Exclusive First Look: Mike Knowles’ Mob Edition ’67 Mustang Pro Mod
There are “race car shops”, and then there are race car builders, and we think our friends over at Tim McAmis Race Cars fall into the latter category. Our observation was proven true when we received these incredible photographs of Mike Knowles’ brand-spankin’-new, absolutely un-freakin’-believable ’67 Mustang destined to compete in the NHRA’s Pro Mod category, along with the X-DRL’s X-Treme Pro Mod class. These are the first photographs of this car found anywhere in the world, as the car has been kept under tight wraps up until now. That’s right – you’re reading a scoop, one that only we here at Dragzine are capable of bringing to you.
We spoke with Tim McAmis himself, who was happy to detail some of the incredible features found on the car. “We built the entire car, fabricated all of the custom parts, and even handled everything down to the lettering on the car, Mike’s new uniforms and hero cards. He had one point of contact on the entire build and he didn’t have to go anywhere else. We even handled the concept for the wrap on his hauler,” McAmis explained.
Everything on this car from the design to the drawings – it was all done here in house once Mike approached us with the theme. – Tim McAmis
The custom touches on this machine are simply unreal – all centered around Mike’s fascination with the Mob. See, Knowles is a businessman, and there’s perhaps no more successful group of businessmen than the old-time Mafia. Despite their not-so-pure intentions, it’s impossible to discount the fact that they were definitely good at their craft, and Mike’s fascination of the five famous mob families documented throughout the car’s paint scheme is a central point of the car’s build.
The TMRC lightweight carbon-fiber ’67 Mustang body rests atop one of their state-of-the-art Blown Pro Modified chassis, and features a custom CFH 14-71 supercharger atop a 526 cubic inch Brad Anderson HEMI engine making approximately 3,000 horsepower, while the power runs through a B&J three-speed transmission with a Quick Drive converter unit. The chassis has been powdercoated with a “rusted” look, and houses some of the trickest components known to man, including a Tim McAmis Performance Parts billet rearend housing and dozens of other custom touches. We spent nearly an hour perusing the photos and still don’t think we’ve found everything they’ve designed. The steering column has been drilled to give the appearance of a custom gun barrel, there’ss a CNC’d and airbrushed knife parachute handle, CNC brass knuckle on-off switch, dynamite-airbrushed fire bottles to go with the CNC’d/airbrushed razor fire bottle handle, and even Tommy Gun handbrake grips to complement the Tommy Gun wing struts.
TMRC’s on-site marketing and production division, Tyrant Productions, headed by noted motorsports artist Justin Spencer, took care of the design process for Knowles. Spencer handled dozens of hours of consultation with Mike throughout the course of the build. Much time was spent researching the design, including a trip to Chicago with Mike to see the historical sites and learn all about the events and activities of the old-time Chicago Mob. This research enabled Spencer to come up with period-correct images and scenes featuring Mike’s top five mobsters – Al Capone, John Gotti, Lucky Luciano, Joe Banano, and Meyer Lansky. The driver’s side of the car depicts the Prohibition Era-mobsters, with images of Luciano, Capone, whiskey barrels, Tommy Guns, and more. On the passenger side, Mob-run “Old Vegas” takes center stage, with a historical Vegas skyline, gambling, and guns found throughout the design.
But there are more than two sides to a car – and Spencer put even more time into designing the decklid, trunk, and hood area. There, the “Mob’s Greatest Hits” depicts the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Joe “The Boss” Masseria, “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, and Albert Anastasia, sourced from newspaper photos of the day. Famous mobster quotes are also painted on all surfaces of the car, while the interior features custom airbrushed bullet holes, and there’s even a Tommy Gun shooter mural on the wheel tub.
Before you ask – yes, that is real paint. The murals and quite a bit of the airbrushing were done by one of the best in the business, Chuck Buckler. Jeff Hoskins also assisted with the airbrush work, including the bullet-holes and much of the other detailing, along with performing the finish-painting. Those $100 bills are real, and reside underneath the clearcoat – Spencer says you can’t even feel them if you run your hand over the paint. As you can see, no expense was spared (literally!) and the end result is nothing short of one of the most incredible cars we’ve ever seen. The car is scheduled to be out testing this upcoming weekend and will debut at the NHRA 4-Wide event at zMAX Dragway on the third weekend of April.
