By Mary Lendzion
Growing up just outside of Detroit, the Motor City, Steve Halprin was heavily influenced by cars, and when he met Don Walsh Sr. and Don Walsh Jr. as a teenager, he was heavily influenced by them.
He started going to the track with them, and was immediately interested in everything involved with Walsh Sr.’s racing program. Before long, he and Walsh Jr. took a 1979 Mustang from a street car to a strip car, and after he was introduced by Walsh Jr. to Steve Grebeck in the late 1980s, the popular and prominent Pro 5.0 driver helped him build a 1982 Mustang. Taking turns driving, Halprin and Grebeck were hauling to high 8s with a small-block Ford and nitrous before ProCharger offered to help them put together a supercharged combination, and soon after, Halprin turned the keys over to Grebeck, and began helping him with his very successful and storied race program, which also included the red Mustang that he campaigned in NMRA and World Ford Challenge. When Grebeck was killed in a heart-wrenching on-track wreck, Halprin was devastated and took a step back.
He turned his focus to his family and his work with SuperAbrasives, a diamond-grinding business which he owns with his father, Charlie, in Wixom, Michigan. But, in 2017, Walsh Jr. of D&D Performance and Walsh Motorsports — and the 2019 NMCA VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod champion — was helping Halprin beef-up his street-driven 2012 Charger RT when he dished up a dose of inspiration and told Halprin that it was time for him to get back to the race track.
With that, in 2018, Halprin purchased Brian Wolfe’s winning Mustang, which had a chassis by Team Z Motorsports and a big-block Ford by Holbrook Racing Engines and was astonishing in the All Motor class at Milan Dragway in Michigan.
Halprin turned it over to Steve Pennywitt, brother of another standout All Motor driver, Alan Pennywitt, who fabricated for it new headers and intercooler tubing. Pennywitt also installed into it a new BES-built 430 cubic-inch engine on a Dart billet block topped with Edelbrock/Glidden SC1 heads and a billet intake by Visner Engine Development and fronted by a Precision 88mm turbo. Halprin chose to back the power with a Powerglide and converter by fellow racer, Mark Micke of M&M Transmission, and went with a FuelTech FT600 EFI system.
With Steve Grebeck in his heart and his father, Charlie, as well as Walsh Jr., Justin Haddon, Dan Oliphant and Brandon Hineman by his side, Halprin left his home in Michigan and headed to the US Street Nationals at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida in January, where Walsh Jr. made the initial passes in the car flying SuperAbrasives and D&D Performance banners before turning it over to Halprin, who was there to make passes for an NHRA competition license and not to compete.
“I hadn’t driven a race car in years, so it was a little nerve-racking at first, but the car handled so well that I was immediately comfortable,” said Halprin, of his stock-style suspension car. “My first pass was 4.85 at 140-something in the eighth-mile.”
About a month later, Halprin and his team returned to Florida for the 26th Annual Nitto NMRA Spring Break Shootout, Feb. 27-March 1 at Bradenton Motorsports Park, where he entered VP Racing Madditives Street Outlaw, and qualified quite nicely in the sixth spot with a 4.45 before picking up to a 4.42 in the first round of eliminations. While he didn’t win the round, he certainly gave multi-time champion John Urist a good race.
“It was so wonderful to be back involved with racing, and with the people of the NMRA,” said Halprin, who will be one to watch at the Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA Power Festival presented by HPJ Performance, May 28-31, at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. “Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend, and to have my father there, too, meant a lot. I wouldn’t want to do this without him.”