Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
August 28, 2013
Photos By: Michael Johnson

It seems that each off-season takes forever. Then it's as if time hits fast-forward, and the NMRA Spring Break Shootout is suddenly in the windshield. During that downtime between seasons we're able to focus on project cars and technical articles for upcoming issues, but just like for racers, the event seems to be on top of us before we know it.

Coming into this new NMRA season there were a lot of questions in need of answers. It was time to check the pulse of the upcoming 2013 campaign. How would the new Street Outlaw class fare under new rules aimed at combining the excitement of Super Street Outlaw and the unpredictable Drag Radial classes? If there had been only three to four cars, the class would be in trouble, but with 11 cars at Bradenton, maybe the NMRA is onto something with the combination.

And how would Coyote Stock start out the year? We know 18 of the Ford Racing sealed crate engines have been sold, so the cars are out there—six showed up at Bradenton. That is a strong number considering most Coyote Stock racers aren't in a financial position to make the trek south. Hopefully we'll see more as the series heads north.

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Speaking of north, the racers that can make the trip were eager to get to Bradenton to see if their off-season improvements would be, well, improvements. To see how it all shook out, check out the captions.

Horse Sense: Much of the big smack talk around the pits was about who had the quickest Coyote race car, and that's sure to get settled at the 5.0 Shootout event held at this year's NMRA event at Norwalk in mid-June.

Former 10.5W racer Conrad Scarry brought this car to test at Bradenton for X275 competition. Conrad ran quicker each pass, but he was only making eighth-mile hits since that’s the name of the game in X275. He must’ve done it while Editor Turner and I were enjoying fine Mexican cuisine, but unfortunately, Conrad swiped the passenger side of the car against the wall, and going home with a damaged racecar is no bueno. This pales in comparison to Conrad’s crash a couple years ago in his 10.5W car; his latest is just a minor setback.

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Street Outlaw

From the get-go Phil Hines was the man to beat in the new Street Outlaw class, setting the standard in qualifying with a 7.34 at 196.03. That was well ahead of most of the class, and a solid tenth quicker than number- two qualifier John Urist. It seemed the two were on a collision course. That was until the second round. Phil got loose off the line and Eric Leeper got a big jump in his ’99 Lightning. It looked like the race was over until Eric got loose past mid-track and Phil reeled him in. After that scare, the excitement built for the finals—and it lived up to the hype. Phil got the jump and laid down his quickest e.t. of the weekend, a 7.30 at 195 to take the first win in the class.

After years of running with a ProCharger in Super Street Outlaw, John Urist decided to take on the new class with a turbocharged combination. With a new season, new class, new combo, and a new baby keeping him awake, John was up for a challenge. After making his first test hits at Bradenton, he soon had a handle on the combo and qualified second with a 7.45 at 191 mph, John's path to the finals was les dramatic than his rivals, but he'd need to step up his game to have a chance. He did run quicker with a 7.42, but it wasn't enough to derail Phil Hines.


Factory Stock

Coming into Bradenton, perennial Renegade favorite Brian Mitchell expected more out of his ‘04 Cobra, but it didn’t seem to respond the way he wanted. He made off-season changes aimed at bettering his consistent 8.40s from 2012, but the numbers didn’t get better. Last season Renegade was Brian’s class, and no one else was in the neighborhood. He’s a tireless worker, so we’re sure if there’s a tenth to be found, he’ll find it. With eight in Renegade at Bradenton, Brian received luck in the fact that both his first- and second-round competitors broke. His first race was in the final against AJ Wyce, but it was all Brian’s when the Tree fell with an 8.54 to AJ’s 8.97.

AJ Wyce had yet to really get the smell of victory in Renegade until the Bradenton opener. AJ’s always had the horsepower—it seems his struggles have come with finding consistent launches. We’ve seen AJ put it on the bumper many, many times, but we’ve also seen him spin the tires at the hit, as well. That theme continued at Bradenton, but he persevered to make it to the final against Brian Mitchell. There the inconsistencies appeared again. The car got up on the fire, but after the initial weight transfer, it momentarily smoked the tires. AJ was able to catch and pedal it, but the damage was already done as Brian sped away for the win.


