In years past, the National Mustang Racer's Association has held its Ford Motorsport Nationals in Pennsylvania. Due to scheduling conflicts and other reasons, the event was moved to Michigan's Milan Dragway for 2007.
The 4th Annual Toyo Tires NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals held June 15-17 had plenty of racing and show action. The attendance and car counts were down a bit, which is common in the first year of a new location until the word gets out-then again, it was also Father's Day weekend, with several other large Ford events going throughout the country. The weather was perfect, and there were plenty of cars on the track and in the Laurel Mountain Auto Show field hosted by the Motor City Terminators of Toledo, Ohio. This club is centered around the '03/'04 SVT Cobra Mustang, also known by its internal name of Terminator Mustang from ex-SVT head John Coletti.
Usually a weekend away from...
Usually a weekend away from home covering an NMRA event means plenty of hot sun, lugging around a big camera, and eating indistinguishable track food. But thanks to Ford Racing Performance Parts and Factory Five Racing, I actually became part of the action at NMRA Milan, pedaling FFR employee Jim Schenck's FFR Challenge Series Spec Racer down the track during the Ford Racing Invitational. I was having so much fun, I almost forgot to take pictures.
One of the highlights of the event was the Inaugural Ford Racing Invitational-a media-only racing event held within the NMRA's weekend schedule. Ford Racing Performance Parts brought out a bevy of new Mustangs and F-150s fully loaded with all sorts of speed parts from its catalog. The lucky, invited journalists picked their car at random from a pool of cars. Included with the new Ford products were two Factory Five Challenge Series Roadsters. These two cars are Spec Racers for the FFR Challenge series and feature stock drivetrains from '87-'93 Mustangs. While wheeling a 600-plus horsepower '07 Shelby down Milan's quarter-mile would have been fun, we were even luckier to draw one of the FFR Challenge cars. With our own Roadster AWOL for painting, it was a blast taking the FFR down the track.
Racing For Fun And Profit (Well, Fun At Least)
As part of Friday and Saturday's event schedule, I and 11 other Ford magazine journalists got to experience the other side of the dragstrip wall by strapping on various Ford products modified with Ford Racing Performance Parts (everything from experimental cams to supercharger kits), all in the name of product education and some good, clean competition.
Set up as a bracket-style event, qualifying was via reaction time. Somehow I captured the top qualifying spot with the best reaction time during Saturday-morning qualifying. I think the sticky racing tires on the Spec Racer were a help compared to the guys running big power on stock radials. I've cut a perfect light or two in the past, but I felt lucky to get the reaction time I did after having not gone down a dragstrip in over a year.
The luxury of a bye run during the first round of eliminations put me up against Michael Galimi from Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords in an automatic-equipped Hertz Mustang. I chose a 13.3 dial-in, while Michael wrote a 14.00. I wasn't so quick on the draw this time around, however, and Michael schooled me something fierce on the Tree. When we crossed the finish line, I saw the win light go on in his lane, and I knew the race had been won at the Tree. Com-paring timeslips, Michael ran a 14.20 and I ran a 13.40. I was closer to my dial-in (and would have won) if I hadn't been caught nap-ping at the Tree (where Michael picked up nearly three tenths on me).
The Ford Racing Invitational came down to an all-F-150 finals (both automatics, which are easier to bracket race, and both with superchargers). It was John Gallagher, publisher of Car Craft, against a journalist from Road & Track. John took the win and brought the Ford Racing Invitational award home for the Primedia folks.
Maybe next year Ford will have an award for top qualifier, but then again I probably won't be sitting pretty in the top spot. Many thanks go to Jesse Kershaw, Jamie Allison, Whitney Drake, and all of the FRPP, Ford Racing Technology, and Ford corporate people who put on such a killer "event within an event" with the NMRA staff.
When Editor-in-Chief Steve...
When Editor-in-Chief Steve Turner and I saw this sign at the entrance to Milan Dragway, we were instantly reminded of our drag racing skills, and yes, we did stay at that Holiday Inn.
The beautiful round-nose '62...
The beautiful round-nose '62 Falcon of Livonia, Michigan's Dale McClenaghan qualified 10th in the 34-car field of Open Comp with a 9.90 at 136 mph. Unfortunately, Dale, who's the son-in-law of Jack Roush, lit the red lady in the second round of eliminations to end his weekend a bit early.
Jerry Colasinski drove his...
Jerry Colasinski drove his spotless '70 Mach 1 to the Laurel Mountain Auto Show on Saturday. The Cleveland-powered Mach sported a rare Bud Moore mini-plenum topped with a Holley and plenty of chrome. Jerry nailed the look with classic Radial T/As wrapped around polished Torque Thrust Ds. He took home a Top 20 award on Saturday as well.
The '50 Ford F-2 pickup of...
The '50 Ford F-2 pickup of Randall Sayler from Tecumseh, Michigan, was an eye-catching piece of midcentury Ford history. Sporting such basics as a period-correct Flattie, steel wheels with small caps, and a stock interior, the F-series was like a rolling museum piece, and we're happy Randall brought it out to share with everyone attending the event. His F-2 garnered a Second Place in Best Ford Truck on Saturday.
While we consider ourselves...
While we consider ourselves fortunate to have pulled one of the two FFR Challenge Spec Racers as our bracket racer for the Ford Racing Invitational, there were 11 other journalists who were lucky enough to pilot one of these modified S197 Mustangs, including a couple of new Shelbys (one with over 600 hp), and even a few cool F-150s.
The '57 Fords were a styling...
The '57 Fords were a styling hit, and when you add the double play of a Fairlane and Sunliner trim, you've got a grand slam (wow, that's a lot of baseball analogies all in one sentence!). Certainly Lynn Slevin of Novi, Michigan, knows that fact as everyone passing through the Auto Show field stopped to snap a photo of this beauty. Her Fairlane took home a First-Place award in Best Fullsize Ford '49-up on Saturday.
Just before brain-farting...
Just before brain-farting at the Christmas Tree, I was strapped in to the FFR Spec Racer ready to show Michael Galimi in his Rent-a-Racer how it's done (see what getting cocky does for you?).
Throughout the weekend, it...
Throughout the weekend, it was a mad rush from the Auto Show field to the starting line and back as we tried to keep pace with all the action. We noticed this sweet '64 T-Bolt clone racer heading off for the starting line, but we never got to see it make a pass down the strip. It did sound completely insane though.
The swap-meet area was mostly...
The swap-meet area was mostly loose parts, with such items as sheetmetal, old speed parts, manuals, and more available from several vendors. We spotted this '69 Mustang project on the trailer. We don't know if Mr. Interested here bought the SportsRoof, but he sure was looking over every inch of it while we snapped pictures.
Mustang & Fords
Editor's Choice Award
Don Klein, Toledo, OH
Don Klein's Ranchero is the epitome of clean styling. While maintaining the stock body lines (which is no slouch on its own) Don added stylish wheels in just the right size to give the Ranchero a nice stance and striking outward appearance without looking outlandish. Inside, he added a few mild street-rod touches, including a billet steering wheel on a tilt column, a custom console with gauges, and a Hurst shifter to row his five-speed conversion. The car is so clean, it looks as if you could eat off of it. Don walked away with First Place in Best Ford Truck on Saturday as well as our Editor's Choice award.