5.0 Mustang & Super FordsNews & Views
5.0 Questions with NMRA Champ Charlie Booze Jr.
The extended 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords interview with NMRA champ Charlie Booze Jr with text you didn't read in the magazine.
5.0 Can you tell our readers about your impressive background indrag racing?
It started back in 1988. That was my first pass down a dragstrip in my'70 Mercury Cougar powered by a 351Cleveland with a toploader 4-speed.It went a 14.70 at 97.75mph. I still remember it to this day. Eversince, I have been building cars, mostly to street race in our area,before it turned into this. We used to race a lot in town. Hagerstown,Maryland, and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. I moved from the Cleveland toa 429 CJ powered '70 Torino Cobra. I played with that car for a coupleof years. I then drug an old Torino body from behind our shop my dad gotfor spare parts, and turned it into one of my most famous of all my dragefforts (until now). It was the perfect sleeper. I took an old stock 460from a rusty Lincoln we had out back. I shoved it in there using partswe had laying around and built myself a true "HOT ROD LINCOLN." Yes,Commander Cody was my hero, and Hot Rod Lincoln was my song!!!! I stillhave that same '71 Ford Torino 500 4-door sedan, powered by a700-plus-hp 460 Lincoln Mark III engine. Mind you, this engine usesalmost entirely stock 460 iron parts (heads, block, rods, crank). I usedto take it in town four nights out of a week.
One night, I raced 13 cars in one night on the Dual-Highway inHagerstown inside a three hour period. I won every race. They just keptcoming. The faded green paint, 4-doors, and the pie plate or (dog dish)hub caps really enticed, (I hate to say this) the average squirrel 5.0Mustang street racer, not to mention those miserable 305 RS Camaros backin the early 90's. I have to admit, most of the people in our area, theywould buy a new 5.0 and think they had a real runner. We used to makefun of those guys, because I could chew them up and spit them out withmy Fat Block Ford Torinos with ease. I used to outweigh them by a good500-600 pounds.
My best friend, when running around our circut (did the paint work onthe Hot Street car), his girlfriend at the time (they later married),bought a brand new '91 LX coupe, 5.0, bright red, 5-speed, black guts,first year for the pony wheels. She bought it in December 1990. She usedto street race and go to the strip with that car and beat the crap outof guys all of the time. I always liked that car and those particularyears. That is one reason ours is a red '92. Then lo and behold, Ibecame one of those 5.0 squirrels.
Our area was no Chicago area, by any means, but our part of the countrywas rich in street performance and drag racing. You must understand, inour three or four state area, we have as many as a dozen or more dragstrips within a three to four hour drive, and our local Mason/Dixondragway is a mere 20 minutes down the road from our shop. I hate toramble on, but you got me started.
After racing my green 4-door Torino for a couple of years on the streetand track, I started to prepare it for competition in the NMCA Top Stockclass. Because of the NMCA and a couple of magazines that covered it, Idecided I wanted to start traveling to some of these events. I racedthat class for four seasons, just going to a couple of events the firstcouple years. I finally won my first championship in 1997, winning sixof the seven events that season. That was pretty neat, but there wasanother guy over in that pesky EZ street class that won every round hewas in that year, Gary Rohe.
He and I sort of came up together at the same time. Right about thattime, my bro, Brian, was getting out of college and into what his bigbrother was doing, and he built himself a '62 Ford Galaxie to race inthe NMCA Pro Nostalgia Super Stock class. He was just about done withthe car, and Jim Kuntz was nearing completion on our first ever hardcoreFE engine, and found out that Ron Coleman of Comp-Cams sold out the NMCAto HOT Rod and they dropped both of our classes after the '97 season.Incidentally, Jim Kuntz has been working with us since 1996. Thatbusiness deal prompted the formation of the NSCA for the 1998 season,which was the collaboration of a couple of Pro Nostalgia racers(TonyDepillo, Jim Sellers).
Brian had spent a ton of dough and was mortified that the class that hewas preparing to run was going away. The NSCA got off the ground, so wegrew as it grew. In short, by 1999, BBR had won its first couple of P/Nraces and almost took the points that year. In 2000, Brian wheelied hisway to his first, but our second championship. Some of his most notedaccomplishments were racing and beating Ray Barton's own in-house '68NHRA record-setting Dodge Dart heads-up at Cecil County in 2001, andbeing the first Pro Nostalgia car to run in the 8 second zone, (soundfamiliar). We went on to win the next two years, making it threechampionships in a row in that class.
In the mean time, while doing most of the engine tuning and maintenanceon my bro's car, I bought myself a '61 Galaxie Starliner to competealong side of him. I raced it some in 2001 but by mid-season 2002, usingBrian's hand-me-down engine parts, I started to win races of my own. We,as a team, wound up winning seven of the nine events that year, andfinished First and Second in the points in 2002, setting both ends ofthe record, while also jumping into NMRA Hot Street and helping JoeJohnston win his first, as well as our first, H/S title in our firstattempt.
I was the tuner on the power, Brian drove & looked after the clutch andtrans. Tom Z. did the chassis calls. Needless to say, when Jim Kuntz setup that deal between Joe and BBR, we were bringing a lot of experiencein heads-up, N/A, stick car, racing to the table. I think, that is whywe made it look easy, even though it was not. In spite of ourselves, wecame away with the championship in 2002. Oh, the stories I could tellyou about that season. When we see each other again, and you have acouple hours to kill!!!!! When Jim gave us the call about helping Joe,we were in the process of doing our own deal. Jim was really the guythat pushed us in that direction.
The N/A SBF market is where he wanted to be. At that point, we haddominated the class we had been racing (NSCA P/N), and it was way pasttime for us to move on. This was a perfect time for us to enter the NMRARANKS! After the Joe deal, Jim all but pleaded for us to go forth withour own car, so we did. 2003 was a building year. We built an untriedcombo. A combo that guys like Jay Allen said would never work forvarious reasons. Well, you see where that has gone. Not many people knowthat we built that car from a caged shell in a mere 80 days.
Myself, Brian, Matt Wirt, and my buddy/painter Mike Kline, killedourselves putting that car together just to make Bradenton in 2003. Itshowed, as our first race was abysmal. We finally got it going byColumbus and wound up in the final. We could have actually run withShane at that race, but we were fighting a tight converter and that wasreally our first race with the car, healthy. You must understand, thatwe were stick guys, and serious automatics were new to us.
By the end of the season, we just about won the championship. If we hadgotten to the finals and won the race in BG last year, that title wasall ours. Thanks to Duane Busch! That is what they call racing. I wouldhave liked to have three-peated the Hot Street deal with Brian in 2002and myself in 2003 and 2004. Also, Shane Long was the first team to winHot Street outside of the state of Pennsylvania. I am not quite surewhat makes all of us Pennsylvania residents so talented with the HotStreet deal (Lamanna, Hanlon, Laskowsky, Booze, Curcio, DeMayo, not tomention many others).