Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
June 1, 2006
Photos By: Steve Turner
Brian's LX started out simple white, but nowadays the car wears blue with an airbrushed wizard on the hood, and lightning graphics down the sides, which is a huge improvement over the white. The wicked scheme plays out over an H.O. Fibertrends cowl hood, a Mid South Racecars rear wing, and Bogart wheels.

Horse Sense: The NMRA specifies an eight-rib serpentine belt setup for EFI Renegade's supercharged competitors, with the increased grip cog-drives illegal. This is why some competitors tighten their belts in the staging lanes.

Anyone who's owned a Mustang knows it doesn't take much to find a street race. From the knucklehead in a clapped-out rice-rocket, to the git-er-done in his diesel dually, to an "organized" challenge from another Mustang or other real performance car, racing on the street is not the best place to light it off. With current legislation in many states giving officials the right to confiscate your car, and the possibility of being Bubba's cell partner at the forefront of our minds, we often still can't suppress the urge to put our right foot in the water pump and let it fly. Ask any current legal drag racer about street racing, and 90 percent will say they started with the illegal stuff, with the remainder just not admitting it.

One racer who readily admits his street racing days is Newark, Delaware's Brian Mitchell. Then again, maybe that's why he races in a class called Renegade.

"While driving a stock Mustang back in 1992," Brian says, "someone told me where to find the street races." No doubt Brian was the inquisitive part of this equation, but nonetheless after many years of tickets, he needed to find a home on the track. In 1999, he found his home away from home at the NMRA Motorsport Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. "My street car fit the EFI Renegade rules perfectly," Brian says. He was one second off the pace that first race, but all he cared about was fitting in an actual sanctioned drag-racing class. "The fun I had made me purchase my current car the next day," he adds.

The car was purchased from FFW Renegade champ Ed Thomas, who even helped Brian make the car competitive. It didn't take long, but there were plenty of potholes on the road to Renegade success.

First off, the car wasn't the prettiest thing when Brian purchased it, and it stayed ugly for the first few years he owned it. It was white with black moldings initially, but then came the Miller Brewing stickers on the doors. Brian works in sales for Miller Brewing Company, so that was a natural. With the door stickers came the crew shirts, and the professional look for which every team strives.

For 2003 though, Brian's program took a giant leap forward with a new custom paint scheme incorporating a wizard dispensing lightning bolts in every direction. It seems the wizard had other ideas for Brian at the start of that season, however, as more breakage ruined any hope of a championship. Brian continued to race and test during the '03 season, but between the '03 and '04 seasons, he underwent a money's-no-object buildup of epic proportions. Brian found some big power, but in preseason testing in Atco, New Jersey, he melted a cylinder head. Two days later it was fixed and the trip to the season opener was underway.

Surely those plastic race seats can't be comfortable. Maybe that's why Brian's car is so quick-we wouldn't want to sit in them for a long time, either, much less a tick over eight seconds at a time. The rest of the interior is equally utilitarian with just the necessary Auto Meter gauges, Anderson Ford Motorsport PMS and wideband sensor for keeping tabs on air/fuel, Painless Wiring switch panel, and 14-point rollcage.

During the first round of qualifying at Bradenton, another melted head and block were Brian's only rewards. The long trip home to Delaware enabled him to think about the problem, and a clogged gas tank vent was found to be the culprit. With that problem licked and power once again back on board, Brian ran a 9.0 right off the trailer at the next NMRA race at Reynolds. "Smiles were all about," he says, "but they were short-lived." A supercharger failure lunched not only the blower, but also the entire engine.

Showing the determination befitting a champion, Brian didn't hang up his slicks. Instead, he summoned Cleveland Performance to whip him up a 311ci magic maker. That's when Brian hit his stride, making it to the finals in each of the next five races, including the World Ford Challenge.

So how well has Brian Mitchell fit into the Renegade ranks, you ask? OK, let's get all these in here. Brian won the Fun Ford Weekend '02 Richmond race, was runner-up at the '04 NMRA Columbus and Maple Grove races, won the '04 NMRA Michigan and Joliet races, and won the World Ford Challenge Renegade class in 2003 and 2004. He finished in the top 10 in points in Fun Ford Renegade from 1999 to 2002. He also finished in the top 10 in points in the NMRA's EFI-Renegade class from 2000 to 2004, winning the championship in 2004. In the ever-competitive EFI-Renegade class, Brian finished fourth in points for 2005. How's that for fitting in?