In drag racing, especially bracket racing, it's extremely difficult to take a nearly two-year hiatus from the track, then step back in and win your first event.
But that's exactly what Gary Parker of Villa Rica, Georgia, did at the NMRA event at zMax Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, in 2009. Gary's return to the strip at the new four-lane track was his first event since the NMRA Bowling Green finals in 2007.
"I wanted to check out the track at zMax and race again," explains Gary, a former West Covina, California-police officer, who was injured on the job and later retired. "I decided to go, and asked my wife, Carole, if she wanted to go; she said no, so I went by myself. I went to have a good time and ended up winning the event."
Before his break, Gary raced his street-driven '97 Cobra, and Carole competed in her own 9-second '96 Cobra in the Fun Ford Weekend series in its Modular Madness class. They competed part-time in 2001 and 2002, and full-time the next two years. While Carole made one final in NMRA, Gary finished the '03 FFW points championship in Eighth with his street Snake.
During the '03 season, Chuck Lawrence, who was a good friend of Gary, built a body-in-white Mustang for the same class. Halfway through the season, Chuck and Gary came to an agreement, and at the end of the season, Gary took ownership of the car.
We could go on for days about the details that make Gary's Pony an extraordinary racer, but you need to see it to truly appreciate it. The stance, color, and attitude can be summed up in a word—perfect. The level of consistency between the car and Gary makes for a deadly duo that is more than capable of winning at any event they attend.
Power comes from a high-compression naturally aspirated Four-Valve 4.6L built by NMRA standout Tim Matherly of MV Performance. The stock-displacement 4.6L is equipped with a Cobra crankshaft, Manley forged rods, and Ross pistons, which make 12.75:1 compression under a set of FR500 aluminum cylinder heads. The powerplant is backed by a Powerglide transmission, with a 5,500-stall Ultimate Converter Concepts torque converter transferring power. UPR Products suspension keeps Gary glued to the track, and with a best e.t. of 10.71 at 124 mph, the combination works perfectly.
Since Gary's return to the track in 2009, he's a lot to brag about, though he's hardly the type to talk about himself. After his win at zMax, Gary made the trip to Columbus, where he took the runner-up spot, followed by another runner-up finish at Bowling Green. In 2010, Gary came out strong, taking the runner-up spot at the season opener in Bradenton, Florida. When the season came to an end, Gary took three wins and two runner-up finishes in the seven-race season, taking the NMRA Modular Muscle championship in the process.
Gary, who now operates Dent Crew, a painless dent removal service in the Atlanta area, came into 2011 looking to repeat and was in the hunt until Bowling Green, where the double-point race bit him. With one win and one runner-up finish in 2011, Gary finished Third in the points hunt. Although he didn't finish the 2011 season on top, look for Gary to come out strong in 2012 in a bitter fight to regain the top spot!