Drag Illustrated Issue 177, July / August 2022 - Page 62

Special Section
THIRTY-TWO YEARS AGO , CHRIS NYERGES AND DR . GARY SCHWEEN STARTED RACING TOGETHER . NYERGES HAD PULLED INTO SCHWEEN ’ S FATHER ’ S GAS STATION WHEN HIS CAR BROKE DOWN , AND THE CHANCE ENCOUNTER LED TO A RACING PARTNERSHIP THAT CONTINUES TODAY AS THE DUO CHASES A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN PDRA ’ S MAGNAFUEL ELITE TOP SPORTSMAN PRESENTED BY US RAIL . ¶ NYERGES STARTED RACING IN HIGH SCHOOL IN A CHRYSLER K-CAR STATION WAGON BEFORE PROGRESSING TO A ’ 79 HONDA CIVIC WAGON , THEN A MAZDA R7 WITH A SMALL-BLOCK CHEVY IN IT . WHEN NYERGES WRECKED THE MAZDA IN 2002 , SCHWEEN SUGGESTED THEY GET A “ FAST CAR ,” SO THEY BOUGHT A 2000 PONTIAC FIREBIRD TOP SPORTSMAN CAR . NYERGES RACED
that car for 18 years , racking up numerous accomplishments , including the 2019 PDRA MagnaFuel Top Sportsman 32 world championship . His 24-year-old son , Carsten , is now behind the wheel of the Firebird .
The team made a significant upgrade for the 2021 season , as Nyerges debuted a brand-new , Bickel-built ’ 20 Corvette at the season-opening East Coast Nationals at GALOT Motorsports Park . With a nitrous-fed 941-cubic-inch Buck Racing Engines power plant , Switzer Dynamics nitrous components , and an M & M Transmission , it ’ s a top-ofthe-line piece . It was quite a step up from the Firebird , which typically ran in the 4.20s . The Corvette now consistently runs in the high 3.70s
to low 3.80s . So consistent , it once ran 3.84 six times in a row earlier this season .
“ The car goes . 953 60-foot ,” Nyerges says . “ It ’ s three and a half Gs leaving the starting line and drops down to about three Gs for the whole run . It pulls the whole time . It ’ s smooth as glass going down the track . It stages like a dump truck because that size motor just shakes the whole car when you stage it . But once you mat that gas and let go of that button , it ’ s smooth as can be .”
Nyerges admits the extra power definitely got his attention when he made his first passes in the new car during a preseason test session at Orlando .
“ I drove it to almost the 330 ,” Nyerges begins , “ the lockup came in and it picked the front tires back up and I lifted because I didn ’ t know what it was . Brandon [ Switzer ] wanted me to go to the 330 so he could check all the computer stuff to make sure everything was good before we put the hood scoop back on . I had no idea that lockup converter was coming in . The very next pass , he ’ s like , ‘ You ’ re good to go . Put the hood scoop on it and take it to the eighth .’ So we did , and it went 3.79 . The next day , I got in the car and took it down and it went 3.79 again .”
Nyerges and the Schween Motorsports ’ 20 Corvette reached the winner ’ s circle at just the second race of the 2021 season , the Doorslammer
Derby at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green , Kentucky . Other than that , the season was chalked up as a learning year .
“ Even though I ’ ve been in a car for a long time , it was still a big learning curve , going that fast ,” Nyerges says . “ And it wasn ’ t really going A to B ; it was learning the characteristics of the car , what it liked . I told Gary , next year , we ’ re going to have a good year . We ’ re learning the car this year , and next year we should be OK .”
That prediction has proven true . Nyerges opened the 2022 season with a runner-up finish at the East Coast Nationals at GALOT , then he successfully defended his Doorslammer Derby title . A semifinal finish added to Nyerges ’ points total ,
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