Michael Johnson
Technical Editor
June 1, 2013

Maryland is a hotbed for drag racing. We've been to enough test-n-tune sessions at Maryland tracks to know there must not be a whole lot else to do in Maryland but drag race, eat crab cakes, and watch football. All that sounds really good, and evidently it sounded great to the NMRA as well.

The NMRA's parent company, Promedia, had an NMCA event at MIR in 2012, and the group obviously liked what it saw—in 2013 the NMRA added an event at the hallowed track. We've been to MIR a few other times for different Mustang events, and couldn't wait to come to town the same time as the NMRA crowd.

Further amping up the MIR event, the NMRA decided the event would be perfect to hold an SVT Anniversary celebration, including the VMP Tuning GT500/Terminator shootout. The MIR show field was full of SVT vehicles, while the shootout competitors battled it out on the track for SVT supremacy.

We enjoyed it all, and what follows are some of the highlights.

Renegade racer Valerie Clements is a quick learner. While brother Alton was out unsuccessfully skateboarding for chicks at MIR with Brent Weston, Valerie was putting the boys on the trailer. For the rained-out Atlanta final, she beat AJ Wyce. Moving onto the MIR event, she qualified Third with an 8.41 at 163 mph, and once again had to face older brother Alton in Round 1. In 2012, this match-up meant Valerie was on the trailer, but she has turned the tables in her favor these days. After trailering big brother, she took out Tim Matherly even though Tim knocked her over the head with the Tree. Her 8.36 was too much for Tim to overcome. Unfortunately, since you’re reading about her here, you know at some point she lost, and at Maryland it was Brian Mitchell who did the deed in the semi-final round.

This is something you don’t see too often—a Fox Mustang on VMP Tuning’s mobile Dynojet. VMP’s expertise is in the Shelby GT500 and ‘11-’13 Mustang GT market. VMP’s Justin Starkey was a busy man at MIR, and Dez Racing’s Mike Dezotell stepped in to help get the Fox running the way it should. Justin hauled the mobile Dynojet to MIR from his hometown Deltona, Florida.

Being a photographer at Maryland International Raceway means keeping your head on a swivel to look out for MIR’s Jason Miller. The man’s a track-prepping machine on the tractor—we’re sure if anyone on the planet could drift a tractor, it’s Jason. The event ran smooth in part to the efforts of Jason and the MIR track staff.

If there’s anyone that can make working on a racecar resemble kickin’ back on the couch, Tim Matherly is that guy. Here you see Tim with his feet kicked up on the trailer while working on his Renegade car. Tim’s been first-round fodder since he’s made the step up to Renegade from now-defunct Real Street, but at MIR an 8.49/162-mph hit against Jim Breese shows Tim is making progress. Tim runs a Four-Valve with a ProCharger supercharger and a Liberty transmission in the tunnel. As you know, Valerie Clements beat Tim to the stripe at MIR to end his weekend.

It’s been a bit since we saw Jim Coger at the track. The Massachusetts school teacher stepped his former Real Street coupe into the NMRA’s Renegade class, but we’re sure he wished for better luck. He was in the thick of things with an 8.46 qualifying time, but he also grenaded a transmission in the process. Jason Gatlin from ATF helped get Jim back in the game, with help from Mike Dez and the gang and a mystery converter from John Urist. Jim, Mike, and the crew weren’t totally sure what the car was going to do in Round 1 of eliminations, but the attempt was over before it started when the car pushed through the lights.

Street Outlaw

Thankfully, the revamped Street Outlaw class flourished under the new rules implemented for 2013. One thing that hasn’t changed is John Urist—he’s still at the top of his game. Switching back to a turbo for the 2013 season, John found there was a short learning curve to get back in the groove, but at MIR he showed why he has 97 NMRA championships. OK, so that’s a slight exaggeration, but it seems he has that many. He qualified at the top of Street Outlaw with a 7.154, but he had to rely on quick reaction times to get the event win. John’s slowest reaction time during eliminations was a 0.434 light, which was in the final against Phil Hines. Both in the semis and the final round, John used holeshots to outrun his opponents and get the win.

Phil Hines is having quite a year. He was able to eclipse the 6-second zone earlier in the year, and he got the event win at the NMRA Bradenton opener. At MIR, his ProCharger-motivated machine looked to be on a mission. He qualified right on the heels of John Urist with a 7.156. He was the model of consistency in eliminations, running a 7.14 in Round 1, a 7.15 in the semis, and a 7.12 in the final against John Urist. However, it wasn’t enough—John had gotten the jump, and Phil ran out of pavement to get the win.


Brian Mitchell has his ‘13 program working really well. Earlier in the year, he struggled with e.t.’s, but it seems he’s found his Renegade car’s sweet spot. As has been the case the past couple years, Brian is again the one to beat. He’s got a tenth on the field at almost every event, and at MIR it was more of the same. The only other car in the neighborhood is one Brian helps out on—Adam Arndt’s Fox racer. True to form, Brian and Adam were the last ones racin’ on Sunday. If we have learned anything since following the NMRA, it’s that Brian Mitchell is one of the most consistent racers in its history. That consistency led to the win when he was able to show Adam the student has much to learn before beating the teacher.

Having missed a couple races due to body, chassis, and cage overhauls, Renegade racer Adam Arndt was ready to put his ’88 GT in the thick of things. That’s exactly what he did, too. He qualified right behind Brian Mitchell with an 8.36 at 162 mph, but he wasn’t able to duplicate that performance, especially when it mattered in the final against Brian. Adam runs a HD Performance-built, 310ci small-block with a Vortech YSi-Trim supercharger. Adam tunes the car with a lot of help from the guy he met in the final, Brian Mitchell.

