Andrew “Krimpet” Bauer’s fire burned hot and bright, and out too soon. A friendship blossomed with Bill Tumas after a chance meeting at a local car audio shop (remember those?) where Tumas was working back in the late 1990s. It began over a love for car audio products, but quickly reached a fever pitch when the pair realized they shared an affinity for the Ford Mustang.
“He came in to get some subwoofers for his Mustang, and initially I thought he was a cocky little jerk. I couldn’t stand him,” says Tumas.
“I got to know him because he kept coming back in to buy stereo equipment. At the time I had a green Mustang GT, and he asked me about my car. We started talking about going to the track; I invited him along to Englishtown one day, and he was hooked!”
At the time, Krimpet was cruising around in a 1998 Mustang GT. After this inaugural trip to the track, all of a sudden, the subwoofers were removed, the back seats discarded, and Tumas assisted him in the installation of a set of gears, new exhaust, and other goodies designed to maximize the car’s performance on the dragstrip. Shortly thereafter, Tumas scored a 1996 Cobra, and the friendly dragstrip battles continued.
“He started regularly going to the track with us and ended up trading in the ’98 GT for the ’96 Cobra – which is the car I have now. He became my best friend. We became inseparable, and did just about everything together,” says Tumas.
After an unexpected job loss, Krimpet wasn’t able to make the payments on the Cobra, and sold it off to his parents, who agreed to keep the car until he was able to purchase it back. But a new job and improved finances presented him with the opportunity to purchase a ’96 Mystic Cobra – one of the rarest of them all. Krimpet’s plan was that he, his father, and Tumas would be able to all go to the track together in their trio of ’96 Cobras and race together.
Unfortunately, the best-laid plans don’t always come together as envisioned. Sadly, Krimpet was involved in a tragic automobile accident in which claimed his life not long after taking possession of the Mystic Cobra in 2002.
Along with members of his race group and website – the Super Stallions of the Net – Tumas had been the organizer of a regularly-held late-fall drag day at Cecil County Dragway to benefit charity. Just after Krimpet was laid to rest, Tumas renamed the event in his honor, titling it the Andrew Bauer Memorial Nationals – which over time blossomed into a final call of sorts each season for the racers in the Northeast part of the country, raising a substantial amount of money for charity in the process.
So why is all of this relevant to Bill Tumas and NMRA Factory Stock racing? Because the car Tumas has outfitted for competition is none other than the red ’96 Cobra Krimpet acquired all those years ago and sold to his parents, Joe and Woody Bauer. Joe stored the car for years, dragging it out a few times to take it down the track at the ABM Nationals, but otherwise it sat unused, a reminder of what once was – Krimpet’s obsession with drag racing.
Tumas shared that obsession, turning his life’s fascination with the Ford Mustang and Ford vehicles in general into a position as the host of the CJ Pony Parts YouTube channel, where he records hundreds of videos a year detailing products that the company sells and offering customers an opportunity to see them installed and in action. The channel currently has over 6,000 videos and millions of views to date from hungry Ford enthusiasts.
Then, in 2007, he received an unexpected phone call.
“Krimpet’s mom called me out of the blue one day and asked me if I wanted the car. So Scott [Lehr, his crew chief] and I went down to their house in Maryland and picked the car up – it was covered in cobwebs – and brought it back to Pennsylvania. I put new tires on it, belts, fluids, all that stuff, and mostly left it how it was when he had it,” says Tumas.
“I looked at it more like it was his car than mine, so I left it alone. I changed the gears to 4.56s and bought some cheap drag wheels and tires, but that was it.”
And so the car existed in this form until 2016. Each year, Tumas would take it out of the garage and hustle it down the track at the ABM Nationals, running the same low-12-second elapsed times each year.
Just after the ABM Nationals in 2015, he got into a conversation with his wife about doing something different with the car. He went out and purchased a used Kenne Bell supercharger for it, but before he installed it on the car, he reconsidered that plan of action.
“I thought, ‘This is not what I want to do with this thing. He was always an all-motor guy, I’m an all-motor guy at heart. I’m going to do something with the engine,’” says Tumas.
Before Krimpet passed away, the pair had planned on running their cars in NMRA Factory Stock – which at the time was attainable as the quickest guys were only running 11.80s.
“So I talked to Tanya, my wife, and mentioned that I wanted to build the car for Factory Stock since it was something Krimpet and I had talked about doing back then. Now if I was going to put the money into it, I wanted it to be something I could race and compete with. She was 100 percent on board, we hatched a plan, and here we are,” he says.
