Small block Hemi enters Grudge racing:

Small block Hemi enters Grudge racing:

Speed, adrenaline, and pure theatrics -

By Fergus Ogilvy:

Grudge racing has dominated the drag racing scene in the southern US States for decades.

But in recent years, the Internet has conquered every part of its frenetic life, particularly Facebook postings that have expanded its Southern origins (Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas) westward to the Mississippi and north to the shores of Lake Michigan.

To its masses, its chief dynamic is straight forward: betting. There is no maximum amount—when a dollar changes hands it’s a Grudge race.

In Grudge racing, an opportunity to catch a glimpse of an open engine bay and its unobstructed contents is uncommon. This small-block Ford is energized by HPE Hemi heads; it has already distinguished itself by defeating turbo rivals, a rare occurrence in the nitrous oxide-dominated Grudge game.

In Grudge racing, this small-block Ford is energized by HPE Hemi heads; it has already distinguished itself by defeating turbo rivals, a rare occurrence in the nitrous oxide-dominated Grudge game.

An addictive quality, the money won and lost, sometimes in sizable proportions, is only surpassed by pride or poor judgment of its car owners, entrants, drivers, and spectators: such an adventure, such potential for gain, such drama. Still, in the rapid passing of a one-eighth mile, the prospects of returning home $10,000 poorer are agonizing!

A strictly cash economy

Who would have thought the Fox-body to be the most charismatic of all Mustangs? In the Grudge-racing South, its successes outstretch all others.

In the South, Fox-body Mustang successes outstretch all others.

In their pre-race negotiations, a Grudge racer attempts to learn as much as possible about his rival, his racing history, and the competitiveness of his car. They operate with “stips”, an abbreviation for stipulations that specify what is allowed: small block-powered car on 28/10.5 tires with a cast intake manifold and a single 4bl or dual 4bl carburetors.  If your opponent has a history of swapping engines, the stips might have a clause that allows his rival to view the engine before the race.

The Atlanta Grudge racing faithful flock to the Fox-body. Accomplished constructor/tuner Scott Milner (left) and gifted competitor Jonathan May with an HPE Hemi-powered small-block

Leading constructor, tuner, and racer Scott Milner (left) and accomplished competitor Jonathan May with a Mustang whose ownership has alternated between them for years

When all is settled, perhaps a week in advance of the race, the deposits of the two opponents are sent to a third party, a neutral person known as the “DP” man—a further abbreviation for Deposit man. The deposit acts as a contract between two people who have agreed to race. At the track, before the race, the full wager is handed over to the Deposit man, who is entrusted with the monies and the responsibility of enforcing the stipulations and the dispensing of all the money to the winner.

No-Time Shoot-out rules demand the use of a small-block engine, nitrous oxide-assisted, 28.0/10.5 R15 Drag Radials, which, indeed, most Grudge racing cars run, and often stipulates a wheelbase dimension within 2in of the original.

No-Time Shoot-out rules demand the use of a small-block engine, nitrous oxide-assisted, 28.0/10.5 R15 Drag Radials, which, indeed, most Grudge racing cars run, and often stipulates a wheelbase dimension within 2in of the original.

Grudge race cars are mostly nitrous oxide-assisted; they also compete in Shoot-out events. These are organized by a promoter who guarantees to pay a sum of money to the racers, if sufficient cars are entered for the event. A typical arrangement might pay the first four places: $3,000 to the winner, $1,000 to the runner-up, and $500 each to third- and fourth-place finishers.

Though Grudge racing has no formal tech inspection, the racer’s routine checks include fuel and nitrous levels, and spark plugs, which are usually replaced after each round of racing. Before discarding the plugs, however, they perform a color check on each, and adjustments are made to the ignition or nitrous oxide systems, if necessary.

Though Grudge racing has no formal tech inspection, the racer’s routine checks include fuel and nitrous levels, and spark plugs, which are usually replaced after each round of racing. Before discarding the plugs, they perform a color check on each, and adjustments are made to the ignition or nitrous oxide systems, if necessary.

Alternatively, they draw chips, like poker chips that specify a number and a letter L or R, which signifies the left or right lane. The two racers that draw number 1 are paired for the first round and similarly with number 2 and 3 and so forth.

These pairings introduce further potential for monetary gain, which might vary from $500 to $2,500. So during the drivers’ meeting, racers will ask the promoter if he has any objection to their placing Grudge race bets with their first-round opponents. Usually there are no objections.

Scott Milner owns and operates Coupe Performance in Covington, nr. Atlanta. The company constructs 15 to 20 complete racecars each year and services a further 60 to 70 for competition each racing season. Milner also Grudge races for approximately 10 car owners

Scott Milner owns and operates Coupe Performance in Covington, nr. Atlanta. The company constructs 15 to 20 complete racecars each year and services a further 60 to 70 for competition each racing season. 

Both Grudge racing and Shoot-outs operate as No-Time events, the objective is to shroud in mystery as much racecar detail as possible. Obviously, should a potentially lucrative match arise, it’s in the racer’s interest that many of his performance details remain unknown.

Atlanta racecar preparation specialist, Scott Milner says, “You’d be forgiven for thinking Grudge racing attracts questionable individuals but often it’s the opposite, for their racing world is more organized than you’d expect. “ More important, their word is their bond. “If you don’t pay your bet,” he explains, “you’re finished. Word gets around and no one will race you. A stain on your name means your Grudge racing days are over. Most people do what they say they’ll do.”

