Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
May 8, 2013
Photos By: Steve Turner

Every year the NMRA World Finals sneaks up on us. It seems like the Bradenton opener is barely over, and we're driving down the winding Beech Bend Raceway entrance road to start the King of the Street competition, which we do as part of the finals each year. In reality almost eight months passes in between Bradenton and the World Finals. Yeah, time does surely fly when you're having fun.

What wasn't fun was the realization that some NMRA classes were having their last races in Kentucky. Pro Outlaw and Hot Street are being folded into the NMCA series, while Super Street Outlaw and Drag Radial will fuse into an all-encompassing, unlimited-style class. Next season will feature four heads-up classes, and four index-style classes. We're sure there will be plenty of storylines from new and returning racers, and those moving up to faster classes.

Certainly the future is exciting, but for now let's celebrate the historic close to the '12 season.

Horse Sense: The NMRA's Hot Street is headed to the NMCA side of the track. The NMCA's version, Pro Stock already enjoyed many NMRA regulars, but now that's the only spot for those guys with a heads-up format.

Joe Charles took to the Coyote Stock class like KJ Jones to a bucket-hat factory. As one of the key players in the parts department of Gene Evans Ford, he had easy access to Ford Racing’s Coyote crate engine and all the supporting equipment. And since his good buddy Tim Matherly wasn’t using his former ’01 Bullitt, the combination slid right into place. Joe had a really successful front half of the season, until Justin Burcham, Shane Stymiest, and Jacob Lamb joined the foray to give him a few fits. However, Justin Burcham had the best chance to take the points lead, and it came down to the final round of the year at Bowling Green. Justin was unable to get the win, so Joe took home the first Coyote Stock championship.

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There are many racers who serve as a one-man team. Tim Eichorn is certainly one of those driver/car owner/crew chiefs utilizing free family help. Truthfully, Tim is usually busy building other people’s engines as part of the staff at Mustang Performance, and his budget also puts constraints on his ability to travel to all the races. However, at Beech Bend, Tim left it all on the track by earning the second qualifying spot behind class champ Charlie Booze Jr. Then he had an easy row to hoe until the final against another Hot Street underdog in Rick Riccardi. Unfortunately for Tim, it wasn’t to be a storybook ending. A heartbreaking 0.392 redlight start cut his weekend short.

Pro Outlaw

Mike Murillo had another successful season in 2012, but he didn't really hit his stride until he figured out a new transmission combination later in the year. Going from a 'Glide to a three-speed, Mike received a ton o help from ATF Speed and ATI Performance Products to get his down the track on a more consistent basis. Mike had become proficient at swapping transmissions as the year went along. At Beech Bend it all paid off with a win over Tim Essick. Mike not only won the NMRA Pro Outlaw championship, he also won the NMCA's Super Street 10.5 W class championship, and the Street Car Super Nationals, as well. Mike faces a big decision for 2013. He'd like to move up to Pro Mod Racing, but his current Mustang is a bit off pace from the big boys. Wherever Mike lands, we know he'll be successful.

Super Street Outlaw

Super Street Outlaw When John Urist wrecked his SSO coupe at the Milan race it looked like the car was history. He was able to put his former car back into service for the Joliet Super Bowl race to keep the points lead in hand, but at Bowling Green the coupe was back in the mix after a big thrash to get the car straightened out. The car picked up where it left off with another victory, sealing yet another Super Street Outlaw championship for John with a win over Filthy Phil Hines at Beech Bend Raceway. With the blending of Super Street Outlaw and Drag Radial into a Street Outlaw class for both 28x10.5 and 275 drag radial cars, the freak show goes on, but in a different manner and under a different banner.

Renegade

Renegade Speaking of domination, Renegade racer Brian Mitchell added another championship to his racing resume in 2012. Brian put together consistent performances, and seemed untouchable at every event. It was more a fight to see who would get runner-up at each event Brian was so far out in front of the class. However, the gap is closing thanks to performances from past-champion Alton Clements, Adam Arndt, Scott Grove, Chad Allmandinger, Bob Cook, and the rest of the Renegade class, which has remained strong through the years thanks to consistent rules. At Beech Bend, Brian was able to complete his championship with a win over Renegade newcomer Scott Grove in the final with an 8.28 over Scott’s 8.39.

Hot Street

Hot Street Rick Riccardi is one of the Hot Street racers unable to make every race. And he’s also one of those guys with limited resources. However, when he does make a race, he does his best to make an impact. Rick had the car blasting down the track, even running an 8.38 at 159 mph in Round 1. Right then we knew he was going to factor in the outcome, and factor he did. Rick narrowly escaped the semi-final round against Charlie Booze Jr. for a right to face Tim Eichorn in the final. On paper, it was going to be a race to the finish between Tim and Rick. Unfortunately, Tim’s guess at the tree turned on the red light, handing the event win to Rick, turning him into a NMRA trivia question answer. Who is the last NMRA Hot Street event winner? Well, Rick Riccardi, of course.

Drag Radial

Like Mike Murillo, Drag Radial racer Jason Lee also doubled up his points championships in 2012. Jason won both the NMRA and NMCA classes in dominating fashion. With a ProCharger on board, Jason consistently ran in the 7.40s all year on his way to both championships. At Beech Bend, he only had to get past the ‘82 Fairmont of Kurt Borton since he and Kurt were the only participants. Jason was indeed able to win the last NMRA Drag Radial.