Steele And Atkins Battle For Stick-Shift Supremacy At The 25th Annual World Cup Finals Import Vs. Domestic Race

11/11/2021
10 min read

Steele And Atkins Battle For Stick-Shift Supremacy At The 25th Annual World Cup Finals Import Vs. Domestic Race

11/11/2021
10 min read

Joel Steele has done it again with his stock-block Coyote-powered Boss 302, becoming the fastest/quickest stick-shift car in the quarter-mile. This past weekend, at the World Cup Finals Import Vs. Domestic race at Mayland International Raceway, Steele ran a 6.81 at 208 mph during a heads-up race against previous record holder Joel Grannas in his Grannas Racing Toyota Supra Mk IV.


Steele set the fastest/quickest H-pattern domestic record at FL2K earlier this year, with an elapsed time of 6.95 at 202 mph. After the race, Steele made the bold claim that he'd go faster, and he did. He beat the previous overall record by less than 1/10th of a second. Grannas' Supra, nicknamed “Orange Man Bad”, previously held the record at 6.95 at 202 mph.




We recently did an in-depth feature on Steele's Mustang, which you can check out here. Steele is working with TKM Performance in Denton, North Carolina, on a billet-block Coyote powerplant. However, parts shortages have delayed that build, so Steele purchased this stock-block Coyote drivetrain after selling it last year.


Two Forced Inductions 76/83mm turbos with new FIC cold-side housings push over 40 PSI of boost through the unfilled stock block. It features Wiseco pistons, Manley rods, and a Ford Performance Boss 302 crank. The stock heads were ported, polished, and include 1mm over-sized valves.


Shifting is performed by a Tick Performance Ultimate Race Transmission based on a Tremec Magnum XL with a Pfitzner Performance Gearbox (PPG) billet, dog-ringed gearset. Steele uses his Holley Dominator ECU to trigger an ignition cut. When Steele hits redline, the Dominator allows rpms to fall just long enough to complete a shift. Once back in gear, full ignition returns. He uses an adjustable slipper clutch only to launch the car. Shifting happens within a split second, without the clutch.

Despite setting the record at FL2K, the event wasn't without incident. During the first round of the stick-shift eliminations against Cleetus McFarland, Steele red-lit, despite never leaving the starting line. It’s likely that flames from the front exit exhaust triggered the beams. Chassis builder Xiled Drag Cars whipped up new bullhorn exits before World Cup.


Steele fought traction issues at the beginning of the weekend. A crewmember noticed the team's new exhaust tips were leaking condensation onto the track before a run. They sealed the leak off with RTV silicone and made minor clutch adjustments before laying down their first 6-second pass of the weekend.


The best elapsed time came during a round of qualifying against Grannas. "I was coming up to the staging lanes and saw Joel Grannas in the left lane, so I jumped in the right. I thought I may not have another opportunity," said Joel. "I couldn't have asked for a better scenario; it was like a grudge race we set up three months prior."


Since Steele's in-depth article photoshoot, he’s since fixed, changed, and thrashed on the car in preparation for the World Cup Finals. Previous damage to the spindles had been causing issues, the steering geometry had to be reworked, and Hammer Concepts and Designs installed a new rear end housing and sway bar.

He also changed tuners, and is now being guided by Tick Performance owner Jonathan Atkins, who races the “Grubb Worm” Camaro, a 1997 30th Anniversary Edition Camaro with a period-correct Gen-II LT1. Atkins also reset a record, becoming the fastest/quickest GM/T56 and LT1 with a run of 6.97 at 211 mph.


“Grubb Worm” features a filled block with a de-stroked rotating assembly, a COMP Cam custom-grind camshaft, and a Precision Turbo ProMod 102mm turbocharger with TurboSmart wastegates. It also runs a Tick Performance Ultimate Race Transmission based on a T56 and Holley Dominator ECU. Atkins shifts with the same torque-cut method as Steele.


Atkins also fought some intermediate traction issues. The team tried nitrous for the first time, but the tires spun as soon as the nitrous hit, so they opted against it for the remainder of the weekend. Saturday during qualifying, Jonathan laid 6.97 at 211 mph and 6.96 at 208 mph during elimination rounds.


VIDEO: Josh Tonski's "Junk Monkey" Corvette vs. Jonathan Atkins' "Grubb Worm" Camaro

Atkins battled his way through eliminations, running against Joel Grannas, who spit a rod out of his Supra’s engine block when wheelspin in second gear caused the engine to go straight to 11,000 RPM. Atkins spun his tires right off the line and backed out. "My run was over when I noticed a fireball from Grannas' car," said Jonathan. "So I got back it in, spun, let out, back in it again, and thought I blew my engine. It was the ugliest pass in drag racing history, but it put us in the finals." Atkins lost to Josh Tonski’s "Junk Money" Corvette, who won with a 7.0 at 210mph.


Steele sat out after the first round of eliminations due to excessive engine noise. They pulled the engine out in the pits and fellow stick-shift racer, Chris Moore, hauled it over to TKM Performance. They quickly turned it around, and it's currently going back into the Mustang to make the Mod Nationals this weekend in Georgia, where Steele has claimed, yet again, he'll run even faster.

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