Michael Johnson Associate Editor
September 1, 2004
Photos By: Stever Turner

The NMRA's EFI Renegade class has had its fair share of big-name racers-Chip Havemann, Bob Kurgan, Jimmy LaRocca, Bart Tobener, Mike Post, and Brian Meyer immediately come to mind. But with Kurt Gallant's '03 championship run and successful start to the '04 season, we need to add his name to that list.

Kurt made himself the man to beat in EFI Renegade, and he's done it with a power adder that few in the class run-i.e., nitrous, the jug, the bottle, the squeeze, or whatever you call it. Tim Lyons showed a nitrous car could be competitive in EFI Renegade; Kurt took up where Tim left off, and he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

It might seem that Kurt came out of nowhere to dominate EFI Renegade, and that statement is mostly true. He built the car in 1995 with Ron Sharp at Advanced Airflow Engineering in Clinton Township, Michigan. At that time, it had a naturally aspirated engine. Kurt ran the car in local test-and-tune and street race-type stuff.

EFI Renegade racers can thank past NMRA Super Street Outlaw racer Jeff Tyson for getting Kurt into the NMRA. Kurt knew Jeff because both utilized the services of Ron Sharp. Kurt's first NMRA experience came at the '01 World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He was still running a naturally aspirated engine. In the Hot Street class, the car ran in the 9.60s, which at that time was competitive. With his appetite for NMRA racing in full-slobber mode, Kurt's intention was to build the car into an all-out Hot Street racer. But somewhere along the line, the car ended up with a Nitrous Express system on it, and the rest is EFI Renegade history.

In 2002, Kurt qualified well, but going rounds was a problem as he tested the durability of mechanical components. As have many other racers before him, Kurt acknowledges his first year was a learning period and an opportunity to test different ideas. "We tested and tuned till our eyeballs came out," he says of the '02 season. By 2003, however, he and Ron had the combo sorted out and ready to go. "We took what we learned in 2002 and applied it to the '03 racing season."

Boy, did they apply it well. In EFI Renegade-one of the more closely competitive NMRA classes-Kurt came out running and won Bradenton, followed by wins at Joliet, Illinois; Ennis, Texas; and Atco, New Jersey. For his efforts, he was crowned EFI Renegade champ for garnering 3,225 points, almost 1,000 points more than the Second-Place, Bob Kurgan. For 2004, Kurt picked up where he left off by winning the first two races at Bradenton, Florida, and Reynolds, Georgia.

At the third stop on this year's NMRA tour-National Trail Raceway in Columbus-the weather wreaked havoc on Kurt's nitrous tune-up, and the suspension was a little out of whack. The first round of qualifying resulted in a lousy 60-foot time, but the car still ran in the 8s. The suspension was dialed in for the second round of qualifying, and the car responded by running its best time in NMRA trim with an 8.73 at 155mph. "We thought we had it, but we didn't," Kurt says, referring to the tune-up.

Kurt made a half-track pass in his first-round bye run, but the tune-up was way off, resulting in a couple wounded pistons. "We didn't have enough fuel in the car," he says. "The nitrous setup is very, very touchy in the cold weather." For that reason, and the fact that warm weather is not ideal for the blower cars, Kurt likes it hot. "Hopefully, it's 95 degrees every race," he says.