Coyote Stock

It was a really good weekend for Coyote Stock racer Shiftin’ Shane Stymiest. First off, he won the rained-out Atlanta race against Jacob Lamb, and in the process, qualified at the top of the list with a mind-bending 10.38 at 127 mph. Shane’s 0.38 was the talk of Coyote Stock qualifying, leaving his fellow racers scratching their heads. With night qualifying at MIR, Shane looked like he best took advantage of the cool air. He came back to the pack with consistent high-10.40s/low-10.50s on Sunday, which was good enough for him to take the win to garner two event wins in the same weekend.

No one had a better weekend than Shiftin’ Shane Stymiest, but Jacob Lamb’s wasn’t too bad either. He runner-upped to Shane for the rained-out Atlanta race, and again played second fiddle to Shane. It’s not lack of trying on Jacob’s part, that’s for sure. He’s right there on the cusp of victory, but so far this season, victory is just outside his grasp. Jacob tried new stuff all year. He switched transmissions in the off-season, and even experimented with smaller rear wheels and slicks to reduce rolling resistance and rotating mass. The smaller rear wheels and slicks didn’t offer any gains, but the other changes have shown incremental improvements. He hasn’t tasted victory yet in 2013, but after three races, Jacob’s been to two final rounds.

Factory Stock

Matt Amrine’s ritual is to make a pass, come back to the pits, do a little routine maintenance, ice the engine down with his custom cooler setup, and look over data with crew chief Brandon Alsept. Then it’s time to kick back and prepare for the next round. Maybe in between he’ll catch a few bites made by his wife, Danielle, and hang with her, Brandon, and Brian Campbell. Then he, Brandon, and Brian go over the plan for the next qualifying pass, or elimination round, then it’s all up to Matt once he’s buckled in. Matt was still in the hunt for the rained-out Atlanta race, but John Leslie Jr. was able to get past him in the semi-final round for that event. However, Matt was able to exact a little revenge in the final for the MIR race, getting the win.

Being at the track is like a family reunion for John Leslie Jr. You can pretty much find his whole family at every NMRA race. Bad thing is, sister Sondra also races in Factory Stock, and just like Alton and Valerie Clements in Renegade, they have to race each other pretty much every race. At MIR, that was again the case. After John won the rained-out Atlanta race, he had to face Sondra in Round 1. Since John was in the Maryland groove, he was able to move past Sondra and back into a rematch against Matt Amrine in the final. Unfortunately for John, he was unable to duplicate his previous times, handing the event win to Matt.

GT500/Terminator Shootout

If you want an 8-second Terminator, Harold Horton has done all the work for you. His simple recipe is a stock long-block, a Whipple 4.0-liter supercharger, 27 pounds of boost, a Frank Lupo Proformance C4, a Team Z Motorsports 9-inch rear, Strange Engineering shocks and struts, a Wolfe Racecraft anti-rollbar, Mickey Thompson ET Drag slicks (Stiff sidewall), and E85. That simplicity works out to consistent 8.70s and a win in the VMP Tuning GT500/Terminator shootout at MIR. Joe Cool of JWC Performance did a lot of the work on the car, while Dave Guy handled the tuning. Sean Wiley of Frank Lupo’s Dynamic Converters did the transmission, and, of course, Dave Zimmerman is the main man at Team Z Motorsports.

Modular Muscle

Donnie Bowles is another racer able to double-up by winning both the rained-out Atlanta final and the MIR event. Final-round opponent and fellow Roush racer Susan McClenaghan would rather not see Donnie in the other lane anytime soon. Donnie bested Susan at the Atlanta race, and again in the final at MIR with a poor-attempt-at-a-redlight 0.004 reaction time. Susan had to stay in the gas to chase him down and broke out in the process. Donnie was right on his number, anyway, so he wasn’t going to be denied at MIR.

Super Stang

Our boy Pete Espeut was a busy man at MIR. He was the only person to sign up for the SVT Bracket showdown, racing his ’95 Cobra R to victory since no one else showed up. “I’ll take it any way I can get it,” Pete says. He wasn’t done, though. Since Pete has about 12 Mustangs, he brought his ‘10 Shelby GT500 to race in Super ’Stang. Running a 10.60 index, Pete did his work at the Tree when it counted, getting the win.

Open Comp

Randy Conway has one of the more sinister-looking Mustangs in the NMRA. With blacked-out headlights, exhaust out the front fender extensions, and a mini-tubbed rear full of tire, his ‘89 coupe looks like it’s in a bad mood. In Open Comp, Randy put in work at MIR only for Tony Murray to hand him the win in the final with a redlight. Randy also raced Truck and Lightning, but didn’t fare as well as he did in Open Comp.

Truck and Lightning

In Truck and Lightning, it’s really easy to tell who wins when Johnny Lightning is matched up with someone. If Johnny wins, the victorious screams of his wife, Sue, tell the story. At MIR, Sue was holding her breath just before Johnny crossed the line against Jimmy Cantrell and his big-inch-Windsor Ranger in the final, but she didn’t know Jimmy strapped a 0.501 reaction time on her husband, which was too much for Johnny to overcome.

Horse Sense: Since the Atlanta NMRA event was rained out when many of the classes were down to either semi-finals or final round, those match-ups were decided during qualifying rounds at MIR, except for the Street Outlaw class, which was decided July 12-14 at the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing in Joliet, Illinois.