Drag Racing, Feature Article, Washington — July 31, 2004 at 4:47 pm

Mike Lewis (issue 60)

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By Steve Heeb

Mike Lewis is looking for consistency. And to find it, he’s banking on radical change.

He’s put a fresh look on the outside of his ‘85 Camaro Z-28, and new fuel injection under the hood. The switch from carburetion to a fuel injected automatic bumps him into the F/FIA bracket.

“Most people run the E class,” Lewis says. “For me, F is the perfect class for the index and weight break. I’m all by myself in F/FIA.”

The NHRA factors his 305-cid motor should generate 249 horsepower and the car is classed on the basis of 13 pounds per hp and adding 170 pounds for the driver.

“It’s a different deal,” he says of the switch to fuel injection. “Harder to get used to.”

The move comes after Lewis wrapped up last season with the Dr. Injector-sponsored Stock Eliminator car 10th place nationally, 3rd in the division, among a very talented group of racers.

Division winner Brad Plourd and runner-up Jody Lang posted national rankings of 5th and 7th, respectively.

“Everyone did good at the same time,” Lewis says. “This year is still up for grabs.”

Lewis got a late start to the 2004 season, completing a six-month parts violation suspension before racing the new set up on May 1.

2004 marks Lewis’ third year in Stock Eliminator, and a quarter century of an off-and-on racing career that dates back to 1979.

He credits Tom Turner at Performance Prep for getting him started. He recalls racing a four-speed hot rod ’69 Nova at Seattle Int’l Raceway’s Fox Hunt races back then.

Lewis looked up to local racing legend Don “The Worm” Elgin, who has recorded more than 500 wins in a remarkable career that dates back to 1968.

“I’ve been around long enough to influence a lot of people,” Elgin laughs. “Mike does good for himself. He keeps trying, never gives up.”

In 1985, Lewis built a tubbed ’71 Vega “Momma’s Mistake.” In 1989, he built a second “Momma’s Mistake” in the form of a two-tone blue ‘79 Monza.

In fact, Lewis has had a hand in several notable cars that can be found at the track and on the street. In the workshop behind his Tacoma-area car dealership Mike’s Summit Auto Sales, Lewis has all the equipment he needs for all the chassis and body work he does.

“I can do anything in my shop,” Lewis says. “Fabrication work, aluminum and steel.”

Before opening his dealership in 1997, Lewis had made a 19-year career of driving trucks: “Like John Force hauled logs.”

Lewis’ current project is a ‘84 Chevy S-10 Blazer that he has hacked down to a Pro Street pickup. After five years of custom work in his shop, Lewis debuted the truck at Bremerton, banging out a runner-up finish.

“The throttle stuck in the finals,” Lewis recalls. “It’s OK, I had fun.”

And fun is what it is all about.

Lewis says he is not nearly as nervous as he had been in the days when he had to race against the likes of Elgin in his Heavy ‘69 Tempest wagon.

Lewis now is more relaxed, confident. Of course, now he faces Elgin’s Stock ’74 Grand Am.

“He’s consistent,” Elgin notes of Lewis’ racing. “He finished really good last year.”

With a serious air, Elgin adds, “Just think about all the stockers there are in the country.”

Despite his late start, Lewis hopes to finish among the top 10 drivers in the division this year.

“Like everybody, to be a champion,” Lewis says of his racing goals. “Winning anything is good. That is what we are here for.”

Lewis says he has had to cut back on his bracket racing at local strips Bremerton Raceway and Pacific Raceways to pursue traveling to races up and down the West Coast.

“I don’t have time,” he explains.

Lewis’ oldest daughter Christina runs the car dealership while he spends as much as 15 weeks on the road, from Mission to Phoenix. This year, he’s added Brainerd, Minn., to his travel log and might also get to Indianapolis.

“Indy, that’s everyone’s dream,” he says with a smile.

Other family members that help Lewis chase his racing dreams include wife Debbie and children Mike and Cathy.

Their support has been one of the constants in Lewis’ off-and-on racing endeavors.

“I still get the first-round butterflies,” he confesses. “But I focus on being consistent.”

Even if consistent means mixing things up a bit.

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