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5th Annual World Ford Challenge - World Domination
The Glidden Gang was out to take over the fifth annual World Ford Challenge. But the competition wasn't going down that easy.
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The perception that the Mustang racing world was strong enough to support a sponsor-rich, mega-dollar race that would pit the sport's fastest competitors to a no-holds- barred shootout has become more than just a dream of promoter George Gonzales. Five years ago the dream became a reality as the WFC debuted with purses large enough to entice even the most loyal of the Bowtie bunch.
Friday night's first round qualifying session ending up a complete wash, so Saturday's program turned out to be an 18- hour marathon after you count the test hit all the classes got in the morning and then the three qualifying shots that followed. The conditions could have easily been considered frigid with record-breaking low overnight temperatures in the 30s, which played havoc on the top classes and would eventually push the final qualifying shot for Pro 5.0 and Outlaw to Sunday morning in light of Saturday night's 1:30 a.m. bracket finale. That meant people would get their chance to see former Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden compete in his first all-Ford race. For some, this was the only thing they cared about. You couldn't get within 10 feet of the Glidden pit all weekend as spectators crowded around to get a glimpse of Bob or son Billy, who just happened to be the odds-on favorite in Pro-Mod 5.0.
5.0 Mustang & Super Fords Magazine Pro-Mod 5.0
Don Walsh Jr. earned a first round bye and Chuck Samuel took out Joe DaSilva's new '98 Innovative turbocharged Pro 5.0 Mustang. David Wolfe, Paul Demelo and Paul Gaspar worked with DaSilva feverishly for most of the week in an attempt to find the electronic glitch that had them change out the number 1 piston no less than four times after it scoured the cylinder wall repeatedly. Job Spetter Jr. had kept busy tuning both DaSilva and Pande Talevski's Pro 5.0 entries, along with Moe Atat's Outlaw car. They finally backed Pande's car down enough to oust a missing-in-action Brandon Switzer, who burned a couple of pistons in the qualifying session on Sunday morning.
FFW Pro 5.0 champ Brit Floyd was experiencing problems making enough boost with the smaller WFC-mandated 101 mm turbo and said he tipped the scales at a whopping 2930 lbs., whereas he's accustomed to running at 2600. Randy Eakins took the advantage in the round with a safe 7.09 at 199 mph. Derrick Smith's Glidden-powered nitrous entry laid down an equally safe 7.03 to trailer John Gullett who was testing his rod's bead lock rims with a serious case of the tire shakes. Billy Glidden set the bar early with a stellar 6.90 at almost 202 mph as Doug Mangrum couldn't make the call. The only good runs from the second round came from the Don Walsh Jr. vs. Derrick Smith battle. Derrick ran a losing 7.18 at almost 198 mph and the round proved to be Donny's demise as a broken valve munched its way through the engine after he shut down early on his 7.09 win at a lowly 187 mph. Eakins got the bye and Glidden had an easy go at Pande as they had a little too much clutch in her and overpowered the track. Glidden got the solo in the third round and Eakins looked to be in trouble as he crossed the centerline on his run. Turns out the steering wheel wasn't fully latched and came off in his hand so he immediately attempted to grasp the steering shaft. Now that sounds like a handful! The final pitted the new 2001 Mustang Precision Turbo machine of Eakins that seemed to be gaining ground at each of its first three events and the all-conquering Billy Glidden machine. The nitrous entry of Glidden leaped to an early lead then with a fiery flash that engulfed the entire car, the engine gasped and Glidden slowed as Eakins sawed his way down the track seemingly testing every inch of paving. In the new car's three outings, Eakins had scored a runner-up and a victory. Sometimes you don't have to be the fastest, just the last one standing.
Edelbrock Pro-Street Outlaw
You can almost bank on the car count in any Pro-Street Outlaw field. One could almost solidify the spectator attendance by offering huge purses and satisfying payouts throughout 32 car fields, promoting the fan favorite Outlaw 10.5 phenomenon. WFC5 had a special feature, though--the class debut of Bob Glidden. Rumors that he'd be competing in his son's former Pro 5.0 car had the Ford world buzzing. The best runs of round one had Dave Hopper downing what appeared to be a struggling Jim Blair. Hopper cut a .471 then a .468 bulb for the best lights of round one and two. Blair, hot off a couple great finishes at the last couple NMRA events, couldn't seem to get a handle on the Gateway track. Jason Cohen redlighted in his much-anticipated match-up against Dan Millen.
