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Tim Flanders Targets 2024 NMRA Suncoast Performance 8.60 Street Race Championship

Posted By: Evan J. Smith
Tim Flanders Targets 2024 NMRA Suncoast Performance 8.60 Street Race Championship
By FSC Staff
Tim Flanders missed the first two races of the 2023 Holley NMRA Drag Racing season, yet he still managed a very respectable seventh place finish in the Suncoast Performance 8.60 Street Race category. Those sorts of results told Flanders everything he needed to know about his ability to contend for an NMRA series championship—so that will be his primary focus for 2024.
Flanders, who resides in Battle Creek, Mich., is expected to race in five of the six Holley NMRA series events in 2024, and if all goes according to plan, he’ll likely be in the thick of the championship battle heading into the final weeks of the season.
“I’m committed to running five events, but unfortunately, I just can’t make it to Florida,” said Flanders, who resides in Battle Creek, Mich. “I know it’s possible to win a championship with five races. It doesn’t leave much room for error, and you’ve got to have a bit of luck, but it can be done. That’s my goal for this season.”
When it comes to cool Ford race cars, which also happen to be fully street legal, Flanders’ ‘86 Mustang checks all the boxes. It has performance, consistency, and overall good looks. Cloaked in Avalanche Gray, the car was built at Flanders’ shop, MAF Racing, and it’s equipped with a Coyote engine built by Fonzie Novelo. Using a single 91mm turbocharger, the car has the ability to run deep into the 7-second zone. It’s kept streetable in large part thanks to a Turbo 400 transmission from John Capizzi and a Circle D converter with a Gear Vendors Overdrive unit.
While he can run 7s almost at will, Flanders generally prefers to run the car in the 8.50 to 8.60 range, and he’s pretty good at hitting the target. Last year, he won the Sick Summer Drag and Drive event and ran a perfect 8.500 run in the process.
So, what’s the secret to Flanders’ consistency?
“Testing, testing, and more testing,” he says. “I go out as often as I can and try to get as much data as possible. Last year, I made about 70 test passes here [at U.S. 131 Dragway]. I generally don’t swing for the fences; it’s more of an uneducated guess. 
“I’ve’ also been running the same car since 2001 and even though I’ve had a bunch of different combinations, I know it very, very well. Last year, we went to Iowa [for Sick Summer] and I put a tune-up in it that I’d never run before and ran 8.50. Sure, some of it is luck, but I have a good idea what the car will do on any given day.”
When it comes to reaction times, and the .400 Pro Tree that is part of the Suncoast 8.60 class, Flanders admits that it’s a work in progress, but he’s slowly getting a handle on it.
Last year, Flanders didn’t join the chase until the St. Louis event, but he came out swinging with a semifinal finish. A few weeks later, he earned a coveted NMRA “Victor” award with a final round victory over Paul Seinkiewicz at the NMRA/NMCA Power Festival in Martin, Mich. That victory helped convince Flanders that he should pursue the championship this season.
As he prepares for his 2024 season debut, Flanders is taking the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” approach so he’s not making many changes to what it already a winning combination.
“I’m moving a little weight around and I’ve got a new oil pan and working on a few cooling things. That’s about it,” said Flanders. “I might go for some new Strange brakes, but that’s down the road a bit. The car works so I don’t need to make big changes.
“I did get a practice tree so I’m working on my lights, too,” he laughs. “My car is set up to go down just about any track but when you do that, your reaction time suffers. I’m working on fixing that so I’ll be ready.”

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