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Car Profiles

Sondra Leslie, Taking on the Boys in NMRA Factory Stock!

December 31, 2012 by Chad Houghton
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Sondra Leslie blew up on the scene back in 2010 as the driver for Ken Bjonnes in the NMRA Super Stang class. Sondra got her taste for racing when getting behind the wheel of Ken's car for the last NMRA race of '09 setting the pair up to take the leap the following year full time.  At first Sondra admits she was horrible but with time and practice they were the team to beat, finishing 5th in points and Sondra winning the NMRA, Rookie of the year award.

For the 2011 season Sondra stepped into her own car with the help of Bruce Hemminger.  Bruce is the New Vehicle Sales Manager at Van Drunen Ford.  Bruce found this car just 6 weeks before the season opener in Bradenton and Sondra bolted nitrous on the car just to make the 15.50 cut off time in Super Stang.  If you haven't guessed it by now this car started life as a V6.  Though Sondra would like to forget those days, we still need to tell the story.  After the Bradenton event the laughing gas was pulled in favor of a blower.  That blower plagued Sondra and her team the rest of the season blowing up two motors in the process.  Over the winter with a blown motor and sick of running in a bracket class the decision was made to rip out all the V6 junk, throw it in the garbage and start over with a fresh new build and class.

If you haven't guessed it by now this car started life as a V6.

Sondra's primary sponsor is Strange Engineering, when it came time to put this car together they threw the book at it!

The class of choice was non other than Factory Stock.  Owning an S197 has one advantage, being able to run a Coyote motor.  Backed with a FB (Freddy Brown) Performance transmission, a Pro Torque convertor and a bullet proof  built 8.8 makes the drive train in this car pretty stout!  The exhaust is handled with Stainless Works long tube, along with their X pipe and tail pipes.  The chassis is where this car really comes together.  What looks to be just your plain Jane everyday S197 with some rims, has an eight fifty cert cage along with Team Z Motorsports upper and lower control arms.  Sondra's primary sponsor is Strange Engineering, when it came time to put this car together they threw the book at it.  To start there's a race spool, 4.56 gear and 33 spline axles in the 8.8 rear end.  Double adjustable coil overs sit up front with double adjustable rear shocks.  Race brakes on all four corners finish up the Strange arsenal.

For the final step of building this race car Sondra and her team tore into the car removing every piece of weight they could find.  A cut here, a cut there, and when they put the car over the scales at the NMRA GA race it weighted 2939 with her in it!  Just a tad under the 3250 weight minimum leaving her crew scrambling to find ballast to make weight.  In fact Sondra has built one of the very few full blown S197 race cars out there today.  As with all new cars some are a hit or a miss when it comes to dialing in the car and Sondra had her fair share of misses this year.  Not being able to finish the car in time Sondra missed the first race in Florida.

For more photos of Sondra's car (Click Here)

With the car in GA, the second NMRA race of the season, the suspension just was not dialed in and leaving on the trans brake was a learning curve in itself.  The result was putting too much power to the ground and blowing the tires off.  But throughout the season, with the help from JPC Racing, the car got better and faster.  By the final race in Bowling Green things were coming together for Sondra.  The car was leaving with both wheels in the air and also marked her first round win in the class.  She also had the fastest pass with a Coyote motor, holding the record with a 10.97@120MPH.  With the momentum moving quickly for Sondra, she has her eyes set on new and bigger things for the 2013 season.  With the will and drive of this young lady, I'm sure her competition (though the guys will not admit it) will be a little nervous in the other lane when they come up against her.