“Factory Stock has gotten a lot faster since then. I was tempted to keep the stock engine and try to build a competitive Four-Valve, but it was significantly less expensive to buy a Coyote crate engine. I thought he’d dig that – a high-RPM engine with a stick shift, which was right up his alley,” he says.
But before you think he just opened up the vault and tossed a big pile of money at the car to make it into what it is today, think again. The final decision was made to set the program up just after Christmas in 2015, but they didn’t start working on the car heavily until April of 2016, with a goal of appearing at the NMRA World Finals in Kentucky in October.
Once he shared his plans to go racing with some of his industry friends, it seemed as if assistance appeared out of nowhere.
Kris Mustacchio and Nick Edelman of All Out Automotive in New Jersey remembered racing with Krimpet, and immediately jumped on board with a plan to outfit the car with a sweet chromoly roll bar. Local Mustang guru Jimmy Chahalis reached out and offered to set up the rear for the car at no charge, and a large number of other folks stepped up to donate parts for the project.
Initially, he had purchased a brand-new 2015 5.0L Coyote crate engine directly from Ford – and created a video for CJ Pony Parts about the product, but that turned out to be a misstep. Factory Stock racer Michael Washington pointed out that the 2015-up 5.0L Coyote cylinder heads were not legal for competition in Factory Stock. So he sold that engine off to a friend, and turned in a different direction.
“A lot of the parts for the car are either used or borrowed. I did purchase the Coyote engine, which is a sealed Coyote Stock crate engine that had been in another racer’s car which had been crashed. The faceplated Tremec TKO600 transmission and Ford Racing driveshaft came out of a parts car, used. It is an extreme budget build – I’m using one of the CJ Pony Parts trucks and a borrowed trailer to get to all of the events,” he says.
The list of people involved in making the Krimpstang come to life is monstrous.
“My wife Tanya, Crew Chief Scott Lehr, Brian Kirk, Gordon Wagner, Rick Ebersole, Nate Sprague, Mike Mohring, Jimmy Chahalis, Amie Williams, and Rick Moyer. My fellow FS racers and CS racers have provided invaluable support and advice, especially Mike Washington, Shane Stymiest, Dan Ryntz, Matt Amrine, and Carlos Sobrino,” he says.
Others deeply involved in the project include CJ Pony Parts, UPR Products, who supplied their proven, race-winning front and rear suspension components, InTune Autoworks, JLT Performance, and Paul and Brian from McLeod Racing, who provided the Super Street Extreme/Pro clutch.
Race Star’s Drag Star wheels are courtesy of fellow NMRA racers Brad and Nina Gusler of BG Racing. Support also comes from Tony and Scott from Rally North America Drives, Alex and Jeremy from Flowmaster, Brendan and Mark from Traveling Builder. The wrap was designed by Jordan Hoke, and Mike Blose from Blose Signs installed the wrap on the car.
After the NMRA Bowling Green race where the car made its debut, Troy Baum of RaceWires in Pennsylvania completely re-wired the car to ensure the 20-year-old electrical system was strong enough to perform under pressure.
Once he had all of the parts in-hand, it took the team only three days to put the car together. They finished it on a Sunday, dropped it off at Revolution Automotive in Maryland for a tune from Adam Browne, and picked it up that following Wednesday on the way to Kentucky for the car’s debut last fall. In fact, the first time Tumas drove it in anger with the Factory Stock combination on board was on its maiden voyage down the track. Until that point it had only been idled onto and off the trailer.
Last year, Tumas hosted the final Andrew Bauer Memorial Nationals, where the Krimpstang ran its best ET to date: a 10.55 with a 1.46 60-foot time. An interesting tidbit: each year at the ABM Nationals, the very first pair of cars down the track was always Tumas, behind the wheel of the Krimpstang, against his old black Cobra, which is now owned by another friend. The Krimpstang was never able to turn on the win light – until this year, in its final appearance.
The team is now testing regularly, working to get the chassis sorted out. The driver is still working on his reaction times, but one thing is for certain; there’s no quit in the Krimpstang team.
Ultimately, Krimpet’s gift lives on in the form of Tumas’ NMRA Factory Stock racer. Bill Tumas has taken that gift and used it to inspire everyone who hears this story – an amazing tale of friendship, camaraderie, and commitment.