The Fun Ford Weekend points race had long been settled by the time we rolled into Firebird International Raceway, but there were plenty of fast Fords looking to beat the winter blues by heading to the southwest for some fun in the sun.
American AutoSports, the company that puts on the Fun Ford races, added two new venues to the 2003 calendar. The Pacific Fun Ford event went off a couple of weeks prior to this Arizona race, but raging wildfires followed by cold, rainy weather put a damper on the track and car count. This was not the case with the first ever Valley of the Sun event as the racing contingent came out in droves.
All told there were over 300 racers in attendance. This included 62 Muscle Mustangs True Street fanatics, which by far made up one of the largest classes of the weekend. In addition to the racing action, the 2nd Annual Bullitt Nationals was held and brought in over 30 entries from all over the U.S. The car show brought in nearly 100 vehicles, most of which were very high-quality pieces.
The MM&FF crew met up with a clip full of Bullitts and other fast Fords at Brothers Performance in Corona, California, where they had opened up for a dyno day/party to kick off the cruise to Phoenix. Some five hours later the caravan met up at All Mustang Performance in Phoenix for a late lunch. AMP had its doors open as well, and the get-together had attendees in the mood for racing.
As was the case for the Fun Ford Palmdale event, the rules for this race were opened up so many cars that participate in the Pacific Street Car Association could enter, and it gave the chance for many local racers to fit into the various heads-up categories as well. The race was a hit and brought in quite a few competitors, who will no doubt be looking to come back this November for the 2nd Annual Valley of the Sun Fun Ford Weekend. Check out the photos and captions to see all the hot action that went down, and don't forget to visit our Website for mega expanded coverage on this great event.
The AMP Performance crew kicked off the weekend with a get together at their shop in Phoenix on Friday. Come Saturday, pilot Bob Thompson put the AMP Mustang on its bumper for the crowd and the glory.
John Mihovitz brought out his 6-second, Modular-powered Cougar to battle the ASSC car of Tim Huston and Tony Gillig. The little 281-inch motor had problems that prevented it from running toe-to-toe with the Fun Ford Weekend 2003 Mr. Gasket Pro champion, who had qualified with a stout 6.65 at 212.49 mph. Gillig took the easy win in Sunday's final as Mihovitz eased the ailing Mod motor down the track.
SHM/Steeda's Mod Motor Madness was chock-full of racers from near and far. Reggie Burnette Sr., Shane Williams and Jim Gilbert had come from the east to lay claim to the overhead cam prize money. Gilbert (pictured) and his '99 Mustang were on the mark every round with quick reaction times and consistent e.t.'s, which led him to the victory in the final over Dave Morefield.
Mesa, Arizona-resident Dave "Led Fut" Morefield used great reaction times to get into the final round of Mod Motor competition, but his 13.24 on a 13.08 dial-in was too much of a gap to seal the deal.
Doug Sikora's naturally-aspirated, 525-inch powerplant and tube chassis are legal in PSCA competition, and Fun Ford Outlaw rules were opened up for the Arizona event to allow these racers to compete.
The Barstow, California, native qualified at the top of the class with a 7.60 e.t. and would meet John Urist in the ProCharger Street Outlaw final.
Albuquerque, New Mexico's John Urist, who had just taken the 2003 championship in another racing sanction, swapped his 28-inch tires for 31s, and exchanged his 91mm Turbonetics unit for a 101mm hairdryer to compete in Fun Ford trim. Urist qualified third, but posted the fastest speed at 182mph. Sikora's silver Mustang qualified nearly two-tenths better and was improving each elimination round up to the final, but Urist nailed the holeshot with a .029 reaction time and won with a 7.60, despite Sikora's quicker 7.56 run.
Chip Havemann, Esq. traveled to Arizona for some southwest Street Outlaw racing. Chip qualified second with a 7.65 at 170.71 mph run, but hurt the motor and could not make it to eliminations.
Anthony Dickson of Albuquerque qualified fifth in Outlaw, but his Mustang's miniscule (relatively speaking) 331ci powerplant was right in the thick of it, as he posted a trap speed of 175, which was faster than the number-one guy. Dickson would fall to eventual winner Urist in round two of competition.
The Vortech Street Renegade field had quite the variety of entries, but North Hollywood, California's Guiseppe Gentile had the competition covered, qualifying first with an 8.34 time and posting the fastest speed of the class at 170.77 mph, which was nearly 7 mph faster than the nearest racer. Gentile went on to defeat Dan Schoneck in the final, who had problems before he could take the light.
"Shotgun" Dan Schoneck made the trek from his home in Mapleton, Minnesota, to the Valley of the Sun and qualified second.
His crowd-pleasing and Depends-inspiring, wheels-up launches were well received, but the supercharged '84 GT gave up the ghost right after the burnout in the final round.
With the rules opened up, Mike Worner of Albuquerque competed in Drag Radial with his '66 Sunbeam Tiger. The little ragtop originally came with Ford 289 V-8 power, but Worner had upped the ante with a 347 stroker and qualified second with a 10.82 at 128 mph. Talk about power-to-weight ratio.
Edelbrock Street Bandit competitor Adrian Duron of El Paso, Texas, drove his 398-powered, C-4-equipped Mustang to the number-two spot in qualifying with a 9.08 e.t. He was out of first by only .015 seconds, but luck was on his side. The number-one qualifier went out in the second round and when Adrian squared off against Mike Abdulla in the final, Abdulla lit the red bulb giving Adrian the victory.
