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After finishing 3rd in points in 2021, Limited Street racer Samantha Moore rolled into Bradenton Motorsports Park for the Holley NMRA season opener with big horsepower and big hopes. The Brighton, Michigan racer, who operates Vector Motorsports, spent the winter months updating her 2014 Mustang GT, but she didn’t have a chance to test the combination. Nevertheless, she figured the Thursday test session would give her a chance to shake down the Mustang and hopefully solve any pre-race issues.
Limited Street is a tough category and the competition is stiff. In fact, class champ Bill Putman was back with his 1994 Mustang that hasn’t lost a single round of racing since the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Drag Racing from mid-year in 2019.
But Moore, despite having only a few years as a heads-up drag racer, proved anything is possible with hard work and determination. “I graduated from University of Michigan with a Geophysics degree and I bought a blue 2010 manual Camaro SS as a graduation present for myself,” she told us.
“I took the Camaro to Milan Dragway and it was game over for me, I was instantly hooked on drag racing. I modded the Camaro and eventually it was in the top 10 in the country for bolt-ons. The problem was that I was always breaking the IRS,” she stated. “I got it in the 10s, but all my buddies were driving Mustangs to the track and not breaking. I kept an eye on this white Mustang, and I eventually bought it February 28, 2015, exactly four years to the day after I bought the Camaro.
Moore heats the tires during action at the Holley NMRA Spring Break Shootout. Her best elapsed time was an 8.18 that was good enough for the class record.
“My plan was to make the Mustang a fun street car and the Camaro would be my race car, but I did the opposite,” Moore said. “The Mustang had a 6R80 and it was consistent. I went to my first NMRA race in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2017 and I ran Super Stang. I made it a couple of rounds and I loved it. NMRA racing was so different from what I was doing, which was grudge racing. People were friendly...at the grudge races you always have to watch your back, that’s what I was used to. NMRA was organized and more fun. You go from checking your back to people helping you. I also ran True Street and the cruise was great, but I loved watching the heads-up cars. My business partner, Dan Sienkiewicz, formerly ran NMCA heads-up in Limited Street back a way back and Outlaw 10.5 and so we made a plan to try a heads-up class.
“I ran Super Street for a year, but I got mad about breaking out all the time. I have respect for that type of racing but it wasn’t for me. I made the move to Limited Street in 2019 and my first race was the Holley NMRA St. Louis Rumble. We qualified 4th out of 12 cars, but I felt like a fish out of water. We made it to the second round and spun, but the car was competitive. It was still a full street car at the time, I still drove it to Starbucks and the grocery store,” she explained.
Maple Grove was the next event and Moore qualified well and I made it to the semi-finals. Following the Grove was the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Drag Racing. Moore was ready and she scored her very first national event win, beating Bill Putman in the final. Interestingly, that was the last time Putnam lost a round of racing until Moore beat him at the recent NMRA Spring Break Shootout.
Moore’s mount is a 2014 Mustang GT California Special that’s been modified for NMRA Limited Street. “I debated about buying another car because this is a California Special and I didn’t want to destroy it,” she told us. “But it’s pretty much a race car now. We built the engine in-house with a Bear Coyote block, which is beefier than the factory block, and it has steel main caps and larger head studs. It has ported Gen 1 original heads that were prepared by Slawko Racing Heads, Comp cams, Manley I-beam rods and JE pistons.”
The engine is a 1,000-plus horsepower Coyote with a VMP/Magnuson supercharger and Holley Dominator EFI. Along with wrenching and driving, Moore does her own tuning.
Boost is provided by a VMP/Magnuson 2.3L Gen 2 supercharger and she does her own tuning with a Holley Dominator EFI. Moore uses a Holley EFI 12.3-inch Pro Dash in lieu of a classic gauge package. “The Dominator EFI data log/recording is really good and I understand the programming. It’s got limitless capabilities and it’s very accurate on timing control and air/fuel ratio,” Moore stated. “I tune stock-type ECUs all day at work and they are overly complicated because there’s endless configurations, but the Holley is air, fuel, spark and there are no limits or ceilings. I always joke and say ‘Holley the World’ because my life would be better.” The Coyote engine is backed by a Coan Engineering T400 and converter and the rear end is a Ford 9-inch with Strange internals.
Moore relies on Viking double adjustable front struts and adjustable shocks with UPR control arms, K-member and panhard bar. The GT weighs 3,890 lbs with driver, which makes her best elapsed time of 8.18 at 162.53 mph utterly impressive. Her typical 60 foot is 1.20 and best is a 1.17!
Replacing the stock gauges is a Holley 12.3-inch Pro Dash (p/n 553-111)
“Having success at the first race makes all the hard work worth it,” said Moore. “We literally got the car back from the RJ Profab in New York on January 30th and took it home. I was on it every single day and night to make Bradenton. I had to repair a fuel pump problem and made two pulls on the dyno and finished the wiring. It makes over 1,000 horsepower to the wheels, but I didn’t get to make any runs before the race. I was going to be happy just attending the race and I expected to be fighting the car all weekend. I was not expecting anything.
“On our first pass we blew the tires off it and on the second pass I ran a person best of 8.41 at 158 mph. For the third pass I changed my launch and shift rpm and the air got better, too. It ran 8.33 at 158 mph and felt really good, but I didn’t want to get comfortable. We went into qualifying and I had to lift to prevent a big wheelie but it still ran 8.43 at 158 mph. So for the next pass we took some [power] out on launch and it went 8.32 at 158.6 mph and we stole the top spot from Chad Wendel. In Q3 I ran 8.31 at 161 mph and that solidified the pole,” she said.
Limited Street was looking tight with the top five cars locked between 8.31 and 8.63. “For the first round the air was different and I had a bye because my competition broke. In Round 2, I earned the compitition bye, but I watched Bill [Putman] click off an 8.26. I wanted lane choice so I ran it out and clicked off an 8.18 at 162.5 mph. So going into the semis I guess I made a statement. I knew I was racing him and I wanted to make sure I could get the lane I wanted. To be honest, I was nervous going into that round because Bill had been on such a roll. On the other hand, I was confident I could win if I didn’t redlight. After I beat him it felt amazing, honestly it was better than winning the whole event,” she exclaimed.
Moore prepares for a run in NMRA competition.
“He was a good sport and shook my hand after the race and it was a big relief. It was a big feat. In the final I knew Kent [Nine] had a good car. I just wanted to make it through the race and let the car do the talking. I never underestimate anyone. I left the tune the same and it was happy. I wanted the record, but I wasn’t expecting to run in the teens. After beating Kent and winning the race I cried with happiness. I hadn’t stopped to take a breath in months and finally I was able to breathe,” Moore stated.
“We set the record and qualified number one in a car that’s essentially brand new and everything worked. Of course, we had stuff we were working on, one night we were there until 3 am, but it was nothing too complicated.
“After such a long winter and all the struggles to make the race I was so grateful. I got out of the car, smacked her, and it was one of the best feelings in a long time. The 30 days leading up to the race were filled with setbacks. We had the wrong piston rings three times and you can’t do a lot of stuff until the engine is in the car. The car is called Relentless and she earned her name this weekend.”
“Lastly, I have to give a huge shout-out to Randy Jewell for jumping through hoops to build the cage/chassis in a month with a busted hand. His work is amazing and this car would not be what it is without him and his expertise. It was also great to have him there with us in Bradenton. And also to all my guys at Vector Motorsports who put in the long hours and helped get this car complete in time for this race!”