Saturday, October 9, 2010. Gateway International Raceway, St. Louis, Missouri. It’s Saturday morning and as far as everyone knows, the LSX pits are basically locked down, with all of the Drag Radial racers ready to go and several sitting in the staging lanes ready to make another mid-morning qualifying pass. I am standing next to Editor Parker about 600-feet down track, watching cars roll under the tower and into the burnout box. “It’s too bad Tom Kempf couldn’t make it in time,” I said, “I heard someone say he was on his way down with the car, but there is no way they could have it ready and tested by now...”
“Uhh, I think that’s him right there.” I squinted through the harsh sunlight and started looking across the line of drag radial superstars. Orange Vette, flat black Trans Am, blue Trans Am, white... I must have seen it at the same time as half of the grandstands and the excitement of the fans rose in sync with the lifting of my camera. There it was, coming into the water box, one of the most beautiful white Formulas in existence. From 600-feet away, you could already tell that it was absolutely immaculate, and if the perfect white paint wasn’t enough to get your attention, the large 106mm turbocharger molded into the front bumper surely was.
Yellow, Yellow. Tom bumped into the beams and brought the Stenod-built Formula up on the transbrake. The Billy Briggs four hundred and fifty-four cubic-inch masterpiece began its climb up the tachometer, the Callies Billet crankshaft spinning a set of Carrillo rods and Diamond pistons faster and faster. With each revolution, the turbo began to spin harder, compressing air at an alarming rate, passing it through an air-to-water intercooler located just inches from Tom in the carbon fiber and suede adorned passenger seat area and slamming it into the Mast Motorsports intake manifold. Up top, the MOZEZ cylinder heads were working their magic, trading fresh, cool, and compressed air for hot exhaust gas, which is sent through a set of custom-built Stenod manifolds into the backside of the turbine housing, completing the vicious circle that is a turbocharger system.
Green. Tom lets go of the brake and the Rossler TH195 XHD three-speed transmission funnels well over 1,000 ft-lbs of torque back towards the Stenod fabricated 9-inch rearend and, for the 315mm Mickey Thompson drag radial tires tucked underneath a set of carbon fiber wheel tubs, it’s show time. The car leaves soft, but for the first ever pass in a new combination—yes, the first pass the “Money Shot” has ever made—the Formula is looking good. Around the 330 mark, the Formula really starts to pick up steam, as Harlan’s boost controller and the FAST XFI work together to bring in the boost. Six hundred feet and the Money Shot is really flying, passing us at a rapid pace and simultaneously dropping everyone’s jaw in the stands. You couldn’t see it from a distance, but Tom’s Formula has a set of Zoomie’s sticking out from under the front fender, a look reminiscent of a Pro Stock car, but never before seen on a turbo car.
“We have to get a better look!” Scott and I didn’t even wait around to see the end of the run, which took just a click over 8-seconds to complete, and we were practically running to find Tom’s trailer. When we found it, the Money Shot was already up on the pro-jacks, sans front end and the Stenod crew was hard at work. The crowd was immense and getting near the car was a little tricky, as you had to fight through on-lookers with cameras and friends of the Stenod team trying to get a closer look at the new car. Up close, the true beauty of the beast was revealed and there wasn’t a moment that didn’t go by without hearing “this is the nicest car I have ever seen,” mumbled by someone in the crowd. And honestly, Tom’s masterpiece is up there amongst an elite group of LSX cars that will go down in history as being on the bleeding edge of fabrication and technology.
Everything on this car is flawless, every piece functional and designed specifically for one specific purpose—to run well into the 6-second range. With the front end removed, the Formula looks much more like an Outlaw 10.5 car than a drag radial racer, but Tom built it specifically to showcase the talents of his team and the LSX platform as a whole. “As a mechanical engineer by trade, I understand the principles of physics, materials science for analysis and design of mechanical systems. It is this understanding that drives my passion to push everything I touch to the limits of destruction only to figure out how to make it better and stronger. This is how I live my life on and off the track.” And Tom is no stranger to pushing the limit. He was the first man to ever win an LSX Drag Radial title and held, at one point, the title of the fastest stock-suspension LSX racer of all time. The Money Shot, the beautiful piece you see before you, is Tom’s entrance back into Drag Radial racing and it may very well be the first 6-second stock-suspension LSX radial racer. With form and function working together in perfect harmony, The Money Shot may take it all in 2011. But you’re going to have to stay tuned to find out...
Oh, and by the way, by the time you read this story, Tom will probably be out on track with an entirely new setup. That’s right, the 8.0:1 C16 fueled rocket that we photographed is currently under the knife, with a set of 13.0:1 compression slugs being tossed in the engine along with eight additional 500 lb-hr injectors and a healthy dose of M1 Methanol as the only fuel. According to Tom, it’s “6’s or bust” from here on out and they don’t plan on giving up without a time slip and a trophy to prove it.
Car: 1993 Pontiac Formula
Owner: Tom Kempf
Block: LSX Tall Deck, 454cid
Compression ratio: 8.0:1
Heads: Mast Motorsports Mozez 352cc canted valve, 2.250 intake, 1.600 exhaust valves
Cam: Billy Briggs custom solid roller (billet)
Rocker arms: Jesel, 1.7-ratio
Pistons: Diamond, forged
Rings: Total Seal
Crankshaft: Callies, billet
Rods: Carrillo, forged
Throttle body: Marcella 5-inch, billet
Fuel injectors: Moran 230 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Kinsler, mechanical
Ignition: MSD Pro Mag 44
Engine management: FAST XFI, tuned by Mike Moran and Matt Harlan
Exhaust system: Custom stainless steel turbo manifolds, dual 4-inch downpipes
Turbocharger: Precision 106mm
Wastegate: Twin Tial 60mm
Blow Off Valve: Twin ProCharger
Transmission: TH400, built by Rossler Transmission
Converter: Neal Chance 10-inch
Driveshaft: Dynotech Metal Matrix
Front suspension: Racecraft chromoly K-member, upper and lower control arms, 2-inch drop spindles, AFCO big gun double adjustable coilovers, removed swaybar
Rear suspension: Stenod Performance wishbone, Racecraft torque arm, BMR Suspension lower control arms, AFCO Big Gun double adjustable coilovers, Skinny Kid anti-roll bar
Rear end: Stenod 9-inch, 3.25 gear, Strange axles, spool
Brakes: Strange spindle mount front, Strange dual caliper rear
Wheels: Weld Alumastar 2.0 15x4 front, 15x12 rear
Front tires: Mickey Thompson Front Runners
Rear tires: Mickey Thompson 315/65/15 drag radials