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Driver and Crew Interviews

It Takes "BIG MONEY" To Win in SSO

July 28, 2012 by Chad Houghton

Meet Mike King better known to the folks in racing as BIG MONEY MIKE!  Mike is one of the crew members of NMRA Super Street Outlaw 7 time champ John Urist.  To run this hard and this fast takes guys who know what they're doing and Mike is no exception.  When he's not at the track putting John in the beams, Mike is a Triple Master Tech who has been turning wrenches for 23 years now at a Chrysler dealership in Waldorf MD.  23 years is a long time but his car craze and competitive spirit was fueled long before that.  Before Mike had his license he raced BMX and two of our favorites, go-karts and dirt bikes.  From there he graduated into cars and at the ripe age of 13 was given his very own 68 convertible Impala that he still owns today.  "My father gave it to me when I was 13, pulled it out of a barn."  



"It's a 68 Impala SS convertible Big Block 4 speed and since I didn't yet have my licence. I fixed it all up so when I did get my license I had something to drive, I drove that to high school," Mike says.  From the 68 Impala to a 68 Big Block Camaro, Mike thought that he was on cloud nine.  Then one day his friend bought a 1990 5 speed Mustang and he let Mike drive it.  That's all it took and Mike sold his 68 Camaro and bought a 1990 Mustang coupe and never looked back.

Sick of burning up pistons he got to talking to John Urist and bought a 98mm turbo off him.

Photo courtesy of BME Photography

The coupe has made quite a few transitions in it's life.  What started out as a Bracket Car with a stroked Small Block that ran low tens through the mufflers became a Head's Up car running 8.50's with a 400in motor on nitrous in the NMRA Drag Radial class back in 2005.  Sick of burning up pistons he got to talking to John Urist and bought a 98mm turbo off John.  As far as Mike knows he's the fastest car on a 325/50/15 BFG, running 7.85@185. Big Daddy hasn't even been that fast on the old BFG.  A friend of Mike's even challenged it on Yellow Bullet and no one has contested it.  When Mike started talking to John about turbos that's when the friendship started and around 7 years ago Big Money jumped on the Hellion Racing crew.  Mike has quite the long list of duties, for the most part it's taking care of every aspect of the car.  Motor, trans, suspension and rear end.  If they need to tear into the car Mike is grabbing wrenches and  ripping parts off.  With Mikes everyday experience, working on the race car is a lot easier.  "At work I do transmissions among other things and let me tell you, Powerglides are a lot simpler than a 6 speed Chrysler automatic fully electronic trans" Mike says.
Whatever the problems are the team always seems to figure them out and get it fixed in time for the next round.  Though John does all the tuning on the car Mike will also add his input into how the car is working to aid in John's next tune.  Over the 7 years Mike has helped John Urist win 6 of those championships in a row.  Though sounds impressive it hasn't come with ease.  To run a team as successful as the Hellion crew all sponsorship and winnings go right back into the car and the racing program leaving no big fat checks for the crew at the end of a weekend.  John will pay for the hotels, car rentals and some of the dinners but being part of a team requires sacrifices from all.  Mike burns all his vacation just to come to these events.  When asked what do you most enjoy about coming to these events Mike tells this story the best.  "I just like drag racing,  I mean I like helping out, I like doing things.  I like being successful at them so being with John we have been successful.   Thank god any advert things that come up we usually can handle them.  Motor and trans wise or car wise we usually overcome them and just being on a team."  Not only does Mike work on Urist's car but Mike will help anyone who needs it whether rebuilding a trans or doing some welding.

Mike helping fellow SSO racer Chip Havemann rebuild his powerglide.

" If John is too busy he will tell me to do it.  If somebody needs something welded I'll weld it for them.  We help out, everybody gets along, the comradery after the races are over everybody hangs out and gets along so it's just a good time all around" Mike adds.  To be running around the country racing up and down the east coast takes it toll but Mike tells us his most memorable moment was Bowling Green 2010 when the championship came down to that last pass when they needed to win the race and set the record to win the championship which they did.  "It seemed to fall into place, I can't say it was all the team, I mean we did what we were supposed to do but we needed a little bit of luck to happen too and it rolled our way."

Though Mike enjoys crewing there is nothing like being behind the wheel of a race car and Mike has just buttoned up his coupe for another round of battles at his home track, which just happens to be our favorite "MIR"!  The latest transformation to the coupe is a mini tubed 23.5 cert chromoly chassis.  To cut down on cost Mike built the whole car himself including the cage, narrowed rear end, motor, trans and all the plumbing for the turbo.  The only thing Mike doesn't do is his own machining.  Only because he doesn't own his own equipment.

Mike's car in it's current form racing X275 at his home track.

Photo courtesy of Holloway Saunders.

The last question I had for Mike was how did the name "Big Money" come about.  The story goes when Mike was racing his car in NMRA Drag Radial, Mike Rousch had a Renegade car and he couldn't get down the track so Rousch had Mike do some suspension work to it and on the next pass Rousch went out there and put it on the bumper.  Mike Rousch come down so hard it busted the radiator and the electric fan come off of the car.  Rousch called it the Big Money chassis tune up, Big Money chassis ended up being "BIG MONEY".  "It's all because of my team mate Mike Rousch" Mike says!