Vic Williams' big-block entry burned a few pistons in his 7.93 run against Travis Franklin's new ProCharged 2001 Mustang. The old master Bob Glidden wowed the crowd with a 7.78 in the kid's NMCA and WFC former championship car fitted with the little 10.5s. The ProCharged machines of Jim Dahl and Mike Smith also made solid runs of 8.14 and 7.94 respectively in the opening round.
Millen ran a pair of 7.95s in the first two rounds and a 7.87 against an ever-improving Chip Havemann's 8.12. Chip made the big jump from Renegade to Outlaw this year after a very successful reign as the FFW Renegade champ. Dahl took a close 8.11 to 8.22 battle with Mike Calvert then improved to a career best 8.07 against Chris Derrick, who overpowered his skinny weenies.
Mark Enwia made the right changes to Jim Summers' old "Big Red" as he retired an always-tough Kenjo Kelley with a solid 7.85. Smith stayed on his torrid pace by laying down a 7.84 to Hopper's 8.18, and Glidden solo-blasted to a 7.80 at almost 180 mph. Smith lined up next to John Urist, who had qualified #1 the last two years in a row, for what turned out to be the quickest Outlaw (real) 10.5 race in history. Urist got the better .471 to .521 bulb, but Smith set the national ladder bar record at an astounding 7.717 as a normally excellent 7.94 sentenced a disbelieving Urist to a long somber trip back to Albuquerque.
Not to be outdone, Glidden hammered out a 7.711 to send Enwia packing. The semis had Dahl against Millen. Jimmy waited for Millen to fix a minor programming glitch proclaiming that Dan had helped him before and he was returning the favor. The quicker Millen ran a 7.869 to Dahl's second 8.07 in a row. The most anticipated race of the event pitted Glidden and Smith, who had both run 7.71 in the last round. The two left almost identically, Bob rowed through the gears smoothly as Mike double-jammed on the gearshift making the car hesitate ever-so-slightly, giving the 7.86 to 7.95 win to Glidden. Everyone knew although Dan Millen's new '02 Skinny Kid race car hadn't run to its potential yet, it was definitely capable. Bob Glidden got the slight holeshot, but the car pulled towards the wall as he snapped the gearshifts forcing him to abort and Millen cruised to a 7.89 win.
BFGoodrich Wild Street
Every year, "Wild" Willie Figueroa comes and dissects the Wild Street field with JoeMainero's low 8-second beast, but nevertheless the sheer excitement of participating keeps the competitors coming back year after year. This year Willie toyed in the Diesel challenge with his tow rig as a fresh new titan entered the ring for battle. His name was Lee Howie and he was no stranger to our own True Street class.
Lee blasted to an 8.35 in the first then bettered to an 8.27 in the second. You'd be surprised how many people were contemplating the thought that one could possibly run in 7s on street tires. Oklahoman Bill Lovelace had a pretty close battle on his hand in the second against John Burton's 408 Mustang entry. Lovelace left first enroute to a 9.49 to 9.69 down to the wire street race. Erica Ortiz-Lugo may be hitched to Outlaw racing standout Dennis Lugo, but don't think she's just along for the ride. She not only drives the car, but she isn't scared to get her hands dirty and she also knows a bit about tuning the car to the conditions. She ran 9.40s and 50s until she got holeshot by Lovelace with a quicker 9.21 to his 9.33.
Bill York ran 9.90s throughout eliminations then turned up the juice for the quarters and semis, which quickened to equaled 9.50 timeslips. NMRA standout Jimmy Byrne ran a fast but futile 9.07 in his new ride against the low 8-second bad dog Howie in the semis.
Lovelace won the 9.45 to 9.59 encounter with Michael York for a bid to the finals. Although Lovelace cut better bulbs than any of his competitors throughout eliminations, he just didn't have enough for the low 8-second thrashings of Howie.
Ford Performance Solutions Renegade
The Renegade class has made huge performance strides in the past couple years with times plunging nearly two full seconds with what is considered by some to be street-type equipment and Jimmy LaRocca has been at the forefront of the class' gains. Super tuner LaRocca has served up many of the awesome and informative tech and tuning articles that have graced our pages in the past couple of centuries.
