REYNOLDS, Ga. – After a strong season-opening effort in Florida, the ROUSH® drag racing team continued their assault on the NMRA’s index classes with another hard-fought effort during a weekend of weather uncertainty at Silver Dollar Raceway in Reynolds, Ga.
Susan Roush-McClenaghan followed up her final round appearance at Bradenton (Fla.) Motorsports Park with another final round berth against perennial tough contender Tom Motycka. After a strong 0.014 reaction time during the rain-aborted qualifying sessions landed her in the seventh qualified spot, Susan powered all the way through the field, missing out on the top spot by the slimmest of margins – eleven ten thousandths of a second at the stripe.
Susan, despite not having the drag racing experience of some of her racing peers, is quickly establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with in the ROUSH® Performance Modular Muscle class. As is the case with any drag race, there has to be a winner and a loser, and after Susan met up with ROUSH® teammate Donnie Bowles in the second round, she moved on to have a third-round bye before narrowly winning over Georgia’s Charlie McCulloch to advance to the final against Motycka. The heartbreaking loss in the event’s final stanza didn’t temper Susan’s spirits; she was upbeat and cheery after cementing her class points lead with this strong showing, the third final-round appearance of her career.
"Big Thunder," the engine residing between the shock towers of the ’62 Falcon piloted by Dale McClenaghan, is quickly living up to its name. The engine, built and designed solely in-house by the team of engineers at ROUSH® Competition Engines, was dynoed back in mid-February and set into the car just before the first race last month. Dale readily admits that the engine has caused the team some growing pains as the extra heft of the 1,000 horsepower big-block upset the chassis balance to an extent. The team has worked hard to overcome the issues and Dale was rewarded with a stellar 0.005 reaction time to place atop the Open Comp qualifying ladder. McClenaghan made it through rounds one and two before falling victim to a heartbreaking 0.007 red light against former Fun Ford Weekend champion Danny Towe in round three.
With lots of hard work, Donnie Bowles has been honing his skills on the tree and a 0.006 reaction time during qualifying placed him third among the 17 competitors in the ROUSH® Modular Muscle class at the end of the rain-shortened session. A first-round win over Louisiana’s El Smith was tempered, and the odd number of cars meant that Donnie would have to face teammate Susan Roush-McClenaghan in the second round. Donnie got out to a 0.016 starting line advantage, but Susan ran much closer to her index, ending Donnie’s weekend.
"Coal Digger VI," the distinctive yellow Mustang campaigned by Don Bowles, is always solidly in the hunt in Open Comp competition. Bowles had engine woes at the season-opening race in Florida, but was confident that the issues had been sorted out as he hit the track running, qualifying second behind ROUSH® teammate Dale McClenaghan with a 0.012 reaction time. Since the Mustang uses a Liberty clutchless five-speed transmission, it’s critical that Bowles drives the car to within an inch of its life every time down the track.
"Music to the ear" would be a good description for the experimental Ford-designed engine which carried Don to the third round, before he broke out by a heartbreaking 0.012 against eventual winner Mike Olencheck. The round win puts Don back into the hunt in the Open Comp class. You can bet that he’ll be back on his game for the next race in ROUSH’s backyard – Milan Dragway, just a short drive from the ROUSH® Livonia headquarters.
The four cars carry sponsorship from ROUSH® Performance and Valvoline. The next event on the NMRA schedule will take place June 12-15 at Milan Dragway in Milan, Mich.
Based in Livonia, Mich., "The Art of Performance Engineering" takes place at ROUSH Performance. To get a look behind the scenes at what goes on at ROUSH and how the vehicles are designed, manufactured and produced logon to . In addition to the Stage 1TM, Stage 2TM and Stage 3TM Ford Mustang and F-150 styling, handling and performance upgrades, a complete line of performance parts and crate engines are offered. For more information see your local ROUSH dealer, visit or telephone toll-free (800) 59-ROUSH.