Chase “The Kid” Kurszewski is a nitrous guy through and through. So when he recently posted a photo of his gorgeous 1969 Firebird sporting a much different look, it set social media abuzz.
Gone is the 706ci Morgan & Sons Big Block Chevy with two kits of nitrous. In its place sits a 540 M&S engine with a massive Precision 118mm turbocharger. Despite a lot of success with the old combination, it’s a move Kurszewski believes is necessary in the ultra-competitive world of small tire racing.
“I’m always gonna be a nitrous guy. In the past few years, we’ve won roughly $70,000,” says Kurszewski. “We’re not necessarily done with nitrous, but to me, it’s not gonna win any more, as fast as these guys are going. We were very successful, it’s just when those turbo and ProCharger cars can back split like they do, there’s no choice but to join ‘em. Unless you can get a big ol’ cubic inch 959 or something and hire the best tuners in the world.”
But a mountain motor with someone like Pat Musi tuning simply isn’t feasible. This is a family operation, with Chase and his father, Lance, making up the entire crew. And Kurszewski likes it that way. Going racing is as much about being with his family as it is winning an event.
“I love racing with my dad,” Kurszewski says. “It’s not necessarily a job for us. Me and my dad, we usually get in the RV, and my mom, my wife, and my new little baby will come with us. That’s our vacation, win or lose. I get aggravated, don’t get me wrong, but you gotta keep a positive attitude and just have fun.”
The Firebird itself is a part of that family. In fact, Lance has owned the car for 25 years, longer than Chase, 24, has been alive. And with Chase growing up watching his dad drag race, it’s no surprise he followed suit at an early age.
“I started racing motocross when I was four years old,” Kurszewski recalls. “We done that for years, and I kept getting hurt, so we quit. I started racing a ‘92 Mustang when I was sixteen. Then I got a ‘67 Camaro and raced it for a while, a little street car. And the Firebird’s always been there. The Camaro wasn’t good enough – the cage and stuff – for as fast as we were going. So we sold it, and took the Firebird to Jerry Haas. They done the cage and all that. We’ve raced it ever since.”
It’s fitting, then, that Kurszewski is nicknamed “The Kid.” However, it’s not a name bestowed upon him by his father or anyone else in their family, but rather a play-on words by one of no prep’s most well-known announcers.
“I was racing in Wichita at KID – Kansas International Dragway,” Kurszewski says. “Barrett Green was announcing. I think I was seventeen at that time, and he called me that over the intercom. And ever since then, it’s just stuck.”
While the nickname has stuck, much has changed for Kurszewski since that day. He’s now married, and he and his wife, Macy, have a baby daughter. Likewise, the Firebird is going through its own changes. In addition to the new engine and turbo set-up – purchased from the Killer Cab ’55 Chevy that’s been seen on Street Outlaws: Fastest in America – the car will feature a turbo 400 2-speed transmission, Holley EFI, Penske shocks, and a ProTorque converter. While there will certainly be a learning curve, Kurszewski is excited for the challenge.
“We were very successful with nitrous, and hope to be just as successful with the new set-up,” says Kurszewski. “We have no idea how to tune the turbo stuff. It’s always been old-school carbureted and nitrous. I’m not gonna lie. I’ve talked so much crap to all my racing buddies that were turbo and ProCharger. We started to do a little more prepped stuff, and I wouldn’t say we were getting killed, but we’d throw the kitchen sink at it, and those guys would still come around us on the big end.”
The plan is to debut the car a month from now at Penwell Knights Raceway in Odessa, Texas. From there, fans will be able to check it out at both no-prep and prepped events.
“We’re really hoping to make Bounty Hunters,” says Kurszewski. “It’s getting wired right now, so we got a little time. It’s a father and son team. We both work endless hours owning an air conditioning business, in order to race as much as possible. We’ll go test it a little bit. We’re really wanting to no prep and radial race. But I like no prep – it’s the equalizer. The guy with the most money ain’t always gonna win.”