Manny Geno and Tim Lyons both took a step in the right direction by ousting their first round opponents with identical 9.31 elapsed times at the same 146-mph mark. LaRocca was in the hot seat of Mike Freedman's ProCharger boosted '94 Mustang against Clair Steward II, who ran a very respectable 8.34. However, Freedman's car and driver were definitely on kill, as they punched off a 9.08 against Clair and boasted a 9.04 bye run after that.
LaRocca was taking the driving duties until Mike renews his NHRA license. Former NMRA champ Bob Kurgan knew he needed to step it up to keep in stride--he answered with a 9.15 in the first round. Geno and his '90 nitrous oxide-injected Mustang was up to the task when Kurgan pulled up next to him in the lights. Manny ran a 9.16 against Kurgan's 9.13; the race was so close that it sent them for the ticket booth to see who would advance. It was Kurgan who continued racing.
Ed Thomas's good friend Brian Mitchell got his Miller Lite, Paxton-supercharged '90 Mustang to run a 9.13 for the win against Tim Lyons' 9.29 after getting an unscheduled bye in the first. Mitchell was wired to the tree with a .460 bulb in that round and a .451 against LaRocca in the semis. A 9.14 would take the win on just about any given Renegade race of the year, however with a furious LaRocca unleashing an 8.90 at almost 155 mph it would have taken a miracle to dethrone him. The battleground was set, both competitors familiar with winning, the lights came down and bam!--Kurgan chopped the tree with an almost perfect .421 bulb. His Vortech YS trim, supercharged '86 stormed to a 9.16 to LaRocca's 9.14 for the win.
Excessive Motorsports Hot Street
Nick Bacalis and his dad Matt have been gnawing away at the top runners in the Hot Street fields in a rather unlikely fashion--in a '66 Mustang body. After beefing up the suspension and cage they ran some of their personal best ETs ever at the WFC. However they had to meet top veteran Kurt Neighbors in the first round. The battle that ended in a close 9.40 to 9.47 confrontation, Bacalis made it tight by cutting a better .457 light, but it wasn't quite enough.
Ken Compton got the bye in the first as did Scott Budisalich via a no-show Shannon Pugh. The two met in the second and Budisalich made a statement by running over Compton's 9.46 with an astonishing 9.25. Scott Budisalich used to run in Outlaw but now he's got a wicked all-motor tune on his Bennett powerplant. He was about to have his hands full with the veteran Super Stock, Funny Car and Nostalgia Super Stock racer Neighbors, whose power is supplied by none other than the master engine builder, Billy Glidden. Budisalich must have got wind of his impressive past because he smacked down an almost perfect .413 light to take the win with a slower 9.22 to Neighbors' 9.20.
Vortech Real Street
The need for a new entry level, affordable class seems to resurface every couple years as the racers always seem to find a way to get every class into the 8-second zone, regardless of the efforts of the rulemakers. However, imposing the use of the factory camshaft minimizes one's chance to reach the 8s, especially with the list of acceptable head, intake and induction types. Basically you get factory 302-ported or Brodix ST5.0, Edelbrock Performer, Twisted Wedge, GT-40 or 351W in stock unported configuration. If you can believe it, the guys are finding a way, even with those restrictions and through 21/2-inch exhausts, to time slips reaching the 9-second region. Mike Wesley decided to get serious about his assault on the new Real Street class, Modular style. His 2000 Mustang Cobra has a 2002 281-cube Explorer block with a set of 2V heads that were blueprinted at Livernois Motorsports and topped off with a Paxton Novi 2000 at Walsh Motorsports. After some serious tuning time they were rewarded with ETs in the 10.50s. However, he went down to none other than Renegade standout, Bart Tobener in his street car, in a close 10.46 to 10.52 battle. Bart's Renegade car was undergoing some repairs so he decided to run his '02 GT that just so happens to have a Real Street legal 310-cube Paxton Novi 2000 blown powerplant.
Bill Ryan was one of the first pioneers of the Real Street class. A hot Paul Wiley earned his spot in the semis by rolling over Ryan's 10.90 with a 10.55. After a devastating nitrous mishap in qualifying and some serious thrashing, Bruce Hemminger laid down a 10.78 valiant effort against Steve Torkelson's advancing 10.55. After earning class credibility to the tune of 10.40 during his bye-run blast for a trip to the semis, the Chris Benningo-owned Gabe Large-piloted '85 Mustang missed a gear, giving Paul Wiley the win. Wiley's Vortech S-Trim equipped '93 LX ran a 10.43 personal best, thanks to some new found horses via Lidio Iacobelli of Alternative Automotive.
