By Ainsley Jacobs
Photos by Fastest Street Car Magazine
Chasing a dream several years in the making, Canadian racer Jeff Bloem exceeded his expectations when he took home not one but two wins at the 25th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA Spring Break Shootout season opener in March, 2019.
The weather back home at his home in Ontario meant Bloem hadn’t been to the track since October of 2018, and with plenty of off-season changes to be had, testing was of paramount importance. “We did a motor and transmission change,” explained Bloem, whose grey Fox-body Mustang is a staple on the No Time scene and he prefers to let it do all the talking for him. “Back home, we usually keep the hood closed at races so nobody sees our combination.”
Bloem was willing to share a few small details of what propels his pony, and his new D’Sousa Performance-built small block Ford engine is at the heart of the horse. Coupled with a two-speed Powerglide transmission by Hutch’s Transmission Service and a set of twin Precision turbochargers, the engine is managed by a Holley EFI Dominator system. UPR Products suspension components work in conjunction with Menscer Motorsports shocks and struts, and it was all-hands-on-deck until all hours of the night for Bloem and his buddies to get the ’88 Mustang LX finished leading up to the NMRA race.
The only timed event that Bloem races at, the NMRA Spring Break Shootout has been a target of his for years. “My buddy Jimmy gave me this car three years ago, I brought it down to Bradenton, and we came in second that year in True Street and the Spring Break Shootout,” recalled Bloem of his 2017 outing, who repeated the performances in 2018 and added a runner up result in the IDIDIT Performance Outlaw True Street class as well.
Finally, it was Bloem’s weekend. “We came down a week before to test at Orlando. Last year we had more fun than work, so this year we treated it like a job and it paid off,” shared Bloem, whose entourage of wrench-wielding friends include Stuart Gerbino, Jimmy Argiropoulos, Paul DeBruin, Otis Edelstein, Luke Cutajar, and Ted Raja.
During the 2019 QA1 True Street cruise on Saturday, Bloem’s 25.5 SFI certified Mustang motored through the requisite 30-mile cruise with only a dead alternator to show for it. “We had problems like everyone else, but luckily we had a big battery in the car and it ended up being just a blown fuse,” he happily explained. No worse for the wear, Bloem continued on to the drag strip portion of the street car class, and there he put down a class-leading average of 7.904-seconds thanks to his three passes of 7.826, 7.892, and 8.093. “We blew a transmission line on that last pass, and thank God it blew when it did and not on the first one – we were definitely lucky!”
Having secured his overall win in the huge NMRA QA1 True Street category, which saw over 130 entries, Bloem also was granted an exclusive entry into the exciting new IDIDIT Performance King of the Street competition which will be contested during the 21st Annual NMRA All-Ford World Finals in September. The eight-car eliminator is comprised of the eight quickest True Street racers of the season, including the six NMRA event winners and the top contestants in the Spring Break Shootout and Gateway Rumble.
Next, Bloem continued on to the JLT Performance Spring Break Shootout portion of his weekend. There, the quickest QA1 True Street cars on the property lined up to face off in a heads-up battle. “We went in knowing we had a competitive car, but you never know exactly how competitive you are until everyone else shows up,” said Bloem stoically.
As it turned out, he was just as competitive as he thought and went on to get four round wins in a row, defeating Mike Jovanis in a tight race in the finals where both men put down 7.6-second elapsed times. Bloem was awarded the bragging rights, a gift certificate for a Deep Stage Drag Racing Brake System kit from Baer, his second trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle for the weekend, and what would have been another ticket into the IDIDIT Performance King of the Street if he hadn’t already secured his first earlier in the weekend.
“Thanks to Baer Brakes, JLT Performance, and QA1. Coming to Bradenton is a vacation for us, and we appreciate that they’re the ones making this possible,” added Bloem gratefully.
With a few months to prepare for the grand finale at Kentucky’s Beech Bend Raceway Park in September, Bloem’s certainly got a few tricks up his sleeve – but those changes will most definitely be kept a secret.
“In all honesty, we built this car to run that kind of thing and getting an invite to the IDIDIT Performance King of the Street shootout was one of the things we wanted to accomplish. It wasn’t easy and everyone had a job to do,” Bloem stated candidly of how much work it was to make his goal a reality. “I also just found out that it’ll be a quarter-mile race, so we’ll leave the car as-is because we haven’t run it to its max yet… it’ll be a surprise for us just as much as everyone else to see how fast it goes.”