Thanks, guys, for the input. I spent a lot of time searching the web with various google searches but never found a post or video that showed using lacquer thinner. Many sites just said use this, use that...etc but never showed any before & after pic's, or how they achieved the look they were looking to get.
Now, I will say that using the various chemicals probably got me some of the bare metal in spots and I know that I may have been too aggressive in some areas, but it definitely was trial & error. I will say it is possible that some of the bare metal may have already been there from back in the day when it was repainted Red. Then someone came along and put the Black on top of the Red. No idea what that Black paint was but it's definitely hardened as well as getting baked on with the engine heat.
At the end of the day, I like how it's come out and hell if I decide to paint it with a rattle can someday at least I have a better surface to work with. That Black firewall looked like hell.