Mark Micke says there’s more left in the Malibu

Piloting the Drag Radial Jaw Dropper

Words by Todd Silvey

Photos by Drew Amitrano and Ian Tocher

Mark Micke and car owner Jason Carter have entered a cult-like status since their recent performance numbers and overall win of $101K at March's outlaw super-event at SGMP. Their twin-turbo 1978 Malibu has always been a forerunner in Radial vs. the World competition where incredible turbocharged and supercharged entries funnel all that power through 10.5"-wide radial slicks.


We caught up with Micke following the weekend where he walked away with a see-through briefcase containing $101,000 in $20 bills. He was very vocal about the accomplishments that have come about, and where the steel G-body Chevy will go in the future.

Micke, the Jefferson City, Missouri-based owner of M&M Transmission, got hooked up with Carter in 2011 by building the transmissions for the Malibu. They got to be good friends, and in 2012, Micke started driving the Malibu in NMCA Super Street. In a world where many race teams replace their cars every few years, they work hard to keep their Malibu relevant and updated with the newest parts and technology.


“In 2012, that’s when drag radial stuff really started taking off,” Micke remembers. “It was a great year with the car; we ran NMCA Super Street 10.5, and we dominated. We won five out of seven races, won the championships and set all the records.”


Following their NMCA dominance, ADRL had added a Drag Radial class to their roster, so they raced and won the ADRL championship in 2013.


“Radial just took off after that,” Micke says. “From then on, our team has been beating it up with our drag radial combination.” Updates to the car at this point of the game of Drag Radial class racing are mainly in the tire and shocks departments.


Fast forward to 2018 and the Malibu has been updated once again to its current purpose-built drag radial car. Kris Nelson at Nelson Competition built the 548 c.i. big block Chevy engine that uses a traditional 9-800 deck and 4.84 bore. The conventional engine combination has gone by the wayside in lieu of bigger cubic inch engines by many Radial vs. the World competitors. Micke and Carter continue to develop massive horsepower with this engine combo utilizing Fueltech EFI and a pair of Honeywell Garrett 98mm turbochargers pumping an amazing 70 pounds of boost.


“We use strong parts,” Micke says. “The lock-up has made a huge amount of difference. It’s kind of funny. We run a stocking crank from Bryant that’s a 4.25-inch stroke boat crank. It’s pretty straightforward. It’s all in the constant work we have in the tune-up.”


They utilize a good set of billet heads from Dave Visner, and Bill Miller provides the pistons. “We just got Bill Miller as a sponsor,” Micke says. “If we’re tearing things up and having problems, he’ll help us figure it out. He’s an asset. We use good parts from a lot of good companies and Kris Nelson puts it all together and makes it work.”


Micke continues, “When it runs, it’s just pure power. They have so much horsepower. We’re not limited on turbos, not limited with anything. These cars have no choice but to go fast with that power behind them.”

The team believes that the class still has a lot of power potential to funnel through the street radials and they will continue to find more. That is an awesome concept when you are funneling an estimated 4,000 horsepower through a drag radial tire with a mere 11.4 inches of tread width on the Mickey Thompson Tire spec sheet.


“I don’t know how fast they’re going to go in the future, but they’re going to go fast,” Micke says. “They have the potential to be the fastest door cars, period. I think they’ll outrun anything on the eighth mile. It was so close at SGMP; I mean cars in the 3.60s. The track was prepped for these cars, and it all just came together.”


Going into the Sweet 16 event, the team had recorded some of the lowest 60-foot time slips and significant miles-per-hour numbers that slated them as an odds maker's favorite. With air quality matching that of a mineshaft, Micke came out on the top of the qualifying ladder with the Radial vs. the World national record at 3.623 seconds at 221.20 miles-per-hour. Those numbers were made official as the Malibu ran a 3.641 at 220 just the previous round.


Micke immediately quashed any naysayers of his record performance as a fluke by running with bracket racing like consistency of 3.74, 3.73, 3.75, and 3.72 elapsed times over eliminations that same weekend.


After walking away with that briefcase full of bucks, Micke continued his performance consistency by attending the Woooostock event at Darlington Dragway just two weeks later and bagging a 3.72 at 211 mph in eliminations.


Mark’s business, M&M Transmission, has seen a lot of pride with their customers lately but was pleased to make his own car work so well. The adage, "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" has worked very well for his racing driveline products.


Micke uses his own M&M developed new lock-up, 2-speed Turbo-400 transmission, and converter they’ve been developing.


“Any time you can be in the spotlight, it’s good,” he says. “We’ve been at the top for a long time with everything we do, so it is nice to do that kind of performance with our own house car. At that race, we had nine cars in the Sweet Sixteen running our new trans and converter combination. That was huge for us.”

The guys who work at the shop have soaked in the win with pride.  “They’re here working while we’re racing,” Micke says. “It feels good for everybody. We’re all pumped. The atmosphere at the shop is great right now. It elevates the whole program. Everyone can see what we’re doing, setting records and winning. Everyone wants a part of that.”

Jason Carter is the car owner of the Malibu. The Micke/Carter team are arguably the longest running in partnership in RvW racing.


The team is riding the high, but not resting on their laurels.  They’ll continue to push hard to stay on top and keep being the team in the spotlight.


“You’re doing something right if everybody is talking about you, good or bad, right?” Micke says. “It’s pretty awesome, and it’s been crazy, crazy times. Let’s just keep it going.”


The Micke/Carter partnership is one that spans over 20 years. Say what you will about the always changing world of drag radial competition, you can't help but think of this pair as a success story that was built over two decades. 



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