Mopar Muscle's focus has been, and will always be, the era of Chrysler's ground-pounding machines of the 1960s and '70s. These were the cars that gave true meaning to the words "performance era." While some may argue that the Pentastar troops lacked innovative styling in the earliest days of the Max Wedge, there was no denying that when the flag came down, the horsepower told the story. Indeed, while Pontiac's GTO and Ford's Mustang may have gotten kinder accolades in the automotive press, no one ever denied that when it came to blistering tires and reaching the finish line first, these cars had no equal.
Even today, Chrysler's barely-streetable packages rule the upper echelons of the quarter-mile. Only the advent of recently-"discovered" Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette combinations have allowed anything but Mopars to run in the upper realms of the Stock and Super Stock divisions. To field a class-legal car in NHRA, and, to a lesser extent, IHRA, requires that the owner spend a great deal of money. Due to the attention to detail needed to find even miniscule amounts of horsepower, thousands upon thousands of dollars can be spent on finding the right set of heads or carburetors, and blueprinting that equipment to the most exact tolerances is a given. Once at the track, especially in Super Stock, the Max Wedge or Hemi racer may find himself or herself up against a late-model car whose scienced-out replacement suspension and digital engine controls give the newer vehicle inherent advantages. It isn't futile to race older cars in these classes, it's just not as fun as it used to be.
The advent of the National Muscle Car Association and other venues brought another racing option to owners of classics '60s-era package cars. This was through a new division known as Nostalgia Super Stock. Unlike the rules in traditional class racing, where vehicles are classed by combination, cars in the NSS division run off of set time indexes. For example, NSS/A is run off of a 10.00 index, with no breakout allowed. Therefore, it's no longer as critical to be able to run optimum times as it is to run consistent times. To keep qualifying level between packages, positions in the field are based on reaction time rather than elapsed time. The breakout rule remains in effect even for heads-up battles; if you run quicker than the index, you're out (unless the guy in the other lane was even quicker).
Moreover, the rules allow you to move around in the division as needed. For example, if you find that the car is having a hard time running NSS/B, the sanctioning body allows moving down (or up, if that's the case) even after qualifying has begun. In fact, as long as the tower is aware of your change, you can change anytime until the end of Saturday's final session.
In terms of combinations, the rules are fairly straightforward. The body must be one that was created between 1959 and 1969 by an American manufacturer. For Chrysler products, that includes Hemi and wedge motors in A-Bodies and B-Bodies, so long as the car was available from the factory with that particular engine. Hood scoops replicate original equipment, no high-tech monster scoops, while any fiberglass must exactly replace the stock steel panels. Engines are required to run gasoline (AFX machines can run methanol) and can displace as many cubic inches as you wish, so long as the engine is configured like the era-correct OE equipment (in other words, no Pro Stock motors). Weight has no minimum, while safety requirements identical to NHRA's make up the bulk of the remaining regulations. While single four-barrel combinations are allowed, multiple carbs are the norm.
The end result is a field of cars much closer to what would have raced each other in the heyday of the factory supercar. It is not all Mopars; Ford Thunderbolts, 409 Chevys, Super Duty Pontiacs and even AMXs create the picture, but, just as in the old days, the Mopars are by far the most abundant. A handful are factory-built Max Wedge and Hemi machines, while the remainder are well-done clones. This is beneficial for a number of reasons, but the most important is that the drivers can really drive these cars. This means wheelstands plus up-to-date rollcages and engine plates that don't harm a relic from the past.
The NMCA is an organization devoted to street-car performance. The evolution of the upper divisions has made some entries closer to IHRA Pro Modifieds than boulevard bruisers, but most of the nostalgia entries could be street driven if needed (just like the factory packages from the old days could).
At the season-ending NMCA World Finals in Atlanta, we had a chance to catch up with some of the players in the Nostalgia Super Stock ranks. Here are a few of them.