Although Tobener ran a class record 134 mph blast twice consecutively, he couldn't equal the torrid 10.36 path a red hot Torkelson left behind. His '89 TFS-topped, nitrous oxide-injected entry ran personal bests, run after run, en route to a close 10.41 to 10.44 confrontation with Wiley.
TheFordMall.com Pure Street
Although it does take a small investment to get serious in this class, it doesn't call for the big investment it sometimes takes to boost your steed's horsepower ratings.
Ron Anderson has been on a record-breaking pace in the seat of Eric Rogers' '89 carbureted Stang at just about every event he competes in. He destroyed an always tough Jeremy Embry in the first with an astounding 10.72 at just a hair under 125 mph then proceeded to round two where he trailered Steve Ross' healthy 11.15 ET as he slowed to a 10.80 at barely 114 mph.
Jon Carls ran a consistent 11.07 and 11.06 in eliminations respectively, one of which took out Jarrod Richards in his 289 headed, fuel-injected pony. Gene Hindman turned a 10.98 in his first round bye then lowered his mark to a 10.87 to take out Jay Canella, who had just run his second 11.19 in a row.Dwayne Barbaree ran a 10.91 in the first round and then took a 10.93 bye run to solidify lane choice in the semis. Barbaree's Pro-Motion- prepped Tremec must have been sweet because he ran another consistent 10.91 to outgun Ron Carls in their semifinal meeting.
The other side of the ladder had the high-flying Anderson paired up against Hindman. The younger Hindman rocketed to a career best 10.78 at almost 125 mph to oust the crafty veteran Anderson, who got out of shape on his run. As the sun set it came time to hand out the checks. Barbaree proved worthy by posting a .450 bulb coupled with a 10.89 against Hindman. However, Gene must have learned a few tricks from his brother Robert (NMRA and FFW Mod Motor champ) about consistency as he matched his 10.78 timeslip from the previous round, giving him the '02 WFC Pure Street title. Aeromotive Factory Stock
The most basic heads-up class in Mustang racing hoards some of the most guarded secrets one can apply to their stock Mustang. You're allowed a 70mm throttle body, 75mm mass air, gears and a 21/2-inch exhaust--that's about it.The three musketeers of this class stomped through the competition one at a time. Tim Duncan had the most difficult path, as he surpassed Cal Hayward in round two with a 12.18 to 12.37.
Next up was Craig Baldwin, who pulled two-tenths worth of performance gains out of his combo in an attempt to run with the quicker car of Troy Carter. He knew it would also take a great light but unfortunately all his efforts went away when he redlit during his 12.25 to 12-flat loss to Carter. While Tim Duncan took the bye of the round to earn his spot in the final, Carter ripped an 11.91 to better Duncan's 12.21 for this year's WFC Factory Stock title. Superchips Open-Comp Eliminators
This class boasted 65 entries faster than 14.80, 57 entries faster than 13.55, 51 that ran in the 12s or quicker and 33 in the 11s or better. Yes, one could say that racers love to race on a Pro Tree. Poor Peter Rogowski made the long hall from Dallas, Ga., to cut a perfect .400 light and breakout with a 13.351 on a 13.36 in his '92 Ranger. His opponent Doug Zborowski also cut a good .475 bulb coupled with a 12.08 on a 12.06 in his '92 Mustang.
The next heartbreaker had two buddies from Ohio that qualified 23rd and 24th and facing off in the fourth round. Dave Lanman and his '82 Mustang cut a .512 light but ran an 11.43 on an 11.41 and his best bud Larry Geddes got about as close as one could get to a perfect run. Only problem was that after cutting a killer .407 light, he ran an 11.319 on an 11.32, eliminating himself from the race. Round five had the thriller of the class with two of the top dogs from the Open Comp style racing world facing off. Robert Hindman launched his '01 GT first with an unbelievable .410 start and the '79 Mustang of John Brady was right on his heels at .433. Hindman's boards read 11.85 on an 11.86 and Brady's 10.642 on his 10.65, Brady broke out less by a scant .002 seconds.
Brady utilized .451, .424, .437 and a .433 starting line advantages to reach the final as Lanman ran 11.43, 11.42 and an 11.43 on his 11.41 coupled with a little luck to guide him on his journey. Lanman ran another 11.43 but with a .504 bulb he would lose to the red-hot Brady.
