Believe it or not, you are looking at one of the meanest NHRA stock eliminator cars in the country. Yes, we’re serious. This 1976 Mustang II has the same 302 2-bbl combo that it left the factory with sporting the same crummy carb, the same crummy heads, and the same crummy intake manifold but this one runs 13s and way more than one second under the established index for the celebrated U/Stock Automatic category it is classed in. BJ Graham is the driver and she may be having the most fun out of any drag racer in America. This car is usually the #1 or #2 qualifier at any race it shows up at in the nation. Why?
As mentioned above, stock eliminator uses a series of indexes to establish the performance marks for each of its myriad of categories. During qualifying, drivers that run under those indexes the deepest qualify at the top of the field. Cars that are really fast can run about 1-second under. So if you have a 10-second index and run 9.00 that puts you “one under” and typically close to the top of the sheet. BJ’s car was hauling the mail and has been all season long and ripped several runs more than 1.2-seconds under the index at Last Vegas. That triggered a horsepower adjustment. “Getting Horsepower” is like winning a lead trophy. The NHRA’s automatic horsepower factoring system was triggered and 11hp was added to the rating of the 1976 Mustang II 2bbl V8. So what does that mean in English?
It means that their car gets a little heavier and may slow down a bit…unless they were heavy anyway. So in stock there classifying is done by the horsepower of the engine and the weight of the car. Got a trip-power 427 1969 Corvette? Welcome to AA/Stock. Got a 1967 Belvedere with a 273 and a Torqueflite? Welcome to U/Stock automatic. By adding horsepower to the engine, the car needs to get a little fatter.
So why do this? Because NHRA is evil and they want to crush the racers? No. It is to prevent one combo from being so “soft” that the rules allow it to run roughshod over all else. Mike and BJ Graham are awesome people who race their tails off. Mike is obviously a super talented hot rodder to do what he has done with the engine and there’s a badge of pride in here somewhere as well. If you are fast enough to “get horsepower” you have done something right.
So yeah, read the announcement by NHRA below and smile. Who in their right mind would have ever thoughts that a 1976 Mustang II would be earning the lead trophy in 2018…certainly not the engineers at Ford or anyone who drove one of those barges new!
As the result of runs under the Automatic Horsepower Factoring System (AHFS) 1.20-second under policy at the NHRA Four Wide event, the following change has been made.
The horsepower rating for 1976 Ford Mustang, entries with the 302 cubic inch engine and a factory rating of 133 currently rated at 140, has been increased by eleven horsepower, to 151 horsepower; for Stock Eliminator.
NHRA’s 2018 Automatic Horsepower Factoring System outlines that any run of 1.20-seconds or more under the index will receive an immediate index decrease or horsepower increase. These changes are effective April 10, 2018.