Coyote Stock

Taking over the driving duties in his ’11 GT from Justin Burcham, Joe Marini at first appeared to be at a disadvantage when matched up against the pack of earlier ’Stangs. He qualified mid-pack with a 10.76 at 145 mph. Joe easily handled Paul Dishroon’s Fox in the first round, however. In Round 2 it appeared he’d have stiff competition from the ’01 GT in the other lane, but that car had some sort of mismatched signaged bolted to the rear bumper cover that seemed to slow it down.

After setting the low e.t in qualifying with a 10.57, Shane Stymiest seemed the odds-on favorite in his ’90 ’Stang. It played out that way in the first round, as he put four tenths on Jacob Lamb’s four-eye. Shane rode a bye run into the finals against Joe Marini, then got the jump at the Tree, but Joe reeled him in on the big end for the win.


Factory Stock

Matt Amrine focused on reducing rotating mass in the off-season, and it showed he was still on his game at Bradenton. Though the relatively warm Florida temps did little to perpetuate any performance improvement, Matt still ran his usual consistent 10.80s performing only routine maintenance in between rounds. His Two-Valve GT, rumored to be receiving an actual paint job sometime in 2013, did its part at Bradenton by going rounds. Matt’s toughest competition came in the final against Louis Sylvester, but he was able to pull out the win to get a good start on 2013.

Could we have a new Factory Stock wheelie king? For the last year or so it’s been Matt Amrine, which led to everyone wondering how he was able to make a Factory Stock car launch like that. At Bradenton, it was Louis Sylvester’s pushrod-powered Fox doing the launching. Sure, pulling the wheels does nothing for e.t.’s, but it sure looks cool, as you can see by this shot. Getting a Factory Stock car to do this on radials is nothing short of extraordinary, but Louis made it work by qualiying with a 10.72 at 124 mph for a full tenth on the field. After qualifying, Louis never was able to replicate that number, and Matt Amrine took advantage in the final, taking the win.


Modular Muscle

In the Modular Muscle final we had a bit of a burndown going on between Susan McClenaghan and Donnie Bowles. When they finally decided to play nice and stage, the duel didn't end well for defending champ Donnie. He went way red to hand Susan the win and a jump on the points. We're sure Bradenton won't be the last time in 2013 these two square off in the finals.


Open Comp

Donald Carver finished third in points on 2012, but with a Bradenton win he’s looking to improve on that finish. His ‘76 Mustang II features a 357ci powerplant to run low-10s in NMRA Open Comp. Heads-up racers better be ready if Donald ever crosses over because he’s deadly at the Tree. His worst reaction time came in the final, where he was able to watch final-round competitor Ashley Conway-Lang go red before it was his turn to go.


Truck

Johnny Lightning was finally able to get the money off his back by winning the 2012 championship. At Bradenton it seemed Johnny was ready to start 2013 where he let off, but Fred Wade had other ideas in he final. Fred was able to extract a 0.530 light against Johnny's slightly slower 0.565 reaction time. That's all the room Fred needed to take the win, even though Johnny ran closer to his own index time.


Super 'Stang

All the talk in Super Stang was Terry “Beefcake” Reeves and his 8.75 pass. That caused quite the stir just in the ’11-’13 Mustang circle, but in Super ’Stang, it’s not about quick e.t.’s. Dave Liechty, though a tad inconsistent at the Tree, was able to get the win at Bradenton with his ‘06 Mustang, getting past JD Coon, Silent Lloyd Mikeska, Marvin Knack, and John Memmery in the process.


Cobra Jet Showdown

The best way to increase your chance of winning is to have more cars entered than anyone else. The Skillman family had that part covered in the Cobra Jet Showdown class at Bradenton. Unfortunately, two of the Skillmans, Drew and Ray, had to face each other in Round 1. However, it was Drew Skillman and his ‘12 Cobra Jet taking the win on Saturday to do the family proud.