Paxton Automotive Modular-Street
For now, the Modular Motor-only racing has retained its Open Comp format, dishing out many of the drivers that have filtered into the faster heads-up classes such as Hot Street and even Outlaw. Chuck Drew's Sean Hyland-built Vortech supercharged machine ran consistently in the 10.20s. The good news was that he cut a .408 light that helped to oust Adam Gier in round one but the bad news came in the next round as he redlighted.
Steve Gauman and his 11-second '97 Cobra was also wired to the tree, clicking .434 and .437 lights during his march to the semis. Unfortunately he was bit by the same red bug during his bid for a final round appearance against Shawn Johnson. Alan Braasch found himself in the final after a few good races and a little racers luck (something we could all use a little of). Braasch's 11.51 dial-in was almost identical to the 11.54 of Shawn Johnson's '97 carbureted, Mod-motored T-bird. The holeshot went to Braasch as did the win at 11.66 to 11.67.Power Surge Performance Pro Lightning The Pro Lightning Class has historically been a small class that rarely included but one or two rounds of competitions. Nowadays, the performance levels of the typical Lightning easily surpasses the required 12.50 class mark and the class is showing some positive signs of growth. The field was split between the old and the new age Lightnings.
The semis pitted Johnny Lightning's '01 Diablo Sport racing truck that includes one of Kenne Bell's twin screw blowers against Sal Menella's Power Surge Performance test mules that sported a prototype rear inlet unit from Ford. Johnny got the holeshot advantage and boosted up the tune of 11.79 on an 11.65 while Sal slowed to an 11.84 on an 11.50 at only 87 mph on a partially blown head gasket.
The pushrod camp lined Shane Landis and his blown 351-cube '93 Lightning up against Mike James' 408-powered Lightning. James ran an 11.59 on an 11.37 but gave the round to Landis' 12-second ride after he had to be awakened at the tree over a second after the race started.
Now it was new versus old, pushrod vs. Mod and blower vs. blower. The two got identically terrible lights and Landis broke out with an 11.98 on his 12.09 dial while Johnny Lightning's 11.66 on his 11.65 turned out to be the icing on his cake for his weekend.
Power Surge Performance Street Lightning
The Street Lightning Class hosted one of the largest participation levels of any of the WFC classes with 48 in the class. Who would have believed that full-sized pick-up performance would reach the popularity levels that could support such an army of haulers?
Vernon Jones and his '93 Lightning took out longtime Lightning racer Dave Pickrel's '94 408-powered entry with an almost perfect .508 start as they both ran more than a half of a second quicker than their dials. Robert Hartness and his '99 331-cube entry wasted a .508 light and 13.17 on a 13.13 package on a red-lighting Chuck Palfi's '93 Lightning.
Vernon seemed to have a knack for attracting the sandbaggers as he faced off with Steve Nath's '00 Lightning for the race into the finals. Jones' 13.73 on a 14.12 was the lesser of the two evils with Nath running a 12.91 on his 13.40. This set up the all pushrod final, won by Vernon Jones, that he earned with his near perfect .503 bulb and 14.26 on a 14.12 package, even though Mike Gager's '95 F150 ran an almost dead-on 14.89 on a 14.85.
PDQ Performance Warehouse & Diablo Sport Ford Diesel Challenge
Outlaw standout Joe Charles ran his '00 Excursion to impressive mid-15 second timeslips, but went down to Texan Greg Decker's 17-second '02 Excursion who made it all the way to the finals by cutting his opponents down at the tree with .527 and .529 lights.
Willie Figueroa didn't get to race Joe Mainiero's fearless Wild Street machine. However, he just had to race something, so he ran the old F350 Crew. Lightning Truck standout Johnny Lightning couldn't wait to get his 15-second, 1-ton Powerstroke van to the line for a piece of the famous Willie.Even though he got the .524 to .553 holeshot, wild Willie ran closer to the number, putting Johnny out so he could concentrate on his Pro Lightning endeavors that would carry him to that class finale.
Frank Paultanis of Michigan quietly disposed of each opponent until losing a close 16-second almost heads-up battle with Figueroa. The final had pro written all over it as Willie Figueroa cut a .527 bulb ran a 16.75 on his 16.69 to take out Greg Decker's 17.89 on his 17.84 with a respectable .577 light.