TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout at the 2023 NMRA Spring Break Drag Race

Jeff Smith Mustang Cobra

TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout at the 2023 NMRA Spring Break Drag Race

The first TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout of 2023 had drama, firsts, and plenty of great drag racing action!

Participants with a manual-transmission car competing in NMRA’s most popular racing class, True Street, are eligible to compete in the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout. If you’re not familiar with the True Street class, it’s open to any street-legal, Ford-powered and Ford-bodied vehicle that is street legal. From bone-stock cars and trucks to street-legal street/strip vehicles, regardless of driving experience anyone can enter and become a participant instead of just spectating at an NMRA event.

After passing inspection to verify street legality per the rules, all entries then go on a 30-mile road cruise to prove they really can be driven on the street. If a car can’t complete the street cruise, it is not allowed to compete. After returning to the track all surviving entries get a 30-minute cooldown before time trials start. During cooldown, vehicles can’t be worked on or tuned other than adjusting tire pressure, adding ice to intercooler tanks (if said tank is in the trunk), and turn on nitrous bottles. Hoods must remain closed, no computer tuning or fueling is allowed.

For the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout, the fastest eight manual transmission cars are selected based on their True Street E/T average. Only H-pattern shift manual transmission cars are eligible; Lenco-style or air-shifted transmissions are not allowed. Unlike True Street, the Stick Shift Shootout is run with staggered-start eliminations using a “pro tree” on the starting line. There is no breakout disqualifier, cars can run at their maximum speed and E/T but must be NHRA-legal when it comes to roll cages, parachutes, and driver’s racing license for any cars running faster than 9-seconds.

For the first time, the NMRA Spring Break Shootout and TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout was held at Orlando Speed World Dragway. The unseasonable hot 90-degree temperature and sunny day combined with 20-30 mph winds made an impact and required drivers adjust accordingly. At one point it was a strong headwind going down the track. On Sunday the ambient temperature was down around 80 and the wind had slacked off considerably, so drivers had to adjust their tune and launch mindset accordingly. Partly cloudy skies had the sun on the track going in and out, which gave racers another variable to deal with from round to round.

For the NMRA Spring Break Shootout, here were our Stick Shift Shootout Quick 8:

Pass OnePass TwoPass ThreeAverage
Kyle Miller9.2459.46410.0459.585
Jeff Smith9.59410.16310.4610.072
Andrew Sheridan10.08610.12210.04510.064
Karl Goin10.11210.17410.64410.31
James Burch10.92610.77810.79610.834
Andrew Kelly10.95110.93211.05610.98
Chris Rusch11.17811.07910.96411.074
Brian Biegert10.8811.14311.29611.106

First round on Sunday started with some unexpected drama as the starting line tree was accidentally in bracket-race mode instead of pro. This caused two drivers to red light. After NMRA Director of Competition, Rollie Miller, evaluated the situation, he spoke with the drivers and it was agreed that all of the Stick Shift Shootout competitors would run the first round again.

The field was tight, with just over 1.5-seconds separating top to bottom. Kyle Miller was number one qualifier with a 9.585 E/T average, followed by five 10-second cars and two very low 11-second racers. The racing was tight between each pairing. Against tough competition, 2016 Stick Shift Shootout winner, Jeff Smith, came out on top beating number one qualifier Kyle Miller, Andrew Sheridan, and Karl Goin. Details of how each round and pairing went can be found in the photos and captions.

TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout Quick 8
The first TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout for 2023 featured a Quick 8 with a close qualifying group separated by 1.5 seconds top to bottom. Kyle Miller led the group with a low average E/T of 9.585 in his 2004 Ford Mustang Mach 1 to number eight qualifier Brian Biegert piloting his 2017 Mustang GT with an average E/T of 11.106. All eight qualifiers for the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout receive special jackets with the shootout logo and their names embroidered on the front.
TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout Competitors in Staging Lane
Eliminations for TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout is held the day after True Street competition during Sunday eliminations. Unlike True Street, drivers in the shootout can make whatever changes they want before eliminations starts and between each round. Each round is run with a staggered start format based on each car’s average E/T from True Street competition. This means the slower car will get the green before the quicker car.
NMRA’s technical director, Rollie Miller, speaks to TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout Competitors
The first round of the Stick Shift Shootout was rocked by some drama when the dragstrip Christmas Tree was accidentally set for bracket racing instead of a pro tree (referring to the countdown light delay before the green lights up). This caused two red lights and confusion. After discovering the problem, the NMRA’s technical director, Rollie Miller, pulled the racers together at the TREMEC trailer and the decision was made to re-run the first round after a regular cooldown period.
TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout competitors in staging lanes.
Because of the wrong setup on the starting line tree, the first round was re-run when the second round should’ve been taking place. This gave all the racers a chance to cool down and make any changes they wanted after seeing what the track was like during the aborted first round. The temperature was about 10-degrees cooler on Sunday than Saturday at Orlando Speed World Dragway, along with the wind easing up significantly from Saturday’s blustery conditions that had a 20-30 mph headwind for racers going down the track.
TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout
For first round matchups, each racer drew a numbered chip and was paired against the driver with the same number. Things started off with James Burch (10.834 avg. E/T) in his 2014 Mustang GT against Andrew Sheridan (10.084 avg. E/T) in a 2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Sheridan took the win, running a 9.61 @ 141.52 mph to Burch’s 11.00 @ 128.46 mph.
TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout
In a tight first-round matchup, Chris Rusch in his orange 2018 Mustang GT (11.074 avg. E/T) went toe-to-toe with Brian Biegert (11.106 avg. E/T) in the white 2017 Mustang GT with an almost even start. The slight advantage Biegert had off the line proved to be the difference, with the white GT turning on the win light with a 10.83 @ 132.70 mph to Rusch’s slightly quicker 10.78 @ 134.52 mph.
TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout
In probably the fiercest showdown of the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout was the first round matchup between number one qualifier Kyle Miller (9.585 avg. E/T) and Jeff Smith (10.072 avg. E/T) with both Florida racers eager to get the win over the other. Smith got the early start with his slower E/T average, then Miller dead-hooked on launch losing boost and precious time. Kyle couldn’t overcome Jeff’s lead with a 10.92 @ 152.49 mph run to a winning 9.44 @155.17 mph.
TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout
The last matchup of the first round was a battle of the all-motor, Coyote-powered Fox Bodies. Andrew Kelly’s 1993 Mustang (10.980 avg. E/T) versus Karl Goin’s 1992 Fox coupe (10.310 avg. E/T) ended round one with another great quarter-mile faceoff. Kelly got the early start, but Goin was able to close the gap and pull ahead with a winning 10.04 @ 132.78 to Kelly’s 10.86 @ 126.29 mph.
TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout
In the first semi-final round the early start went to Brian Biegert but despite having a clean start and run couldn’t hold the lead as Karl Goin made up the distance on the way to the final with a 10.22 @ 123.14 mph.
TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout
The other semi-final pitted Jeff Smith against Andrew Sheridan. Sheridan had the advantage on the line with the staggered start, but his 10.27 @ 114.47 was no match for Smith’s 9.31 @ 155.38 that easily made up for the tenth of a second head start at the line.
TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout
Who would take home the title in the final round of the first Stick Shift Shootout of 2023? Karl Goin’s 10.31 average E/T gave him a two-tenths of a second head start over Jeff Smith’s 10.072 average. But it proved meaningless as Smith kept his streak of running faster each round alive, running a 9.27 @ 157.93 mph to one of Goin’s best runs ever in the all-motor coupe 9.97 @ 138.58 mph.
TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout
A seven year drought was ended with Jeff Smith winning his first TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout since the 2016 shootout at Bradenton Motorsports Park. Orlando Speed World Dragway is Jeff’s home track, and his extensive experience proved pivotal for dialing-in his Magnum 6-speed equipped 2004 Mustang Cobra of eliminations. The Cobra ran a blistering pace on elimination Sunday, running faster each run with 9.44, 9.31 and 9.27 E/Ts. For the win Smith takes home a new McLeod Racing clutch worth $1,300, while runner-up Karl Goin received a $500 gift certificate also from McLeod Racing.