effort when it comes to the engine in Adam’s GT. For the 2013 MIR race, he had his own engine in the car, but piston-ring sealing issues meant it was back out of the car after that race. He had to borrow a short-block from fellow Renegade racer and mentor Brian Mitchell; the borrowed short-block was in for the rest of 2013. When his own short-block is in the car, HD Performance & Parts’ David Powell handles the cylinder head work, MCRP’s Mike Curcio does the machine work, and Adam assembles it all at home. Of course, he relies on a Vortech V7 YSi-Trim supercharger for 32 pounds of boost, capable of propelling him down the quarter-mile at a touch over 8 seconds at 165 mph.

In 2013, Adam says it seemed like he had a different car at every race, as he was always dialing in a major change. From a cage before the first race, a new short-block at the next race, a borrowed short-block and a new intercooler at the next one, he never had time to test with the new components. For those reasons, Adam's excited about the 2014 season. Matt Wirt told him it usually takes 100 passes to totally figure out a car from front to back, what it does and doesn't like. With just 50 passes on the car at that time, you can see why Adam was still working up to a win.

Without Brian and Joey's support, Adam says he wouldn't be anywhere close to successful. His short term goal for 2014 is to get that first win under his belt, with his long-term goal to win a championship. “The car is there—the biggest thing is the experience," Adam said. In 2013, he learned a lot about the car's chassis, which helped get the car settled down at the launch. He was more comfortable in the car because of that, as well.

Adam says Brian Mitchell and Joey Finan have been integral parts of his success, and his two chief supporters in his quest to get a win under his belt. Adam says Brian, despite being his top competitor, has been in his corner since day one. When Adam gets that first NMRA win, Brian will probably be the first one to congratulate him, but something tells us Brian won't have far to run, since he'll be in the other lane when Adam puts on his running shoes.

The cage in Adam’s car is a Wolfe Race Craft 25.5 kit, but with added bars of his own design. Before the 2013 season, the car had an 8.50 cage in it, but knowing it would take sub-8.50s to win in Renegade, the Wolfe Race Craft 25.5 design was a necessary upgrade. The Turbonetics intercooler is also ever-present within the GT’s confines, as well as a Kirkey race seat, a Hurst Quarter Stick shifter, Auto Meter gauges, and an MSD Digital 7 box.

Tech Specs
Vehicle: 1988 Ford Mustang GT
Engine and Drivetrain
Block: Dart Iron Eagle w/ 4.100-in bore
Crankshaft: Eagle 3-in stroke
Rods: Eagle
Pistons: Diamond, Total Seal rings
Camshafts: Bullet Racing Cams custom, NMRA Renegade legal
Cylinder Heads: Edelbrock Victor Jr. w/ HD Performance & Parts-ported (David Powell), and Jesel rockers, 2.05/1.60 valves
Intake Manifold: Holley SysteMax II w/ Accufab 75mm throttle body
Power Adder: Vortech V7 YSi-Trim supercharger w/ Turbonetics 2000 intercooler, and 32 pounds of boost
Fuel System: Weldon fuel pump w/ Weldon regulator, Behind Bars Race Cars fuel rails, and Ford Racing 160-lb/hr fuel injectors
Exhaust: Kooks headers w/ Flowmaster Race Bullet mufflers
Transmission: Frank Lupo Pro-Formance Transmissions C4 w/ Dynamic Converters 6,000-rpm stall converter, and Hurst Quarter Stick shifter
Rearend: 8.8-in w/ Moser spool and axles, and 3.73 gears
Engine Management: Big Stuff 3
Ignition: MSD Digital 7
Gauges: Auto Meter
Suspension and Chassis
Front Suspension
K-Member: UPR Products tubular
A-Arms: UPR Products tubular
Struts: Santuff double- adjustable
Springs: QA1
Brakes: Aerospace Components
Wheels: Billet Specialties Street Lite
Tires: Mickey Thompson
Rear Suspension
Shocks: Afco double-adjustable
Springs: QA1
Control Arms: UPR Products
Brakes: Aerospace Components
Wheels: Billet Specialties Street Lite, double-beadlocked
Tires: Mickey Thompson 28x10.5 ET Drag slicks

Horse Sense

Adam finished second in NMRA Renegade points in 2013. He had three top qualifiers and one runner-up for the year. Each time he qualified in the top spot, he ran in the 8.30s.