David Duffee of Scottsdale, Arizona, took the top spot in Street Bandit on Saturday with a 9.075 run, but Mike Abdulla nailed a .089 reaction time to Duffee's .222 effort, and he could not recover.
The liberal rules for this event allowed John Ohnemus of Alta Loma, California, to compete with his 331-powered '68 Stang. He and Joe Janssens of Moreno Valley, California, were the only competitors in the Tremec Street Warrior class. The vintage Mustang made quick work of the 306-powered Fox body in qualifying, and did the same in the final when Janssens' Mustang broke at the line.
Dante Aguilar had qualified number one with an 11.41 pass in JDM Engineering Tough Truck, but Thomas Friesen (far lane) of Scottsdale, Arizona, used his advantage on the Tree to cut through the seven-truck field en route to the final where Billy Berry turned on the red light and gave Friesen the win.
Camp Pendleton's Carl White (far lane) drove his '00 Mustang to the number-one qualifier position in Superchips Street Stang competition with a 14.30 time, but Brad Nations (near lane) of Los Altos, California, blasted to a 13.93 in the final.
Dennis Hilliard had the top spot on Saturday in the Focus Central Frenzy of Foci at 14.66 and Brad Smith was right behind him with a 14.79, but Smith had taken top speed honors at 100.30 mph. However, the two quickest and fastest Foci fell to the final round racers in eliminations as Lonnie Garcia met up with Les Brown in a coupe verses sedan showdown. Garcia had the slightest of advantages off the line, but Brown was way off his dial at the stripe, which gave Garcia the win.
Bryan King of Henderson, Nevada, took home the Pro Turbo Kits Fast Ford cash for Saturday and Sunday's classes. His ride, an '88 LX uses a naturally aspirated 408ci engine and a C-6 transmission to get the job done during bracket duty.
The 2nd Annual Bullitt Nationals was held in Phoenix, and over 30 Bullitt Mustangs and owners from all over the country attended with some competing in a few of the classes. Most of them chose to take the slow road during the parade lap, in which some lovely talent from the local Hooters restaurant tagged along for the ride.
Frankly, we're surprised that Lompoc, California-resident Mike Rhoades, whose '68 Bullitt replica features the wild window treatment, was able to concentrate and make it to the final in Street Ford. Although it may explain the lapse in his dial-in accuracy, but we really can't blame him given the circumstances.
The car show featured nearly 100 vehicles and some high-quality iron at that. Heath and Chrisha Elmer of Mesa, Arizona, brought their immaculate '69 Mustang fastback and garnered the MM&FF Editor's Choice award for 1978 and older cars. Tucson, Arizona-resident Justin Dietrich drove his '95 GT in True Street and finished seventh out of more than 60 cars. He finished first in the car show, as he was awarded the MM&FF Editor's Choice for 1979 and up Mustangs.
Judd Knudsen of Omaha, Nebraska, with help from his friends Keith Stiles and Scott Clark, runs this super-clean '91 steed on a healthy 300hp shot of nitrous oxide.
Brian Kelly tunes the 331-inch Windsor, built by BMS Racing, and Judd shifted...
...the JW C-4 transmission to a 10.42 True Street average for the top prize money.
Greg Dreher of Reseda, California, was no doubt the big winner at Fun Ford Arizona. His two-and-two pose represents the four wins in Pro Turbo Kit's Street Ford and Quick Ford.
Dreher drove his '64 Mustang to wins in both classes on Saturday and then doubled up on Sunday again. His high level of confidence and great sportsmanship in Sunday's closer was apparent when he pointed out to the officials that his opponent's dial was wrong on the scoreboards and made sure they changed it.
Arizona packed some potent Mustangs in the True Street class with the fastest car running 9.99 seconds.
Albuquerque-resident Brian Henry dropped in a stroked 351 engine and then added a Compucar 200hp shot of nitrous oxide for mid to low 10-second quarter-mile times. Brian just missed first by a mere .008 seconds.
Brent Hargadin's '87 Mustang doubles as a show car on occasion. The engine compartment has been painted and polished to the max, but it also features a Coast High Performance 347 with AFR heads and an NX plate worth 100 hp. Slicks and a Tremec TKO stick shift get it down the track in fine time which is how Brent, in addition to being picked as MM&FF Editor's Choice, also took home the low 11-second prize money.
Mercury Capris in decent shape are a rarity these days, but Robert Bade's '86 model is one of the few. The Chandler, Arizona, resident, a member of the Arizona Mustangs Club, grabbed the low 13-second award with his 13.17 average. The fuelie Capri still sports a 302 and T-5 transmission.
Here are your FFW Arizona True Street winners. Included are Brent Hargadin (low 11), Brian Henry (runner up), Judd Knudsen (winner), Carlos Herrera (low 12), Robert Bade (low 13) and Dee Turner (low 14).
A dead ringer for 2003 Fun Ford champ Dwayne Gutridge's coupe, Steve Short's notchback was just as deadly with its 377ci, Innovative-turbocharged engine paving the way to a number-one qualifying spot at 8.79 in the BFG Drag Radial class. The Mission Hills, California, resident also had the top speed at 160, which was a mere 31 mph faster than his nearest competitor. That being said, Short sailed through round one with a bye and eased past Mike Byrd in the final with a 9.05 to Byrd's valiant 11.99 pass.