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While Frank Paultanis was running bracket classes in his 2004 Mustang, NMRA G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock caught his attention in 2013 and compelled him to check out the rules for the highly competitive category.

Content with what he saw, he began converting his bracket bomber to a heads-up hauler by buying a sealed Coyote engine to replace the 9.80s-capable small-block engine he had been running.

“Getting the engine in was easy, but the wiring took a long time,” said Paultanis, with a laugh. “I’ll admit that I’m pretty meticulous, though.”

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Around the same time, Paultanis swapped his automatic transmission with a Tremec T-5 manual transmission and gave the car a fresh set of Mickey Thompson 26×10-inch slicks. When the car was ready, he headed to the NMRA race at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio in the summer of 2014.

“I knew I wasn’t going to go out there and make amazing runs, but I knew I would get a feel for the class and learn a lot,” said Paultanis, who was clocking 11.0s while some drivers were running as quick as 10.40s. “I really liked it, and I ran at the NMRA race in Kentucky later that year, too.”

After deciding to stay-put in the category, he replaced his Tremec T-5 transmission with a Liberty TKO, tested various clutch set-ups and ultimately paired it with an Ace clutch in the winter of 2014.

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“This is my first manual transmission-equipped race car, so there’s a huge learning curve and a lot of trial and error,” said Paultanis. “But so far, so good.”

After committing to all six events on the NMRA tour in 2015, Paultanis made strides in tuning the clutch and chassis in the category where engines must remain sealed, and it paid off, as he achieved a 12th place finish in points in 2015, followed by a seventh place finish in 2016.

What that did, among other things, is give him more confidence in his combination, and while he missed the first and second races on the 2017 NMRA tour, he made the race at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania in May. There, he debuted a new G-Force 101-A transmission, but ran into non-related trouble which prevented him from completing the only qualifying pass at the rain-shortened race.

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“During the burnout, the accessory belt came off, and that drives the alternator, but more importantly, the coolant pump,” said Paultanis. “I didn’t want to make the pass and risk overheating the engine.”

Still, he made the ladder, and will complete the rain-shortened race at the 14th Annual NMRA Ford Super Nationals, June 8-11 at National Trail Raceway in Ohio, where he hopes to go even quicker and faster than the 10.20 and 129 mph he has already achieved.

“We’ll keep working within the rules to make the car as fast as possible,” said Paultanis, a design engineer for Ford who lives in Newport, Michigan, with his wife, Dawn, and daughter, Danielle and credits his recent gains to Brad Carroll of Liberty’s Gears. “That’s what I like about heads-up racing: you can build the car, make changes, and see results.”

Catch the soft-spoken but super-tough Paultanis and his high-revving and high-stepping Mustang at the 14th Annual NMRA Ford Super Nationals, June 8-11 at National Trail Raceway in Ohio or via the Speedvideo live feed sponsored by E3 Spark Plugs, Scat Crankshafts, PRW Industries, Flex-a-lite, Royal Purple, Hellion Turbo Systems, QuickJack, U.S. Gear, Covercraft and TBM Brakes, and offered right here.