Photos courtesy of Manny Buginga and Joshua Alwardt
It’s been eight years since Manny Buginga last powered his famous red, white and blue Mustang to a 7.42 in NMRA VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw trim and a 7.11 in Outlaw trim, but fans who have anxiously awaited his return can mark on their calendars the 22nd Annual NMRA Nitto Spring Break Shootout, March 3-6, 2016, at Bradenton Motorsports Park, because that’s when he’ll return at long last.
This time around, the NMRA, World Ford Challenge, NOPI and NHRA champion will be behind the wheel of the dark blue ’89 Mustang LX he recently purchased. Outfitted with a 25.5-spec cage built by Tube Chassis, the car will do its flying courtesy of a Nelson Competition, Inc. 380 cubic-inch small-block Ford based around a Ford Performance Parts block, a 94mm Precision turbo and AMS-2000 boost controller. While Buginga declines to share which heads will be used, he will say that they’ll be topped with a Wilson Manifolds intake.
A Proformance Racing Transmissions-built Turbo 400 and Neal Chance converter will help put all the power to the pavement, and the car will roll on stock-style suspension with AFCO shocks massaged by Menscer Motorsports and Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pro tires. A FuelTech engine management system will be in place, and Nick Bruder will help lay the tune.
Buginga hopes to eventually run at the front of the pack in NMRA VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw, where the current eighth-mile records are the 4.45 and 168 mph held by reigning class champion Phil Hines. Supporting him will be his wife, Jen; children Manny, 10, and Lilly, 8, as well as longtime crew members Pat Speer, Keith Douglas and Marco Dias.
“A lot of people were asking when we’d be back, even a guy from Australia, but we’ve kept it hush-hush because we didn’t know when we’d be able to do it,” said Buginga, of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, who has been focused on his construction business the last several years. “We’ll see how this goes, and we’re hoping we can fit in and catch up to the current race technology.”