The “Blown Money” theme has run throughout Knowles’ two previous Pro Mod machines, as this is his third TMRC-built car; he most recently competed in his ’68 Camaro whose design was also conceived by Spencer and the team at TMRC, and he’s also owned and competed in a ’63 McAmis Corvette a few years back. Each of these cars has had TMRC’s legendary attention to detail, but this is Mike’s best build yet.
“I’ve had a couple of supercharged Altereds in the past, and I had an Alcohol Funny Car that I crashed – an A-arm broke off at a small local track at home, and it ended up hitting the turnoff at about 200 MPH, and I’m very lucky to be alive. I parked that car, and then as business started getting better, I met Tim and we built the Corvette. I’m not just a customer – he and I are friends, and we talk a couple of times a week. Since he’s been such a big player in Pro Mod, I went out and met him, and that was that – here we are today. With Tim, you get an estimate, and the car’s right on the estimate, you get a timeframe, and he’s right on the timeframe – it’s great, there’s no BS with him. He doesn’t sell me things I don’t need. He typically talks me out of more stuff than he sells me. He’s just good people, a real straight shooter,” Knowles said.
Our conversation with McAmis revealed that the car took less than a year to build. “The Blown Money Mob Edition theme came about after a lot of discussion with Mike, and we then used that theme to run throughout the rest of the car. Mike didn’t have to go find an artist to do any of this custom work – we were able to handle it all here in-house,” he explained.
The fact that the TMRC group took care of every single thing on the car was a central theme, and they are very proud of the fact that those capabilities make life simple for their customers. When you’re building a car of this caliber, nailing down all of the little details can be maddening, and add weeks, if not months or years to the time of a build if you don’t have all your ducks in a row.
Mike’s a self-made man, with a trucking company in Colorado that specializes in hauling for the oil and gas industry. “We haul oil and gas from the oilfields out to the refineries, and then we also haul water from the drilling sites. When a well produces gas, oil, and water, we haul it all off. But I opened my first gas station at the age of 23, and actually got into this business through racing. A guy in my town who was in the oil and gas business had built a supercharged dragster and didn’t really know much about how to run it, and someone sent him to me. I started tuning on the thing, and the next thing you know, I’m buying four trucks and here we are – we’ve got over 200 employees and 100 trucks. Coming from a single-parent family, I didn’t have much growing up, and it teaches you to appreciate things,” Knowles says.
Coming from a background like that also taught Knowles the meaning of hard work.
“I come from a mechanical background – I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. My business keeps me pretty busy, and I can appreciate when someone does their job correctly, so it just made sense to have Tim do all of the work,” he explained.
I used to sneak over the fence at Moroso Motorsports Park to watch the races because I didn’t have enough money to get in the gate. – Mike Knowles
Each facet of this car’s design highlights the capabilities of the team at Tim McAmis Race Cars and Tim McAmis Performance Parts. The company only handles a few complete-car builds every year and spends a lot of time developing the unique and trend-setting parts that go into each of those builds, then markets them through the performance parts arm of the business.
“We realize that not every customer can afford a car like this, but our components are available for purchase by anyone, from the race-car builder to the racer putting a car together in his own garage, and each of our parts and pieces are manufactured with the same attention to detail that Mike’s car has in it. We offer the same level of customer support to all of our customers, from the guy purchasing a complete chassis kit to the customer just wanting to update their four-link bars with our components,” explained McAmis.
The Tim McAmis Performance Parts division makes an appearance with a fully-equipped hauler at many of the big-time races throughout the year, from Donald Long’s small-tire events to the Yellowbullet Nationals to the X-DRL and NHRA events that their customers like Mike Knowles compete in. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Mike’s new car, and suggest taking yourself to an event to see it up close and in-person. As they say, it’s worth the price of admission.