There were many things that drew Krista Elyse to 2010 Grabber Blue Mustangs when they were unveiled, but of most meaning to her was the fact that they made her feel a connection to her father, who had a 1970 Grabber Blue Mustang.
So, she purchased one and promptly began showing it, modifying it, and racing it to low 11s with a 3-Valve engine, Paxton Novi 2200 supercharger and Tremec Magnum XL six-speed transmission.
But a few months ago, Elyse decided that she wanted to take the car to NMRA Richmond Gear Factory Stock competition, and after studying the class rules, she purchased a Coyote engine from fellow NMRA racers Joe Cram and Becki Lynn.
She, along with her fiancee and NMRA Edelbrock Renegade racer Adam Arndt, and Mike Curio of Mike Curcio Race Products, disassembled and inspected the engine before giving it a new crank and new bearings. They then topped it with stock heads and a stock intake, as well as a JLT Performance cold-air intake.
“Adam and Mike did most of the work, but I was able to get my hands on it and help with reassembly as well, so that I could learn,” said Elyse.
Additionally, Arndt fabricated a cage and rear-end for the car and installed under it UPR suspension components and Moser axles. A set of longtube headers and an X-pipe by American Racing Headers were added to improve exhaust flow, and a TBM Brakes brake set-up was put into place to ensure that the car, which rolls on Mickey Thompson Pro Bracket Radial tires, could stop on a dime.
Elyse chose a Pro-Formance Transmissions-built C4 and Dynamic converter to help transfer the power to the pavement, and Chris Jones of Blow-By Racing and Tony Gonyon of Tuners, Inc. have provided advice on tuning Modular engines to Elyse and Arndt, who use SCT tuning products.
“The car was worked on every single day for six weeks straight,” said Elyse, who relied on fellow NMRA racers Brad and Nina Gusler of BG Racing Parts, Bill Tumas of CJ Pony Parts, DJ Safety and Fathouse Fab for help securing parts throughout the process. “This build was the poster child for racers helping racers. It shows how much our (race) series is like one big family.”
When work to the car was wrapped up in early March, Elyse traveled from home in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania to Orlando, Florida to test at Orlando SpeedWorld.
“We made three passes to shake the car down, and it ran 10.70-something,” said Elyse. “I was very confident in the car.”
She took that confidence to the 24th Annual Nitto NMRA Spring Break Shootout, March 1-4 at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida, where she introduced the car to Richmond Gear Factory Stock by posting a 10.79 to qualify in the eighth position. She picked up considerably with a 10.50 in the first round of eliminations, but it was not quite enough to take the win.
“We were pleased that the car performed right off the trailer because we want to show that we’re serious, that we’re there to compete and that we’re not just a class filler,” said Elyse.
With a desire to further dial in the combination, she took part in a test session at Cecil County Dragway in Maryland soon after that race, and picked up timeslips that reflected 10.50 and 10.53 runs. Then, the following month, she headed to the 10th Annual NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by Mahle Motorsport, April 5-8 at Atlanta Dragway, where she put up a 10.69 to qualify in the eighth position, and picked up to a 10.62 in the first round of eliminations … but it was not quite enough to put her in the second round of eliminations.
Now, Elyse is preparing to pull into the 18th Annual CJ Pony PartsNMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals, May 3-6 at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania — her home track — and behind her every step of the way is her crew, including Arndt, Joey Finan and Brian Mitchell, who’s currently campaigning Arndt’s very capable Mustang in NMRA Edelbrock Renegade.
“Putting this car together for Factory Stock makes me really appreciate the dedication the racers in the class have, and the amount of work they put in to be successful,” said Elyse, whose nephew has autism and has inspired her to be an advocate for autism awareness at the races and away from the races. “It takes a lot to continuously improve and to be competitive.”