Drama and comedians

For some, though, the most annoying aspect of Grudge racing is the theatrics of the spectators, particularly those crowded around the rear of the cars preparing to leave the line. Chaotic scenes to some, perhaps, but for those engaging in the histrionics it is the most enjoyable aspect.

Accomplished Grudge racer Jonathan May says, “It can be organized chaos, but there’s nothing personal in their sometimes hostile negotiations. It’s just business—as they call it. I see it as comical.” For most of us, trash talking is a curious endeavor and Grudge racing, for good or ill, has its share of outlandish comedians.

To achieve optimum contact patch, the 10.5in Drag Radial rear slick is fitted to a 12in wide rim. In diameter the tire measures approximately 28in. The front tire on Jonathan May’s machine is a 150/60 ZR17, which originates from a motorcycle rear.

To achieve optimum contact patch, the 10.5in Drag Radial rear slick is fitted to a 12in wide rim. In diameter the tire measures approximately 28in. The front tire on Jonathan May’s machine is a 150/60 ZR17, which originates from a motorcycle rear.

As in most racing categories, the Grudge game has fostered a diversity of machinery, frequently in resplendent condition. There may be some that give the appearance of a backyard special in a deceptive effort to help betting chances. But heroic failures don’t exist as there is always a car that can be matched with yours.

Winning formula

But the racecar most lured to the starting line, at least in the State of Georgia, is the Fox-body Mustang. Produced from 1979 to 1993, the abundance of these vehicles and their conversion to racecars has spurred an industry endowed with dyno cells, chassis tuning departments, and spray painting booths that remain busy throughout the year.

Cockpit enclosed by chrome molybdenum roll cage 1.625in x 0.083in wall thickness and carbon fiber seat reinforced by 1/2in tubular frame. Racepak instrument nestles in quick release carbon fiber dash board. Partially obscured to the right of the steering wheel is a touch screen switch panel.

Cockpit enclosed by chrome molybdenum roll cage 1.625in x 0.083in wall thickness and carbon fiber seat reinforced by 1/2in tubular frame. Racepak instrument nestles in quick release carbon fiber dash board. Partially obscured to the right of the steering wheel is a touch screen switch panel.

Supremacy, unsurprisingly, is the objective but trumpeting your success can be detrimental to your racing prospects. Nonetheless, Internet bench racers can adeptly calculate an eighty percent win ratio when they see it.

Generating optimum power from Hemi heads with nitrous oxide and can be elusive. But HPE’s small-block Ford Hemi design succeeds with a combustion chamber of a different formula—its innovation is merging the best of the Hemi with the Wedge

Generating optimum power from Hemi heads with nitrous oxide and can be elusive. But HPE’s small-block Ford Hemi design succeeds with a combustion chamber of a different formula—its innovation merges the best of the Hemi with the Wedge

Greg Brown of HPE introduced his Hemi cylinder heads for small-block Fords at the PRI show in December 2016. A year later at the same event, his Hemi for the LS debuted. What’s it been like in the intervening months? “It’s been like living at Cape Canaveral at launch time!”

 

A visit to Coupe Performance facilities at Covington, Georgia—one of the most successful preparation shops in the country—would reveal around 50 racecars, all with their hoods shut to the visitor’s prying eye.

Founded by Scott Milner in 2001, he acknowledges the Fox-body has an OEM rear suspension that resembles a competition 4-link system. Therefore, it’s eminently suited to competition. The car is also relatively light with a plentiful supply of racing components available.

Milner’s company builds an astonishing 15 to 20 cars from scratch each year and, in addition, services 60 to 70 others.

Sources

Hammerhead Performance Engines
Snellville, Georgia 30039
(678) 588-0874
Contact Greg Brown
www.HammerheadPerformanceEngines.com

 

Coupe Performance
Covington, Georgia 30016
(678) 409-4685
Contact Scott Milner

4 Comments

  1. Love the Hemi Ford combo. Where do I buy a steering wheel like the one in that Mustang? Thanks

    Reply
    • Richardsonboyz.com sells this steering wheel and many other designs.

      Reply
  2. I’ve become a big fan of MGI because the Editor and staff aren’t afraid of offending the delicate inner child that many GM types try to hide from when the brutal truth about Ford aftermarket superiority in articles about Greg Brown’s outstanding Hammerhead Ford Hemi style Small Block Heads.

    HOWEVER, I really don’t appreciate a story that pulls the reader in by an implied suggestion that an article featuring a Fox body Mustang equipped with Ford Hammerhead Hemi heads would actually include the long awaited performance data that myself and perhaps millions more are waiting to hear about. Come on guys…REALLY ? I’ve lived in the Covington/Oxford area for 34 years but I somehow missed Milner’s impressive company. A little more information would be great!

    Thanks,
    AnalogDan Wilson.

    Reply
    • Hello Dan,
      Thank your for your response, and we understand you’d be happier had the article contained more performance data, but Grudge racers won’t reveal those details. The only hint we could elicit was that race cars prepared at Scott Milner’s shop had achieved an 80 percent win rate, and even that information published has potentially detrimental effects on their securing future races.

      Also, though a most congenial and engaging man, conversing with Milner before 10pm is a challenge. He doesn’t often answer his phone, he has no voicemail, he has no website – a text message works sometimes. The reason for delayed communications is that he and his team are busy; they produce dozens of race cars – work comes first.

      Needless to say, this story was one of the most unusual we’ve covered, and had it not been for the improbable act of Jonathan May opening his hood and revealing the contents of his engine bay, we could not have reported it at all.

      However, as further performance data on Greg Brown’s heads becomes available, we’ll continue to report it. Thanks again for your note and hoping this helps.

      Sincerely, Victor Moore

      Reply

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