10th Annual Bradenton NMRA Ford Nationals - Fun In the Sun
The NMRA Season Opener Blew Us Away--Literally
From the June, 2008 issue of Modified Mustangs & Fords
By Mark Houlahan
Photography by Mark Houlahan
Some of you may have read...
Some of you may have read our blog post on www.mustangandfords.com about the Carstar Super'Stang Muscle Tour happening throughout 2008 and into 2009. For those who haven't (shame on you), here's a brief recap. Carstar Collision Services has teamed up with R&A Motorsports (www.r-amotorsports.com) to build a re-creation of the '67 Shelby Super Snake Mustang to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation (www.wish.org). Not only will the Super'Stang Muscle Tour raise awareness and donations for Make-A-Wish, but the car will be auctioned off in January 2009, with the net proceeds going to the Foundation as well. For more information please visit ww.carstarsuperstang.com.
Depending upon where you live, you may have had a rougher winter than others. There's nothing more depressing than wanting to get that prized ride out for a cruise or to wake up that sleeping race car from its hibernation and it being single digits and blowing snow outside. Even here in Florida, the winter cold spells we get keep many from attending cruise nights and hitting the track. Sure, the cruise nights and tracks are open all year long in many Southern states, but it still isn't until spring when the attendance at both jumps dramatically.
This is the 10th year for the NMRA Ford Nationals, and we were there for the Keystone Automotive season opener March 14-16 in Bradenton, Florida. With rain scheduled for late in the week, everyone from the racers to the spectators to the car-show people were worried that the event might not happen. Luckily, it rained only Friday night (putting a damper on the annual Hooters party), but the wind was a big problem all weekend. Friday saw a serious head wind for the racers (we witnessed more than one late-model Mustang drag car's front nose collapsing from the pressure), while on Saturday and Sunday the heavy winds had people looking for cover to stay warm or to prevent wind burn. A few (including yours truly) were caught off-guard between the spotty sun and heavy wind, and went home with a nice face burn.
The NMRA series has a full schedule of events, and each one includes all-Ford drag racing, a two-day car show, a burnout contest, a huge manufacturer's midway, and more. For full details on the NMRA series and where there might be an event near you, check out www.nmradigital.com.
There was one lone Maverick...
There was one lone Maverick at this year's show (on Saturday, anyway). No owner card was displayed, nor could I find anyone near the car all day. Nevertheless, the early small-bumper two-door is exactly what I'd love to have for a project someday.
Steve Cammick showed up with...
Steve Cammick showed up with his '69 Mercury Cyclone GT, powered by the top-of-the-line 428 CJ. Mercury may be trying to survive today with the Milan and Mariner models, but back in the day, it was a fire-breathing cousin to the Ford product line and successful in all forms of racing, including NASCAR, Trans-Am, and more. Is anyone listening in Dearborn? At least bring back the Cougar!
Paul Strausbaugh's clean,...
Paul Strausbaugh's clean, red '65 fastback was a real eye-catcher. Paul, a member of the Mustang Club of Tampa, mildly restomodded his Mustang with a fiberglass hood and front chin spoiler, wheels, a custom interior, and more. Rusty Gillis' Classic Mustangs in Port Richey, Florida, sprayed the slick topcoat. Paul's fastback garnered a Top 20 award on Saturday.
As do many shows these days,...
As do many shows these days, the Auto Show & Shine had a number of new Mustangs, but there were still plenty of classic Fords worthy of being on display right alongside their modern brothers. Take this '66 Fairlane GT, for example. Bill Detzel's GT sports a Ford Racing Performance Parts 392 Windsor putting out 430 horses. The small-block is topped with a Holley 750 and an MSD ignition. The trans is a four-speed, and out back is the venerable 9-inch with 3.25 gears. Bill further upgraded the Fairlane with rack-and-pinion steering, Vintage Air A/C, and cruise control. Bill's Fairlane took top honors in the Best Fairlane, Falcon, and Maverick class on Sunday, and it won Sunday's Long Haul award.
Hard-core Mustang types, and...
Hard-core Mustang types, and those who consider themselves Shelby enthusiasts, know that Shelby didn't offer a convertible model until 1968. However, Shelby did have two '67 prototype GT500s built--one coupe (known as Little Red) and one convertible. The convertible was designated as "EXP500," and Carroll used it as his personal driver. While EXP500 was stolen, recovered, and subsequently sold as a refitted '68 model, it now resides in the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois. Howard Saslow went to great pains to re-create the EXP500 as his own personal tribute to the only Shelby convertible made in 1967. Powered by a 392 Windsor from Ford Racing Performance Parts and riding on a Heidt's Mustang II frontend, the convertible was a big hit at the NMRA's Auto Show & Shine. Saslow's clone took a Top 20 award and Director's Choice on Saturday and returned Sunday to capture the Best of Show award.
We eyed Karl Mohr's Mustang...
We eyed Karl Mohr's Mustang at the Silver Springs Ford & Mustang Round Up back in January but weren't able to get a close look at it. Luckily, we spotted it while in Bradenton, where we took in its full patina. Mohr, a member of the Mustang Club of West Central Florida, proudly grabbed awards for Under Construction and Best Stance.
In addition to the two-day...
In addition to the two-day Auto Show & Shine, the NMRA events feature a manufacturers' midway and swap-meet area. Some venues are better than others for swap-meet fodder, and the Bradenton season opener is one of those. We found several rows of goodies we'd love to take home, including this '67 Fairlane Ranchero with its big-block still sitting on the mounts and a bed full of extra parts for $1,800 or best offer.
This little hot-rodder is...
This little hot-rodder is certainly being brought up right by dear ol' dad. Check out his sweet wagon, rolling on air suspension, custom wheels, an NOS nitrous system, and even dual cup holders. Hopefully Dad didn't find too much to buy; otherwise it looks as if junior might be walking the rest of the day.
DynoMax Performance Exhaust...
DynoMax Performance Exhaust always has a great display of its products at the NMRA events. Every half hour or so, the DynoMax guys fire up their mobile engine stand (yeah, we know it's a big-block Chevy) and demonstrate their complete line of exhaust products so you can hear what each one sounds like and how much (or how little) it muffles the exhaust. That's a pretty cool marketing concept, if you ask us.
Mustang & Fords Editor's Choice
Reed and Patti Johnston, Sarasota, FL
'70 Cougar Eliminator
Reed Johnston likes his cars. There's no doubt about it as you listen to him rattling off some of the Big Three's rarest iron ever to roll down the assembly line that have been in his possession at one time or another, including Hemi cars, big-block Vettes, and more. While his collection of Fords is just beginning, he's already off to a great start with a Ford GT supercar, a Royal Maroon '69 Talladega 428CJ, and his latest find, this Competition Blue with black interior '70 Cougar Eliminator. The Eliminator is righteous enough on its own merit, but this blue beauty is powered by the G-code Boss 302 engine.
Johnston purchased the car shortly after the original owner had completed the restoration on it. Once he got it home, it took about six months to work out a few post-restoration bugs (wrong clutch, some rattles, braking issues, and so on), and he has put a scant 16 miles on it since then. The Cougar came with all of the top options for 1970, including a 3.91 geared 9-inch with Traction-Lok, a four-speed trans, a Sports Console, power front discs, and an AM radio. Besides fixing a few issues, the only things Johnston added to the car are the quarter-panel decals, as he wanted something to distinguish the car's Boss powertrain without it being permanent.
The NMRA's season opener Auto Show & Shine was Johnston's first car-show outing with the fresh Cat, and he took home the trophy for Best Full Size Ford '49 and Up and a Top 20 award.