After redoing his car three times in three years, the first-ever class winner of NMRA Limited Street, Kelly Shotwell, is ready to blast the 2021 season.
Based out of Ohio, Shotwell qualified number one and took the win for the weekend at the inaugural event back in 2017 with his ’95 Ford Mustang Cobra—also his first-ever NMRA heads-up event. Since then, the car has gone through quite a few different versions with the most recent revision making it a serious threat to the rest of the field as the 2021 season opener, the 27th Annual NMRA Spring Break Shootout at Florida’s Bradenton Motorsports Park, is quickly approaching.
Shotwell finished up his 2018 season second in championship points for the class and has been hungry for the title ever since. After sitting out 2019 to focus on family, he redid his Mustang’s engine, transmission, and wiring, and then had his brother, Casey Shotwell, paint the car that is commonly known as “Betty White” a beautiful satin pearl white.
After 2020, though, even more updates were made and now Shotwell’s car has reached the pinnacle of its performance—just in time to get rolling for another exciting year of NMRA JDM Engineering Limited Street competition.
The biggest change, perhaps, was scrapping the old 8.50-certified roll cage in favor of a safer and more up-to-date 25.3 SFI-certified one from Gary Rohe Race Cars.
As it currently sits, Shotwell’s pony car is powered by a 321ci small-block Ford engine built by Baker Machine in Cincinnati, Ohio, topped with a set of Trick Flow Specialties Twisted Wedge 11R 205 cylinder heads that house a set of custom valves, also from Trick Flow.
“The heads have larger combustion chambers to take some of the compression out,” added Shotwell, who is eager to put his new engine to the test. “I also changed over to a solid roller cam from Ed Curtis at FlowTech Induction.”
While also upgrading his powerplant, Shotwell went ahead and had his fabricator, Jason Zimmers, create a new turbo kit to move the class-legal Precision 7675 turbocharger to a location that made it easier to remove with the Fathouse Fabrications intercooler and motor plate in place. Additionally, as class rules now permit a 4-inch downpipe, Shotwell had Zimmers fab up one as well, essentially replacing everything from the exhaust manifold on out.
Shotwell has been working with Robin Lawrence and the team at Holley for years, so it makes sense that he uses a Holley Hi-Ram intake manifold in conjunction with his Holley Dominator EFI system.
“We also added one of their new EGT kits with sensors on each runner and some other things to help with data acquisition and tuning,” noted Shotwell. Lawrence has been helping tune the engine, although Shotwell has worked with Jeff Wightman as his crew chief for the past two years.
Another new addition for Shotwell’s Cobra was a Reid Racing-cased Powerglide transmission from Michael Turner at Turner Transmissions. Similarly, he replaced his old torque converter with a new PTC unit that was spec’ed out by Dusty Bradford.
“New Aerospace Components brakes also went on, as well as Strange Engineering axles and almost the entire catalog from UPR Products,” Shotwell continued of the long list of changes, which also include new, custom-valved shocks and struts from Kelly Aiken of KellTrac.
And, as if all of those changes weren’t enough, Shotwell upgraded the rest of his operation and treated himself to a new toterhome and stacker trailer as well.
After a persistent period of downtime and a long winter of work, Shotwell’s killer Cobra is back together and running once again.
“We’re going to Mid America Kustoms next week to get on their hub dyno,” noted the driver, excited about his return to the NMRA Holley Performance drag racing series. “After that, we’ll head south to go testing before hitting Bradenton for the first race of the year.”
Shotwell has set his hopes high and intends to qualify at the top of the pack for NMRA JDM Engineering Limited Street just as he’s done many times over in the past. He’ll be there with “every ounce of horsepower” he can make, and is in the process of building a back-up engine so that he has a spare bullet while chasing the championship.
“We went all in and fully intend on making each of the six races,” he asserted of his plan of attack. “I think the car is going to set a record, and we’ll just leave it at that.”